Sony unveils ‘long-awaited’ 400mm f2.8 lens

Sony has announced the 400mm f2.8 GM OSS super-telephoto prime lens, which at under 3KG makes it the lightest (and potentially most expensive) in its class.
Update 5/7: Pricing and availability has arrived! Yep, it’s expensive – $17,999. Pre-orders begin in July, with the lens arriving in September.

Sony says the lens has achieved a level of portability and handheld maneuverability never seen before. At 3KG it’s probably worth hitting the dumbbells for a few weeks before leaving the ‘pod at home.

The lightweight build is thanks to an optical design that includes three fluorite elements, and a reduction of front barrel elements along with magnesium alloy components.

Fewer front barrel elements provide balanced weight which isn’t front heavy. Good for swingin’ and rotating – less inertia!

The lens also includes three fluorite elements to assist minimising chromatic aberration and ‘suppress any amount of colour bleeding’. Unwanted ghosting, reflections and glare is also suppressed with Sony’s Nano AR coating.

The lens has fast and precise AF due to two new high-speed linear motors, which have improved AF subject tracking by five times compared to the 300mm f2.8 G SSM II lens on a Sony a9.

Sony says the motors are supported by a motion algorithm that minimises lag, instability while controlling noise levels, resulting in an autofocus that ticks all the boxes – it’s fast, accurate and quiet.

They can be caught with beautiful background ‘defocus’, AKA bokeh, thanks to the work of an 11-blade circular aperture mechanism.

Other features include:
– Carbon fibre hood;
– An ample number of hard controls, including four programmable focus-hold buttons, Full-Time DMF switch to engage manual focus, three different stabilisation mode settings, and a few other buttons (see press release for more)
– Filter slot

The lens is both impressive and expensive.

The a9, Sony’s flagship full-frame mirrorless camera for sports photographers, left the company with a remaining weak point: a lack of high end glass to match it. Particularly a fast telephoto lens.

While Sony has now filled in this hole, at upward of $16,000 it’s a huge investment.

DPReview‘s First Impressions review of the lens applauded Sony, but implored the company to ‘address the needs of the more modest end too’ – a fast prime for less than $500, perhaps.

Click here for the press release.

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