Sony Finally Makes a FE 400mm 2.8 it’s a BEAUT!
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS (Order from B&H Photo | Amazon) is the lightest, sharpest and fastest focusing four-hundred-two-eight ever made thanks to ground-breaking lens design featuring XD Linear Focus for faster and more precise autofocus than is possible with rotational stepping motors used in DSLR lens designs.
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS uses Dual XD Linear Focus actuators for the fastest AF of any super telephoto lens to date. Previously the most obvious advantage of mirrorless camera systems were smaller camera bodies, but with this lens, the advantage shifts to advances in lens design not possible with ANY current DSLR lens.
Why is linear focus faster than conventional rotational focus? To picture how rotational focus works, imagine unscrewing a jar lid. The distance you must turn the cap is 5X the linear distance of travel to simply pull the cap off.
Rotational helical focus worked for a century of manual focus lens design with a few notable exceptions that employed rear-group rack focus such as Canon FD 600mm f/4.5 & FD 800mm f/5.6L lenses.
DSLR AF lenses (and most mirrorless lenses) are designed using rotational focus actuators.
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens bucked conventional design by pairing a linear focus actuator in the rear of the lens with a conventional rotational actuator in the front.
Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS took the technology a step further by eliminating rotational focus altogether in favor of dual linear focus actuators.
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS raises the bar with a single XD Linear Focus actuator that moves the focusing lens elements FIVE TIMES FASTER than rotational actuators used in SSM DSLR lenses. This allows the FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS to track focus on the eyes of a moving subject at up to 20 frames per second. This simply not possible with any current DSLR lens design.
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS measures 6.22 x 14.13″ (158.1 x 359 mm)
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS is currently the world’s lightest 400 2.8 by TWO pounds! In fact it’s much closer to the weight of 300 2.8s than any other 400 2.8s.
Add in a camera body and Sony a9 + FE 400 2.8 GM OSS is a whopping FOUR POUNDS LIGHTER (1.812 kilograms) than a Canon 1DX II + 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM combo!
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS includes a Drop-In Filter Holder that accepts 40.5mm ND and other filter types, as well as the optional VF-DCPL1 Drop-in Circular Polarizing Filter. The VF-DCPL1 filter can be rotated to achieve desired polarization while installed in the lens.
The FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS features 23 Elements in 17 Groups including three Fluorite lens elements and one ED glass element to virtually eliminate both axial and lateral chromatic aberrations while maintaining corner-to-corner sharpness.
While most 400 2.8s are incredibly front-heavy, moving the AF groups to the rear – not front – of the lens allows front lens element sits five full inches of…air… Because of this, the lens balances at the focus ring – not in front of it. Coupled with the two pounds of weight it’s shed compared to the competition – it feels more like a 300 2.8 than a 400!
Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS III USM and AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR are excellent lenses – among the best lenses Canon & Nikon ever made. But they simply don’t match the corner-to-corner sharpness of Sony’s FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS:
Magnesium alloy construction provides durability to hold up to heavy use yet it’s light weight helps trim two pounds from the weight of competing lenses.
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS Lens Control Panel on the left side
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS Lens Foot features one 3/8″-16 and two 1/4″-20 threads
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS is dust- and moisture-sealed for working in inclement weather.
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS has built-in Optical SteadyShot Stabilization and is compatible with Sony bodies featuring 5-Axis Image Stabilization.
IN THE BOX:
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS includes front & rear lens caps, drop-in filter holder, strap, and lockable fitted foam filled case.
The fitted foam filled case includes cut-outs for FE 1.4X & 2X teleconverters
Best-in-class doesn’t come cheap. Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS is available for pre-order for $11,998 from B&H Photo | Amazon). The first lenses are expected to arrive in the USA in September 2018.
Testing was done using Sony a9 with Beta Firmware 2.10 which adds full 20 FPS AF support for the Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS Lens. (Sony a9 fw update 3.00 will be released today.)
Sony a9 firmware 3.00 adds a couple new settings:
Menu > Camera Settings 2 > Custom Operation 2 > Function Ring (Lens) > Power Focus / APS-C S35 /Full Frame Select
Power Focus allows smooth focus pulls for video. Still shooters should ignore this setting an instead choose APS-C S35 /Full Frame Select which allows you to toggle between Fullframe and APS-C Crops by rotating the Function Ring just below the focus hold button.
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS Lens Function Ring is just below the focus hold buttons.
Menu > Setup 7 > Write Serial Number > On
Turning this setting on will write the camera serial number into the EXIF which is very handy if you own more than one of the same camera bodies and one is acting up.
Sony a9 | Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS + Sony FE 1.4X TC | 1/640 | F4 | ISO 400 (Click to View Larger)
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS focuses down to 8.86 feet. Add a FE 1.4X TC and this is what you get.
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS offers the fastest autofocus performance and highest optical quality in its class.
• G Master series lens is designed to achieve highest resolution and sharpness
• Fast 2.8 maximum aperture provides great depth of field control and low-light performance
• Three fluorite elements to reduce color fringing and chromatic aberrations
• Nano AR Coating reduces flare and ghosting and increased clarity and contrast
• XD Linear Motor System quietly and quickly focuses on fast-moving subjects
• Optical SteadyShot Stabilization
• Weight is distribution toward the back of the lens for great balance
• Magnesium alloy body weather-sealed for dust, dirt, and moisture protection
• Power Focus functionality for smooth focus during video recording
• Rounded 11-blade diaphragm provides silky smooth bokeh
• Compatible with 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters