Sony 100-400mm

Sony's Best Ultra-Telephoto Zoom

Full-Frame E-Mount FE GM OSS (2017-)

Sample Images   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specs   Accessories   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

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Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS (77mm filters, 51.8 oz./1,470g with foot as shown; 49.1 oz./1,393g without foot, 3.2'/1m close focus, about $2,498) bigger. I got mine at B&H. I'd also get it at Adorama, at Amazon or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to my personally-approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Sony does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used lens. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

August 2017   Sony   Sony Lenses   Zeiss   Nikon   Canon   Fuji   LEICA   All Reviews

Sony 70-200/2.8 GM OSS

Canon 100-400mm L IS II

Nikon 80-400mm AF-S VR

 

Sample Images

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Compatibility   Specs   Accessories

USA Version   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Ultra-sharp edge-to-edge wide-open at 100mm:

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Sample Image

Coastline Looking North from Laguna Beach, 20 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM at 100mm wide-open at f/4.5 at 1/500 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Ultra-sharp edge-to-edge wide-open at 200mm:

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Sample Image

Laguna Main Beach, 20 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM at 200mm wide-open at f/5.6 at 1/400 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Ultra-sharp edge-to-edge wide-open at 400mm:

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Sample Image

Laguna Beach Wall of Shame, 20 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM at 400mm wide-open at f/5.6 at 1/320 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger, full-resolution © file or camera-original © file.

This is the toughest; telephoto zooms are their softest at the long end, and this lens is still ultra-sharp in the corners at 400mm. BRAVO!

 

Introduction

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Good   Bad   Missing

Adorama Pays Top Dollar for Used Gear

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I buy only from these approved sources. I can't vouch for ads below.

This Sony 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM OSS is Sony's best ultratelephoto zoom. It's the best there is for any Sony camera at any price: it's ultra-sharp, focuses very close, is well-made, has three focus-lock buttons on the front of the barrel, and most importantly, focuses fast and sure on Sony's cameras, especially the state-of-the-art Sony A9. The A9 easily runs at 20 FPS with this 100-400mm.

If you're serious about your full-frame Sony, this is the most serious ultra telephoto zoom you can buy.

I know you're tempted to use a Metabones V Adapter with the Canon 100-400mm IS L II you already own on your new Sony, but I already own both of these, and they don't work as well on my Sony A9 as this native Sony lens does. This Sony 100-400 always focuses immediately on Sony as the Canon 100-400mm IS L II does on Canon, but on an adapter on Sony the Canon 100-400 II can get hung-up and not focus if it's far out of focus, needing a manual touch-up to get it close before the Sony's AF system can complete focussing. With this genuine Sony 100-400, it always focuses almost instantly regardless of subject distance.

Sony claims some dust and moisture resistance:

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Internal gaskets, Sony 100-400mm. bigger.

 

Good

● Close focussing.

● Fast and sure autofocus; doesn't hang up.

● Silent autofocus.

● Three focus lock buttons.

● Ultrasharp at every setting, especially wide-open at f/4.5-5.6.

● Excellent bokeh.

● Focus range limiter.

● Zoom stiffness adjustment to prevent creep.

● Optical image stabilization works along with your camera's sensor-shift stabilization.

● Made in Japan.

 

Bad

● Electronic manual focus ring (no direct mechanical connection to anything).

● $2,500.

● Plastic filter thread.

● Big and heavy.

 

Missing

● No focus or depth-of-field scales.

● No infra-red focus indices.

 

Format

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Compatibility   Specs   Accessories

USA Version   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

This is a full-frame lens and I'm reviewing it as such.

It also works great on APS-C cameras and you may make the usual inferences for them. It becomes the equivalent of a 150~600mm ultra zoom!

 

Compatibility

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Compatibility   Specs   Accessories

USA Version   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

This works on all Sony E-mount cameras, full-frame and crop-sensor. This includes all the NEX, A7, A6xxx and A5xxx series cameras.

It will not work on any Minolta MAXXUM 35mm SLR or any Sony A-mount DSLR. Those use the old A mount which was actually the Minolta MAXXUM mount from 1987.

