The Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS is a really welcome addition to the Sony lens line-up.
Despite the popularity of the Sony A6000 and its family of APS-S sensored mirrorless cameras, Sony has not produced very many lenses specifically designed to pair with these smaller cameras. Most of its lens line-up have been full-frame compatible - which naturally makes them bigger than they need be when used on the current five-model APS-C range - the A6000, A6100, A6300 , A6500 and A6600.
Sony fans will therefore be really happy that Sony has introduced a pair of great-sounding lenses specifically designed for the APS-C sensor camera range. Alongside the Sony E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS supertelephoto zoom, which we are looking at here, arriving at the same time is the fast Sony E 16-55mm f/2.8 G standard zoom.
Thanks to the smaller sensor, the 70-350mm gives an effective focal length of 105-525mm when the 1.5x crop factor is taken into account. This supertelephoto range makes this an obvious choice for those who want to photograph garden birds, go on safari, shoot airshows – or to get in close to the action with field sports such as soccer, baseball or rugby.
The lens's closest rival is Sony's own FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS full frame telephoto zoom. But the 75-350mm weighs in at 635g, so is 230g lighter - making it a much better match for the A6000-series cameras. It is also smaller, measuring 142mm by 77mm – and has a relatively-small 67mm front filter ring. Plus it is less expensive, which is another big bonus.
The lens is constructed from 19 elements in 13 groups, with a seven-bladed aperture diaphragm. Minimum focus varies from 1.1m to 1.5m depending on just how far you are zoomed out.
We managed to get a short time using the new lens at Sony's pop-event in New York, held to coincide with Photo Plus Expo 2019 in October. It was a public show, and the cameras were tethered, restricted our movement, and meaning our view of any useful photographic subjects was somewhat restricted. Nonetheless we were able to take a few meaningful images - and at least get a sense of what this zoom might be like in the field.
We used this the new 5x zoom on the equally new Sony A6600 model. This is a relatively long lens for such a small body - but not unusually so given the massive telephoto reach.
The lens claims to have a 5-stop image stabilizer, but in our tests it definitely wasn't giving us anywhere near as much stabilization in the few images that we took a the extreme 350mm zoom setting. But obviously, with the amount of shake that you get at this extension, any degree of compensation is welcome – and we could definitely see evidence of about a three stop improvement, but we'd like to check this when get our own test sample into our lab.
Autofocus speed, however, was brisk and responsive - and we can concur with Sony's claims that the XD Linear Motor offers "excellent response and low vibration for fast, precise, quiet AF". This is not a lens that hunts in the way that we have found with other low-cost telephoto lenses in the past - and it would undoubtedly do even better in brighter conditions than we had in the converted warehouse that Sony was using for the event.
One slight moan is that the maximum aperture of the lens is f/6.3 at the 350mm, telephoto end, and f/4.5 at the 70mm end. Neither is particularly fast, and this does mean that you will have to boost ISO speeds in order to get fast enough shutter speeds. However, these limits are not particularly surprising, or unusual, either - given the price and size of the lens.
Image quality looks impressive, however, for the price – but again we will reserve judgement until we get a chance to put the resolution and any aberrations to the test in our own laboratory.
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