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Sony full-frame camera coming, 500mm F4 lens finally announced

By dpreview staff on Feb 9, 2012 at 03:05 GMT

Sony has confirmed it will be making a full-frame replacement for its flagship A900 DSLR. No further details were given during a round-table discussion at the CP+ show in Japan, but we find it hard to believe the result will step away from the SLT technology the company has invested so heavily in. The company has also finally announced the A-mount 500mm F4 lens that it has been showing in various states of preparedness since PMA 2007 will be available from late March.

No details of price are given but the premium 'G' branding and the fact it's a 500mm F4 are likely to make as substantial a dent in your wallet as the lens would make if you dropped it onto a particularly malleable surface. 


Press Release:

Closer encounters with new 500mm super-telephoto:

Rugged, pro-focused SAL500F40G lens from Sony for A-mount SLT and DSLR cameras

  • Longest-ever focal length G Lens from Sony
  • Bright F4.0 aperture for superior light gathering
  • Nano AR Coating on optical surfaces for flawless still images and HD video
  • Compatible with SteadyShot INSIDE featured in all α cameras
  • New SSM drive circuit for quick, accurate autofocus
  • Rugged dust- and moisture-resistant design: ideal partner for SLT-A77
  • Enhanced handling and operability

Serious photographers can pull distant subjects closer with a powerful new 500mm (equivalent to 750mm with APS-C camera) super-telephoto lens from Sony.

The SAL500F40G is ideal for sports, wildlife and demanding imaging applications that require extreme magnification with uncompromised optical performance.

The SAL500F40G is the longest fixed focal length G Lens from Sony to date. Whether you’re shooting detail-packed stills or Full HD video, you’ll enjoy frame-filling close-ups with flawless resolution. With a bright F4.0 maximum aperture, its excellent light gathering power allows the use of faster shutter speeds to broaden shooting opportunities.

The ruggedly-engineered SAL500F40G copes effortlessly with tough photo assignments. Focusing ring and front/rear joints are protected by interlocking seals that shrug off dust and moisture, even when you’re shooting outdoors in driving rain or arid desert conditions. This weather-resistant design makes the SAL500F40G a perfect partner for the SLT-A77 (α77) Translucent Mirror camera that offers serious photographers similarly ruggedized performance.

Like all other A-mount lenses, the SAL500F40G is compatible with the SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilisation system that’s featured in every α Translucent Mirror and DSLR camera from Sony. Depending on shooting conditions, camera model and settings, you’ll enjoy camera-shake blur compensation that’s equivalent to approximately 4.5 stops (max.) in shutter speed.

Inside, the advanced optical design of the SAL500F40G includes 11 elements in 10 groups, including three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements. It’s also the first G Lens from Sony to feature advanced new coating process that ensures crisper, clearer images. Exclusive to Sony, the ground-breaking Nano AR Coating process cuts internal reflections drastically. Resulting images are brilliantly crisp and clear, with dramatically reduced lens flare and ghosting. Flare is reduced still further by the carbon fibre lens hood that’s lined with black velvet fibres to absorb incident light.

Razor-sharp autofocus performance makes the SAL500F40G ideal for capturing an athlete’s explosive movements or the unpredictable flutter of wild birds. The high-torque SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) features a new drive circuit, ensures rapid, responsive AF with significantly faster object tracking than conventional Sony lenses.

Serious enthusiasts will also welcome a strong emphasis on enhanced handling and ergonomics. Four focus hold buttons are spaced around the lens barrel for easy operation in any position. They’re complemented by a two-way DMF (Direct Manual Focus) mode button and focus range switch for positive, fumble-free operation when you’re shooting under pressure.

Built to order, the SAL500F40G super-telephoto lens from Sony is available from late March 2012.

Technical specifications

500mm F4 G SSM
Min. aperture F32
No. of aperture blades 9 (Circular aperture)
Max. magnification ratio 0.135
Min. focus 4.0 m
Filter diameter 42 mm (Exclusive)
Dimensions
(Diam. X L)
140 x 367.5 mm
Weight (approx.) 3460 g
Teleconverter compatibility Yes (1.4x: AF and MF Mode, 2x: MF mode)
Dust and moisture resistance Yes

Comments

Total comments: 185
12
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Feb 9, 2012)

Why not from Carl Zeiss? More new Carl Zeiss lenses would be better. Sony should consider to cooperate with other brands, like Leica, Cooke and Angenieux.

0 upvotes
futile32
By futile32 (Feb 9, 2012)

I'm guessing CZ don't have a 500mm design? or at least one designed for SLRs?

0 upvotes
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Feb 9, 2012)

I think that depends on the volume of orders from Sony. If Sony have confidient to sell well, I trust CZ would get the order and design the new lens for them.

