Sony 500/F4 G lens at WPPI 2012

Here it is Sony users, at long last the Sony 500/F4 G lens for Sony A-mount cameras is here. This is one SWEET LENS! Great balance, all-hand assembled just like all G- Glass – its a beauty! A great lens for sports photography. Think of it as the Ferrari of Alpha lenses and for a Ferrari, $13,000 is practically a steal…

Sony Alpha Product Manager Kenta Honjo holds the new Sony 500/4 G Lens
Sony Alpha Product Manager Kenta Honjo holds the new Sony 500/4 G Lens
Sony 500/4 G Lens Case
Personally, I would have gone all Louis Vuitton on the case – can we talk Brian Smith Edition?

Here are the Factory Specs:

* Longest-ever focal length G Lens from Sony
* Nano AR Coating on optical surfaces for flawless still images and HD video
* Bright F4.0 aperture for superior light gathering
* Compatible with SteadyShot INSIDE featured in all Alpha cameras
* New SSM drive circuit for quick, accurate autofocus
* Rugged dust- and moisture-resistant design: ideal partner for SLT-A77
* Enhanced handling and operability

Serious photographers can pull distant subjects closer with a powerful new 500mm (equivalent to 750mm with APS-C camera) super-telephoto lens from Sony.

The SAL500F40G is ideal for wildlife, sports and demanding imaging applications that require extreme magnification with un-compromised optical performance.

The SAL500F40G is the longest fixed focal length G Lens from Sony to date. Whether you’re shooting detail-packed stills or Full HD video, you’ll enjoy frame-filling close-ups with flawless resolution. With a bright F4.0 maximum aperture, its excellent light gathering power allows the use of faster shutter speeds to broaden shooting opportunities.

Inside, the advanced optical design of the SAL500F40G includes 11 elements in 10 groups, including three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements. It’s the first G Lens from Sony to feature an advanced new coating process that ensures crisper, clearer images. Exclusive to Sony, the ground-breaking Nano AR Coating process cuts internal reflections drastically. Resulting images are brilliantly crisp and clear, with dramatically reduced lens flare and ghosting. Flare is reduced still further by the carbon fiber lens hood that’s lined with black velvet fibers to absorb incident light.

The ruggedly-engineered SAL500F40G copes effortlessly with tough photo assignments. Focusing ring and front/rear joints are protected by interlocking seals that shrug off dust and moisture, even when you’re shooting outdoors in driving rain or arid desert conditions. This weather-resistant design makes the SAL500F40G a perfect partner for the SLT-A77 Translucent Mirror camera that offers serious photographers similarly rugged performance.

Like all other A-mount lenses, the SAL500F40G is compatible with the SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization system that’s featured in every Translucent Mirror and DSLR camera from Sony. Depending on shooting conditions, camera model and settings, you’ll enjoy camera-shake blur compensation that’s equivalent to approximately 4.5 stops (max.) in shutter speed.

In a year that is filled with major sporting events, the razor-sharp autofocus performance of the SAL500F40G makes it ideal for capturing the true essence of athletic emotion as the worlds’ eyes look on. Complemented by ? systems that deliver up to 12 frames per second (fps) stills shooting and 50 fps in full HD video mode, wildlife photographers now have the tools to capture and share every nuance of their chosen subject.

The high-torque SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) features a new drive circuit, ensures rapid, responsive AF with significantly faster object tracking than conventional Sony lenses.

Serious enthusiasts will also welcome a strong emphasis on enhanced handling and ergonomics. Four focus hold buttons are spaced around the lens barrel for easy operation in any position. They’re complemented by a two-way DMF (Direct Manual Focus) mode button and focus range switch for slick operation when you’re shooting under pressure.

Built to order, the SAL500F40G super-telephoto lens from Sony is available beginning April 2012.

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12 thoughts on “Sony 500/F4 G lens at WPPI 2012”

  1. The question, Brian, is whether you’ve had a chance to try it and, if so, what you think. While I’ve long been hoping/looking for a 500/4 (actually, a 300-500/4-4.5, but with no expectations it would ever get made) to supplement/replace my original Minolta 600/4, at $13,000 this is a hard one to swallow (particularly given the current limitations of the SLT/EVF design for shooting fast moving subjects in hi-speed continuous shooting).

    1. Not certain of any limitations of SLT for fast moving action since unlike other designs they track action continuously without the interruption of a moving mirror.

