fbpx
Geek Articles

The Great 400mm Teardown Comparison. Part II – The Sony 400mm f2.8 G

In which you will not only learn how good the construction of Sony’s new flagship is, but also everything you wanted to know about Kubu. 

As I mentioned last week, we usually don’t write up super-telephoto teardowns, but the release of two remarkably lightweight 400mm f/2.8 lenses seemed like a great opportunity to do a comparison. In previous teardowns, Sony optomechanical engineering has steadily improved (with the horrid exception of the 70-200mm f/2.8 GM). From descriptions, at least, it sounds like the Sony FE 400mm f/2.8GM OSS is state-of-the-art and we were eager to look inside.

The lens diagram suggests the same overall method that Canon 400mm f2.8L IS III used; smaller elements move towards the rear of the lens. Plus, Sony won the battle of most fluorite elements 3 to 2 over Canon. That does beg the interesting question about where Sony sourced their fluorite elements. Sony doesn’t make fluorite glass, and Canon has long been the one lens company that grows and polishes large fluorite in-house. There are other manufacturers of fluorite lenses, but they have generally been limited to small lenses, such as in microscopes and telescope viewfinders.

I was eager to see inside this big Sony lens for several reasons. First, some Sony engineers had been very eager for me to do so; they would only have been that eager if they were quite certain I’d be impressed. Second, by all reports the lens is optically superb, and yet doesn’t cost more than the Canon lens; that’s a pleasant surprise from the company who usually charges a good 10% more. Third, this is obviously a flagship lens for Sony, hoping to leverage into the professional sports market. I assume they’ve thrown everything they have into making it excellent.

As always, I’ll put my expectations out on the front end. I think this lens will be excellent; near to Canon’s build quality if not matching it. The Sony people are very comfortable about it. They’ve had plenty of time, now, to work the kinks out of their mechanical designs. Plus Sony has been very open about wanting to attract more professional photographers to use their equipment. Professionals want sturdy gear and Sony took a beating from professionals about the 70-200 f/2.8 GM. They won’t cut corners this time around.

The Tripod Ring

Tripod rings are a great start to looking at a supertelephoto’s engineering. They are actually complex, need to function smoothly, and take a lot of abuse.

Sony starts off with an original thing that I like: you can turn the rotational clicks of the tripod ring on or off. I like the clicks myself, but I’m sure others will prefer turning them off. I’ve never been a fan of Sony’s push-through plastic covers on cameras, and doubt I will be here either, but that’s just a cover.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

The tripod foot comes off in the usual fashion, removing four bolts.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

With the foot off we can see Sony’s pressure plate, a single piece as opposed to Canon’s two-piece plate.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Removing the plate shows a single piece of metal with a dimple to put pressure on the spring. It’s not nearly as robust as Canon’s version that we saw in part one of this comparison. The 70-200 f/2.8 GM has left me probably overreacting to Sony’s habit of using thin metal plates, but in this case, I can’t see it mattering at all.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Just like with the Canon tripod ring, next, you remove eight sets of screw-axle-roller bearings that the tripod rotates on. These appear sturdy and well made, just about identical to Canon’s version.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

After that, the tripod ring slides up off the barrel. As with the Canon I give kudos for making it this way, it’s much easier should you need to clean grit out of, or relubricate the tripod ring.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Looking inside the barrel we can see the click-roller pressed into the barrel. Again, the assembly isn’t quite as robust but it probably will never fail. And you do get to turn off the clicking if you want. (You could remove the spring and declick the Canon, but turning a knob on the Sony is certainly easier.)

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Once we have the tripod ring off we see hefty rubber seals above and below. As I mentioned in the Canon teardown, grit getting into the tripod ring ruins the smooth feeling when turning it, and these are good seals.

Lenserentals.com, 2018

Lenserentals.com, 2018

Like the Canon 400mm f/2.8 IS III, the Sony uses a replaceable standard filter for the drop-in filter assembly. In Sony’s case, they are 40.5mm which may be a bit more difficult to find than the Canon 52mm.

Opening Up the Back

The Sony lens has a larger switch panel than the Canon, and we felt it best to open it and see where flexes were going before taking off the bayonet mount.