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Feb 9, 2012)

You don't think the lenses are expensive enough?

3 upvotes
BMWX5
By BMWX5 (Feb 9, 2012)

This G lens is around $17,000 converted from Yen so CZ will cost around $50,000 :-)

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Feb 9, 2012)

Carl Zeiss cannot make AF lenses neither can Leica, Cooke or Angenieux. (S mount don't count)

0 upvotes
futile32
By futile32 (Feb 9, 2012)

@Peiasdf

There are various CZ Lens designs for Sony that have AF.. a few of which utilizing SSM.

0 upvotes
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Feb 9, 2012)

As long as there is market for selling such expensive products, I think Sony should consider how to acquire such market. Take for an example, during the past few years, those "sudden get rich" people from Mainland China purchased a lot of expensive stuffs from Louis Vuitton, Chanel, D&G, Hermes.... They just buy for the "high price". I trust sony can get monies from those guys easily by introducing the expensive products to them.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (Feb 9, 2012)

This is going to be an expensive lens. Sony has to pay a percentage of the price to Carl Zeiss in order to use their name on a lens. I would guess that Sony thinks this lens will have enough prestige without Zeiss's name plate on it to sell out to production limits, so why pay them all that money?

Besides, the news release says "built to order" which seems to me means they are not going to make enough to have them on the shelf. You'll have to pre-pay and then they will make it and ship it. Why pay Zeiss for that? People who spend this kind of money won't care a bit if Sony does or doesn't buy a nameplate for it from anyone.

Besides, this sounds really expensive and it won't even have IS/VR so is an issue on Sony cameras without Steady Shot.

Maybe they will offer a version with OSS for the eMount later. I'd hope so. It's kind of nice on this long of a lens. I'd want it with OSS even on a camera with Steady Shot. That way you can see the subject lock up as you half press.

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Feb 9, 2012)

17,000? You could buy Nikon 500 f4 VR II, a 300 2.8 VR, and 70-200 2.lenses for that price.

0 upvotes
brendon1000
By brendon1000 (Feb 9, 2012)

^^ Hopefully thats just the MSRP ! If thats the street price I doubt anyone will buy that ! :P

Even the 300mm f2.8 is the most expensive 300mm lens but at least its only around $2k more than Canon and Nikon 300mm f2.8 lenses. If the price is correct this means its around 10k more expensive !

@Guidenet - All Sony bodies have IS. However if you use this lens on a NEX then there wont be any IS. :P

Also since Sony SLT designs get their live view feed directly from the stabilized sensor, you do get a stabilized feed in the EVF. :)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
jc52e53
By jc52e53 (Feb 9, 2012)

Sony has been really busy. They created the sensors used by the Nikon D800 D800E and D4. They have a new Foveon-like sensor with 100 mp coming out. They will probably be making three types of cameras FF NEX style camera 36mp using the A mount. 36mp SLT and the new Foveon-like sensor in a regular DSLR.
They may even use a FF 16mp sensor in both SLT and regular DSLR. Who knows what they will have to do with Olympus whether there will be Sony/ Olympus 4/3.
Should be the best year for photography in a century!And Sony has the most to do with the progress.I forgot pentax and ricoh use their sensors too.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Feb 9, 2012)

Sony is a big loser in 2011, they lost $3,031 million even though they achieved the turnover of $83,845 million (source from
Fortune Global 500). If they don't more aggressive in doing business, I'm doubt how do they survive in 2012.

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Feb 9, 2012)

The flood, the flood Edmond. Read your Bible and learn about the flood.

11 upvotes
Freestyler
By Freestyler (Feb 9, 2012)

Perhaps Sony overall as an electronics company has been struggling, but I imagine their camera division is doing better than most of their other businesses at this moment.

20% of their sales are coming from their Camera division and I can only imagine that to continue increasing over the next few years.

1 upvote
BMWX5
By BMWX5 (Feb 9, 2012)

@Edmond - primarily due to the impact of the floods in Thailand, poor TV sales and some tax issues related to the Sony Ericsson brand last year. SLT and Nex cameras are selling really well, stores are struggling to keep up with the demands.

0 upvotes
Edmond Leung
By Edmond Leung (Feb 9, 2012)

But Sony still need to do more in all aspects. I really hope they will have a successful year in 2012.

0 upvotes
Guidenet
By Guidenet (Feb 9, 2012)

The division that makes the sensors used by Pentax and Nikon is not the camera division and has little to do with it. It's been a reason for the lack of coordination between the camera and silicone production companies.

