Lens Review – Sony FE 100-400mm f\4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens – Part 1 – First Impressions

Sony’s 100/400 is listed as a GM or G Master lens.  That implies a premium or professional grade model.  I will attest it is a very well made lens.  It’s a metal construction unit and has plenty of heft to it weighing in at over three pounds.  Playing around with the autofocus I noted that the A7 III and the 100-400 are well matched and focus on distant and close objects quickly and accurately with no hunting.  And using a 400mm lens without a tripod (I used a monopod and sometimes handheld) I was impressed with how the image stabilization (IS) performed.  Using the A7 III’s magnified view on close objects without a tripod maximizes the shake observed through the viewfinder but with IS engaged I was very pleasantly surprised to find that once the trigger was half-pressed the shake disappeared.

I tested the lens out as a dragonfly and butterfly chaser.  Understand, it’s not a macro lens.  Maximum magnification is only about .3 but with the electronic magnification in use I can focus on the eye of an insect to perfect focus without a problem.

I like the rotating tripod collar.  It makes portrait shots easy and I used it to move the collar out of the way when I wanted to hand hold the lens.

And first impressions, the lens is very sharp from 100mm all the way to 400mm.  I’ve always been a prime lens snob.  But I have to admit that being able to zoom the lens to quickly frame the shot the way I want is very convenient and actually improved a number of my compositions.  The colors look good (as far as my color blind eyes can tell) with nice rendering of the flowers I’ve been shooting.  I’m very interested to see how the 1.4 and 2.0 teleconverters match up with this lens.  I want to shoot the 100-400 with them to have something to compare to the new Sony 200-600 lens that’s coming out soon.

And here’s a very unfair test of the lens.  This distance would have needed a 1200mm focal length to get any detail.

 

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Sony Super-Telephotos Announced

Sony has just announced their new super telephoto prime (600mm f/4) and zoom (200 – 600mm f/5.-6.3).  Of course, the 600mm f/4 is completely outside of the budget of anyone except the wealthy or the dedicated professional photographer (~$13,000).  But the 200 – 600mm zoom is $2,000 which is possible.  What I’m thinking of doing is renting the 200 – 600 and the 100 – 400 zooms and using the Sony 1.4X and 2X teleconverters compare the quality of the images between the zooms.  After all, a 100 – 400mm zoom is a pretty useful thing whereas the 200 – 600 zoom is a beast.  Now, the 100 – 400 is actually $500 more expensive than the 200 – 600 so I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that the 100 – 400 could match the 200 – 600.  Either way it’ll be an interesting experiment.  The 200 – 600 comes out in August stay tuned.

 

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Sony E-Mount Macro Lens Decision

I’ve been investigating how I wanted to do certain close-up photography work on the Sony E-mount.  Transitioning from the Sony A-mount I had the Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens.  This is a superb lens but it has a screw drive autofocus system which is not accommodated by the LAEA3 adapter and if used with the LAEA4 adapter forces me to have the so-called “translucent mirror” of the adapter in between the lens and the sensor.  So I went around looking for other options.  I rented the Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens.  It is excellent and has an excellent autofocus response with the Sony A7 III camera.  But it is less than half the focal length of the 200mm lens.  I looked at adapting the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 macro in Canon mount with the Sigma Canon to E-Mount MC-11 adapter.  I rented this combination and found the autofocus inconsistent at best.  Finally I tried to find the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 in A-mount and see if the LAEA3 combination would autofocus better.  The A-Mount is not a very popular one so none of the rental places had this lens.  I called up B&H Photo who had the lens and asked them to mount it on an A7 III with the LAEA3 and test the autofocus.  They said the autofocus was fair but completely blown away by the native Sony lens performance.  When I heard this I knew it was time to give up and go with the Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens.  I’ll always have the Minolta 200mm for times when I want the extra reach but autofocus is not critical.  But for hummingbird and butterfly shots the autofocus of the native sony E-Mount lenses is more important than the extra focal length.  I ordered it from B&H last night.  Case closed.