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Summary

The Sony FE 600mm f4 G Master OSS becomes the second high-end super-telephoto prime for Alpha mirrorless camera and, like the FE 400mm f2.8 before it, makes the system more attractive to professional sports and wildlife photographers. Like its equivalents from Canon and Nikon, this is of course an expensive lens - it’s designed for those who demand a very long focal length with a fast aperture, impeccable optical quality and very quick focusing, and that combination doesn’t come cheap. But while the pricing is similar to 600mm f4 models from Canon and Nikon, the FE 600mm scores with its native e-mount, allowing it to exploit the full power of the Alpha body’s autofocusing systems. Couple it with the Alpha A9 in particular and you have a formidable combination that will further tempt pro shooters into adopting the system. So again while lenses like these have a limited audience, they’re important models to have in the catalogue to sell the system as a whole, especially to pros or agencies. With a 400mm f2.8 and 600mm f4 now in the range, the Alpha system has become a more serious contender in this market.

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Check prices on the Sony FE 600mm f4 GM at B&H or WEX! Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Sony FE 600mm f4 GM OSS review so far

Intro

The Sony FE 600mm f4 GM OSS is a super-telephoto lens for the Alpha mirrorless system aimed at professional sports and wildlife photographers. It’s the 10th G Master lens and becomes the longest focal length in the native e-mount catalogue. With a long 600mm focal length and fast f4 focal ratio, it’s designed for capturing distant subjects in low light with compressed perspective and very shallow depth-of-field effects. But as a G Master lens with an Extreme Aspherical element, the FE 600mm f4 is also designed to deliver sharp details into the corners even wide-open or used with tele-converters, allowing you to confidently position the subject anywhere on the frame or even shoot landscapes. I had a chance to try out a final production sample over a couple of days at a press event, shooting football, birds and jetskis. I’ve put together a video of the highlights and my first impressions below, followed by some excerpts for those who prefer to read, as well as a bunch of sample images!

 

 

 

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I had a chance to try out the FE 600mm f4 G Master as well as the more affordable FE 200-600mm over a couple of days at an official press event, shooting football, birds and jetskis with the Alpha A9 body.

 

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Above: The FE 600mm f4 becomes the 10th G Master lens and the longest prime in the native e-mount catalogue. With a long 600mm focal length and fast f4 focal ratio, it’s designed for capturing distant subjects in low light with compressed perspective and very shallow depth-of-field effects. But as a G Master lens with an Extreme Aspherical element, the FE 600mm f4 is also designed to deliver sharp details into the corners even wide-open or when used with tele-converters, allowing you to confidently position the subject anywhere on the frame.

 

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Above: Measuring 164mm in maximum diameter and 449mm in length, it’s roughly similar in size to the Canon and Nikon DSLR equivalents, and weighing 3040g it’s just 10g lighter than the Canon, although both comfortably undercut the Nikon by about 800g. Like the earlier FE 400mm f2.8, Sony’s concentrated most of the weight towards the centre of the barrel, making it feel well-balanced in your hands. The first time you pick it up, it feels remarkably light for its size, but like any three kilo lens, you’ll quickly tire of hand-holding it and generally shoot from a tripod or monopod.

 

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Above: Like other super-telephotos, it comes in a hard carrying case and is transported with the substantial lens hood reversed over the barrel and a hard fabric cap slid over the end.

 

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Above: In use, remove the lens cover and fit the lens hood the correct way round, after which you can safely stand the lens up.

 

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Above: Sony’s been careful to match the controls with the earlier FE 400mm f2.8 for a seamless experience switching between them. This includes the same diameter manual focusing ring as well as the twistable function ring alongside it which can be programmed to return to a preset focusing distance – great for locking-in the exact focus point of a race start or a bird’s hunting branch.

 

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Above: If you have an A9, you can alternatively configure the twisting ring to motorised focus or to toggle between full-frame and APSC modes.

 

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Above: On an outer ring are four buttons which all share the same custom function, typically focus lock, but you could alternatively go for, say, toggling eye-detection.

 

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Above: The control panel itself is also identical to the FE 400mm f2.8, with switches to set the focusing range, stabilisation mode and to configure the twistable function ring.

 

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Above: Like most super-telephoto lenses, there’s no filter thread at the front, so instead filters are accommodated internally near the mount, using a slot system.

 

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Above: Underneath the lens is a permanently mounted tripod foot with the choice of two thread sizes. The foot also includes a collar within which the lens barrel can rotate – handy for switching between portrait and landscape orientations while mounted…

 

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Above: …and it can double as a carrying handle too.

 

Sony FE 600mm f4 G Master OSS verdict so far

The Sony FE 600mm f4 G Master OSS becomes the second high-end super-telephoto prime for Alpha mirrorless camera and, like the FE 400mm f2.8 before it, makes the system more attractive to professional sports and wildlife photographers. Like its equivalents from Canon and Nikon, this is of course an expensive lens – it’s designed for those who demand a very long focal length with a fast aperture, impeccable optical quality and very quick focusing, and that combination doesn’t come cheap. But while the pricing is similar to 600mm f4 models from Canon and Nikon, the FE 600mm scores with its native e-mount, allowing it to exploit the full power of the Alpha body’s autofocusing systems. Couple it with the Alpha A9 in particular and you have a formidable combination that will further tempt pro shooters into adopting the system. So again while lenses like these have a limited audience, they’re important models to have in the catalogue to sell the system as a whole, especially to pros or agencies. With a 400mm f2.8 and 600mm f4 now in the range, the Alpha system has become a more serious contender in this market. What lens would you like to see next?

It’s always fun to check out some really high-end gear, but if you’re looking for a long Sony lens at a more affordable price, check out my Sony FE 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS review which, at $2000, will appeal to a much larger market.

Check prices on the Sony FE 600mm f4 GM at B&H or WEX! Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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