Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS Lens Review
For those wanting a great quality, relatively light, relatively affordable telephoto zoom lens, the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens may be the perfect answer. While it won’t be considered a small or light lens by most, the FE 70-200mm f/4 is both of these compared to the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens and other similar lenses. Compared to that same lens, the f/4 model is also cheap. This is a quality-built lens with a premium AF system that delivers excellent image quality for a reasonable price and that is a package many photographers are looking for.
Focal Length Range
I have had a 70-200mm lens in my kit since … I had a kit. And, for well over a decade, I’ve had at least two of them. These zoom lenses are, individually, among my most-used, despite the fact that I also own other lenses covering significant portions of this focal length range. That this specific focal length range is so incredibly useful is the reason that I so often choose a 70-200mm lens for whatever my need is.
What is a 70-200mm lens useful for? The list of uses for a short-mid-telephoto focal length range is quite long. I’ll share some of my favorites from it here.
At the top of my favorite uses for a 70-200mm lens list is portrait photography and if you are taking pictures of people, one of these lenses has your name on it. Containing a superset of the classic 85-135mm portrait focal length range, 70-200mm lenses are ideal for capturing pleasing perspectives of people. This lens invites subject framing ranging from full body portraits at 70mm to tight headshots at 200mm and these mid-telephoto focal lengths naturally push the focus distances far enough away to avoid perspective distortion, including large-appearing noses. But, not so far away that communication with the subject becomes difficult.
A set of focal length ranges illustrated for portrait use can be found below. These images were captured with an f/2.8 lens at f/2.8, so ignore the background blur in these examples. Simply observe the perspective.
“Portrait photography” is a broad term that covers a wide variety of potential still and video uses at a wide variety of venues including both indoors (home, church, school, etc.) and outdoors (yard, beach, park, parade, playground, etc.). Portrait subjects can range from infants to seniors, from individuals to large groups (if enough working distance is available). Engagements, weddings, parties, events, theater, stage performances (including concerts and recitals), speakers, families, small groups, senior adults, graduating seniors, fashion, documentary, lifestyle … all are great uses for the 70-200mm focal lengths. There is often adequate space in even a small studio for portraiture with the angle of view provided by this lens. It is not hard to use this lens exclusively for portrait shoots.
That portrait photography is one of the best revenue-producing photography genres helps justify the acquisition cost of this lens (you cannot buy stock photos of most people) and you likely noticed the paid applications in the just-shared list of portrait uses. It is much easier to justify the purchase of a lens that can pay for itself.
People are also frequently photographed participating in sporting activities and other action scenarios using this focal length range. While the 200mm focal length may be modestly too wide for large field sports photography, it works very well for closer action such as that found at track and field meets and on the basketball court (though an f/4 aperture may not be adequate for indoor action).
By virtue of the longer focal lengths, the background of 70-200mm images can be strongly-blurred and that attribute is especially great for portraits captured where the background cannot be fully controlled, including at sporting events and performances captured from a seat in the audience.
While portrait photography generally refers to images of people being captured, some of us also refer to certain types of wildlife photos as portraits. These images typically include the animal at least nearly filling the frame, and for that task, this focal length range often falls short of the need. Unless the wildlife subject is very large and/or very close, the longest native focal length in this lens will usually be found far too short for this task. If capturing environmental wildlife portraits or captive (zoo) wildlife, this focal length range may be perfect. This is a great focal length range for photographing pets, including dogs and cats.
When landscape photography is mentioned, many immediately think of wide angle lenses. But, telephoto focal lengths are an extremely important part of a landscape kit and I seldom photograph landscapes without this focal length range being covered. The telephoto focal lengths can create excellent landscape images, especially when there is a distant subject that needs to be emphasized, such as a mountain. Here is a 200mm sample image (again captured with a different lens) showing a compressed landscape, emphasizing lines and colors over depth:
Another great use of telephoto lenses for landscape photography is to focus on closer details, allowing a strong background blur to isolate those details within the image. This focal length range is especially great for capturing clouds and sunsets.
It is so easy to take great telephoto landscape images that it feels (slightly) like cheating.