Lenserentals.com, 2018

 

Once the screws are out, we see a nice rubber weather seal and a very neat single flex leading from the panel into the lens.

Lenserentals.com, 2018

 

The switches are all neatly laid out with a grounding pad over on one side.

Lenserentals.com, 2018

 

After removing the usual screws the bayonet mount, with a robust rubber weather seal comes out. It doesn’t show, but the Sony is one of the very few Supertelephotos that uses a flex from the bayonet electronics rather than soldered wires. I always whine about wires, so let me give props here.

Lenserentals.com, 2018

 

We didn’t need to remove the bayonet, unhooking the electronics would have let us remove it along with the rear outer barrel, but I wanted a look at it, Sony’s metal work has been a weak point in some other lenses. The bayonet mount itself is thick and robust, which was what I wanted to see. This is heavy-duty. And there are not four, but seven mount screws.

Lenserentals.com, 2018

As an aside, there are no ‘infinity’ shims under the mount, which most Sony lenses have. So either this is shimmed elsewhere or handled in a different manner. (We saw no markings to indicate variable thickness mounts as Canon uses, but perhaps handled electronically or shimmed elsewhere.)

To remove the rear outer barrel, we unbolted 8 large hex bolts.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

With those out, the external barrel slides off.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

And gets set to the side. Another rubber weather seal is visible at the bottom. (We didn’t have to take out the drop-in filter holder on this lens.)

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

With the outer barrel and bayonet removed we can look at the PCB with its various flex connectors.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

The inner rear barrel looks very similar to the Canon 400mm f/2.8 IS III. I’m not a metallurgist but the magnesium alloy looks and feels the same. Notice the assembly at the bottom right near the focus ring, we’re going to look at that in a second.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

This is the focusing mechanism. The focusing barrel has nylon teeth on its inner surface. When you rotate it, it turns a series of gears and eventually an electronic actuator that sends the focusing signal. At this point, we can’t tell if there are additional focus sensors. It works fine, but there’s something a bit comical about turning that huge barrel to just rotate these tiny gears. If you’ve read much of my stuff you know I’m generally not a nylon gear fan, but these have almost no pressure on them so they shouldn’t wear out.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Remember up above when I mentioned no shim under the bayonet mount? Looking around the inner barrel we see a lot of shims. As shims go, these are nice; three individual shims at each level that are externally accessible. Again, I’m not a shim fan. When you have the choice of ‘infinitely adjustable’ versus 0.1, 0.2, 0.4 adjustments, give me infinite every time. But if you’re going to use shims, this is the way to do it. (And most manufacturers still use shims.)

Editorial comment: The second or third post in the comments section, because Sonyfanism, will be something about shims are the same forever and therefore better. I will go ahead and say you’ve never unglued a glued-in eccentric collar. That’s forever, too, and still infinitely adjustable. Nor have you ever opened up a lens to fish out a shim that’s come loose and is floating around inside the lens and then tried to figure out where it was supposed to go. Nor have you ever given up an optical adjustment or hand-made a 0.05mm shim because 0.1mm wasn’t enough and 0.2mm was too much. 

Anyway, here are some close-ups of a couple of shim adjustments, the first is probably a spacer set for the rear group (we’ll look into that more later).

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

The second is probably a fixed element near the aperture. You can see these are all meant to be adjusted without needing to disassemble the barrel. The letter codes written on the barrel are probably shim thickness at each location. This is logically and nicely laid out and engineered.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Looking at the inner rear barrel, it’s obvious a lot of care was taken in laying out the flex runs. They all pass through grooves and slots. They’re all held down with double-sided tape but also screwed into the barrel at spots.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

And in a couple of places, there are plastic guards over flex connections and runs.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Anyway, it’s time to take off the focus ring, which looks like it will be pretty straightforward. Peeling up the ring (it’s held down with double-sided tape) shows us the usual screw-post-roller system holding the ring in place. Here we go, fanboys, double-sided tape on the Sony, friction molding on the Canon. I predict 1,602 comments about which is clearly better. Myself, I have no clue, they both work fine.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Which, when removed, look just like all the other screw-post-roller setups we’ve seen in both lenses.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

With the rollers removed the focus barrel slides off.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