 

Specifications

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Name

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS. bigger.

Sony calls this the FE 4.5-5.6/100-400mm GM OSS:

    FE: Full-frame coverage, E-mount.

    GM: "G Master," which means Sony's best.

    OSS: "Optical Steady Shot," which is Sony's internal optical image stabilization.

Also called model number SEL100400GM.

 

Optics

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Lens Construction

Sony 100-400mm construction. Super ED and ED elements. bigger.

22 elements in 16 groups.

2 ED extra-low dispersion elements and 1 "Super ED" extra-low dispersion element.

"Nano" anti reflection coating.

Fluorine front coating to resist dirt and fingerprints.

Focus is internal.

Pumper zoom; the front extends a lot when zoomed longer.

 

Diaphragm

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS. bigger.

9 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/32~40.

 

Focal Length

100 ~ 400mm.

When used on APS-C, it sees the same angles of view as a 150 ~ 600mm lens sees when used on a full-frame camera.

See also Crop Factor.

 

Angle of View

24º ~ 6.2º diagonal on full-frame.

16° ~ 4.2° diagonal on APS-C.

 

Autofocus

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Autofocus motor systems. bigger.

Focus is internal so nothing moves externally and no air or dust is sucked in.

There are autofocus two motor systems: dual linear motors in the center and direct-drive Super-Sonic Wave Motors (SSM actuators) at the rear.

The double linear motor can wobble the focus for the contrast detection AF system while shooting video.

Real-time feedback from multiple position sensors allow the body’s AF system to operate at full capacity.

Three focus lock buttons.

Focus range limiter switch.

 

Close Focus

3.22 feet (0.98 meters).

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:2.86 (0.35 ×).

 

Stabilizer

Yes, internal optical stabilizer driven by a linear motor.

If used with a camera with built-in sensor-shift stabilization, the system has what Sony calls "5-axis image stabilization."

 

Filters

Plastic 77mm filter thread.

 

Tripod Collar & Foot

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Included removable tripod foot. bigger.

 

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Included removable tripod foot. bigger.

The collar is permanently attached, while the foot unlatches and slides off.

The foot has two standard ¼″ × 20 tripod threads so you can use the one that balances the best for you.

If you slide off the foot, there is another ¼″ × 20 tripod thread on the lens itself.

 

Hood

Sony ALC-SH151

Included Sony ALC-SH151 Hood. bigger.

 

Sony ALC-SH151

Bottom, included Sony ALC-SH151 hood. bigger.

Locking plastic bayonet hood included. ($81 replacement cost)

It's tougher than most, and has a locking latch release button.

It's painted off-white, with black flocking inside.

There's also a slide-up hatch to let you turn rotating polarizers and grads.

 

Case

Sony 100-400mm FE GM OSS

Sony 100-400mm FE GM OSS

Included case, front. bigger.
Included case, back. bigger.

Padded nylon case included.

 

Size

3.70" maximum diameter × 8.07" extension from flange.

93.9 mm maximum diameter × 205 mm extension from flange.

 

Weight

51.840 oz./1,469.7g, actual measured weight, with tripod foot.

49.145 oz./1,393.2g, actual measured weight, without tripod foot.

Tripod foot alone: 2.700 oz./76.5g.

Rated 49.3 oz. (1,395 g) without foot.

 

Announced

Wednesday, 19 April 2017, along with the Sony A9.

 

Sony Model Number

SEL100400GM.

 

Included

Lens, tripod collar and removable foot.

ALC-F77S front and ALC-R1EM rear cap.

Sony ALC-SH151 hood.

Case & strap.

 

Price, USA

$2,498, August 2017.

 

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS. bigger.

 

Optional Accessories

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Compatibility   Specs   Accessories

USA Version   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

FE 2x Teleconverter, also at Adorama.

FE 1.4x Teleconverter, also at Adorama.

 

Kirk replacement tripod foot.

