Handling? Excellent. Everything falls to the fingers perfectly, balance is fine on the small A7 bodies, the tripod foot collar thingy comes on and off with ease and so does the hood. All are secure when intended. Nothing gets in the way and it’s all intuitive: fantastic.
AF? Quick and silent, does not hunt and locks on positively every time. It is not as fast as a Canon L zoom on a Canon DSLR but we can blame that on the slower AF in the A7/R bodies rather than the lens, but for the application of the camera system its unlikely to be an issue for most users. A sports camera the A7 is not, but I did find it pretty snappy most of the time and could certainly pass for reasonably active subjects as long as the task is not too demanding. For that I have a 5D III. Between the two cameras, A7 and A7R, I did not find much of a difference in AF speed in daylight to be honest. I suspect that with the next generation… A8?… this lens will be able to offer up very fast AF indeed. I would say the 70-200 OSS is actually quicker to focus than the 35mm FE, so more akin to the 28-70mm kit zoom, which is pretty fast.
Optical performance is superb. I’m not going to get into this vs. that, because if you want a native zoom that extends beyond 70mm, this is the only option you have. I do feel confident that it stands up to the Canikons very comfortably and, while it might not be quite as optically spectacular as something like the 70-200 f2.8 L Mk II, it is 60% of the price, half the weight and focuses ten times as quickly (once the Canon is mounted on a Metabones). Unless you want to shoot at f2.8 or get the very best possible at f4, I don’t think there is anything of significance being lost with the Sony. Besides, if you are using it for landscapes you are going to spend a lot of your time at medium and small apertures and very little between f2.8 and f5.6. I was surprised by how sharp mine was, let’s put it that way.
I did not detect any decentering with my copy, which was a huge relief, because quite frankly I was expecting to, based on previous experience. Now for a bit more detail:
At the 70mm end, the lens is pretty good wide open, across the whole field, right into the corners. At f5.6 everything becomes just a little bit crisper and the finest detail is now rendered perfectly. At 70mm the lens is now close to its peak (which is f8); however, I would have no hesitation using it at f4 for critical tasks if I needed to. At the wider end, when I had the light, I generally shot mine around f8 for distant subjects and cannot fault the files. At the 200mm end, performance is very good at f4 on centre, but there is noticeable degradation towards the far edges and corners. It’s still good and actually superb if you are shooting portraits, where fall off in resolution at the edges and corners helps you out. Add a stop and go to f5.6 and the edges magically become very sharp indeed, with only a hint of softening visible in the last few millimetres of the extreme corners. Not enough to matter much to me, but it if you really, really must have the best across the frame another 1/2 to 2/3stop is all it takes, but personally, I find my copy superb at f5.6 across the field and I only bother stopping down further when the additional shutter speed or lower ISO is going to help me out. Drop down to about 160-170mm and you don’t really gain anything even in the farthest corners past f6.3 or so.
As for rendering, contrast and colour are excellent, flare control very good and CA is not something I really noticed outside of what you’d expect from any other pro-level lens. This is a very, very good lens and if you want a native lens, you can be confident you are not missing out on anything compared to the Canikon equivalents. One additional point is that this lens is very good up close. Superb in fact.
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