There’s not much to see inside the barrel except the gear ring that drives the focus-sensor gear train.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

When we looked at the rest of the inner barrel, both of us immediately laugh out loud. If you look closely, you’ll see the long white flex cable is smartly held by passing through two slots, and near the bottom by a metal clip.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Sony, being smart and frugal, repurposed a sensor shim to use as a clip. I laughed, but I admire it; it’s perfect for the job. I hope the engineer who realized they already had a zillion shims that would fit perfectly and didn’t need to CAD a new part got a bonus.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

With the focus barrel off, we can get a close-up of the focusing gears and actuator.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

We also can peek in and see the large electromagnetic coils for the optical stabilizing unit.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

To get a better look at the stabilizer, we’ll need to remove the rear groups. That’s a fair bit of glass in one assembly. Here’s a lens diagram to give you some concept.

Sony Imaging

 

The rear PCB was held on by three screws (you can see the blue rubber bumpers where it was mounted). After taking that off, the rear group screws can be removed.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

And the fairly hefty rear optical assembly lifted off. You should be able to look at the curve of that element coming out and see on the lens diagram what has just been removed.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Below is another look at this group. If you notice, between Aaron’s fingers there’s the end of another shim poking out between the plates. There are two three-shim groups, possibly one group for spacing and one for tilt. It’s also possible centering is done at one or the other group.

And there’s a slight chance, that they are actually centering of one element on top of another centering element. We will sacrifice to Kubu* and light candles to St. Bernardino Siena** that it is not so. (Read the *: for probably the first time you’ll learn something from one of my posts.)

Tamron used to make some lenses with that arrangement. That can give you some really powerful optical adjustment capabilities. It also takes for-damn-ever to adjust. We used to tag-team those optical adjustments and usually got it right after about 1,000 attempts. But I don’t think this is double centering, and we’re not going to find that out today.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

With the rear group out, we can look down onto the optics of the stabilizer unit.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

And Arron gives you an idea of how far that element can move when stabilizing.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

After removing another set of barrel screws and peeling off some flexes, we can take the rear inner barrel off. Now we can tell that the shim adjustments we saw earlier were for the IS unit, not the rear group. You can also see a flex diving into the aperture assembly, which is right in front of the IS unit. We won’t get to see it in this teardown since that would mean removing the IS unit and/or focusing group and we weren’t feeling that cocky today.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Here is another shot of the top assembly, just because I like showing how thick the stabilizer unit is. You can see the metal plate that is the top, the copper electromagnets in the center, and the shim adjustments for the IS unit at the bottom of the black slot in the barrel.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

And looking up from below, see there’s some air space in the barrel. Up to this point, the glass has been packed pretty tight.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

The empty space is where the focusing elements move. With them backed up towards the IS unit, you can see one of the rods the focusing group slides along.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

And here are the elements at a full-forward movement.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Rotating the barrel around you can see the linear focusing motor.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

As we would expect for what is now a 4th generation or so linear motor, designed to move that big beast of a lens, this is larger looks more robust than LMs we’ve seen in the past. No obvious glue holding things together, and there are two sliding rods to minimize lens tilt during focusing.

Editorial Note: I see a lot of people who don’t let the fact that they have no clue keep them from stating with absolute certainty which type of motor (linear or ring) is superior. Historically, LMs have been less reliable, but those growing pains seem to be over and reliability seems good on newer lenses (post-Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM). LMs are faster in the lab with minimal load, but how that interprets with various loads in different directions I absolutely do not know. Oh, and neither do you. Because if you’re commenting on it, you aren’t under nondisclosure, and if you aren’t under nondisclosure, then you don’t know. 

Looking up into the front barrel, we see the first of the front fixed elements. It might not show from the picture, but this is a strongly concave surface. Both of you who are interested can scroll back up to the lens diagram and pick it out; the one sitting by itself to the mount side of the fluorite groups.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

This mid barrel can also be removed easily. (Note the mounting peg to the right to make sure you line up the barrels properly during reassembly.)

Lensrentals.com, 2018

With a little care to let the white flex slide through its slots without getting hung up.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

We can now see the other element in this barrel. If I counted right, this should be the rearmost fluorite group.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

And finally,  a look into the front barrel. There are two groups, each a fluorite-glass cemented group.