 

Getting a Legal USA Version

(applies in USA only)

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Compatibility   Specs   Accessories

USA Version   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

In the USA, along with whatever else is in your box, be sure you get a folded USA Warranty slip like this that says "U.S. and Canada only" and has the (800) 222-SONY phone number:

Sony 24-240mm USA Warranty

Sony USA Warranty. bigger.

If not, you got ripped off with a gray market version from another country. This is why I never buy anyplace other than from my personally approved sources. You just can't take the chance of buying elsewhere, especially at any retail store, because non-USA versions have no warranty in the USA.

If a gray market version saves you $800 it may be worth it, but for $300 or less I wouldn't risk having no warranty or support.

Always be sure to check your paperwork while you can still return it, or just don't buy from unapproved sources or at retail so you'll be able to have your lens serviced as needed.

US versions like mine may also include manuals in extra languages and extra foreign warranty cards; so long as you have an English manual and a USA warranty slip, you're good.

Just to keep things interesting, you'll notice that this lens now has a much larger and longer warranty sheet than before, no longer just a card, because this warranty has many more exclusions and limitations than ever before. It specifically adds, about halfway down, that even if you have all this paperwork, if you didn't get your lens from an approved (by Sony) dealer, then the warranty doesn't apply.  You'll need some sort of proof of purchase, like your receipt from an approved dealer.

Get yours from the same places I do and you won't have a problem, but if you take the risk of getting yours elsewhere, be sure to check everything while you still can return it.

 

Performance

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specs   Accessories

USA Version   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Overall   Autofocus   Manual Focus   Breathing

Bokeh   Distortion   Ergonomics   Falloff   Filters

Flare & Ghosts   Lateral Color Fringes   Macro

Mechanics   Sharpness   Stabilization   Sunstars

 

Overall

Performance          top

This Sony 100-400 4.5-5.6 GM is the best ultra-tele available for Sony. It's super sharp, focuses super fast and super close and has three focus lock buttons.

 

Autofocus

Performance          top

Use the right camera, like the Sony A9, and autofocus is astounding. Players can run all over the field while the 100-400/4.5-5.6 and A9 keeps them in perfect focus at 20 FPS, no worries! I've never used a DSLR system that can track this well, for this long with a player running anywhere in the frame.

Autofocus is also completely silent unless you hold it to your ear. You can shoot with a silent camera in restricted, sensitive and prohibited areas without being noticed.

There are three focus lock buttons around the front. Hold any to lock focus. What's weird is that on my Sony A9 that the camera's busy green AF indicators don't extinguish instantly, but the system seems to work fine.

 

Manual Focus

performance          top

The manual focus ring is merely an encoder to the camera's computer, which will only focus the lens if you set the lens or your camera to MF.

For manual-focus override, set the camera to DMF, which puts the camera in AF-S mode, and overrides it if you turn the focus ring.

 

Focus Breathing

Performance          top

Focus breathing is the image changing size as focused in and out. It's important to cinematographers because it looks funny if the image changes size as focus gets pulled back and forth between actors. If the lens does this, the image "breathes" by growing and contracting slightly as the dialog goes back and forth.

The image from the Sony 100-400/4.5-5.6 gets larger as focussed more closely.

 

Bokeh

Performance          top

Bokeh, the feel or quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to how far out of focus they are, is excellent. Backgrounds just melt away.

Here are samples from headshot distance:

 

Bokeh at 100mm

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM Bokeh

Davis 6250 weather station, 18 August 2017. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolutions images properly).

 

Bokeh at 400mm

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM Bokeh

Davis 6250 weather station, 18 August 2017. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolutions images properly).

Notice how ultrasharp are the cobwebs in each camera-original file.

 

Distortion

Performance          top

The Sony 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM has no distortion when shot on cameras with automatic distortion correction.

Shot without correction, it has no distortion at 100mm and only minor pincushion distortion from 135 ~ 400mm

If you deactivate the camera's automatic correction, it's easy to correct with Photoshop's lens distortion filter using these correction factors:

Correction factors on full-frame

at 10' (3 meters), corrected

at 10' (3 meters), uncorrected

100mm
±0.00
±0.00
135mm
±0.00
-1.50
200mm
±0.00
-2.50
300mm
±0.00
-2.50
400mm
±0.00
-2.00

© 2017 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

 

Ergonomics

Performance          top

The focus ring is an electronic encoder, which is inferior to a direct mechanical focus ring as used on the 70-200/2.8 GM.

