I can say with confidence that the SAL70200G2 is the best 70-200mm available for the A-Mount today. Its not worth 3K, but is the Canon EOS 5D MK III really worth its current price? Its the world of photography, and each manufacturer eventually finds a way to gouge us. With Sony its the 70-200.
This is my third and most expensive Sony G-Series lens to date. I received it on 27 Nov 13.
I decided to pre-order the lens following the announcement of the 70200G2 on 17 Oct 13. I choose to buy it, because of the weather-sealing, the SSM II and the two additional ED elements. I've only had it one day, and my testing has been elementary at best.
I also decided to buy this lens because I tested its chief competitor the Tamron 70-200mm USD, which also features weather sealing and has an internal focusing motor. I passed on the Tamron because it felt flimsy/poorly constructed, and the internal focusing motor wasn't as fast or as accurate as the SAL70200G2's. The G2's upfront price is higher than I had expected, but it will pay for itself over time.
The Tamron's (A009) build quality is better than the model that its replacing (A001), but it pales in comparison to the older SAL70200G or even the Minolta 80-200mm G (most of which are still being used 20 plus years after it was originally introduced). The Tamron is ill-suited for outdoor activities. If money is tight I recommend buying the older Sony SAL70200G (only because replacement parts for the old minolta's are hard to find). Also the Tamron's used value will likely deteriorate rapidly as first generation SAL70200G's flood the used camera lens market.
I compared it to my other G-Series/SSM equipped telephoto zooms lenses, because comparing a telephoto zoom to prime lens is just stupid. I didn't compare it against the SAL75300, because its not even in the same league.
I took all of my pictures mid-day during a major winter storm. I choose the harsh conditions to take pictures of the falling snow, and the snow accumulation on the trees. I can confirm that the weather sealing is more than adequate.
The SAL70200G2 has a noticeable IQ improvement over the older model. It may physically appear similar to the older model, but internally it has more going on. The new coatings help but the extra 2x ED elements may actually be the reason for the improvement. It wasn't designed with today's A-Mounts in mind but rather tomorrows.
All Sony did with this lens is correct the flaws of the previous model. Its sharp at all focal lengths. They just pulled out the check list, and methodically changed only the bits and pieces that needed revision.
The 70200G2 is exceptionally well built, and it is heavy. Its very front heavy when attached to the A77. I had to attach the battery grip just to balance it out. It felt at home/properly balanced on the A850, which is the camera I bought the lens for. I will likely keep the 70300G for occasions when the extra weight is not required.
It looks, feels, and performs like professional lens should, which is something clients expect, because at the end of the day they’re the ones paying for our services. The matching hood was a nice touch, though completely unnecessary. The new SSM II is faster than my other lenses equipped with the original SSM. I doubt the new auto focus motor is 4x faster than the previous models.
The lens has an excellent colour rendition, which is similar in appearance to the SAL70400G. It is sharper than the SAL70300G telephoto-zoom, but not as sharp as the SAL70400G. The lens showed slight barrel distortion at 70mm. It also showed a marginal degree of pincushion distortion at 200mm. Nothing to worry about in real world conditions. I did notice slight vignetting at 70mm - F/2.8, but I really had to look hard to find it.
I feel this lens was a good purchase.
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