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Sony FE 70-200mm F/2.8 GM OSS II Lens Review

John Riley has been testing the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II telephoto zoom lens on the Sony A7R IV to find out how versatile it is for photographers.

| Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II in Interchangeable Lenses

Sony FE 70-200mm F/2.8 GM OSS II Lens Review: Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II

The 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens tends to be an almost universal choice as a general-purpose long telephoto, not quite into the wildlife and birding categories but definitely beyond the range of the standard zoom. Sony has introduced a Mark II version of their splendid GM lens, the new FE 70-200mm GM OSS II. This is a full-frame lens, but it can also be used on crop sensor APS-C format bodies, where it offers a "35mm format equivalent" field of view of 105-300mm. GM lenses have an enviable reputation, so let's see how it fares, coupled up with the demanding standards of the 60MP Sony A7R IV body.


Sony FE 70-200mm F/2.8 GM OSS II Handling and Features

Sony FE 70-200mm F/2.8 GM OSS II Lens Review: Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II

The lens is fairly compact, balances very well with the A7R IV body, and is not overly heavy at 1045g without and 1127g with the tripod collar. Starting our tour of the lens at the front, there is a bayonet fit for the round hood that should be supplied with the lens, but unfortunately, with the review sample, this was missing. The hood does have a cutout window so polarising filters, for example, can be turned with the hood in place. Within the bayonet for the hood is a standard 77mm filter thread. The front element has a Fluorine coating to repel dirt, water and grease.

First up is the electronic, linear manual focusing ring, utterly smooth but perhaps a little on the light side. To prevent accidental nudging slightly more friction could be advantageous, but if needed DMF (Direct Manual Focusing) where the focusing ring is active during AF operation, can be turned off, and if there is an issue then this is a solution. Immediately behind the manual focus ring are three equally spaced buttons that by default are focus lock. They can be set to AF On in the camera menus. Focusing is down to 0.4m (1.32 feet) at 70mm and 0.82m (2.69 feet) at 200mm. The maximum magnification is 0.3x, usefully close and ensuring close up portraits are possible.


Sony FE 70-200mm F/2.8 GM OSS II Lens Review: Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II

The zoom ring is slightly firmer in operation with just the right amount of resistance. Settings are clearly and accurately marked at 70mm, 100mm, 135mm and 200mm. Zooming and focusing are both internal and the length of the lens does not alter. AF is driven by 4 EX (Extreme Dynamic) linear motors and offers up to 4x the AF speed of the previous model. It also offers significantly improved AF tracking while zooming, according to Sony a 30% improvement.

The aperture ring has a ribbed grip provided and is very precisely click stopped at one-third of a stop intervals. The extra resistance needed to apply the A setting is spot on and should avoid the ring being accidentally set to or removed from the A setting. If in any doubt there is a switch to turn the clicks on and off and an iris lock switch to lock the ring either in A or out of A. Videographers will find this system works very well and the clickless aperture ring is virtually silent.

There are five other switches – the usual AF/MF, Full-time DMF (Direct Manual Focus) on/off, a focus limiter (Full and Infinity to 3m), OSS (Optical SteadyShot) and finally Mode selection for the OSS. Mode 1 is standard, Mode 2 is for tracking and Mode 3 is for unpredictable subjects.

There is a removable tripod foot, handy especially for quickly rotating the camera for a vertical shot.


Sony FE 70-200mm F/2.8 GM OSS II Lens Review: Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II

Optical construction is 17 elements in 14 groups, including 2 Aspherical, 1 XA (Extreme Aspherical), 2 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion), 2 Super ED and 1 ED Aspherical. Sony utilises its Nano AR coating II technology to reduce flare. As well as the moisture repellant Fluorine front element the lens as a whole is dust and moisture resistant. The diaphragm comprises 11 rounded blades for improved bokeh. The lens is also compatible with two high-quality teleconverters – the 1.4x SEL14TC and the 2x SEL20TC.

Finally, the IS system is controlled by the on/off switch on the lens. The results were outstanding, and this reviewer on this day could easily see a 6 stop advantage with critical sharpness throughout.

There is no doubt that the lens is a beautiful piece of engineering, both mechanical and optical. It operates utterly smoothly, totally gels with the camera body and offers a huge range of features that have real, practical functions. A lens without any obvious vices and one that is a pleasure to use.


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