This is a big, heavy lens. Zooming moves the front half of the lens, so it takes two or three fingers:

Sony 100-400mm FE GM OSS

Sony 100-400mm FE GM OSS

Sony 100-400mm at 100mm. bigger.
Sony 100-400mm at 400mm. bigger.

There is so much moving around when zoomed that there will be zoom creep if pointed up or down. It's somewhat more difficult to zoom if the front half of the lens has to move upwards.

Sony includes a zoom drag control that can be tightened to prevent creep, but it obviously increases the effort required to zoom against the extra friction. If you set this to TIGHT from its default of SMOOTH, the added friction also hides the extra effort needed if the front of the lens has to move up as zoomed.

Sony copied the SMOOTH-TIGHT wording from Canon, who used the wrong word. Both settings are smooth; SMOOTH should really be labeled LOOSE.

 

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

SMOOTH-TIGHT control, Sony 100-400mm. bigger.

 

Falloff

Performance          top

Falloff is invisible with the camera's default "Shading Correction" ON.

 

Filters, use with

performance          top

There's no need for thin filters.

You can stack quite a few 77mm filters and never get vignetting, even on fuil-frame.

Go ahead and use your standard rotating polarizer and grad filters.

 

Flare & Ghosts

Performance          top

This is an optically complex lens, and if you do something deliberately silly like pointing the lens at the sun and filling the rest of the frame with a dark tree, you'll see some green ghosts:

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Sample Image

Flare, 18 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM at 100mm at f/4.5 at 1/640 at Auto ISO 100. bigger.

 

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Sample Image

Flare, 18 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM at 100mm at f/32 at 1/10 hand-held at ISO 100. bigger.

You'll never see it in normal use; don't worry about it. Many people want ghosts, and even use software to add them back in to modern lenses like this!

 

Lateral Color Fringes

Performance          top

There are no color fringes as shot on Sony cameras, most of which by default correct for any that may be there.

This is excellent.

 

Macro

Performance          top

Macro performance is superb. It gets super close and is super-sharp. For most uses it replaces any need for a separate macro lens:

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM Macro Performance

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 23 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM at 400mm at close focus distance wide-open at f/5.6 at 1/500 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM Macro Performance

1,200 x 900 pixel crop from above. Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM at 200mm at close focus distance at f/8 at 1/640 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file.

It's so sharp, even wide-open at f/5.6, that the vapor-thin depth of field is obvious in the camera-original © file. If you look at this on your computer you'll see that while the watch face is in focus and so sharp that you can see individual grains of the watch face's luminous compound and paint, while the hands and day/date indicators are softer as they are out of the plane of focus. This was more obvious to me as I had all the other images not shown here at different distances which clearly delineated focus on just the day/date indicators or each one of the hands!

If this crop is about 12" (30cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 40 x 60" (1 x 1.5 meters). You're seeing the actual texture of the watch face and case.

If this crop is about 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 20 x 30" (50 x 75 cm).

 

Mechanical Quality

Performance          top

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS. bigger.

This Sony 100-400 is made pretty well, with both metal and plastic on the outside. Since Sony is trying to bury Nikon and one-up Canon I would expect a little more here; it's nice, but not as tough as the Canon 100-400mm L IS II it tries to copy.

Sony claims a sealed dust- and moisture-resistant design.

 

Hood Bumper

Rubber.

 

Bayonet Hood

Tough painted plastic.

 

Lens Front Bumper

None.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Bayonet Mount

Plastic.

 

Front Black Ring

(marked and77 0.98m/3.22ft)

Metal.

 

Front Barrel

(barrel that pumps in and out as zoomed)

Plastic.

 

Focus Ring

Rubber-covered plastic.

 

Mid Barrel

Section with focus lock buttons: plastic.

The buttons are plastic, too.

