Super for far away: Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS
The Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS is an ideal telephoto lens for long work on APS-C cameras. Of course, an even longer option was recently added by Sony, the FE 200-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS. That lens offers about the same range on full frame as the Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS on APS-C. And on APS-C, you get everything even bigger with the 200-600 mm. But the Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS is a lot smaller, lighter, and easier to carry. On an APS-C camera, it is therefore better balanced than the 200-600 mm. And on an APS-C camera, the 100-400 mm starts at 150 mm equivalent, whereas the 200-600 mm starts at 300 mm equivalent. And that makes the 100-400 mm more versatile and therefore more all-around. And if you want more range with the Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS, you can easily add a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter. The 100-400 mm with the 1.4x converter becomes a 140-560 mm.That teleconverter causes one stop of light loss, but the 100-400 mm is brighter than the 200-600 mm. So that one stop of loss is not such a big problem. Something that can make the Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS less attractive is the price. That is already a lot higher than the 200-600 mm without a teleconverter. The difference is the gap between a GMaster lens and a Sony G lens. The Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS is stronger and more robustly built. And you pay for that.
The Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS is a nicely compact lens. It’s not the lightest or smallest 100-400 mm, but this 100-400 mm is about the same size and weight and as bright as the 100-400 mm that Fujifilm makes for its APS-C system. But you can also use this lens on a full frame. So it’s not that strange to use this lens on a Sony APS-C camera. It is a GMaster lens. It is therefore well built and fitted with gaskets against dust and moisture. The lens has a removable tripod base. The ring itself remains in place after removal of the base. The advantage is that you only have to store a very small part. The disadvantage is that the base and the button for locking do not come off. The lens has four switches: two for the autofocus and two for the image stabilization. The focus hold buttons are located between the focus ring and the zoom ring. The lens gets longer when you zoom in. The zoom ring turns nice and smoothly, and if you find it too heavy or too light, you can adjust that with the narrow ring behind the zoom ring.
The Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS uses a double linear motor for its autofocus. The autofocus is quiet, quite fast and – as we are used to from mirrorless cameras – extremely precise. Only in low light does the lens have a bit more trouble. Then the autofocus becomes a bit slower and has to search a little more for the right focus. The shortest setting distance is 98cm. That’s pretty good. That gives you a magnification of 0.35x. And if you use this lens with a teleconverter, the magnification becomes even larger, because the shortest setting distance remains the same.
VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DISTORTION
If you use a full-frame lens on APS-C, you only use the center of the image circle. The corners, where you are most bothered by vignetting, are simply no longer visible. And you can see that in the results of the Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS on APS-C. At 100 mm and full aperture, it is less than 0.6 stops. At all other positions, it is barely more than 0.2 stops. That is not perceptible and therefore nothing to worry about.
The same story that applies to vignetting also applies to distortion. Here, too, the values are completely negligible. This lens has virtually no distortion on APS-C. Great result.
The Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS is pretty sharp. We had already seen that on a full frame, and it’s apparent again on APS-C. The lens is actually at its best at full aperture. There is a small gradient in sharpness to the corners, but that is not very big. At the longest zoom position, the lens performs a fraction less well than in the rest of the range. But the loss is not very big, and it’s less than we see with some other zooms in this range. Overall, this is also a great performance.
The maximum brightness of f/4.5 can only be obtained from 100 to 115 mm. After that, the brightness decreases. For lenses with shorter focal lengths, that would mean that the bokeh would not be as beautiful. But at 400 mm, you can even get a pretty nice blur in the background with f/5.6. If you have light circles in the background, then you can sometimes get some rings in those light circles. But all in all, you can still isolate subjects nicely with the Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS, and, thanks to the high sharpness, you get a clear gradient from sharp to blurry.
Curious about the performance of the Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS in practice? Click on the button below and visit our renewed web gallery with sample images. The images can be downloaded in full resolution to be viewed at 100%.
ConclusiON: Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS REVIEW
With this lens, you’re buying both an excellent 100-400 mm for full frame and a 150-600 mm (eq.) for APS-C.
The Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS is a very nice telephoto zoom for APS-C cameras. At full frame, a 100-400 mm is sometimes a bit short for nature photography or aerial shows. But on APS-C, this lens becomes a 150-600 mm (equivalent), and that makes a huge difference. The Sony APS-C cameras are small and light and the Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS feels somewhat bigger on an A6400 or A6500 than it is. But it remains a nice combination. The price may be a barrier for many people. But with this lens, you are buying both an excellent 100-400 mm for full frame and a 150-600 mm (eq.) for APS-C. It is therefore a very versatile lens. The image quality is excellent, and it’s built in such a way that you can travel the world with it.