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Author Topic: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?  (Read 3893 times)

shadowblade

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What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« on: June 18, 2017, 11:12:29 PM »

I'm currently having to replace all my camera gear and am having trouble finding a 70-200 f/2.8 that's up to standard.

I've tried 8 copies so far, at 5 different stores, on a borrowed A7r2, and all of them were soft wide open - almost as if the front element had been smeared with Vaseline. Not too dissimilar to the original Canon 70-200 f/2.8 (not the current Mk 2 version), which I would consider unacceptably soft for landscape photography.

Is it a design flaw, or is the QC for the 70-200 just that bad?

Already bought a 24-70 GM, which is tack-sharp. But now I'm facing having to sell it, open but unused,  at a substantial loss, because I can't find an acceptable 70-200 to go with it, and replace it with a Canon or Nikon system , which I'm loathe to do because I think Nikon is in a death spiral and am uncertain about future F-mount cameras (the D820's supposed 46MP is well behind the A7r3/A9r's likely resolution, and also behind the 5Ds).
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davidgp

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2017, 12:46:50 AM »

I don't have a copy of it... But reading reviews I saw some of them good, like the DxO one, and other people that mention it is not in the same level as Canon or the last Nikon one, like lens rental one...

Being as expensive as it is, probably I will pass on this lens and wait to see if the new 100-400 it is up to the task... I don't care too much that the lens is f2,8...


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shadowblade

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2017, 03:41:00 AM »

I don't have a copy of it... But reading reviews I saw some of them good, like the DxO one, and other people that mention it is not in the same level as Canon or the last Nikon one, like lens rental one...

Being as expensive as it is, probably I will pass on this lens and wait to see if the new 100-400 it is up to the task... I don't care too much that the lens is f2,8...


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I'm pretty much in the same boat, waiting for the 100-400.

I'd like a 70-200 f/2.8, but can wait five years for Sony to release  a sharp version, provided the 100-400 is as sharp or sharper corner-to-corner as the Canon and can cover those focal lengths in the meantime.

What I don't really want to do is buy into an SLR system that's on its way out, with lenses that may no longer be supported by new bodies in 7-8 years time (e.g. if Canon abandons the EF mount due to mirrorless taking over, as happened with the FD mount, or if Nikon is taken over and the buyer abandons the F-mount to instead make lenses for the Fuji or Sony E-mount). I previously used SLR lenses on the A7r2, but these were holdovers from when mirrorless either didn't exist, or wasn't a serious choice; the A9, if nothing else, demonstrates that mirrorless technology is here in full force and that the SLR's days as a dominant camera design are likely numbered. Canon, at least, will continue to develop cameras in competition with Sony; what is less certain is whether they will continue to use the EF mount, or move to a more flexible mount with a shorter flange distance.
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2017, 03:56:04 AM »

Digilloyd seems to have a very negative view of the Sony 70-200 f2.8 performance.

This suprised me a bit because the other lenses in the sony Master series seem to be very good, starting with the 85mm f1.4.

Cheers,
Bernard
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davidgp

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2017, 04:01:28 AM »

What I don't really want to do is buy into an SLR system that's on its way out, with lenses that may no longer be supported by new bodies in 7-8 years time (e.g. if Canon abandons the EF mount due to mirrorless taking over, as happened with the FD mount, or if Nikon is taken over and the buyer abandons the F-mount to instead make lenses for the Fuji or Sony E-mount). I previously used SLR lenses on the A7r2, but these were holdovers from when mirrorless either didn't exist, or wasn't a serious choice; the A9, if nothing else, demonstrates that mirrorless technology is here in full force and that the SLR's days as a dominant camera design are likely numbered. Canon, at least, will continue to develop cameras in competition with Sony; what is less certain is whether they will continue to use the EF mount, or move to a more flexible mount with a shorter flange distance.

I don't see the Sony E mount dying on 8 years, or the Canon EF mount. Sony is pushing a lot of lens, so they must be selling quite well, even considering the infamous Sony tax (new lens system, it will take some time lots of lenses in the market so prices go down like in the case of Nikon and Canon). But this is my gut feeling, more that actual facts. So, you can safely ignore it :)

davidgp

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2017, 04:06:00 AM »

Digilloyd seems to have a very negative view of the Sony 70-200 f2.8 performance.