 

Zoom Ring

Rubber-covered plastic.

 

SMOOTH-TIGHT Ring

Metal.

 

Rear Barrel

(section with switches)

Plastic.

The switches are all plastic, and so is the rearmost section behind the tripod collar.

 

Tripod Collar & Foot

Metal.

 

Internals

Plastic and metal.

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

Not really; there is a gasket, but look carefully and it doesn't make contact with the mount of my A9, so it provides less sealing than you'd expect.

 

Mount

Dull chromed metal.

 

Markings

Except for the front ring with " and77 0.98m/3.22ft" which is engraved and filled with paint, everything else is just painted.

 

Date Code

None found on the lens, but there is one on the box. Be sure your lens' serial number matches the one on the box for this to be valid. The lens serial number is between the two numbers under the second bar code:

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Sony 100-400mm date code. bigger.

 

Identity

Little raised silver-lettered plate glued to top of barrel.

Dark gray paint on bottom rear of barrel:

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS. bigger.

 

Serial Number

A sticker glued to the bottom of the barrel, perfectly OK for a CD player but not acceptable for a piece of gear expected to receive heavy handling in the field on a daily basis.

 

Noises When Shaken

Mild clunking.

 

Made in

Japan.

 

Sharpness

Performance          top

As I showed at Sample Images, it's ultra-sharp, even wide open at any zoom setting. It doesn't get any better than this. If you can't make sharp pictures with this lens, you need to step up your skill as well as atmospheric conditions if you're shooting over any significant distance outdoors.

While you didn't see this in the days of film, at 400mm with today's high-resolution digital cameras you will see atmospheric heat shimmer when shooting over long distances at 400mm. The lens does a great job of recording what's going on, which is the atmosphere messing up the details of the photo:

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Sample Image

Coastline Looking North from Laguna Beach, 20 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM at 400mm wide-open at f/5.6 at 1/640 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger or full-resolution © file (Perfectly Clear increased contrast to cut through haze, which also emphasizes falloff and sensor dirt.)

If you look at the full-resolution © file at 100% on your computer you'll see how the dynamic atmospheric effects have warped people's railings beyond all recognition, as well as rendered many areas much softer.

Here are Sony's MTF charts at 10 cyc/mm and 30 cyc/mm:

Sony 100-400/4.5-5.6 MTF
Sony 100-400/4.5-5.6 MTF
MTF at 100mm at f/4.5.
MTF at 400mm at f/5.6.

 

Sony 100-400/4.5-5.6 MTF
Sony 100-400/4.5-5.6 MTF
MTF at 100mm at f/8.
MTF at 400mm at f/8.

 

Image Stabilization

Performance          top

On my Sony A9, which has its own internal stabilization in addition to this lens' optical stabilizer, I get 100% tripod-equivalent perfectly sharp shots hand-held standing at 1/30 at 400mm when looking at 24MP images at 100%

I get about 90% tripod-equivalent perfectly sharp shots hand-held standing at 1/15 at 400mm when looking at 24MP images at 100%

At 1/8 at 400mm my shots are almost as sharp as if I used a tripod; they still look perfect seeing the entire image on a 30" screen. Most are still super sharp viewed at 100%.

At 1/4 all the shots are blurry at 100%, but at reasonable sizes most of them are quite usable..

At 1/2 all the shots are very blurry at 100%, but shoot enough frames and one will turn out usable for web sized use. Not bad hand-held standing at 400mm!

 

Sunstars

Performance          top

Even with rounded diaphragm blades, this 100-400 makes some pretty good sunstars on brilliant points of light if you stop it way down.

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Sample Image

Sun in Palm, August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM at 100mm at f/25 at Auto ISO 100. bigger.

 

Compared

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specs   Accessories

USA Version   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Versus the Sony 70-200/2.8 GM

The Sony 70-200/2.8 GM is about the same size, weight and price. Both are exquisitely sharp at every setting.

They both focus as close, but since this lens goes to 400mm rather than 200mm, this lens gets almost twice as tight as the 70-200mm f/2.8 can.