Cityscapes are essentially landscape images with cities in them and this focal length range is often a great choice for more-distant city views.
Street photography, often done in cities, is another great use for the 70-200mm range.
This is a great studio lens, working especially well for product images and many other general studio applications. Most of the product images on this site were captured within the 70-200mm range and this range is ideal for larger products including vehicles.
Here is an example of what this focal length range looks like:
Mount a 70-200mm lens on an APS-C-format camera and the angle of view becomes like that of a 105-300mm lens on a full frame camera. While the narrower angle of view does not greatly change the uses list for this lens, these angles of view make widely-framed portraits less ideal and most will prefer the narrower angle of view range for sports and wildlife pursuits.
The “f/4” in the product name tells us that this lens has a medium-wide maximum aperture opening. That there is no aperture range provided here is an especially positive feature, meaning that this lens has the same max aperture available over the entire focal length range. While f/4 is not impressively wide at 70mm, it is definitely looking much better in comparisons with many other lenses at 200mm.
For a 70-200mm professional-grade lens, the relevant comparable max aperture is f/2.8, a 2x larger opening. The f/2.8 options will stop action and be handholdable in light that is half as bright, and these lenses can create a stronger background blur. If those aspects are important to you, head over to the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens review as that is the model you likely want.
If unsure about the background blur difference, you might find this 70-200mm focal length and aperture comparison helpful.
If f/2.8 is not needed, this lens’ f/4 max aperture has some strong advantages of its own. The significantly reduced size, much lighter weight and significantly lower price tag are my favorites.
Sony marketing touts their cameras as having IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization), but many of their lenses also feature OSS (Optical SteadyShot). While perhaps not immediately clear, these two stabilization systems are complementary: “5-axis image stabilization becomes available when used with α series bodies that feature built-in image stabilization.” [Sony] And, clear imagery is what this combo stabilization system delivers.
While the f/4 wide aperture alone does not make this lens a great choice for low light photography, this lens’ optical image stabilization system greatly aids in low light use, significantly increasing its versatility, improving usability and, in many situations, greatly improving the image quality this lens delivers.
A number of stops of assistance rating is often provided by a manufacturer, but Sony does not specify one for this lens. Shooting handheld (elbows not resting on my body) under ideal conditions (indoors on concrete), using a Sony a7R III, most of my 70mm images were sharp at 1/6 second shutter speeds with a rapid drop-off in sharp image percentages beyond that shutter speed, though sporadic sharp images were made at exposures as long as .6 seconds. A longer focal length magnifies motion more, and at 200mm, nearly all images were sharp at 1/30 second. About 50-60% of images were sharp at 1/20 with a rather quick drop in sharp image percentages at longer shutter speeds.
Those numbers are far better than I could obtain without the assistance of stabilization. Photographing outside, perhaps in the wind or on unstable footing? Expect to need faster shutter speeds than those I reported. But, also expect a similar amount of assistance from OSS as it is still similarly and significantly compensating for shake.
Usually, a tripod will give you at least the same benefit. However, it is not always convenient to carry and use a tripod and working handheld is usually much faster, allowing images to be captured that otherwise would have been missed.
While OSS is great for reducing camera shake-caused blur in images, it is also very helpful for precise framing of subjects in the viewfinder. While this lens’ OSS is active, drifting of framing is not an issue with the viewfinder view remaining well-controlled, not jumping at startup/shutdown and subject reframing being quite easily accomplished.
Modes I and II (panning mode, stabilization in one direction only) are provided.
This OSS system is one of the quietest image stabilization systems I’ve used. In a quiet room with my ear against the lens, I can hear only a very faint whir. Handheld video recording is nicely assisted by OSS and the stabilized composition also provides a still subject to the camera’s AF system, permitting it to do its job better.
Note that Sony recommends turning OSS off when using a tripod.
While many lens aspects are important, the image quality a lens produces is always a paramount one and basically, this lens is sharp wide open and really sharp at f/5.6.
I usually expect the 200mm end of a 70-200mm lens to be the weakest, but this lens performs at least as well in the center of the frame at 200mm as the rest of the focal lengths and that is a strong advantage. Stopping down to f/5.6 brings a boost to the already sharp f/4 results and there is little center-of-the-frame reason to stop down to f/8 aside from increasing depth of field.
