The Sony 70-300 mm is a member of the “Gold series” by Sony, with lenses for professional photographers. There are several Sony lenses in this zoom ragnge, like the Sony 70-400 mm and the Sony 75-300 mm. What make’s the Sony 70-300 mm unique?
Sony 70-300 mm F4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm
Applied to a camera with an APS-C sensor (in this test, that was the Sony A77), the Sony 70-300 mm has a viewing angle corresponding to 105 – 450 mm of a lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor.
Construction and autofocus
The Sony 70-300 mm is well made. Without the lens hood, the lens has a distinguished appearance. The included large plastic lens hood can be put back to front on the lens for transport, but is so long that you can then no longer use the zoom ring and focus ring.
If you use the lens hood, the lens becomes very long as you can see in the picture at the top of this test.
Focusing is smooth with the Sony A77 and the Sony 70-300 mm. To maintain high speed AF, the zoom range can be limited on the lens. It is an option that you usually encounter on professional telephoto lenses. This option has real value because the focus ring travels a long way from 1.5 meter to infinity, which is nice for those who wish to focus manually.
There is no searching in low light. Instead, focusing in low light or low contrast goes slower. But the lens will go straight to the point.
More and more camera manufacturers are turning to the correction of distortion and aberrations in the camera instead of in the design of the lens. This has the advantage that a lens can perform better, without any quality getting lost in terms of resolution.
In this test, all possible corrections are applied to the Sony 70-300 mm jpg images: correction of vignetting to the corners, correction of chromatic aberration and the correction of distortion.
At Sony, image stabilization takes place in the camera body and works effectively. Image stabilization (“Steady shot”) has been tested with the Sony 70 -300 mm set to 70 mm. From 1/100 seconds, there is a measurable difference between photos taken with or without image stabilization. For shutter speeds longer than 1/50 seconds, the difference becomes visible to the naked eye too.
Vignetting will never be more than approximately half a stop, whereby the risk of visible vignetting is the highest up to and including aperture 5.6. Above aperture 8, vignetting is negligible. Yet you expect less vignetting if you have set the camera to automatic correction of vignetting.
During the practice testing, there were pretty, evenly gray skies, but there too no vignetting is visible at 300 mm and maximum aperture.
The light barrel distortion of the Sony 70-300 mm is kept within boundaries reasonably and in practice, it is not annoyingly present. But based on the in-camera correction and the professional nature of this lens, you would hope that even better results for distortion would be possible.
The Sony 70-300 mm gives a nice round bokeh. This is no surprise, given the long focal length of this lens.
In general, this lens has little trouble with flare. In terms of radiation, the Sony 70-300 mm G performs slightly less than the Sony 70-400 mm. In this example, you see ghosting, occuring while taking a picture of the moon, which you see at the bottom of the image. The Sony 70-400 mm did not suffer from ghosting in the same photo session, but is almost twice as expensive as the Sony 70-300 mm.
The resolution of jpg files created with the Sony 70-300 mm is very high at all apertures and over the entire zoom range. Only at 70 mm and maximum aperture, the resolution was slightly less. Personally, I prefer that over a lower resolution at the longest focal length, where most telephoto zoom lenses suffer from.
In general, the resolution in the corners is close to the resolution in the center. At 300 mm, the resolution in the corners remains slightly behind the resolution in the center.
Below is a practice shot taken with a focal length of 300 mm at full aperture. On the right, you see a 100 % image cropping on the place of the red mark.
Chromatic aberration is low at all apertures and all focal lengths. In practice, you will not encounter visible chromatic aberration when using the Sony 70-300 mm.
Conclusion Sony 70-300 mm F4.5-5.6 G SSM review
- High resolution and low chromatic aberration over the entire zoom range
- No real cons, considerations are:
- Distortion and vignetting could be corrected better
- Limited luminosity for a professional lens
- Large lens hood not handy
For less than 1,000 Euros, you have just a really good lens with the Sony 70-300 mm, of which there really is not much to complain about. But as a professional photographer, I would maybe prefer the Sony 70-400 mm. The larger zoom range makes that lens more unique than the Sony 70-300 mm. In terms of optical performance they are very similar.