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Sony 70-200mm F2.8 G review

March 2010 | By Andy Westlake

The Sony 70-200mm F2.8 G is one of the original group of lenses announced at the launch of the company's Alpha system in June 2006. However its history goes back a bit further; it's essentially a re-badge of the Minolta AF 70-200mm F2.8 APO G D SSM, which first appeared early in 2003. At the time Minolta was only making film SLRs (its first truly practical digital design, the Maxxum/Dynax 7D, appearing after the merger with Konica in September 2004), so the lens is designed to cover the 35mm full-frame format, although naturally it also works on APS-C digital SLRs. It's therefore a natural companion to the Alpha 850 and 900 DSLRs, providing a real alternative to Canon and Nikon systems towards the top end of the market.

Like all fast telezooms, the optical formula is complex, with 19 elements in 16 groups and 4 Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass elements for the correction of chromatic aberration. The lens features a built-in ultrasonic-type 'Super Sonic Wave Motor' (SSM) for autofocus, promising fast and silent focusing. The Direct Manual Focus feature allows the user to tweak focus position manually at any time, and has two modes; 'Standard' prevents accidental movements of the focus ring from interfering with continuous AF operation, while 'Full Time' is essentially self-explanatory. The lens also features three AF-stop buttons arranged around the barrel, allowing the user to lock focus easily; on Sony's latest high-end DSLRs these can be assigned to other functions, perhaps most usefully depth of field preview.

The 70-200mm F2.8G faces strong competition, though, from similar lenses such as the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II and Tamron SP AF 70-200mm F2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro. And the value proposition between these lenses becomes somewhat complicated on the Alpha system; because while Canon and Nikon's expensive fast telezooms add image stabilization and weathersealing, this isn't the case with the Sony (because all lenses are stabilized via the in-body Super SteadyShot system). The Sony lens therefore offers relatively little on paper to justify costing more than twice as much, but of course specification comparisons never quite tell the whole story. So let's see what you actually get for your money.

Headline features

  • 70-200mm focal length range; fast F2.8 constant maximum aperture
  • Ring-type ultrasonic focusing with full-time manual override
  • Three focus hold buttons (function customizable from some camera bodies)
  • Alpha mount for Sony and Konica Minolta DSLRS

Angle of view

The pictures below illustrate the focal length range from wide to telephoto, on 35mm full-frame and APS-C camera bodies:

70mm (full frame) 200mm (full frame)
70mm (APS-C; 105mm equivalent) 200mm (APS-C; 300mm equivalent)

Sony 70-200mm F2.8 G specifications

Manufacturer's product code SAL-70200G
Street price • US: $1800
• UK: £1530
Date introduced June 2006
(March 2003 as Minolta AF 70-200mm F2.8 APO G D SSM)
Maximum format size 35mm full frame
Focal length 70-200mm
35mm equivalent focal length
Diagonal Angle of view (FF) 34º - 12º
Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C) 23º - 8º
Maximum aperture F2.8
Minimum aperture F32
Lens Construction • 19 elements/16 groups
• 4 ED glass elements
Number of diaphragm blades 9, rounded
Minimum focus 1.2m
Maximum magnification 0.21x at 200mm
AF motor type • Ring-type ultrasonic
• Direct manual focus - two modes (Standard and Full Time)
Focus method Internal
Zoom method Internal
Image stabilization via camera body
Filter thread • 77mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories Front and rear caps
• SH0010 Hood
• Lens Pouch
Weight 1500g (3.3 lb) (including tripod mount)
Dimensions 87mm diameter x 197mm length
(3.4 x 7.7 in)
Lens Mount Sony Alpha only
Other • 3 Focus Hold buttons
• Reports focus distance information to camera body

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

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