Recommending the best Sony 70-200mm lens seems on the surface like a very straightforward proposition. It’s Sony’s own 70-200mm, right? Well, the choices are never that straightforward, just like any lens type.
There are obviously a few 70-200mm Sony offerings, and then there are third-party choices. There aren’t that many available, but they are out there.
Then there is the added complication of using adapters to mount Canon EF and EF-S lenses on a different brand camera body. This means that in theory, all the Canon 70-200mm lens are now available to Sony users as well.
This is a distinct advantage to Sony camera users, but it does come with a few caveats. Firstly, to have full control of a Canon lens on a Sony body, a high-quality adapter, such as the Metabones version, needs to be used.
This means that if you want full control over autofocus and the like, these adapters are going to set you back a good few hundred dollars. There are cheaper versions on the market which promise full control over a Canon lens. But, the general consensus here is that some work better than others, and full functionality can even depend on each lens copy.
Therefore, lens adapters are a completely different category. This post focuses on bringing you lens recommendations that will actually work straight out of the box.
But, why should you buy a 70-200mm lens in the first place? The 70-200mm zoom has been a solid favorite from sports, action, and wildlife, to event photographers, who need that extra reach in a high-quality package. The focal range is also extremely versatile, being equally capable of taking great portrait images and covering the most used focal lengths in this area.
This all means that a 70-200mm zoom lens covers a lot of applications. Therefore, let’s have a closer look at the current Sony 70-200mm lens offerings and how they compare.
1. Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS (Overall Winner)
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS may be an obvious winner, but only just, as you will see from the f/4 version below. This lens is built to professional standards, which means it’s capable of being used in all types of weather conditions and scenarios.
Coming from Sony’s G Master series, the optics consist of a whopping 23 elements arranged in 18 groups. There are three aspherical elements, an XA element, four extra-low dispersion elements, and two Super ED elements. There is also a Nano AR coating applied to reduce reflections, flaring and ghosting, along with improving contrast and color.
The diaphragm consists of 11 rounded blades and the autofocus system features an advanced double-linear and ring Super Sonic Wave Motor system. The latter being very smooth and quiet, which will benefit video production.
Optical SteadyShot image stabilization has been added which can link up with Sony’s sensor-shift type image stabilization. This also provides two separate modes of use: mode one for general image stabilization and mode two for panning movements.
The lens barrel itself is fully weatherproofed with plenty of buttons and controls. Three focus hold buttons surround the end of the lens, a link up to a focus range limiter switch for full focus or 3m – infinity. There are also switches for AF/MF and the stabilization system.
If you want to extend the reach of this lens, then Sony’s optional 1.4x and 2x teleconverters can be used which can extend the reach up to 400mm. Lastly, the lens comes with a petal-shaped lens hood which includes an access window for adjusting filters.
Image quality is exceptional from this lens, even when wide-open, with images coming in exceptionally sharp across-the-board. The f/2.8 aperture produces wonderful bokeh effects, which is great for separating subjects from backgrounds. Plus, the colors and contrast are exceptional.
If you don’t mind the large price tag associated with this lens, the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS is a fine choice.
2. Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS
For those who want a high-quality Sony 70-200mm lens at a lower price point, the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS is a good option. Though the lens is made for full-frame camera bodies, it is equally capable on APS-C format cameras, providing a 105-300mm focal range with a constant f/4 aperture.
The internals consist of 21 elements arranged in 15 groups. It features two extra-low dispersion glass elements, one Super ED element, one aspherical element, and two Advanced Aspherical (AA) elements. A Nano AR coating has been applied to reduce reflections and other lens anomalies.
This lens has the added Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with two separate modes, focus limiting, focus hold buttons, and the usual AF/MF button. The diaphragm on this lens has nine blades rather than the 11 above.
Image sharpness is generally very good on this lens. It shows some slightly soft corners at 200mm f/4, though this does clear up when stopped down to f/5.6. Lens anomalies such as chromatic aberration are well-controlled and while it doesn’t have the overall image quality of the f/2.8 lens above, it’s a good second option for the Sony platform.
3. Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II
The Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II is another high-quality 70-200mm zoom that works equally well on APS-C format cameras, providing a 105-300mm focal length. A constant f/2.8 aperture is backed up by four extra-low dispersion elements, along with a Nano AR Coating for reducing lens anomalies and increasing color and contrast.
The lens is also accompanied by an SSM autofocus system, an electronic focus range limiter, and a rounded nine-blade diaphragm. It’s all wrapped around a fully weather-sealed lens barrel to cope with all types of weather conditions.
There’s no denying the high-quality of this lens throughout its focal and aperture range. It’s clearly aimed at the professional user who has the most discerning needs. But, as it has such a high price tag, the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS may be a better bet as an all-rounder while also considering the overall price point.
4. Sigma APO 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM (Budget Winner)
The Sigma APO 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM is slightly cheaper than the Sony f/4 version, but it also has an f/2.8 aperture. This lens doesn’t have the focus limiting functionality of the above lenses, but it does have image stabilization, with four stops of compensation and two separate modes.
The autofocus system on this lens is both quick and quiet and the Super Multi-Layer coating does a fine job of reducing lens anomalies such as chromatic aberration and flaring. While images are sharp at f/2.8, the best results come in from f/4 upwards. This lens also doesn’t have the overall build quality as the other offerings, but as a solid overall performer, the Sigma does well for the money.
Choosing Sony 70-200mm Lenses
There may not be that many choices in the Sony 70-200mm lens department, but the ones on offer are extremely high quality and won’t let you down in the field. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there is the option of using adapters, which will open up the possibility of using Canon’s fine 70-200mm L-series lens, but that’s open to another article.
Luckily, the native Sony 70-200mm lenses are the go-to choices and if you don’t mind the weighty price tags, they offer sumptuous quality and years of fine usage.