The Sony 70-200/2.8 GM is built a little tougher in Thailand, while this 100-400 is a little more plasticy but comes directly from Japan.

The real differences are zoom range and manual focus.

I prefer the 100-400mm zoom range; I'll gladly trade the 70-100mm range for the 200-400mm range! Both focus as close, so I can get much tighter shots with the 100-400mm.

Manual focus is much better on the 70-200/2.8 since it's a real mechanical focus ring which always has instant override. This 100-400, like most of Sony's lenses, has only an electronic encoder for its manual focus ring, which never responds as well as does a real mechanical ring.

I prefer this 100-400mm lens for its much more useful zoom range. f/stop doesn't matter today with the insane high ISOs of Sony's cameras; this isn't 1997 where we would be shooting these on film where you often needed f/2.8. The bokeh of this lens at 400mm and f/5.6 is better than the other lens at 200mm and f/2.8; focal length is more important to bokeh than f/stop.

 

Versus Canon and Nikon

Who cares? Each of the Canon 100-400/4.5-5.6 L IS II and Nikon 80-400 VR G only work best on a Canon or Nikon camera. If you try to adapt either to Sony, you lose much of the magic of the autofocus and optics that Sony optimizes to its cameras. While each of the Canon and Nikon use Fluorite elements for extreme sharpness, neither works as well on Sony because the Sony lens is optimized for the E-mount Sony sensors, while the other lenses are designed for a flat-field held over from film days. Ditto for AF; running a lens through an adapter doesn't work as well as this native Sony lens' AF system on Sony cameras.

If you're shooting on Sony, this Sony lens is best.

This Sony 100-400/4.5-5.6 GM is a cosmetic copy of the Canon, right down to the TIGHT-SMOOTH wording on the zoom drag control has the same switches in the same places as Canon has used for years, which is good. The Canon 100-400 is built better than any of the Nikon or Sony lenses, except for the Nikon 70-200/2.8 FL VR which is built like a Swiss tank.

 
  Sony 100-400mm FE GM OSS Sony 70-200/2.8 Sony 70-200/4 Sony 70-300 G
f/max
f/4.5-5.6
f/2.8
f/4
f/4.5-5.6
Introduced
2017
2016
2015
2016
Close Focus
3.2'/1m
3.1'/1m
4'/1.2m
3'/0.9m
Repro Ratio

1:2.86

0.35×

1:4

0.25×

1:7.7

0.14×

1:3.1

0.31×

Manual Focus
Electronic encoder
Direct mechanical
Electronic encoder
Electronic encoder
Filter Threads
plastic, 77mm
plastic, 77mm
plastic, 72mm
plastic, 72mm
Distortion  
Fluorite Elements?
no
no
no
 
AF Lock Buttons
Three
Three
Three
One
One-finger zoom
no, use two or three fingers
Yes
some times
no, use two or three fingers
Build Quality
Very good
Very good
Made in
Japan
Thailand
Japan
China
Weight, actual measured, w/collar

51.8 oz.

1,470g

54.5 oz.

1,545g

33.3 oz.

944g

30.2 oz.

856g

Price, 6/2017    
Price, 7/2017    
Price, 8/2017  
Price, 11/2017

 

 
  Sony 100-400mm FE GM OSS Sony 70-200/2.8 Canon 100-400 II Nikon 80-400
f/max
f/4.5-5.6
f/2.8
f/4.5-5.6
f/4.5-5.6
Introduced
2017
2016
2014
2013
Close Focus
3.2'/1m
3.2'/1m
4'/1.2m
5.7'/1.75m
Repro Ratio

1:2.86

0.35×

1:4

0.25×

1:3.2

0.31×

1:5.1

0.19×

Manual Focus
Electronic encoder
Direct mechanical
Direct mechanical
Direct mechanical
Filter Threads
plastic, 77mm
plastic, 77mm
Metal, 77mm
plastic, 77mm
Distortion
Fluorite Elements?
no
no
One
no
AF Lock Buttons
Three
Three
none
none
One-finger zoom
no, use two or three fingers
Yes
not really, use two fingers
no, use two fingers
Build Quality
Very good
Superb
Made in
Japan
Thailand
Japan
Japan
Weight, actual measured, w/collar

51.8 oz.

