First Impressions: Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM FE (Sony E Mount, Full Frame)

With the announcement of the new Sony a9, the new Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 G Master FE lens was slightly overshadowed by all the new tech in the camera. However, this new lens is also one that is very important for the specific crowd that camera is targeted to. The Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 G Master is designed for sports shooters, wildlife photographers, and photojournalists who need a whole lot of reach. During our testing period with prototype models, we found the 100-400mm lens to be really useful in many situations, but we’re going to need to give it more testing to give a final verdict.

Here’s our first impressions thus far though.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the Sony page listing.

MOUNT
Sony E-mount
FORMAT
35 mm full frame
FOCAL LENGTH (MM)
100-400
35 MM EQUIVALENT FOCAL LENGTH (APS-C)
150-600
LENS GROUPS / ELEMENTS
16-22
ANGLE OF VIEW (35 MM)
24゚-6゚10′
ANGLE OF VIEW (APS-C)
16°-4°10′2
MAXIMUM APERTURE (F)
4.5-5.6
MINIMUM APERTURE (F)
32-40
APERTURE BLADES
9
CIRCULAR APERTURE
Yes
MINIMUM FOCUS DISTANCE
3.22 ft/0.98 m
MAXIMUM MAGNIFICATION RATIO (X)
0.12-0.35
FILTER DIAMETER (MM)
77
IMAGE STABILIZATION (STEADYSHOT)
Optical SteadyShot
ZOOM SYSTEM
Manual
TELECONVERTER COMPATIBILITY (X1.4)
SEL14TC
TELECONVERTER COMPATIBILITY (X2.0)
SEL20TC
HOOD TYPE
Round, bayonet type
DIMENSIONS (DIAMETER X LENGTH)
3-3/4 x 8-1/8″ (93.9 x 205 mm)
WEIGHT
49.3 oz (Without tripod mount) 1,395 g (Without tripod mount)
  • Hood (model): ALC-SH151
  • Lens front cap: ALC-F77S
  • Lens rear cap: ALC-R1EM
  • Case
  • Other: Tripod mount

Ergonomics

The Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 G Master lens looks a lot like the company’s A mount 70-300mm lens offering. However, it’s probably also decently more compact in some ways. What you’ll see from the start is this greyish white outline, the G master branding and the control rings.

On the side, you’ll be able to spot more controls. This lens has OIS, focus limiters, etc.

Of course, a lens like this doesn’t all zoom internally. Instead, it becomes quite a bit larger when working with it at the longer end.

Build Quality

Though we didn’t get the chance to test this lens out in the rain, we got a bit of ice on it from the skating rink we went to. Sony’s website states it isn’t 100% weather sealed either.

Ease of Use

Using this lens would probably be easier when shooting sports if it were in the hands of a professional sports photographer who has the motor skills to be zooming and composing at the same time when a subject is moving through the scene. It’s pretty tough to be honest. If you’re shooting something like wildlife though, it could be a bit easier providing that the camera and lens get the critter in focus.

Autofocus

When working with the new Sony a9, the autofocus with this lens is pretty stellar. It’s capable of keeping a moving subject in focus with relative ease. However, again, I need to do more in depth testing in an environment not controlled by Sony.

Image Quality

I’ll be the first to admit that trying to get athletes in focus most of the time was pretty simple. However, I’ll also admit I’m not a sports shooter. With that said, these are some of the samples I came back with using this lens.

First Impressions

I’m surely going to need to do more thorough tests with the Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens but so far it’s shaping up to be quite a great option for sports photographers. I look forward to seeing how it does with soccer, wildlife, and more.