Much of the sensor production is just the silicone fabrication and Pentax and Nikon finish the sensors in house to specification. This is why you often see a large difference in performance. From what I heard, the camera division people were not happy that they were supplied a 24mp FF sensor for the A900 that most considered to be well below the performance of the same sensor finished by Nikon for the D3X. This lack of parity has gotten much better as of late.

Also, one of the reasons between such a close partnership between Sony's fab division and Nikon is the fact that along with ASML (Zeiss), Nikon makes the Steppers Sony uses to make sensors. So you see it goes round and round. Nikon also designs much of it's electrical components and then bids the fab out.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Keto
By Keto (Feb 9, 2012)

Sony are doing great when it comes to cameras, they're being far too slow coming out with decent NEX lenses though. The Zeiss 24mm is about the only thing they've got going for them.

Obviously there's legacy options, but they should be an added bonus, not the only way to build a decent kit.

0 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (Feb 9, 2012)

The large difference in performance is a myth, especially the "often" part. There are 2 main differences, 12 vs 14 bit read out in some cameras, which gives a bit of extra DR at the lowest ISO's and RAW NR at the higher ISO's (hello Pentax). The rest is mostly a difference in CFA's (thicker in Sony cameras for better colour separation, lighter in Nikon/Pentax cameras for a hair more low light performance in some cases).
The only real differences was seen between the A900 and D3X (with the former again having much better colour separation though). Then again, the D3X did cost a multitude too...
Don't believe me? Compare an A700 (V4) in RAW with the D300. Or an A500 with the D300S. Or the A580 with the D7000/D5100.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Feb 9, 2012)

...what marketing BS!

"...razor sharp autofocus performance..."

Implies exactly what about the rest of their lenses?! I'm sure this bound to be some good gear. I'm equally sure that the marketing people that write this sh!t copy need a firm kick in the pants.

As an aside: good luck with marketing the lack of in body stabilization as equal to IS and VR. Unlike the others, you don't get the advantage of stabilization in the viewfinder with Sony's approach. Even with the SLTs this will be a problem, since the sensor that reads off the mirror (as far as I know) is not stabilized.

So to those talking about the Olympics, no, you won't see these being used by the press. And not just because of the stabilization issue--Sony doesn't have a camera with a high enough frame rate with AF and decent buffer, which are needed to keep up with action.

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Feb 9, 2012)

Why such venom for what is likely a very good lens?

6 upvotes
Michael Knight
By Michael Knight (Feb 9, 2012)

"Unlike the others, you don't get the advantage of stabilization in the viewfinder with Sony's approach."

how important is that? maybe you know that when you snapped the shutter it'd be blur. then just retake. and most people will just use shoot it multiple times.
or if you have the time, look into the LCD, zoom in, and check. even if you have IS on lens, I'm sure you'd still do this!

2 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Feb 9, 2012)

Did you even read the title "Sony full-frame camera coming" It will be called the A99. Think 15-20FPS with full autofocus. Since the mirror does not flip, it will be able to track everything much better than Canon/Nikon. Im sure there will be about 100 Canon/Nikon for every sony but still.

0 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (Feb 9, 2012)

"...you don't get the advantage of stabilization in the viewfinder with Sony's approach."

Of course you do get stabilization in the viewfinder on their A-mount EVF (SLT) cameras, but not on their OVF cameras.

The good thing is that in-body stabilization works with ALL lenses.

On my Nikon DSLR I don't have VR on most of my lenses - if they had used "Sony's approach", all my old and non VR Nikon lenses would be stabilized.

Comment edited 5 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
stevemark
By stevemark (Feb 9, 2012)

"Sony full-frame camera coming - It will be called the A99. Think 15-20FPS with full autofocus. Since the mirror does not flip, it will be able to track everything much better than Canon/Nikon."

No, sadly that's not true. The A77 has massive viewfinder problems if used in serial mode (3fps, 8fps, 12fps): its EVF shows just e. g. 8 images per second. That's not enough viewfinder-fps to follow a fast moving object with a 400mm or 500mm tele. In addition the EVF works delayed when used in serial mode. The overall effect (using a long tele on the A77) is that one looses the subject after 3-5 images! I know it sounds crazy, but during an airshow i wasn't able to use the 8fps or 12fps mode of the A77 ... much too much timelag for correct framing ... >60% of the images without any airplane or without correct framing ... Using the A700 (which I used in parallel) there were no such problems at all.

EVF, as implemented in the A77, is simply NOT suitable for a fast sport/wildlife camera.

1 upvote
stevemark
By stevemark (Feb 9, 2012)

""Sony full-frame camera coming" It will be called the A99. Think 15-20FPS with full autofocus. Since the mirror does not flip, it will be able to track everything much better than Canon/Nikon."

