Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G

The Sony 70-200mm lens is an excellent telephoto zoom choice for Alpha cameras, providing you've got deep pockets and strong, strong arms.


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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


This is the sort of lens that you whip out (or perhaps the more apt term is lug out) when you want to make a statement. Its focal length covers a generous reach from a more standard 70mm through to a telephoto 200mm and weighing in at 1.34kg it's certainly likely to cause a large protrusion in your lens arsenal, and your bank balance (AU$3499).

This lens is constructed like a tank, and feels incredibly well made. White plastic surrounds the main lens elements, with black rubber focusing and zooming rings toward the front and the centre of the lens respectively. The zooming elements are all contained within the body and unlike many other zooms, no part of the lens extends and retracts on the outside, meaning what you see is what you get at all times. The movement is relatively smooth but it does have a fair amount of resistance. It consists of 16 lens groups with 19 elements, and has a maximum aperture throughout its reach of f/2.8. Filters with a diameter of 77mm can be attached to the front of the lens element.

It's compatible with all Sony Alpha digital SLR bodies and we tested it attached to an A230. The lens completely counterbalances the weight of this dainty camera and makes it difficult to hold without needing both hands to secure the lens — it's most definitely suited to a bulkier camera like the A900. As a result the lens has a tripod mounting collar included so when positioned on a tripod its weight is more evenly distributed. There is also a flower-shaped lens hood included in the box, alongside a pleather carrying case.

When automatic focus is selected on the lens, it will seek out a focus point within the selected focal length without needing to depress the shutter button, unless one of the three focus hold buttons around the unit is pressed. Automatic focus is incredibly quiet, indeed almost silent, and it obtains focus in under a second in sufficient light. Bokeh is pleasing but not as diffused as perhaps you'd expect from a lens with a consistent wide aperture across the focal length. In the shot below with a significant level of background detail, f/2.8 produced a nice blur but not enough to attract attention solely to the subject in focus.

(Credit: CBSi)

Sharpness across the frame was very good indeed with minimal levels of distortion, though optimal sharpness was obtained by stopping down to a range between f/8-f/11. A slight amount of vignetting became visible at f/2.8.

A comparison of the sharpness between f/2.8 (top) and f/11 (bottom). (Credit: CBSi)

For the price, you'd expect the 70-200mm to be an excellent performer and it certainly delivers in this regard, but its bulk is really only suited to full-frame Alpha cameras and its weight certainly makes it difficult for everyday photography.



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Jas55 posted a comment   

The Good:optical quality, fast acurate zooming,

The Bad:a little weighty, expensive, the grips attract dirt

I have had this lens now for a few weeks, and am very happy with it. It has a fast acurate zoom, and will produce great shots. It was expensive to purchase,and is a little weighty to hold. A tripod is highly recommneded if your planning on shooting for lenghty periods of time.

Jozioau
9
Rating
 

Jozioau posted a review   

The Good:Outstanding optical and build quality

The Bad:Heavy, expensive, dirt-trapping zoom and focus grips

An outstanding lens yielding superb image quality across its range, rivalling that of the legendary Minolta 200mm f2.8 HS APO G lens. Superb sharpness, colour rendition, and bokeh. Fast, silent focus. Tracks moving objects unfailingly. Can be easily mounted on a monopod, or hand held with the mounting ring removed if desired. On an APSC sensor camera gives equivalent 105-300mm f2.8. Can be used with the SAL14TC or SAL20TC teleconverters, with a degree of softening of image quality. Can be purchased for very much less via reliable eBay sellers in Japan or HK, but liable to GST on import. Highly recommended.

Phaelix
9
Rating
 

Phaelix posted a review   

The Good:Top quality glass, outstanding build quality

The Bad:price, weight

This review covers all the bases on this lens, and prospective buyers would do well to be guided by it. However, the article seems to miss the point that this lens is in no way intended for the everyday consumer- like the 70-200 f/2.8 offerings from other manufacturers, this lens is intended as a high-end professional tool, and to be part of a kit focused on results, not convenience.

The review notes that this lens is impractical to use one-handed with an A230 body, a comment which borders on the blindingly obvious. Using a 1.4KG lens one-handed, on an A230 or any other body, is at best a parlor trick, and at worst a fast track to a broken lens, courtesy of gravity and the pavement.

Photographers who need a lens like this will likely be well aware of both the cost and weight that are part and parcel for lenses of this kind. Casual photographers who simply want a bit more reach for day-to-day use could make do with a much more truncated review: "Move along."

PS. In the interest of accuracy I'll also point out that while the article says that "White plastic surrounds the main lens elements", the body construction is in fact all metal.




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User Reviews / Comments  Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G

  • Jas55

    Jas55

    "I have had this lens now for a few weeks, and am very happy with it. It has a fast acurate zoom, and will produce great shots. It was expensive to purchase,and is a little weighty to hold. A tripo..."

  • Jozioau

    Jozioau

    Rating9

    "An outstanding lens yielding superb image quality across its range, rivalling that of the legendary Minolta 200mm f2.8 HS APO G lens. Superb sharpness, colour rendition, and bokeh. Fast, silent foc..."

  • Phaelix

    Phaelix

    Rating9

    "This review covers all the bases on this lens, and prospective buyers would do well to be guided by it. However, the article seems to miss the point that this lens is in no way intended for the ev..."

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