Sony users who’ve been patiently waiting for a 400mm f/2.8 lens in E-mount finally have what they’ve been waiting for. The recently announced Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS is the company’s latest fixed focal length telephoto lens and comes with a whopping price tag (£10,500), making it one of the most expensive lenses for Sony’s A7-series.
Unlike most DSLR lenses, that move the elements on a rotational corkscrew mechanism, the new Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS features the debut of new powerful, high-speed XD Linear Motors that move the elements in a straight line. The company claims this delivers AF tracking 5x faster than any current competitor. As a result, the lens promises extremely fast, precise and quiet AF that supports the A9’s 20fps continuous shooting with AF/AE tracking.
Renowned professional sports photographer Bob Martin, Director of Photography at Silverhub Media, who got to test the lens during its development, said: ‘This lens is a game-changer for sports photographers. The speed is unlike anything we have seen before.’
As well as being the fastest lens of its type, at 2,895g it is also the world’s smallest and lightest. When fitted to the Alpha 9 total weight is over 1.8kg lighter than the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM fitted to the EOS-1D X Mark II. Furthermore, Sony says that the placement of the elements further back in the lens ensures that it is not as front heavy as its rivals, making it more comfortable to hand hold for extended periods. The optical design comprises 23 elements arranged into 17 groups, with ED glass and three fluorite elements to help minimise axial chromatic aberration.
Yas Nagata, Sony’s head of Lens Development, highlighted the fact that was almost every component of the lens was developed in house, with Sony-designed optics, chassis, mechanisms, motors and actuators. This has enabled the firm to think outside the box. ‘We have been developing lenses with a clear vision of the needs of our future cameras,’ he explained, ‘and because we don’t have these legacy lenses we are able to start with a blank slate and bring a fresh approach to lens design. This new lens demonstrates the power of innovation.’
Other new features of the new G Master include built-in optical image stabilisation with a third mode for following moving subjects, a customisable function ring, a preset focus mode that can be stored and recalled at any time, APS-C/Full Frame Select that switches between the two crop factors, and a Power Focus mode for video shooting.
The lens is fully compatible with Sony’s 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters, turning it into a 560mm f/4 and 800mm f/5.6 optic respectively.
Built to order, the new FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS will ship in Europe in September 2018, priced at approximately £10,500. The optional Drop-in Circular Polarising Filter (model VF-DCPL1) will ship in Europe in December 2018, priced at approximately £420.