Not sure about my 70-400G1 - some Qs to owners

Started Jul 2, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Marco Cinnirella
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Not sure about my 70-400G1 - some Qs to owners
Jul 2, 2013

Hmm, I'm not getting the contrast or sharpness that others seem to be getting on here and I'm pondering whether I have a "lemon" lens or if there is some other explanation.

I have shot around 1000 images with the lens now, with static and moving subjects, and using my a77. Most are in the 300-400mm range. I have checked for FF and BF and found that no MA was needed with the lens (concentrating on the 400mm end and infinity focus). I have shot handheld and with a monopod (my MA tests were conducted on a sturdy tripod with SSS off). I have kept shutter speeds above 1/600 and shot raw with my a77.

At the 400mm end in particular, I'm seeing low contrast and only mediocre sharpness. I had thought that maybe I just needed to get used to the lens, but I have shot teles for 20 years+ and as I said, I am using a monopod and keeping shutter speed over 1/600 (keeping SSS on for monopod use).

There is no general issue with my a77 - it functions A1 with my other lenses.

What I am finding is that I have to do a lot of PP sharpening to get a decent looking image. This is in stark contrast to when I am using my 16-50 for example, images from which need only a slight dash of sharpening to be razor sharp.

But what I am seeing with the 70-400 is images that compare badly to those I achieve with my Tamron 70-200 f2.8 lens in terms of contrast and sharpness. Even 'like for like' at the same focal length, such as 200mm, the Tamron is more contrasty and sharper. This is not what I expected having read such glowing reports of the 70-400G1.

This is not a missed focus issue since I have tested this even on static subjects such as buildings. The lens does achieve focus.

There is only one thing I have yet to test fully: is it the filter? I really hope not because I use Hoya's most expensive and up-to-date multicoated filter (Hoya HD clear protector), purchased direct from Amazon sales, so it is not a fake. I guess it could be the filter? Anyone found filters (even good ones) cause a loss of contrast with the 70-400? I'm cautious about not using a filter as we have lots of sticky pollen in the air at the moment and I'd rather not wet clean the front element of a G lens after each use.

I have read that some have sent their lens off to Sony for calibration. Two things are stopping me do that: (1) I'm not convinced that calibration can address a loss of contrast - focus issues yes, but contrast? (2) My lens was purchased from a HK supplier and I am not sure if Sony UK will calibrate the lens for free (even though it is <1 year old). I'm guessing if they see it is a grey import they may not do it.

Will try to post some examples when I can. I know there are limits to what you guys can say without examples.

Anyone got any theories or comments?

Thanks !

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"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence." Ansell Adams.

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