As usual, the center of the frame is sharper than the periphery at the widest apertures, but the difference seen in this lens is quite small, at least until the extreme corners are reviewed. Figure a one stop narrower aperture for really sharp extreme full frame corners.
Below you will find sets of 100% resolution crops captured in uncompressed RAW format using a Sony a7R III. The images were processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method with the sharpening amount set to only “30” on a 0-1000 scale. These examples are from the center of the frame.
As always, determine where the center of the depth of field is when making comparisons. I have no reservation about using this lens at f/4.
This lens keeps the depth of field nicely centered as the aperture narrows.
Here are sets of similarly-captured extreme upper-left corner crops.
In the 200mm examples, focus your attention on the foliage on the left side of the frame as that is what was focused on. Especially if lateral CA and vignetting is removed, even the f/4 results are looking very nice. Landscape photographers will be pleased with the corners this lens presents.
As mentioned, vignetting is affecting the full frame corners at the widest apertures. However, the amount of shading is relatively mild. At f/4, expect corners to be about 1.5 stops darker except at the 200mm end where there is about 2 stops of shading. At f/5.6, the shading is reduced to about .7 stops except, again, at the 200mm end where a typically-just-noticeable 1-stop remains. Shading levels out at roughly .25 stops at f/8 with 200mm doing the same at f/11.
APS-C format camera owners will avoid vignetting almost entirely with about .6 stops being worst case at f/4.
The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths exists. Below are worst-case examples from each of the marked focal lengths of this lens. Following are 100% crops from the extreme top-left corner of a7R III frames.
There should be only black and white colors in these images with the additional colors showing lateral CA. At 70mm, there is relatively strong color separation and this separation is also seen in the corner crops in the sharpness examples above. Lateral CA diminishes to negligible through the mid focal length range with new colors emerging at the 200mm end.
A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.
In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.
Ultra-wide apertures tend to show these aberrations most strongly, but there are some modest foreground vs. background color differences showing in these 100% crops.
Derived from our standard flare testing is that this lens shows very few flare effects with a wide open aperture. As the aperture narrows and the focal length increases, flare effects show more strongly (this is normal). Overall, this lens is a decent performer in this regard, especially for the relatively large number of lens elements in its design.
Coma is generally recognized by sharp contrast towards the center of an image and long, soft contrast transition toward the image periphery. Coma becomes quite visible mid-frame and in the corners of images captured at wide apertures and significantly resolves when the lens is stopped down. Astigmatism is another lens image quality attribute that is apparent in the corners and the pin-point stars in the night sky are a subject that makes these aberrations, along with some others, easily recognizable to me.
A 70-200mm f/4 lens is seldom used as an astrophotography lens (unless it is on a tracking mount), but with the north star in the frame, the earth’s rotation does not create too much motion blur to obscure these aberrations in a relatively short night sky exposure. These f/4 100% crops were taken from near the top-right corner of the frame.
These results are decent.
This lens shows a very low amount of geometric distortion. At 70mm, there is very slight barrel distortion and as the focal length increases, the distortion profile turns to a slight pincushion type. But, it does not become even modestly strong at any point. I thought our test results must have been processed with distortion correction enabled, but … they were not.
When a blurred background is desired, a telephoto focal length is a great choice and this lens can create a very strong background blur. Much harder to discern is the quality of that blur, bokeh.
The usual concentric rings can be seen around the borders of out of focus specular highlights. The outer transition is not harsh and the centers are reasonably smooth. In general, even with rounded aperture blades, the more an aperture is stopped down, the less round these effects become. An f/4 lens is only stopped down 2 stops to reach f/8, and these highlights remain very round.
The 9-blade aperture creates nice quality 18-point stars from point light sources.
From an image quality perspective, the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens performs stellarly.
To realize the full image quality a lens is capable of requires accurate focusing and if relying on autofocus for that task, the performance of the lens’ AF system is very important. The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens’s dual linear motor-driven AF system is excellent. The speed is very fast and the action is barely audible even with an ear next to the lens. Of utmost importance is that this lens very consistently focuses accurately.
