The FE 70-200mm f2.8 G Master is Sony’s professional large aperture telephoto zoom lens for their Alpha mirrorless cameras. As such it is one of the most important lenses in their line-up and highly desirable to portrait and wedding photographers, as well as anyone shooting close-range sports or wildlife. Sony equipped its lens well: optical image stabilization, tripod collar, focus limiter, focus-hold buttons and compatibility with Sony’s 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters. Plus there’s fluorine coating on the front lens and thorough weather-sealing. The lens focuses closer than one meter and can achieve a very useful maximum magnification of 1:3.6. It performed very well in all of my tests with high resolution, very good focus reliability, low colour aberrations and coma, producing very good image quality. And its image stabilization was effective for a good three stops.
What’s not to like? Well, the price is on the high side but not outrageously so for a professional telephoto zoom lens with constant f2.8 aperture. And the lens is relatively big and heavy. And as a videographer you might not like the heavy focus breathing.
Let’s have a closer look at how the Sony compares to the alternative from Tamron.
Compared to Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 Di III VXD
The Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 Di III is clearly smaller, 700g (25oz.) lighter, and much cheaper than the Sony. For that you give up 20mm reach on the long end and many of the features: no optical image stabilization, no tripod collar, no focus limiter, no focus-hold buttons, no pouch and perhaps worst of all: it’s incompatible with teleconverters. But its optical performance is pretty close to the Sony even besting it at 70mm outside the center. Plus the Tamron shows much less focus breathing. Maximum magnification of 1:1.8 at 70mm focal length may look very enticing but be aware that the image quality is limited even when stopped down to f11. But at 180mm focal length the lens produces very usable close-up shots with a magnification of around 1:4 which are sharper than from the Sony. And I wouldn’t worry too much about the missing optical stabilization: In my tests the Tamron experienced a three stop stabilization from the Sony A7R II body which is almost as good as what the Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 GM OSS achieved.
For more details see my Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 Di III review.
Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 GM OSS final verdict
The Sony FE 70-200mm f2.8 GM OSS is a well designed lens: It’s fully featured and its optical performance is still the best you can get for your Sony Alpha mirrorless camera. It may not be the smallest telephoto zoom lens with a constant f2.8 focal ratio and it’s pretty heavy on your neck and wallet. But other than that I can highly recommend it!
- Very good feature set including compatibility with teleconverters.
- Constant f2.8 focal ratio
- Very good resolution and contrast.
- Very little longitudinal colour aberrations.
- Nice Bokeh.
- Very usable close-up performance (when stopped down).
- Low vignetting and minimal distortions (through lens profile).
- Extensive weather sealing plus fluorine coating against moist and dust.
- 3+ stops of image stabilization.
- Reliable AF operation.
- High price.
- Relatively large and heavy.
- Visible focus breathing.