Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS Review (so far)
The FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS is a telephoto lens for Sony's range of Alpha 35mm E-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras.
This is the world's lightest 300mm F2.8 telephoto prime lens currently available for any camera system.
300mm is a necessary focal length lens for many indoor sports for capturing the whole subject, and it's also an important lens for Sony with the Paris 2024 Olympic Games on the near horizon. It can also be used outdoors as a secondary lens with the FE 600mm F4.
The optical formula is comprised of 20 elements in 16 groups, including one ED and three Super ED elements to reduce chromatic aberrations.
This lens has a minimum focusing distance of 2m / 6.57ft with a maximum magnification ratio of 0.16x.
It features a rounded 11-blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to out-of-focus areas of the image and an internal focusing mechanism which means the lens barrel doesn't move.
The Sony 300mm uses two XD Linear Motors for quiet and precise auto-focusing, and full-time DMF manual focus override is also possible.
Other key features include built-in 5-axis Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, the latest Nano AR Coating II to prevent flare and ghosting, a flourine coating and dust and moisture resistance.
The Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS lens is available in January 2024 priced at £5600 / €6700 in the UK and Europe, respectively.
The Sony 300mm was first announced in October 2023 and it is designed and made in Japan.
It is fully compatible with Sony's 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 1470g (excluding tripod mount), the magensium alloy bodied Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS is officially the lightest 300mm F2.8 prime lens on the market, for any manufacturer and for both mirrorless and DSLR systems, although with dimensions of 265mm in length and 124mm in diameter, it is slightly larger than the Nikon and Canon equivalents.
Consequently, in use it feels well matched even to a small body like the Sony A1 camera, as shown in the photos below, although fitting a vertical battery grip definitely helps with the overall balance.
Sony have positioned the lens elements at the rear to avoid a top-heavy feel and improve balance. They have also designed it to be used for hand-held photography, with no need for a monopod.
While you can use it on a smaller APS-C body like the Sony A6000 series of cameras, it won't balance particularly well and the equivalent focal length will also change to 450mm (although some users may see that as a benefit).
Build quality is excellent, something of a relief given the price-tag. The Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS has a sealed dust and moisture resistant design and a rubber ring around the lens mount, all of which makes it well-suited to life both indoors and out, although Sony do state that it it is not completely moisture and dust proof.
The Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS lens has a metal lens mount. It has a drop-in filter holder at the rear which accepts 40.5mm filters. There is no front filter thread.
The Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS has a fairly wide and ridged focus ring into which are set the focus hold buttons.
There are four separate round Focus Hold buttons, equally spaced apart, which by default keep the lens locked to the current focusing distance, useful if you're auto-focusing and don't want the lens to try and find focus again. The preview function can also be assigned to these buttons through the camera's custom settings.
Manual focusing is possible by using the AF/MF switch and there's also a dedicated switch for Sony's Full Time DMF (Direct Manual Focus), which allows you to engage manual focus even when the lens is set to AF mode.
There are no hard stops at either end of the range, though, making it more difficult to set focus at infinity.
When it comes to auto-focusing, the Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS zoom is a quiet and very quick performer on the Sony A7R IV that we tested it with, taking around 0.25 seconds to lock onto the subject.
We didn't experience very much "hunting" at all, either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing virtually all of the time, and it's also a very quiet performer that makes it ideal for movie shooting.
It also works all the way down to an aperture of f/22, even for continuous shooting.
The Focus Range Limiter switch prevents the lens from hunting through the entire focusing range. There are two options - Full, or Infinity to 6m.
The Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS features optical image stabilisation, which together with the camera's own built-in stabilisation mean that we could successfully hand-hold it up to around 4 stops slower than with a lens and camera body with no OIS.
The Mode switch toggles between Normal shooting (Mode 1), Panning (Mode 2), which automatically adjusts the lens to account for horizontal movement whilst shooting, and Mode 3 (active) which emphasizes framing stability when shooting dynamic, unpredictable motion.
There's a removable tripod collar that can be unlocked and rotated to any position and which accepts both 1/4 (1) and 3/8 (1) base screws.
New to this lens and in the Sony FE range is a knurled function ring with a rocker type motion. Power focus is the default setting, which initiates constant speed focusing in the specified direction, or you can use the ring to choose between full-frame and APS-C mode (450mm) when assigned in the camera body.
The Sony FE 300mm F2.8 GM OSS lens is commendably supplied with a soft case, a very good quality, circular metal lens hood (ALC-SH175) with a flocked interior to help prevent unwanted reflections, a silicone rubber front edge and a locking mechanism.
Note that this lens is fully compatible with Sony's 1.4x and 2x teleconverters which extend the lens’s focal length to 420mm f/4 using the 1.4x converter and 600mm f/5.6 using the 2x converter.