This suprised me a bit because the other lenses in the sony Master series seem to be very good, starting with the 85mm f1.4.

Cheers,
Bernard

Not surprised in my case. When lens rentals published its review, there was a very long thread in Fred Miranda forums talking about if it was an error in their side or the lens was bad (lens rental evaluated 10 different copies).

DxO gives the lens a good review, but the main difference between Lens Rentals and DxO is that the former tests the lest at the infinity while the latter to more close distances. I'm not subscribed to Digilloyd chambers, but from the blog post where he said the lens was crap and he was not doing further testing with it, looks like it was at infinity distances also. Maybe this lens does not perform good at infinity close distances... but this is my speculation, and not 100% sure if the comments makes sense or not.

shadowblade

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2017, 04:21:59 AM »

I don't see the Sony E mount dying on 8 years, or the Canon EF mount. Sony is pushing a lot of lens, so they must be selling quite well, even considering the infamous Sony tax (new lens system, it will take some time lots of lenses in the market so prices go down like in the case of Nikon and Canon). But this is my gut feeling, more that actual facts. So, you can safely ignore it :)

Not the E-mount - that's a mirrorless mount that will stay around. Same with the Canon EF-M mount (18mm flange distance and 47mm throat diameter). Both are suitable for full-frame mirrorless lenses.

EF-S will almost certainly die. So will A-mount. EF and F mounts also have uncertain futures, as they will have no reason to exist once the mirror box is supplanted. The mount itself may survive, since their larger throat diameter is even better for developing lenses (particularly tilt-shifts and lenses with wide apertures) but they may no longer use the same flange distance (e.g. the sensor may be moved 18mm behind the mount instead of 44mm), rendering current lenses unusable on them.
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shadowblade

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2017, 04:29:06 AM »

Not surprised in my case. When lens rentals published its review, there was a very long thread in Fred Miranda forums talking about if it was an error in their side or the lens was bad (lens rental evaluated 10 different copies).

DxO gives the lens a good review, but the main difference between Lens Rentals and DxO is that the former tests the lest at the infinity while the latter to more close distances. I'm not subscribed to Digilloyd chambers, but from the blog post where he said the lens was crap and he was not doing further testing with it, looks like it was at infinity distances also. Maybe this lens does not perform good at infinity close distances... but this is my speculation, and not 100% sure if the comments makes sense or not.

As a landscape photographer,  infinity is the distance which matters.

The primes are all best-in-class, or not far from it. I'm far less confident in the zooms. The 70-200s I tried certainly won't hold up at 100MP, as had been promoted - they don't even hold up at 42MP. Same story as with Sigma, really - primes are great, but they've yet to convince me about their zooms.

The 24-70 I have seems really solid, but one lens doesn't make a full system.
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davidgp

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2017, 04:52:50 AM »

As a landscape photographer,  infinity is the distance which matters.

The primes are all best-in-class, or not far from it. I'm far less confident in the zooms. The 70-200s I tried certainly won't hold up at 100MP, as had been promoted - they don't even hold up at 42MP. Same story as with Sigma, really - primes are great, but they've yet to convince me about their zooms.

The 24-70 I have seems really solid, but one lens doesn't make a full system.

I went through two copies of the 24-70, first one I got... from 50 to 70 mm, left corner was never sharp until f11... it was completely decentered... second copy performs ok. But yes, one lens does not make a system.

shadowblade

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2017, 05:15:06 AM »

I went through two copies of the 24-70, first one I got... from 50 to 70 mm, left corner was never sharp until f11... it was completely decentered... second copy performs ok. But yes, one lens does not make a system.