Lensrentals.com, 2018

 

Our working knowledge of fluorite elements is a little better than ‘not glass,’ but we’re not world experts on cleaning them, so this seemed an excellent place to stop before I put a thumbprint on something we didn’t want to clean off.

So What Did We Learn Today?

Really, not a lot. The Sony 400mm f/2.8 G is exactly what we expected; a very solidly built lens that is everything construction-wise you would hope for in a big beast of a super telephoto that costs $12,000. It has excellent weather sealing, heavy-duty engineering between the barrel segments, a very solid chassis, and components that all appear up to the task.

Let’s be clear; I did this to start our in-house repair manual and look for weak spots in the mechanicals. I didn’t test it optically or electronically and hadn’t a clue if it’s the best telephoto optics ever made, or if the electronics will start smoking after 40 hours of use. But everything I saw today gives me confidence in the build quality.

I’ve been very willing to call Sony out on poorly engineered products in the past, whether it was poorly constructed linear focus motorsweak barrel construction in the 70-200 f/2.8 GM, or weather sealing gaps in cameras. So take my word on it: the Sony 400mm f/2.8 G has construction equal to any similar lens on the market. It gets my seal of engineering approval.

Comparing it to the Canon 400mm f/2.8 IS III, there are really only minor differences I can see, none of which are significant. I like the Sony feature that allows you to turn off tripod rotation clicking. I don’t like the plastic cover they put over it. (It will seal out weather just fine, but those Sony ‘plastic arrow’ cover inserts tear off frequently and often.)

I’ll call this one a draw, and a draw is a win for Sony. Canon has been doing this for a long, long time; this is, I think their 8th generation of 400mm f/2.8 lens. It’s Sony’s first and to have made a product equal to the gold standard of engineering is an amazing feat.

 

Roger Cicala and Aaron Closz

Lenrentals.com

January 2019 (all y’all surprised I got the year right, aren’t you?)

 

Kubu was Mesopotamian God of Glassmaking. From the British Museum translation of cuneiform tablets on the instruction for glassmakers:

You regularly perform libation offerings before the Kubu-images. On the day when you plan to place the glass in the kiln, you make a sheep sacrifice before the Kubu-images, you place juniper incense on the censer, you pour out a libation of honey and liquid butter, and then only, you make a fire in the hearth of the kiln and place the glass in the kiln…    https://www.cmog.org/article/origins-glassmaking

I’ve talked to Aaron about starting said rituals before every teardown.

 

Sumerian statuettes from Tel Asmir, Iraq, c 2700 BC. Neither is Kubu, but y’all never read the articles before commenting anyway. And they look cool. Credit unknown.

** St. Bernardino Siena was the Patron Saint of Venetian Glassmakers. As far as I know, he didn’t have a clue about how to make glass, though.

If you don’t know anything about the history of glass but want to know, here you go.

 

 

 

 

Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Lensrentals.com. Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

Posted in Geek Articles
  • The economies of scale between a Canikon 300/2.8 and an Astro Physics OTA has got to differ by at least 100x if not more, so their prices are pretty hard to compare.

  • DrJon

    Premium Refracting Telescope makers are able to pay more than lens manufacturers and can have as good glass as they want. My (probably about UKP3600 landed) 92mm refractor tube has three lenses. My 300/2.8 has 17. Only one had the head of the company spend several hours polishing and adjusting the lens elements though…

  • Colin

    Excellent article.
    A minor correction: “Nor have you ever given up an optical adjustment or hand-made a 0.05mm shim because 0.1mm wasn’t enough and 0.2mm was too much.”
    Should be:
    Nor have you ever given up an optical adjustment or hand-made a 0.15mm shim because 0.1mm wasn’t enough and 0.2mm was too much.

  • ITN

    Nikon also sell fluorite (Calcium Fluoride):

    https://www.nikon.com/products/glass/lineup/materials/caf2/index.htm

    I suppose there is no reason they wouldn’t sell the material to Sony, or anyone actually given that they market their optical materials on the web. They also are closely collaborating on Sony in other areas so it would be logical that Sony might get theirs from Nikon.

