The 70-200mm is a popular focal range among photographers and with Sony allowing other glass to be fitted to their cameras via an adapter, they definitely have hot competition on their heels. However, there is nothing like having the same brand lens fitted to your camera, which means Sony camera owners are going to be eyeing up this latest offering to see if it can deliver the goods.
In this case, it’s the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II which is the definite heavyweight in the Sony lineup.
Being an f/2.8 lens means this beast is much larger than its sibling the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4. Strapped to the likes of the Sony a7R II, the lens almost dwarfs the camera, but on the mirrorless Sony design, the lens balances surprisingly well. Cradling the lens with one hand is sufficient for regular use.
Onto the specs and the lens is 196.5mm long and fits via the Sony A-mount. Focal length is 70-200mm, which works out on a crop sensor to be 105-300mm. Inside there are 19 elements in 16 groups including four ED (Extra Low Dispersion), one XA(Extreme Aspherical), two Aspherical and two Super ED elements, along with Nano AR coatings. A nine blade aperture, giving a range of f/2.8 – f/32.
At the front of the lens is a 77mm filter thread which can happily fit most popular filters and is non-rotating. Minimum focusing distance is 1.2m with a maximum magnification ratio of 0.21x.
At the front of the lens barrel is the manual focusing ring which is accompanied by three focus lock switches. These help out no matter the orientation of the camera but being so numerous, be careful not to press them by accident. The zoom ring is a little less wide, but equally smooth in operation and feels very tactile.
Next comes the various switches on the side of the barrel. The first being the auto and manual focus selector, the focus range limiter which can go from full to infinity and the 3m range to better optimize the autofocusing. Then there’s Sony image stabilization OSS (Optical Steady Shot) which has one switch for on and off and another for selecting the two modes for general use and panning. The included tripod mount is a common feature on this type of lens and feels rock solid and sturdy.
The Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II is fully moisture and dust proof, which is kind of expected at this level of price and quality. The lens is also compatible with Sony’s teleconverters. Everything here weighs in at a solid 1340g. It’s very clear from the off that this is a professional level lens built to top standards.
On first impressions with this lens, there’s no surprise that the sharpness is excellent. At the shortest focal length of 70 mm, wide open center sharpness is spot-on and overall becomes best at f/4. Even up to f/22, everything looks extremely good. The same goes at 135mm, where at f/2.8, everything looked great at f/4-f/5.6. At 200mm, the results are more or less replicated, just with some diffraction starting to creep in at f/22 which is kind of expected at this focal length. In total, there are no qualms here about the sharpness of this lens overall.
The lens does show a small sign of chromatic aberration at 200mm, but this can be easily corrected in postproduction. There are also very small signs of pincushioning which is a symptom of these focal lengths, but again can be dealt with in software. Background blur is helped out by the nine rounded aperture blades and f/2.8 gives some nice creamy renditions when needed. It may not give you the same level of smoothness as a prime with f/1.8 or below, but it’s there if you need it.
The OSS system works very well and seems to give you roughly 2 stops of leeway. Everything with the image stabilization system seems to work as expected, giving nice accurate images when the lens is handheld. It’s also not a cure-all solution, but it still does a very good job.
As far as image quality goes, the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II produces extremely sharp images across the board and with the f/2.8 and OSS, is definitely in the professional bracket.
How Does It Compare?
If you’re comparing this lens to what else Sony has to offer, the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G is a great alternative with the same features at almost half the price. Which you would opt for depends on if you really need that extra stop of light in your arsenal and price. From Nikon, there is the highly regarded Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR which is a touch more money, but also the NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II.
Canon’s highly respected EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is a definite contender and costs less, while Tamron and Sigma both have offerings with the Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD and the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM costing almost half the money. All these lenses are fine in their own right, so the decision will really be down to if you want a same brand lens and how much you can stretch your budget.
|Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II||Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G|
The Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G SSM II is clearly a high-end operator which can produce fantastic images, time after time. The lens is built extremely well and produces super sharp images across the range, with the only downside being a slight bit of flaring when there’s direct light.