For a minimum viable system, you need to cover the 16-200mm range with zooms which are sharp corner-to-corner sharp wide-open. A good 24-70 only covers part of that. The 70-200 doesn't meet the standard. I'm guessing it performs OK stopped down to f/5.6, but that's the standard of 15 years ago. I wouldn't hesitate to shoot a distant mountain peak in the starlight at f/2.8 with either the Canon or Nikon 70-200. I wouldn't be able to do that with the 70-200 Sony copies I've tried. It might be OK for portraits, where softness is OK and corner sharpness doesn't matter, but isn't acceptable for anything requiring critical sharpness.

Is it an optical flaw or excessively loose manufacturing tolerances? The existence of some sharp copies out there leads me to think it's the latter. Certainly,  some images suggest it's as sharp in one corner or another as the new Nikon. But we need that same sharpness in all four corners and the centre,  not just one or two of them.

A real pity, since the camera bodies and primes are fantastic and eye focus is such a great feature to have.
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Christopher

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2017, 04:57:31 PM »

Why bother wide open for landscapes ? Lenses should perform between 5,6 and 11.

It's true that the Sony sounds quite horrible especially for that price. However, there aren't many zooms that actually perform wide open sharp in every corner. Or at least not 1-2 years ago.


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shadowblade

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2017, 10:39:37 PM »

Why bother wide open for landscapes ? Lenses should perform between 5,6 and 11.

It's true that the Sony sounds quite horrible especially for that price. However, there aren't many zooms that actually perform wide open sharp in every corner. Or at least not 1-2 years ago.


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Because, on a typical landscape trip, you're shooting things other than just landscapes. The mountain peak may be the objective, but, along the way, you might also shoot some wildlife, flowers and other nature shots, portraits of local people, the portrait of a monkey, etc. All of which benefit from sharpness wide-open.

Also, night landscapes are frequently shot wide-open, to capture stars as pinpoints rather than trails.

The Canon 70-200 has been out for six years and is sharp corner-to-corner at f/2.8. Same with the recent Nikon.

The Sony likely works fine for event and action photography, where ultimate sharpness is less critical and corners barely matter at all. But it falls down flat as a landscape or general-purpose travel lens, which needs to perform across the frame.
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shadowblade

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2017, 12:18:23 PM »

To put it another way, with the Canon 70-200, I'd quite happily shoot a landscape even with a 1.4x TC. (sand dune shot)

I'd also use a 1.4x TC on the Sigma 120-300. (monastery shot)

But the Sony 70-200 GM samples I've tried weren't usable for landscapes even without a teleconverter.

Or did I just happen to get the returned rejects at every store?
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davidgp

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2017, 12:31:56 PM »

To put it another way, with the Canon 70-200, I'd quite happily shoot a landscape even with a 1.4x TC. (sand dune shot)

I'd also use a 1.4x TC on the Sigma 120-300. (monastery shot)

But the Sony 70-200 GM samples I've tried weren't usable for landscapes even without a teleconverter.

Or did I just happen to get the returned rejects at every store?

Beautiful work... I love both photographs!!!

Not sure about the 70-200GM... but maybe it is not cut for landscape work.

shadowblade

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2017, 12:52:01 PM »

Beautiful work... I love both photographs!!!

Not sure about the 70-200GM... but maybe it is not cut for landscape work.

For a top-tier lens priced higher than any of its competitors,  that's not really acceptable performance. The 70-200 f/2.8 zoom is supposed to be the 'do everything' lens within that focal length range, able to handle everything from rapid-focusing sports, to smooth bokeh for portraits, to corner-to-corner sharpness for landscapes. The current Canon, Nikon, Sigma, etc. all manage to do that. The Sony samples I've tried were barely as good as the old Canon 70-200 mk 1, which was decidedly soft at f/2.8.

I don't know if it's the optics or the quality control, but, whatever it is, the performance I've seen is unacceptable for an all-purpose lens and leaves a gaping hole in the Sony lens lineup. And it makes a mockery of the G Master claim of 'sharp enough for 100MP' and 'best possible image quality'.
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JKoerner007

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2017, 09:17:30 PM »

Why don't you consider the Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8E FL ED?

It's better than the Canon, the Sony, and the Tamron ... and it has Nikon's 'E' designation with the electromagnetic diaphragm.

Thus, it should work smoothly with an adapter and produce the type of stellar images you're looking for.