    For a long time Nikon have made a lens that uses fluorite (the 105mm UV Nikkor, today it’s sold on a different name), but today they also make lenses that use fluorite for normal photography applications.

  • Wow, that second article about tweaking the lens, even rotating lens elements to correct astigmatism is amazing! Thanks! In some ways, astronomy is way ahead of photography (eg. always working at the diffraction limit, and using magnifications that make even the sturdiest photo tripods show shudder) but the photo industry is so much larger than astronomy that the economies of scale make a lot of things accessible in the photo world. Apparently, it’s thought that the big camera and lens companies have first pick of the glass coming off a line because of the volume they buy at, so telescope makers have to make do with the leftovers. And the number of elements and ED and Super ED elements, along with aspherics, used in relatively modestly priced photo lenses made in large quantities would make telescope makers envious.

  • DrJon

    Roland Christen (of AP) certainly did 167mm telescopes using fluorite (but usually as the centre element in an oil-spaced triplet – see my links in a post somewhere above).

  • DrJon

    I thought Konica Minolta kept most of the lens engineers and still design lenses…? They certainly file patents for lens designs.

  • roger_cicala already read

  • DrJon

    Talking about adjusting optics and fluorite elements made me think of a couple of recent posts by Roland Christen…

    On Fluorite:
    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ap-ug/conversations/messages/77792
    “If you touch the edge of a fluorite element accidentally to a hard metal surface you may see an instant line develop across the surface, which eventually propagates thru the material and leaves you with two very nice cleaved pieces.”
    (Presumably never possible in a shipped lens as will always be in a metal ring with some other glass.)

    Tweaking the lens:
    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ap-ug/conversations/topics/77367?reverse=1

    BTW I joined the waiting list for one of these on 12th December 2000 (yes, three zeros) and it should ship next week… and people complain how long it takes some photo lenses to appear… 🙂

  • obican

    Roger Cicala (from Lensrentals.com) says the Sony 400/2.8 GM has Sony won the battle of rare glass filters over Canon with 40.5mm to 52mm.

  • Someone

    Nikkor 400/2.8 FL 3800g
    Sony 400/2.8 2895g

    The difference is almost 1kg.

  • Stefanie Daniella

    Fast 400mm F2.8 super-tele-lenses AF great wide open @ F2.8 in low light for F2.8 to F8 on OVF dSLRs for stills image capture
    and
    likewise, with FE400mm F2.8 widest open aperture (brightest aperture possible):
    Sony FF Live-View mirrorless digital cameras, like A9, should AF at F2.8 for low light F2.8 to F8, too; albeit, with Live View Display: (camera exposure) Settings Effect Settings = OFF. (no live exposure preview effect in EVF at all).

    For folks wishing to use their FE400mm F2.8 on their Sony Live-View mirrorless digital cameras, like A9, WITH live exposure preview effect ON, in EVF for AF low light F4 to F8, may find the lens may no longer AF at all, so should opt for only F2.8-F3.5 for AF sake, or just use their LV camera WITHOUT live exposure preview effect in EVF on at all.

    The new Sony FE400mm F2.8 may have nice optics, comparable to Canon’s new EF400mm F2.8L IS III USM; but Sony FE Lenses operate without benefits of how Canon EF Super-Tele-Lenses work with Canon’s own FF Live-View digital camera, like EOS R.
    EOS R is designed with an ExpSIM Live-View AF system capable of AF in low light with optimal apertures (need not be only “widest brightest only” apertures) for F2.8-F11 with Live Aperture Exposure Simulation (F1-F90 on EOS R) = “live exposure preview effect” (on or off; makes no difference at all) specifically for stills image capture.

    It will be very interesting when actual comparisons are made with “similar live view AF” stills image capture scenarios (with or without “live exposure preview effect” (on vs off), in very low-light*; as none were done in 2018, side-by-side, in any web reviews.

    *very low light, such that one cannot see via OVF on dSLRs

  • Love your sense of humor.

  • Bob Newman

    “I’ll call this one a draw, and a draw is a win for Sony. Canon has been doing this for a long time; this is, I think they’re 8th generation of 400mm f/2.8 lens. It’s Sony’s first.”
    I’m not sure, in fact it really is ‘Sony’s first’. Rather, it’s Minolta’s third or so. KM is till OEMing lenses to Sony, and from the internal and external look of it, I’d think this is one of them.