Overall autofocus performance relies on a camera to complete the task. One AF component, speed, is notably hindered by the Sony cameras available at this time. While the lens focuses quite fast, when mounted on the Sony a7R III (and the other recent Sony alpha camera models) in AF-Single mode, the lens is de-focused slightly before being focused on the subject, even if focusing at the same distance with the same subject, for an overall mediocre focus speed.
In AF-C continuous focus mode, the a7R III gives up the focus hunting practice and the result is noticeably-faster focus acquisition. The downside is that AF accuracy is somewhat reduced, at least in some situations.
Unique to this class of lenses are 3 AF hold buttons, located at the top, bottom and left side of the lens. The right side of the lens does not get a button for some reason and while I might make use of such a button in that position (when holding the camera in vertical orientation), the other three buttons are sufficient and I appreciate having them. While in continuous focus mode, these buttons can be pressed to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. Note that the owner’s manual indicates that “the focus hold button of this lens does not function with some camera models.” It fails to mention which cameras are not compatible, but … I expect the latest models to support that feature.
A focus limiter switch permits selection of the full focus distance range or a limited 9.84′ (3m) – ∞ range with the narrower range improving AF speed in some situations. This lens focuses internally and FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony’s DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode.
The manual focus ring is nicely sized, very smooth, ideally dampened and, being very slightly larger in diameter than the rest of the lens, easy to find. The slow rotation speed is just right for precise manual focusing at all distances. This is a focus-by-wire AF system and faster rates of focus distance change initiate higher speed focus distance adjustments. While this type of system can be tuned to work well, I find this lens only moderately well-tuned. I would like to see slightly more of a rate change required to make the speed shift change happen more intentionally. Only a short rotation of the focus ring is required to go from minimum focus distance to infinity if the rotation speed is fast.
There is modest change in subject size as focus is adjusted to full extents. Here are examples:
While this attribute is not unusual, photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques involving focus distance adjustment, videographers pulling focus and anyone very-critically framing a scene should be aware.
While a distance window is not provided on this lens, a focus distance meter shows in the lower portion of the electronic viewfinder during manual focusing. Of course, the camera must be powered on to see that meter and to adjust focus distance.
While non-cinema lenses are generally not parfocal and this feature can be an individual lens-specific attribute, parfocal-like behavior is not a characteristic the reviewed lens exhibits. You will want to refocus after changing the focal length.
This lens has a 39.4″ (1000mm) minimum focus distance. That distance lines up well with the other lenses in its class, but the 0.13x maximum magnification spec is far below that of its peers.
ModelMFDMM Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens39.4″(1000mm)0.27x Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Lens47.2″(1200mm)0.21x Nikon 70-200mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens39.4″(1000mm)0.27x Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens39.4″(1000mm)0.13x Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens37.8″(960mm)0.25x Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Lens37.4″(950mm)0.32x
The 7″ (178mm) sunflower below was captured at this lens’ minimum focus distance.
To reduce the minimum focus distance and thereby increase the maximum magnification, mount an extension tube behind this lens. Infinity and long distance focusing are sacrificed with an extension tube in use, but extension tubes improve a lens’ magnification capabilities, though by a lesser amount as the focal length increases. Sony does not publish extension tube specs nor do they offer those products as of review time. You’ll have to chose a third party extension tube if this feature is desired.
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens is not compatible with the Sony FE 1.4x and Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverters.
Build Quality & Features
The Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS is a very nicely built lens and it looks great as well.
Featuring a superb design very similar to its f/2.8 alternative, this lens has a relatively-constant diameter that is comfortable in hand. The matte-white color looks sharp against the black zoom and focus rings and promises to keep the lens cooler under direct sunlight. Like all of the other 70-200mm lenses currently available, the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens has the positive fixed size feature with no extension during focusing or zooming. The barrel exterior is high quality engineering plastic and metals are used internally for a solid overall feel.
