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The Sony 100-400 mm lens thoughts and field tests

The message The 100-400 mm lens thoughts and field test from Sony first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Suzi Pratt.

The Sony 100-400 mm f / 4.5-5.6 lens was announced in 2017 together with the Sony A9. Both the camera and the lens were long awaited by many professional photographers, because they offer features that the Sony E-mount line-up lacked for a long time. In particular, this lens with its far-reaching focal length appeals to sports and nature photographers. But with a price tag of only $ 2500, this lens is also freely accessible for amateur and hobby photographers. In this post I give an overview of the specifications for this lens plus my thoughts after using it to photograph birds.

Sony-100-400mm-lens-with-Sony-A7rIII

Lens Specs

The Sony 100-400 mm lens is a lens with variable aperture for full-frame cameras from Sony. You can use it on cameras from Sony crop sensors, but due to its physical size it can be difficult to photograph with, especially if it is used on a small camera such as the Sony a6000. There is optical image stabilization (OIS) that offers a certain stability when photographing photos & videos in hand with this lens.

In terms of size, it has a diameter of 3.7 inches and a length of 8.07 inches. The lens weighs around 49.2 ounces or 1395 grams. If those figures don't mean much to you, the 100-400 mm is a very similar size and weight to the Sony 70-200 mm f / 2.8. Some consider this lens to be large and bulky, but for the focal range, I think the size is reasonable and comparable to comparable lenses from other manufacturers.

One thing is certain: you will get the best quality if you use a monopod with this lens.

As for physical buttons, there are two that are particularly useful. One button is a focus range limiter that limits the range of distances at which the camera attempts to lock the focus. This increases the speed of the focus and the focus accuracy, thereby preventing focus hunting. The other function is the ability to adjust the zoom smoothness to prevent the lens from sliding out when worn.

Sony 100-400 mm lens

Best use

With a variable aperture of f / 4.5-5.6, this is not a particularly fast lens, so it is best used in wide light conditions. Consider daylight scenarios such as sports, nature and wildlife. Portrait can even work well with this lens, although most swear by the 70-200 mm f / 2.8 for shooting people.

For the field test I connected the 100-400 mm to the Sony A7rIII. Using a camera with more resolution (42.4 megapixels) is particularly useful because you can crop with the extra megapixels. You can also take advantage of shooting in APS-C mode on the camera, which doubles your focal range. The A7RIII can also shoot at a maximum of 10 frames per second and has the newly added autofocus tracking, making this camera ideal for nature photography. Both the camera and the lens have weather seals. However, I did not test this feature during this shoot.

Sony-100-400mm-lens-with-Sony-A7rIII

Comparison of the dimensions of the Sony 100-400 mm with the Fujifilm 100 – 400 mm.

Lens alternatives

If you plan to shoot in low light, the Sony 300 mm f / 2.8 or 400 mm f / 2.8 lens is more suitable. However, those lenses are $ 5,800 and $ 12,000 respectively, so you need deep pockets. Given these prices, $ 2500 for the 100 – 400 mm is reasonable. You may even want to consider the newly announced 200 mm-600 mm f / 5.6-6.3 lens, which is only $ 2,000 but is considerably larger.

How was it?

I took the 100-400 mm on a weekend trip to go bird watching in East Washington.

Birds were plentiful and this lens excelled in photographing them in daylight conditions at every focal length. The size and weight made it possible to photograph from the hand. But for longer periods and for optimum performance, it was best used when mounting on a monopod.

In terms of performance, autofocus was fast and accurate. Autofocus with animal eyes (new to the Sony A7RIII and various other camera housings) was a bull's-eye for birds, but I have heard that it currently works best with dogs and cats.

Would I buy this lens?

If I were an avid nature and bird photographer, I would definitely do that. The price of $ 2500 is more than reasonable for a lens with this focal range. Although lens producers from third parties, such as Sigma and Tamron, have recently produced a number of beautiful pieces of glass and I would like to see them make a version of this lens for the Sony E-mount.

Sample images

Image: 1/1000 sec, f / 5.6, ISO 320 at 400 mm (in 35 mm: 600 mm)

1/1000 sec, f / 5.6, ISO 320 at 400 mm (in 35 mm: 600 mm)

Sony 100-400 mm on Sony a7riii

1/1000 sec, f / 5.6, ISO 400 at 400 mm (in 35 mm: 600 mm)

Sony-100-400 mm lens-on-Sony a7riii

1/1000 sec, f / 5.6, ISO 400 at 400 mm (in 35 mm: 600 mm)

Image: 1/160 sec, f / 6.3, ISO 800 at 139 mm (in 35 mm: 208 mm)

1/160 sec, f / 6.3, ISO 800 at 139 mm (in 35 mm: 208 mm)

Image: 1/250 sec, f / 7.1, ISO 500 at 400 mm (in 35 mm: 600 mm)

1/250 sec, f / 7.1, ISO 500 at 400 mm (in 35 mm: 600 mm)

Sony 100-400 mm on Sony a7riii

1/2500 sec, f / 5.6, ISO 320 at 100 mm

Did you use this lens? If so, what are your thoughts? Share this with us in the comments below.

Sony 100-400 mm Lens review

The message The 100-400 mm lens thoughts and field test from Sony first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Suzi Pratt.

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