      1. Regarding the limits of the SLT cameras for shooting fast moving subjects in hi-speed continuous mode, I’d be happy to discuss my experiences off-line if you’re interested. I don’t need to “clog” the blog other than to note that I’m not alone in my experience (based on other discussion forums), and it is a drawback for the types of photographers who would naturally have an interest in the 500/4 (wildlife and sports).

  2. First photo I’ve seen showing the full length with hood. Would have been nice to have arca swiss dovetails on the foot. That is generally the most common quick release on gimbal mounts. It’s what all my tripod system uses. Failing that it needs two threaded attachment holes on the foot to maintain alignment with a add on plate and the photos don’t show if that’s there.

    What’s the front filter size for a protective filter? Or is one included?

    Size does not make a ferrari, and a good 4×4 would be far more appropriate for wildlife. I’ll have to win the lottery anyway, sigh. Now where’s the other long tele’s, Sony is still pretty short in focal length. A 600+ would have been appreciated.

    1. Hi Walt,

      They actually have the lens at the show mounted on a Wimberly gimbal. There are not two, but three threaded attachments on the mount: two 1/4-20 and one 3/8″ Wimberly, Kirk and RSS arca-style plates also have a slight lip at the back so it locks in rock solid.

      There is a front filter thread and a rear slot for 42mm filters.

      1. Hi again Brian. I never doubted the availability of a solid Arca style plate. I just wish the tripod collar foot was not extended as far from the body of the lens. Many Canon/Nikon shooters who use the gimbal heads (e.g., Wimberly) replace the foots on those lenses with shorter ones available from Kirk, RRS, et. al. The more extended foot also means it will take up more space in a back-pack or other case (I have rarely seen nature photographers use the metal “shipping” case to transport their long telephotos, but rather use either backpacks or rolling cases; I still use my LowePro Pro Trekker to transport my 600/4).

        Do you have any shooting plans for the lens when Sony makes one available to you (on a loaner/try-out basis of course)?

  3. I don’t use my Wimberleys anymore but use CB Brackets Gimbal instead as it’s a little smoother and breaks down for storage. But I agree with Mark the foot looks too high and having to bolt on a plate makes it even higher. That’s why I asked about having the dovetails machined into the foot so no plate has to be added and if it could be ordered that way. Having to buy a new foot from RRS, Kirk or such just to get a machined on lower foot adds cost, they don’t give those away. Hopefully your plate you are using has both front and back safety slots and not just one on the back 🙂

    Brian, is there a polaroid filter unit for the back slot? This is a unit that allows rotating the polarizer without removing from the slot. Or will such an accessory be available? Minolta had one for their back slot long lenses.

  4. What are the advanatages over the canon and nikon 500mm F4’s? Alot of people want to know since it is about 2x the cost of the canikon counterparts (Canon will soon revise the 500mm). And how can one properly compare image quality unless using a lens mount adapter to the same reference sensor. Any side by side samples?

    1. The new Canon is $10,500 at B&H, so still considerably less than the Sony (assuming the Canon price does not change when the lens actually becomes available). The Nikon 500 is $8400 at B&H, an even greater price difference. For the price of the Sony, you could add a new D800 and most of the cost of a new 70-200/2.8 VR II. Of course, if someone is already invested in the Alpha mount, these Canon and Nikon prices are irrelevant unless they are willing to switch systems. But, considering you can cover the cost of a new camera and lens for the price of the Sony 500, it becomes more plausible. Also, the MTF curves Sony has published for the lens (which I saw on a Japanese website) suggest that it is not up to the standards of the Canon and Nikon lenses (but MTF curves are not necessarily the be all and end all of lens quality). I am heavily invested in the Alpha mount, with Sony CZ and G lenses, along with my older Minolta lenses (including the 300/2.8 and 600/4 which date back to the late 1980’s/early 1990’s). I was very interested in a Sony 500/4, but doubt I would be at the $13,000 price tag (which is on top of my concerns about the SLT/EVF design). I was hoping for a lot better news.

  5. I, too, am heavily invested in Sony so switching is really not an option. I don’t want to be carting two mount types around either. There is enough bulk in just one field system. So I try to make Sony A mount system work. And like Mark I have concerns about SLT/EVF design that keep me away from it.

    As for what the others offer, it looks like Nikon has it’s own new nano coating to compare to. I’m wondering about the differences between Nikon’s and Sony’s nano coatings? And Canon’s stabilization is much more complex than the Sony with auto sensing for tripod mounting and such and having a mode that’s optimized for tripod as well as handheld. Plus choices in the direction of motion stabilized for panning and such. So there’s a lot of detail comparison to be made, it’s not just MTF curves as has been mentioned.

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