Recently Sony shipped for evaluation to me the FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Telephoto Zoom . I paired the lens with my Sony Alpha 9 and was able to use it for a week during a few shoots, I shot with this lens on the streets in Manhattan and from my rooftop during the day and at dusk. I also attended a baseball game and got to shoot it from a box near the right field foul pole.
The tests convinced me that this combination of the Alpha 9 and the 100-400mm zoom were designed to bring handheld photography up one more level. The reason for this is that the Alpha 9 can perform at higher ISOs and the 100-400mm has 5 stops of stabilization coupled with the Alpha 9’s In Body Image Stabilized sensor (IBIS) . This and the fact the lens, camera and battery grip combination weighs in at 2243 Grams (4.944 pounds) ready to go. A comparable 400mm f/2.8 with DSLR body would be around 12-13 pounds (6000grams) making a tripod or monopod a necessity for anything longer than a few minutes.
This article was shot hand held with this combination. I was surprised at the stability and image quality of what I was able to achieve even late in the day or dusk. At 400mm shooting baseball at 1/2000th second and as high as 10000 ISO I was also surprised at the number of keepers. Only a few out of focus images out of the more than 4,300 shot at the ballgame. Shooting at higher frame rates also meant more keepers from that 4,300. At the end of the shoot there was 19% battery life remaining and the second battery in the grip still was at 100%.
On my rooftop I was able to capture two days of spectacular sunsets lighting Manhattan in golden light and pastels all hand held with the stabilization helping immensely.
The focussing of the lens and camera combination was a pleasure to use with very few out of focus shots with moving subjects even at 12 or 20 frames a second. Switching over to manual focus was easy and is accomplished electronically and is not mechanically linked.
The lens is f/4.5 at 100mm and f/5.6 at 400mm. Many sports shooters seem to want f/2.8 but I feel that this is an older way of thinking. now that we have cameras that can work at higher ISOs. Again the lighter weight of the system comes into play with the ability to get more shots from anywhere on or off the field quickly.
Another well thought out feature on the lens is the friction lock on the lens barrel. It is variable in the way it works allowing one to control how fast you can zoom. It does not fully lock the barrel but does stop the lens from extending when tilted down.
The lens foot is removable and covers a 1/4 inch 20 hole underneath like the 70-200mm G Master.
The lens hood has a side slot similar to the 70-200mm G Master allowing one to put a rotatable 77mm filter in front of the lens with the hood attached.
For wildlife shooters mobility is paramount. Backpacking 5 pounds vs 13 is always a pleasure. The Alpha 9 and lens combo can shoot silently and without blackout. A benefit when quiet is needed.
For Portraits using eye autofocus is a good choice in most situations. This example done without flash for Z Guard Sports Sleeves at 25,600 ISO focussed quickly. I was happy to get such good quality from a shot that might not have been acceptable otherwise.
Below is a gallery of images photographed with the Sony FE 100-400mm OSS G Master lens and the Alpha 9 Camera Body
Click on the image to expand and see it at 100%