Studio Tests - APS-C format

The 70-200mm F2.8 G is a very solid performer on APS-C, producing consistently good results at almost all settings. It more than holds its own when compared to either the Tamron SP AF 70-200mm F2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro, the Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM II, or indeed the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM (which has recently been replaced); indeed it's only surpassed by Nikon's two 70-200mm F2.8 designs. As usual for a full frame lens on APS-C, distortion and falloff are very low indeed, but this comes at the expense of all-out sharpness. Overall, though, a pretty impressive showing.

Sharpness results are generally good, especially towards the shorter end of the zoom. The lens however looks little soft wide open at 135mm and longer on the resolution-hungry smaller sensor, although it sharpens up nicely on stopping down. Optimum results are generally achieved between F4 and F8, while at apertures smaller than F16 the image becomes heavily degraded due to diffraction.
Chromatic Aberration
Chromatic aberration is a little higher than the very best 70-200mm designs, but still pretty well-controlled. It's at its worst at the extremes of the zoom range, with visible red/cyan fringing at 70mm and green/magenta at 200mm. In the middle of the range it's almost zero.
We consider falloff to become perceptible when the corner illumination falls to more than 1 stop less than the center. As is generally the case for a full frame lens used on DX, falloff is negligible at all focal lengths and apertures.
Distortion levels are extremely low on APS-C, ranging from 0.6% barrel at 70mm to 0.5% pincushion at 200mm. There's nothing to be concerned about here.

Macro Focus

Fast telezooms are rarely great for macro work, and the Sony is no different. Measured maximum magnification is 0.23x, which is achieved at a closest focus distance of 115.5cm, with a working distance of 91cm from the lens to subject.

Image quality is unimpressive. The whole image is extremely soft wide open, and while the center sharpens up quite well on stopping down to F8, this is accompanied by a strong focus shift away from the camera (by about 6mm from F2.8 to F8).

The corners of the frame in our test chart shot are also extremely soft, with intense red/cyan chromatic aberration. Not, on the whole, anything to write home about.
Macro - 102 x 68 mm coverage
Distortion: Negligible
Corner softness: High
Focal length: 200mm (300 mm equiv)

Specific image quality issues

As always, our studio tests are backed up by taking hundreds of photographs with the lens across a range of subjects, and examining them in detail. Here we're looking at issues which specifically affect users of APS-C DSLRs.

Softness at 200mm

Out test data shows the 70-200mm F2.8 G to be just a little on the soft side at 200mm F2.8 - which isn't unusual when using a fast lens designed for full frame on the more demanding APS-C format. The samples below illustrate what you might expect to see in real-world shots, with 100% crops from the in-focus regions of interest, so you can judge for yourself the acceptability of what the lens can deliver.

200mm F2.8, Sony Alpha 700
Long distance Close distance
100% crop, upper center 100% crop, upper left