Don't see what other option there is, really, if that's the focal length you're looking for and are not satisfied with Sony's native iteration.

Certainly would be worth a try, and you can always send it back if you didn't like it within 30 days, or keep it if you do.

shadowblade

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2017, 09:37:46 PM »

Why don't you consider the Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8E FL ED?

It's better than the Canon, the Sony, and the Tamron ... and it has Nikon's 'E' designation with the electromagnetic diaphragm.

Thus, it should work smoothly with an adapter and produce the type of stellar images you're looking for.

Don't see what other option there is, really, if that's the focal length you're looking for and are not satisfied with Sony's native iteration.

Certainly would be worth a try, and you can always send it back if you didn't like it within 30 days, or keep it if you do.

Poor AF. AF through an adapter may be able to lock onto nonmoving objects, but I don't need AF to shoot something that doesn't move. It's hardly going to accurately track a motorcycle coming down the street or a leopard moving through grass.

The only reason I was using a Canon 70-200 on the A7r2 previously was because I already had one. Wouldn't buy one for the sole purpose of using it on an adapter.
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JKoerner007

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2017, 09:42:35 PM »

Poor AF. AF through an adapter may be able to lock onto nonmoving objects, but I don't need AF to shoot something that doesn't move. It's hardly going to accurately track a motorcycle coming down the street or a leopard moving through grass.

The only reason I was using a Canon 70-200 on the A7r2 previously was because I already had one. Wouldn't buy one for the sole purpose of using it on an adapter.

Have you tested it yourself or is this an assumption?

By all accounts, it has blistering AF on Nikkor cameras, so it should at least be average on a Sony.

Naturally, you can do it you want, but it's better to see and test it yourself, for sure, than assume.

shadowblade

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2017, 10:17:20 PM »

Have you tested it yourself or is this an assumption?

By all accounts, it has blistering AF on Nikkor cameras, so it should at least be average on a Sony.

Naturally, you can do it you want, but it's better to see and test it yourself, for sure, than assume.

The Canon 70-200 is equally fast on a 1Dx2 or 5D4, but sluggish on the A7r2,  and even on the A9.

At the same time, the Sony 70-200 is just as fast and accurate on the A9 as the Canon is on a 1Dx2 or the Nikon is on the D5. Trouble is, it just isn't sharp, except when stopped down two stops.

You're not going to get equally-fast AF with an adapted lens, nor will you have the invaluable eye AF. You don't buy a top-tier lens and body only to get 'average' AF.
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JKoerner007

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Re: What's wrong with the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM?
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2017, 10:36:09 PM »

The Canon 70-200 is equally fast on a 1Dx2 or 5D4, but sluggish on the A7r2,  and even on the A9.

No it isn't.

The new E FL ED is faster than Nikon's G VR II (Canon's equivalent), with better VR, and better imagery. Why would you think Canon's elder lens would be "as fast" as Nikon's newest?

Further, Canon's AF performance on a Sony, with an adapter, might not have the same translation as Nikkor's AF (E) on a Sony.



At the same time, the Sony 70-200 is just as fast and accurate on the A9 as the Canon is on a 1Dx2 or the Nikon is on the D5. Trouble is, it just isn't sharp, except when stopped down two stops.

Exactly. Fast AF + poor performance = you get lousy results "quickly" :-\

Wouldn't it be better to get awesome results at a decent pace?



You're not going to get equally-fast AF with an adapted lens, nor will you have the invaluable eye AF. You don't buy a top-tier lens and body only to get 'average' AF.

On the contrary, many top-tier lenses have average (even zero) AF.

I guess my real point is try it out for yourself and see ... rather than base your belief system on "reviews" and assumptions.

Weren't all of the Sony 70-200 GM reviews "glowing" ... and yet your own experience was mediocre? Take a lesson from that.

Point being, you were prejudiced in favor of the Sony ... but it disappointed ... so consider the possi-(probi)bility that you might be prejudiced against the Nikkor ... and yet you might be thrilled in real life.

With a 30-day trial/return with most reputable dealers, what have you got to lose?
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