Sony 70-200 F4 review from a perspective of a walking photographer (SEL70200G)

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Hello and welcome to the review. Today I will be talking a litte about one of the lenses in Sony’s affordable array that I have most ambivalent feelings about – the mighty 70-200 F4 zoom.

Let’s start with built quality – it is superb. The lens is all metal with a metal detatchable tripod mount finished with a velour like material to prevent it from scratching the lens. SEL70200G comes with a dedicated faux leather bag and a dedicated white hood. All the focusing and zooming is done internally, so you won’t have to deal with it changing size as you zoom in.

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The lens is big compared maybe to other mirrorless systems, but really given the size of the sensor if was designed for, it is just normal. In fact it is quite simmilar in size, length, weight  and price to Canon’s image stabilised version of their 70-200 F4 L glass.

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Sony vs Canon its counterpart. Source: camerasize.com/compact

According to Sony’s specifications it is 17,5cm long and weighs about 840g. It takes 72mm filter sizes so you can use the same filters you use on your 16-35 F4 (remember though that the Sony Zeiss 24-70 F4 SEL2470Z has 67mm filters, so here it’s not so convenient).

 

It is very sharp, much sharper than SEL2470Z or the kit lens, also it works great with high ISO, which is a problem for the non G non Z lenses. I should probably write another post on this, but here I will shortly mention that some Sony lenses like SEL2870 or SEL24240 seem to produce nice results at base ISO wheile at anything above that the chromatic aberration just takes over everything.

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at ISO640 Sony 70-200 F4 still is super sharp

This however cannot be said about the SEL70200G, it maintains great image quality up to at least ISO1600, and to be honest I don’t ever shoot above that so I might say it’s as good as any (affordable) lens for the system as far as low light performance.

I will state it here and now – this is the best telephoto lens you can buy for this amount of money- the 2.8 version is surely better but it is also more than 2x as expensive. From the reviews it seems like the SEL70300G with variable aperture can have sharpoer corners, but overall sharpness and color rendering is better on the Sony 70-200 F4.

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Having said all that let me now get to the only gripe I have with it, which unfortunately also turned out to be a reason why I decided to sell the lens and go with…., well that is also a subject for another post. Here I will focus on SEL70200G.

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Now let’s get to why I put the “walking” in the tile of this post, namely presenting the weaknesses of the lens.

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The only flaws I found in this lens are its length combined with its, well, whiteness. The lens doesn’t have to be that big, the before mentioned Canon version has 67mm filters and weighs around 100g less. Also, if you mount it on a big DSLR body it doesn’t look that strange, if however you put this long white beast on your small tiny A7, attach the hood and pull something like that out of your bag in a city, people will notice. Moreover, people will assume that this is a super zoom so they will assume you’re making some 600m photos of their ass when in reality you’re just making a 200 cityscape. You can forget about candid photos. Also if you travel this might be a problem. If you’re spending your vacations in Iceland, Austria or Andalucia this probably is not the problem but if you are planning to go to countries where people can only dream of your level of income and pull this out to make some photos, you might as well wear a “mug me” t shirt. I myself am a grown man with no indications of being muggable, but I got pickpocketed in only once in my entire life, and that was in Berlin while I was walking around with this lens. Why? Because you look like a chump walking around pointing this tube at people.

So, if you only travel to safe places and make your photography in places where everybody knows what you are up to then this is the lens for you. If you want to travel to some less safe places or want to do some candid photos, look for something black and inconspicuous;).

 

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