There is NO viewfinder stabilisation on the A77. To prevent overheating, the sensor-based stabilizer of the A77 is activated only while actually *taking* the image. For the same reason, the A77 stabilizes its videos using a software-based stabilisation.

0 upvotes
Jeff Engel
By Jeff Engel (Feb 9, 2012)

"Built to order"...those words scramble the mag strip on my Visa card! I'll guess $10,000...

0 upvotes
HiRez
By HiRez (Feb 9, 2012)

I bet at least 15K

0 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (Feb 9, 2012)

Im gonna get this for my NEX-5N.

5 upvotes
jkokich
By jkokich (Feb 9, 2012)

That is hilarious.

0 upvotes
tipit08
By tipit08 (Feb 9, 2012)

Wonder if "in-camera" IS is as good as optical IS with this type of lens ??

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
antares103
By antares103 (Feb 9, 2012)

Has any OEM A-mount lens had IS? Why would this be different? The bodies have IS.

0 upvotes
OldScotch
By OldScotch (Feb 9, 2012)

The usefulness of stabilization at this focal length isn't nearly as notable as with, say a 70-200. But one could try the Sony / Minolta 500mm /8 Reflex on their a77 and see how it goes.

0 upvotes
futile32
By futile32 (Feb 9, 2012)

@OldScotch

The biggest downside to InBody Stablization as that you don't see the affect through the Viewfinder... However this shouldn't be a problem on the SLT bodies (cause they have EVFs)

3 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Feb 9, 2012)

IS for this lens is called a tripod. For the price, it should come with one.

1 upvote
CFynn
By CFynn (Feb 9, 2012)

@futile32

On an OVF camera you won't see the in body stabilization through the viewfinder - but on an EVF (including SLT) camera you obviously will since the viewfinder image is coming directly from the (stabilized) sensor

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
ogl
By ogl (Feb 9, 2012)

Price?

0 upvotes
BMWX5
By BMWX5 (Feb 9, 2012)

No US price yet but selling for $17,000 in Japan and Europe.

0 upvotes
Sassan2012
By Sassan2012 (Feb 12, 2012)

If this is true, that is a big SHAME.

0 upvotes
chadmarek
By chadmarek (Feb 9, 2012)

Not PMA 2009. Since PMA 2007 where it was shown in the same case as the A700 and A900 mockups.

3 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (Feb 9, 2012)

You're quite right. I can't believe it's been that long.

3 upvotes
Miike Dougherty
By Miike Dougherty (Feb 11, 2012)

If the new full frame body is an SLT which operates like the A77, and you intend to shoot fast moving sports with the 500 where the subject does not move in a straight line, you will have a higher percentage of missed shots because if you are shooting a burst of images, the viewfinder will only show you where the subject has been so you are always shooting from behind. Good luck keeping up with the subject because you will need it.

0 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Feb 9, 2012)

Almost 8 lbs. Sony is getting ready for Olympics and world cup Brazil 2014!

1 upvote
Michael Knight
By Michael Knight (Feb 9, 2012)

what do you expect? it's 500mm.
even Canon's 500mm F4 is at 3.9kg. the Sony is lighter.

3 upvotes
micahmedia
By micahmedia (Feb 9, 2012)

Right, since it lacks IS.

0 upvotes
Michael Knight
By Michael Knight (Feb 9, 2012)

I do wonder, why can't sony add IS on this lens too, eh?

then you'd have BOTH in-lens IS AND in-body IS. wouldn't be awesome!!!?

0 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Feb 9, 2012)

Sony cameras have in body IS.

0 upvotes
Martinka
By Martinka (Feb 9, 2012)

New Canon 500/4L II is 3.1 kg!

0 upvotes
Michael Knight
By Michael Knight (Feb 9, 2012)

mssimo: understood that sony has in-body IS.
but if the lens also has in-lens IS, plus in-body IS, then the user can gain more than 4 stops!

but why nobody is doing it? not even 3rd party lens maker. Tamron will sell VC lens without the VC for sony mount, and for the almost the same price.

0 upvotes
brendon1000
By brendon1000 (Feb 9, 2012)

^^ Unfortunately they don't work in tandem. People tested a few Sigma lenses that came on Sony mount and retained the OS functionality.

The tests show that activating just the lens IS or just the body IS resulted in approximately the same amount of stabilization.

However activating both at the same time resulted in more blurred photos as neither system is aware of the other and work independently.

0 upvotes
Michael Knight
By Michael Knight (Feb 9, 2012)

ic. hmm... but sony could've develop the 'tandem' IS mode...

0 upvotes
the_rascal
By the_rascal (Feb 9, 2012)

"Rumored" price : 13000€...

0 upvotes
VDG
By VDG (Feb 11, 2012)

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz plot. lost.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 185
12