First Impressions: Sony 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS (FE Lens)

For a really affordable price point, the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS is going to satisfy the needs of many photographers.

I’m very shocked at how much I liked the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS after playing with it for a weekend. I’m not saying that because I doubt Sony’s ability to make a great lens, but because I found the lightweight, focal length range, relatively compact size, and image stabilization combined well together to create what could arguably be Sony’s most useful lens for photojournalism to date. Though it’s only of the G moniker and not a G Master, there is little holding me back from saying that any photographer would be unwise to pass up on this lens. At a $2,000 price point, every photographer will get several useful focal lengths along with image stabilization and small size. Plus, it’s got a solid image quality! Though despite all of this, I’m still a bit wary; the last time I used a G series lens, I had a bad experience with its build quality.

Editor’s Note: This entire first impression review is NOT OUR FULL REVIEW. It is merely our first impression. All of this was conducted while Sony put other journalists and us up at a hotel with all expenses paid. In the interest of transparency, we mention statements like this to build trust with our audience, as we have for the past 10 years. We will be calling this lens in for review at a later point for our own independent testing. 

Tech Specs

Sony
FE 200-600mm

F5.6-6.3 G OSS

Focus length 200-600mm
35mm equivalent focal-length (APS-C) 300-900mm
Max. Aperture 5.6-6.3
Lens groups-elements 17-24
Aperture blades 11
Aspheric lens 1
Extra-low dispersion glass ED glass: 5
Focus actuator DDSSM
Min. focus distance(m) 2.4
Max. magnification ratio (x) 0.20
Focus range limiter 3 ranges

(Full/2.4-10m/10m-∞)

Internal zoom Yes
Dimensions(mm) 111.5 x 318.0
Weight (g) 2,115 [without tripod mount]

Ergonomics

The Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS is a marvel of a lens in many ways. The entire thing has an internal zoom. That makes the size of the lens much smaller. In the photo above, you can see it next to a Profoto B10–which is roughly the size of a 70-200mm f2.8 lens. As you can see, the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS isn’t that large for what it is.

The bigger black rubber ring on the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS is for zooming. The back ring is for focusing. I’m sure most folks will be using the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS with autofocus. The lens also comes with its own tripod collar.

Without the lens hood attached, the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS becomes a smaller package. That means that when it is reversed and put into your bag, you’ll be able to store it easier. Still, though, I probably wouldn’t put it in my camera bag with the camera attached. That’s just a lot of surface area dedicated to one lens and a camera.

On the side of the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS are controls like image stabilization, focus limiters, and focusing type. Some of this will also be controlled via the camera.

Build Quality

While holding the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS, it felt excellent. Between this and the 600mm f4 G Master, I tended to want to reach for this one more. It’s just so lightweight and versatile. While mounted to the Sony a9 and the Sony a7r III, I felt this lens was well balanced and an optic I’d be happy to have around my chest all day. Sony did a great job of working to ensure that the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS stays lightweight and compact. The sports and photojournalistic photographers who use this lens will genuinely appreciate what it can do. In fact, I think this lens, along with the 16-35mm f2.8 G Master, 24-70mm f2.8 G Master, and 70-200mm f2.8 G Master, will be able to give a photographer a vast range of coverage. At the same time, Sony is speaking about this lens as a competitor to Sigma’s 150-600mm Contemporary and Tamron’s equal focal lengths. All the while, this makes me wonder if a G Master version is on the way.

Although the lens has dust and moisture protection, I’m not sure how well sealed it will be against the elements. I didn’t have much of an opportunity to test that while using it, and it’s only a G lens. A G Master lens would have much better sealing, and it would be noticeable. However, I’m eager to take this lens out into a summer rainshower and see how it fairs.

Ease of Use

The Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS is straightforward in use; attached it to the camera, point, focus, and shoot. It’s an excellent option for the Sony user who shoots sports. Combine this with features like the focus limiter, the light weight, the natural and fast integration with Sony’s autofocus system, and the fast fps shooting abilities of many of Sony’s cameras, and you get something you’re bound to love. If anything, the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS isn’t challenging to use at all. You’ll just need to pre-program the camera to do things like animal tracking, Lock-on AF, AF-C, etc. Perhaps one of the biggest and best things about the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS is the fact that it internally zooms. What this means is that when in storage and even when in use, it’s not going to take up a lot of space.

Autofocus

 

With both the Sony a7r III and the Sony a9, I felt like the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS’s focusing abilities more than exceeded my expectations. I mean, this lens can do so much when shooting sports and wildlife. For what it’s worth, I think I’d reach for the 600mm f4 for wildlife; but the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS for sports is an excellent performer. When tracking Soccer players at the Red Bull Stadium, the Sony a9 would look for a specific thing on the player. Then it would follow the player as they ran across the frame, both towards and away from the camera. Granted, this works pretty well in stadium lighting for a major league game. With that said, photographers shooting those games will come to rely on what the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS can do. I think that the real test though, will be indoors for something like hockey, or college/high school sports where parents are likely to be photographing their kids.

By far, you’re going to get the best autofocus performance from the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS with the Sony a9. However, the a7r III isn’t any slowpoke.

Image Quality

So far, we’re very impressed at the sample images that we got. But we’re going to want to test this lens while shooting more sports games, and we fully intend on doing that.

First Impressions

I like the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS. In fact, I really like it. It’s one of the few zoom lenses I’d consider purchasing, partially because of the internal zoom which makes it feel like a large prime lens. But in addition to that, it provides 400mm of useful zoom range while not losing more than a stop of light throughout. Years ago, when I was a professional paparazzi, this is the lens I would have died for. Even now, when shooting events for announcements and such, the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS seems like such a great option when coupled with the Sony a7r III’s resolution and ability to keep the noise down at higher ISO settings. Plus, I’ll get the best color from the Sony a7r III. With all this said, I’m very excited to test the Sony 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS. I may even consider buying one later this year.