1,470g

54.5 oz.

1,545g

56.4 oz.

1,600g

55.1 oz.

1,563g

Price, 6/2017    
Price, 7/2017    
Price, 8/2017
Price, 11/2017

 

 
  Sony 100-400mm FE GM OSS Sony 70-200/2.8 Sony 70-200/4 Nikon 70-200/2.8 FL
f/max
f/4.5-5.6
f/2.8
f/4
f/2.8
Introduced
2017
2016
2015
2016
Close Focus
3.2'/1m
3.2'/1m
4'/1.2m
3.6'/1.1m
Repro Ratio

1:2.86

0.35×

1:4

0.25×

1:7.7

0.14×

1:4.76

0.21×

Manual Focus
Electronic encoder
Direct mechanical
Electronic encoder
Direct mechanical
Filter Threads
plastic, 77mm
plastic, 77mm
plastic, 72mm
Metal, 77mm
Distortion
Fluorite Elements?
no
no
no
One
AF Lock Buttons
Three
Three
Three
Four
One-finger zoom
no, use two or three fingers
Yes
some times
Yes
Build Quality
Very good
Very good
Superb
Made in
Japan
Thailand
Japan
Japan
Weight, actual measured, w/collar

51.8 oz.

1,470g

54.5 oz.

1,545g

33.3 oz.

944g

50.3 oz.

1,425g

Price, 6/2017  
Price, 7/2017  
Price, 8/2017
Price, 11/2017

 

Usage

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specs   Accessories

USA Version   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 FE GM

Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS. bigger.

AF | | MF

Leave the top slide switch at AF (autofocus).

There's no instant manual-focus override in AF-C mode; use DMF mode on your camera or move this switch to MF.

 

FULL | | ∞-3m

This is the focus limiter.

Leave it at FULL unless the lens gets lost and slows you down "hunting" for things closer than 10 feet (3 meters). If it does, set it to ∞-3m and it won't autofocus closer than 10 feet (3m).

 

Optical Steady Shot

Leave this ON unless you're making long exposures on a tripod.

 

MODE 1 2

Leave it at MODE 1 unless you're panning. Use MODE 2 if you're panning.

 

Focus Lock Buttons

These are the three unmarked round buttons between the focus and zoom rings.

Hold any of them to lock autofocus.

They can be used for recomposition, or if your target runs behind an obstruction for a moment.

These buttons are extremely useful on Canon and Nikon where we often have to recompose since they only have AF sensors in the middle of their frames, but since most Sonys like the Sony A9 have AF sensors that cover the entire frame, we don't need these as much.

 

Recommendations

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format

Compatibility   Specs   Accessories

USA Version   Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

This is the best 100-400 zoom ever made for Sony cameras, and it's also the biggest and most expensive, so no surprises here.

Personally I carry this with my Sony A9 in a Think Tank Retrospective 10 bag, which is the perfect size for this with my A9, 12-24/4 G (or 16-35/2.8 GM), 24-70/2.8 GM and other accessories.

 

Protective Filter

The very best protective filter is the 77mm Hoya multicoated HD3 UV which uses hardened glass and repels dirt and fingerprints, and is also multicoated.

For less money, the B+W 77mm 010 is an excellent filter, as are the multicoated version and the basic multicoated Hoya filters, but the Hoya HD3 is the toughest and the best.

Filters last a lifetime, so you may as well get the best. The Hoya HD3 stays cleaner than the others since it repels oil and dirt, and ten or 20 years from now will still be serving you well on whatever you're shooting in 2037.

 

Where I'd get mine

I got mine at B&H. I'd also get it at Adorama, at Amazon or at Crutchfield.

 

Thank you!

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Sony does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used lens. I use the stores I do because they ship from secure remote warehouses where no one gets to touch your new camera before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.

Thanks for helping me help you!

Ken, Mrs. Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

 

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The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places always have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

 

 

18-24 August 2017