Sony has taken wraps off its latest telephoto prime lens - the Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS. Set to be a game-changer in sports and action photography, AP's Editor Nigel Atherton was one of the first of the photo press to try it out. View a gallery of shots, including links to full-size images below

Cards on the table, I’m not a sports photographer and haven’t used either the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM or the Nikon 400mm f/2.8 AF-S E FL ED VR in real world shooting conditions. Although I can’t offer a direct comparison with the lenses mentioned above, I can tell you the new Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS does provide several surprises.

Firstly it’s a lot easier to handhold that I expected a lens of its size to be. Secondly, standing on the touchline at the New York Red Bulls soccer stadium trying to get some decent shots as the home team defeated FC Dallas 3:0, I expected to struggle a lot more than I did to get anything in focus.

I was certainly taken aback by the ability of the lens, and the Sony Alpha 9 body it was attached to, to lock onto its subjects with such instantaneous certainly and maintain focus on them as they ran, jumped, weaved in between other players and generally tried to make life difficult for the AF system. ‘Sports photography is going to be a cinch with this piece of kit,’ I thought, as the match got underway, completely failing to anticipate the level of skill involved in predicting where the action is going to be, and in framing and shooting at just the right time and place.

Yas Nagata of Sony holding the FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS

In between the action I turned 180 degrees to pick faces out of the crowd with ease, and found that the lens delivered an unflattering degree of sharpness to faces many tens of metres away.

Okay, this lens is going to cost more than a fairly decent car, and I doubt that any AP readers will be forming an orderly queue to buy one, but the technology in this lens is likely to filter down to future new lenses that perhaps you will one day be buying. On the strength of my evening in New York, the future is looking very bright for Sony shooters interested in sports, wildlife and action photography.

For more information about the new Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS read our recent news story.

Our selection of sample images were taken with the lens coupled to the Sony Alpha 9.