Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS II Review
The new Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS II is a small, compact telephoto zoom lens for Sony full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras.
This Mark II version replaces the original FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS lens that was released 9 years ago in 2014.
The main improvements are better image quality, higher close-up performance, faster auto-focusing, increased stabilisation, smaller size and lower weight, suppressed focus breathing and compatibility with 1.4x and 2x teleconverters.
Optically it is comprised of 19 elements in 13 groups including including an AA (advanced aspherical) element, one aspherical element, three ED (extra-low dispersion) elements, and one Super ED glass spherical element.
It offers built-in 5-axis Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, and has a near-circular 9 blade diaphragm which creates an attractive blur to the out-of-focus areas of the image.
The autofocus system consists of four XD (extreme dynamic) linear motors, two for each of the lens' focus groups, which achieves fast and precise focus and tracking that's 20% faster than the original version.
It is fully compatible with the Alpha 1's 30fps blackout-free continuous shooting and also supports AF tracking whilst zooming. Full-time DMF manual focus override is also possible.
The flourine front element coating limits glare and flaring and it's also dust and moisture resistant. Both the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters are fully supported, providing life-size 1x macro capabilities at 400mm on a full-frame body or 600mm on an APS-C camera.
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS lens is available from July 2023 priced at £1750 / €2000 / $1750 in the UK, Europe and the US, respectively. It is made in China.
Ease of Use
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 794g, the aluminium alloy bodied Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS II is 46g lighter than its predecessor.
More significantly it's around 15% shorter too, achieved by adopting a variable length structure. This means that the lens barrel extends by 3.5cms as you zoom out from 70mm to 200mm, but the lens is easier to carry and fit inside a camera bag when it's set to 70mm.
Consequently, in use it feels much better matched to a small body like the Sony A7R V camera that we tested it with, as shown in the photos below. While fitting a vertical battery grip would still help with the overall balance, it isn't as necessary as with the Mark I lens.
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 105-300mm.
Build quality is once again excellent, something of a relief given the price-tag. The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS has a sealed dust and moisture resistant design which makes it well-suited to life in both the field and the studio.
As you'd expect the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS has a metal lens mount and it accepts 72mm filters via metal threads.
There are now three separate round Focus Hold buttons, equally spaced 90° apart, which 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.
The Focus Range Limiter switch prevents the lens from hunting through the entire focusing range. There are three options - Full, Infinity to 0.3m or Macro.
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 the new Mode 3 emphasizes framing stability when shooting dynamic, unpredictable motion.
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS has a generously wide and ridged focus ring. Manual focusing is possible by using the AF/MF switch and there's also now 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. Polariser users should be pleased that the 72mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
The lens utilizes no fewer than four XD (extreme dynamic) linear motors to produce very quiet, responsive and smooth focusing, making it well-suited to shooting video, helped by suppressed breathing performance throughout the zoom range both optically and via the breathing compensation function available in some Sony Alpha cameras.
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS features optical image stabilisation, which together with the A7R V's own built-in stabilisation mean that we could successfully hand-hold the camera up to 5 stops slower than with a lens with no OIS.
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS lens is commendably supplied with a soft case, a good quality petal-shaped lens hood and a removable tripod collar.
Note that this lens is fully compatible with Sony's 1.4x and 2x teleconverters which extend the lens’s focal length to 98-280mm f/5.6 using the 1.4x converter and 140-400mm f/8 using the 2x converter.
At the 70mm focal length the angle of view is 34° degrees.
At the 200mm focal length the angle of view is 12° degrees.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, were not very apparent in our test shots, only appearing in very high contrast areas.
With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/4, there is some light fall-off in the corners, requiring you to stop down by at least 1 f-stop to help prevent it.
There's some barrel distortion evident at 70mm and quite a lot of pin-cushion distortion at 200mm in the RAW files - the Sony A7R V camera automatically and successfully applies corrections to the JPEG files that removes most of it.
70mm / JPEG
70mm / RAW
200mm / JPEG
200mm / RAW
The Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS II doubles up as a decent macro lens, providing half-macro capability over the entire zoom range.
The close-focus point is an impressive 26cm / 0.85ft from the film/sensor plane at the 70mm focal length (42cm / 1.38ft at 200mm) and it has a maximum magnification ratio of 0.5x at all focal lengths.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc.
In the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS II lens, Sony have employed an iris diaphragm with nine rounded blades, which has resulted in very appealing bokeh.
We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several examples below for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS II lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.