Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM Lens Review (and video!)

[Some links in this post link to Amazon, who will pay me a small commission should you make a subsequent purchase.  Thanks for your support!]

Let’s talk some photography.  As most of you know, I use mostly Sony camera equipment (my almost-updated gear page is here) for nearly every picture taken on this blog.  When Sony releases an amazing new lens I think it’s worth mentioning to you, even if you’re mostly here for the travel stuff.

Which brings us to this: the Sony 70-200mm f2.8 GM lens.

sony-70-200-gm-f2.8-lens-review-7

This lens is part of the G Master series, which not only makes you sound kind of like a rapper but also represents the best quality that Sony has to offer.  Sony initially released three lenses in the GM series: a 24-70mm f2.8 (which I own), an 85mm f1.4, and this 70-200mm f2.8.  While the first round of FE lenses were designed to be compact and portable at the expense of aperture capability, these GM lenses make no compromises: they are designed to be the best of the best.

The 70-200mm GM is a massive lens, stretching almost 8 inches long and weighing over 3 pounds.  Compared to the f4 version, which is $1200 less, it’s an inch longer and almost twice as heavy.  The GM has 11 circular aperture blades to make for more pleasing bokeh (out of focus area), which fits with Sony’s insistence that this is a lens equally useful for portraiture as it is for sports.

sony-70-200-gm-f2.8-lens-review-3

On the lens you have four selectors along with three focus hold buttons (which can be programmed to functions like Eye Autofocus, etc.).  The functions are similar to those on the f4 model: autofocus/manual focus, a focus limiter, stabilization on/off, and a mode selector for still shots versus panning shots.

sony-70-200-gm-f2.8-lens-review-4

The focus ring is much beefier on the GM lens and it features an SSM motor for lightning-quick autofocus.  An interesting feature of the lens hood is a little window that can recess into the hood in case you need to rotate a circular polarizer or ND filter, which is useful because the lens hood is ENORMOUS.

And, actually, the lens itself is enormous.  The Sony alpha camera bodies are all fairly small so putting a lens this big on any of them makes them look a bit ridiculous, especially in the case of the more sports-oriented cameras like my new a6500.

sony-70-200-gm-f2.8-lens-review-5

sony-70-200-gm-f2.8-lens-review-6

I took the lens out for some sports shooting with some friends of mine and put together a video below so you could see it in action.

Image samples

Most of these have been lightly edited in Lightroom but hopefully you can see how well the background is separated from the subject, even if my lighting missed the mark a little bit on the soccer one.

IMG_0695

IMG_0696

IMG_0693

IMG_0694

My thoughts

All in all after only a few days of using the new lens I think it’s a winner.  The images it produces (which you’re about to see) are crisp, sharp, and the f2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range is a welcome benefit.  I intend to use this lens not only for sports, portraits, and landscapes, but also for my aerial photography work, where I need every bit of aperture I can get for nighttime shots.

Is it worth $1200 more than the f4 model?  I’m not so sure.  I need the extra stop of light so for me it was a must, and I think the bokeh is much better on the GM than on the f4.  I think the pros out there who are used to lenses in this price range should get it without a doubt, but if you’re on the fence the f4 is a perfectly capable lens that is plenty sharp (I’m selling mine if anyone is interested, by the way).

I hope you enjoyed this review and please let me know if you have any questions about the lens in the comments below!

4 Comments

  1. “Lightly edited”? Great lighting btw

    Reply
    • Lol, maybe some added clarity here and there. Thanks for the kind words and I hope you enjoyed the review!

      Reply
      • “Some Added clarity here and there” Haha.
        Nice pics!

        Reply
  2. Great review and video, Andy! I have actually “owned” 2 of these lenses but never actually got to use one so it is great to see it in action. I cannot wait to see some of your aerial shots with it!

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Get the latest updates daily!

You have Successfully Subscribed!