Like the focus ring, the zoom ring is nicely sized, requires just the right amount of rotational force to turn and it has no play. The 78° of full-extents rotation means that the lens can be adjusted over the entire range (or at least nearly so) without a re-grip necessary. A clockwise zoom ring rotation selects a longer focal length. Those familiar with Canon lenses will require some mental retraining as this zoom ring rotates in the reverse direction while the Nikon-experienced will feel right at home with this design. Similar to Canon lenses and opposite of Nikon lenses is that a clockwise focus ring rotation selects a longer focus distance. Those using all three systems will be totally confused.
Not so common for 70-200mm f/4 lenses is that the Sony’s zoom ring is located to the rear of the lens, behind the focus ring. Several 70-200mm lens designs feature the zoom ring located toward the front of the lens, resulting in a very problematic unbalanced grip when adjusting focal length. Sony gets this design right and it makes a big difference in the usability of the lens. With the lens balanced in the left palm, fingertips are free to quickly adjust the rear-positioned zoom ring while the right hand is free to change camera settings and capture images without having to support the weight of the camera and lens.
The shallow, well-populated switch bank is conveniently located with all conventionally-available switches present. Unlike some switch-less Sony lenses that require camera setting changes for enabling or disabling features such as MF and OSS, this one provides the functionality at your fingertips, enabling fast and easily visually-discernable changes. The switches themselves are not my favorite aspect of this lens design. While they are not hard to access or use, they feel plasticky and do not click as sharply into position as they should. In particular, the two OSS switches are lacking a reassuring click. All of the switches are the two-position variety, so simply pushing until they stop works.
Sony advertises this lens as having a “dust and moisture-resistant design”, but I don’t see a rear gasket seal on the lens mount. Especially with that significant omission, I would use extra caution in wet or dusty conditions.
While the lens itself is very comfortable to use, the current Sony alpha camera grips do not permit adequate space for finger clearance and my joint pressing into the back of this lens (and many other Sony medium and large lenses) while gripping the camera is uncomfortable.
Why do I have two Canon 70-200mm lenses in my kit? While my f/2.8 lens can photographically do essentially everything the f/4 version can do, I can carry the f/4 lens comfortably for a much longer period of time. Less fatigue means better performance. At 57% of the Sony f/2.8 lens’ weight, the f/4 difference is very noticeable.
While considerably smaller and lighter than 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses, 70-200mm f/4 lenses are still not considered small or light by many and the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens is similarly-sized with the rest – which, like the f/2.8 models, are all surprisingly similar. Here is a comparative look at current 70-200mm lenses, focusing on the size and weight aspects.
ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens28.2 oz(800g)3.1 x 6.9″(80.0 x 176.0mm)72mm2018 Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Lens24.9 oz(705g)3 x 6.8″(76.0 x 172.0mm)67mm1999 Nikon 70-200mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens30 oz(850g)3.1 x 7″(78.0 x 178.5mm)67mm2012 Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens29.7 oz(840g)3.1 x 6.9″(80.0 x 175.0mm)72mm2014 Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens52.2 oz(1480g)3.5 x 7.9″(88.0 x 200.0mm)77mm2016 Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Lens30.3 oz(859g)3.0 x 6.9″(76.0 x 175.3mm)67mm2018
For many more comparisons, review the complete Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens Specifications using the site’s Lens Spec tool.
This lens is very manageable for long duration use.
Following are visual comparisons of some of the above-listed lenses.
Positioned from left to right are the:
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Lens Nikon 70-200mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens
The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.
Use the site’s product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens to other lenses.
This lens’ 72mm filter thread is a moderate size and it is a very common one. Filters of this size will not be hard to find, they will not be overly expensive and the potential to have multiple lenses sharing them is strong.
Unlike any of the other 70-200mm f/4 DSLR lenses available at review time, the FE 70-200mm f/4 comes with the tripod ring included. If used from a tripod, these lenses should have a tripod ring and Sony gets it right by including this feature.
This is not the smoothest-rotating tripod ring out there, but with a less-than-90° turn of the knob, it locks very tightly. Also important is that the ring is substantially-constructed and quite solid, enabling it to do its job especially well. Utilizing a hinged design (with a nicely integrated hinge), the ring is removable without unmounting the lens.
