To evaluate the real-life performance of the Sony FE 70-200mm f4G OSS lens at 70mm, I shot this exterior scene at every aperture setting using a Sony A6000 mounted on a tripod. My results at 200mm are lower on the page.
I plan to update my review in the future with full-frame samples, but in the meantime the results here are still applicable to those with full-frame bodies, indicating the performance in the center and roughly two thirds of the way to the corners.
The A6000 was set to its base sensitivity of 100 ISO and the lens focused on the center of the composition. The corner and center crops shown below were taken from the areas marked with the red rectangles, right, and presented at 100%.
I shot the scene using the A6000’s RAW mode and processed the files in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) via Photoshop using the following sharpening settings: 50 / 0.5 / 36 / 10. All lens corrections were disabled, so there’s no software compensation for vignetting, geometric distortion or chromatic aberrations, although note the camera may be applying some corrections before the RAW file is recorded which can’t be disabled.
In the center at f4 there’s plenty of detail but a little softness and lack of contrast that’s quickly improved a great deal by closing to f5.6. At f8 the results are also very crisp in the middle, although at f11 the effects of diffraction have begun to kick-in with a reduction in contrast and softness that’s not dissimilar to the result at f4. This deteriorates at f16 and takes a big drop in quality at f22 where there’s significant loss of detail and contrast.
The story’s much the same in the extreme corner of the APSC frame, itself representing about two thirds of the way to the corner of a full-frame sensor. The quality is very good even wide-open at f4 with minimal softness to mention, but improvements in contrast and sharpness can be enjoyed by closing to between f5.6 and f8. Once again beyond here diffraction softens the image.
So I’d say at 70mm, the FE 70-200mm f4G OSS performs very well. It delivers a respectable result wide open at f4, but big improvements can be had by closing to f5.6 or f8 when shooting with a 24 Megapixel APSC. I’d avoid shooting at smaller apertures than this though unless the depth of field, star spikes or exposure demand it. Scroll down further for my results at 200mm.
Sony FE 70-200mm f4G OSS quality at 200mm on APSC
As before I shot the scene using the A6000’s RAW mode and processed the files in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) via Photoshop using the following sharpening settings: 50 / 0.5 / 36 / 10. All lens corrections were disabled, so there’s no software compensation for vignetting, geometric distortion or chromatic aberrations, although note the camera may be applying some corrections before the RAW file is recorded which can’t be disabled.
When zoomed to 200mm, the FE 70-200mm loses a little contrast compared to its results at 70mm, but the image remains highly detailed. The center crop shows plenty of real-life resolution when wide-open at f4, but definitely benefits from stopping down to f5.6 if possible, where you’ll enjoy greater contrast and sharpness. The result at f8 also looks good, but as before, there’s a gradual decline to the softening of diffraction at f11, that becomes more obvious at f16 and pretty bad at f22.
Turning to the corner crop (representing an area about two thirds to the corner of full-frame), the 200mm image is definitely softer than at 70mm and there’s greater vignetting too. It’s still not bad at f4, but for crispness to match the center and even illumination you’ll need to skip f5.6 and close down to f8. But it’s a narrow gap before diffraction begins to soften the image again at f11 and smaller apertures.
So for the greatest contrast and sharpness at 70mm across the frame, shoot between f5.6 and f8, and at 200mm, aim for f8. Of course if you’re shooting sports, action or portraits you’ll probably have the lens wide-open at f4 to minimize the depth of field, in which case you’ll need to accept a minor loss of sharpness and contrast in the middle. Overall though, a decent performance from a high-end 70-200mm f4 as you’d expect.