Also included is a relatively large, slightly-flexible plastic lens hood. This hood design offers significant protection from flare-causing light and from impact, dust, etc. The somewhat-wide round shape of the hood makes the lens stand upright with a camera mounted (use caution doing this) with the rubberized end of the hood reducing slipping and marking and enhancing the appearance.
Another accessory included in this box is a seemingly-good-quality vinyl draw-string pouch with felt interior. Aside from the well-padded bottom, this pouch offers only minimal impact protection. If better protection is desired in a lens-only case, try the quality, affordable Lowepro Lens Cases.
Price and Value
This is a high-performing professional-grade lens with Sony’s name on it. That combination suggests a relatively high price tag. But, in part due to the f/4 max aperture, this lens’ price is only moderately high. Those wanting high quality lenses in their kits should not have trouble justifying this one’s price.
As an “FE” lens, the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including both full frame and APS-C sensor format models. Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.
The review lens was online-retail sourced.
Alternatives to the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens
Although likely to change soon, as of review time, direct alternatives to this lens require a lens mount adapter and adapted lenses do not typically perform as well on Sony cameras as native ones. Thus, if performance, most notably AF and frame rate performance (especially on the a9) are important, I highly recommend staying with the manufacturer brand lens in this case.
Staying in the Sony FE family means the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens is the alternative. The f/2.8 lens offers twice as much light at max aperture (with more significant background blur potential), but it is roughly twice as big, weighs far more and that it is currently priced more than $1,000 more will certainly gain it attention.
The f/2.8 is sharper than the f/4 in most direct aperture comparisons and shows less lateral CA overall. As can be expected from a wider aperture lens, the f/2.8 has less peripheral shading at f/4 than the f/4 lens has wide open. That difference is mostly erased at f/5.6 and the f/4 lens has even slightly less vignetting in some f/8 comparisons. The two-year-older f/4 lens has electronic manual focusing with a multi-speed focus ring, has 9 aperture blades (vs. 11) and has 72mm filter threads (vs. 77mm).
To get the f/4 aperture in an alternative lens means adapting lenses and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens is a favorite at this time. Overall, the Sony and Canon are mostly equivalents, though my Canon is slightly sharper than my Sony review lens at f/4. At f/5.6, you won’t care which lens was used to capture the picture. The Canon shows less vignetting at f/4 at the wide end, shows slightly less lateral CA at 70mm and shows somewhat less flare effects. The Sony has less geometric distortion overall.
Comparing the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens to the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM Lens shows the two very similar overall. Perhaps the biggest difference shown here is the Canon’s very significantly higher maximum magnification (0.27x vs. 0.13x). My experience with Canon’s IS system was better than with the Sony’s OSS. The Canon lens is less expensive, but the required adapter has a cost as does the Canon-optional tripod ring.
Tamron’s current entry in this lens class is the Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Lens. Don’t let that extra 10mm on the long end influence your decision in any significant way. All else equal, more is better in regards to the upper end focal length in a zoom lens, but 210mm is not very different from 200mm.
The Tamron is also a high-performing lens that competes strongly with the Sony in terms of sharpness. The Sony shows a very slight edge at f/4 until 200mm where is solidly bests the Tamron. The Tamron has slightly less vignetting at the long end and less lateral CA at the wide end. The Sony has less geometric distortion overall.
Comparing the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens to the Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD Lens shows that, overall, these two lenses are very similar. Well, similar except that the Tamron’s 0.32x maximum magnification crushes the Sony’s 0.13x spec. The Tamron uses 67mm filters (vs. 72mm) and does not have a focus limiter switch. The price tag of the Tamron, 53% as much as the Sony at review time, is going to catch your attention. Keep in mind that the Tamron’s tripod ring is optional and the cost of an adapter must be considered.
As already established, the non-Sony lenses require adapters for use on Sony cameras and for performance reasons, as of review time, I suggest that if you are using a Sony camera, get the Sony lens made specifically for it.
The FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens fills an important niche in the Sony lens lineup. Looking for a professional-grade, high-performing Sony telephoto zoom lens that is able to be comfortably carried for long periods of time and doesn’t cost a fortune? Look no further. This lens has your name on it.
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