  • I believe Kowa’s fluorite are from Canon Optron, as is Takahashi’s (they make 100mm-aperture telescopes with fluorite elements). There are actually plenty of telescopes using fluorite elements, and many source them from Canon, but Zeiss have also made some in the past and I can’t imagine Zeiss getting optical material from Canon, but maybe they did?

    This post on Cloudy Nights, an astronomy forum, lists many of them, and these are relatively large optical elements: https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/504418-fluorite-refractors/#entry6656321

    The numbers on the scope names generally refer to their aperture diameter in millimeters, to give you an idea of how big the elements are.

  • 2blueherring3

    I looked but didn’t see the actual weight for the lens. Wonder what the differential really is? Looks great…

  • I’m not at all sure, but I think St. Bernardino got replaced by St. Niccolo later on.

  • Thank God. I mean Kubu. We have a lot of those, and have finally found a use for them that they are capable of handling. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/633953a743c3dbef2fb4e4ce8df624f5c89bcb390bf981813f6141ec11c1d869.jpg

  • Thank you, that is good to know.

  • You are cutting edge technology of the year it was released, and still excellent optics by any standards. I would say that any 400mm f/2.8 out there is so sharp that optical differentiation is at most hair-splitting. But lighter is lighter.

  • I don’t disagree, and have to walk around this a bit, but the original Minolta group, while absorbed, is but a small fraction (if that) of Sony’s lens design section. Certainly they got some expertise and patents, but I don’t think they have used them much. There were some Minolta characteristics that we never saw outside of the alpha lenses.

  • I don’t know if I would say necessarily that this is Sony’s first 400mm f/2.8. They bought Minolta and no doubt have some of Minolta’s excellent engineers, and Minolta had pro-level glass (300mm f/2.8, 400 f/2.8, 500mm f/4, and 600mm f/4, among several other very nice lenses).

    Very interesting article. Thanks.

  • Franz Graphstill

    At a recent Sony mirrorless road-show, I tried the lens I was interested in (the 85mm GM), then had a play with this beast – I got to shoot the 400mm f/2.8 on an A9, and loved it. One of the other photographers was working with a model, and I got pixel-sharp images of her, hand-held, from 15m away. Superb lens.

    That said, I had a serious ache in my left shoulder (I think a slight muscle tear) for a week afterwards – even though it’s light for a 400mm f/2.8, it’s still a big heavy lens.

    I’d love to buy one, but I think I’d be smarter to rent from you.

    Thank you for the tear-down – it’s nice to know that it’s as beautiful on the inside as on the outside.

  • 2blueherring3

    I bought a nikkor 400mm 2.8e fl from you. What are we, chopped liver?

  • OhWeh

    A fine article, Thanks! FYI: Kowa uses big Fluorite lenses in their spotting scopes.

  • J.L. Williams

    I needed these articles exactly as much as I need to know how many grocery bags a Ferrari Monza will hold, and for exactly the same reason. But I love them anyway, for exactly the same reason. A bit disappointed that Sony no longer uses the Southern Fairy Tale Ring, though…

  • Romano

    About **: are you sure? Not an expert but I think the patron of Murano’s glassmakers in St. Niccolò, not St. Bernardino da Siena… (Well, neither was able to make glass, I suppose, so the point stands)

  • Andreas Werle

    Sony the frugal company and soo huge fluorite elements! 🙂 Thanks, Roger and Aaron to show us these beautiful pieces of “not-glass”.

    More please.

  • Very interesting teardown! More please.

    Since Nikon is making fluorite lenses now too, I guess there’s got to be another source of them. Or maybe they figured out how to grow it themselves?

  • DV

    Great teardown, love seeing the innards of these.

    “I’ll call this one a draw, and a draw is a win for Sony. Canon has been doing this for a long time; this is, I think they’re 8th generation of 400mm f/2.8 lens. It’s Sony’s first.”

    While it may be the first 400 f/2.8 for Sony, it’s not a surprise to me that they can build a fine supertele. With the 500 f/4 G and the previous Minolta supertelephotos (300 SSM carried over to Sony, 300 f/2.8 /4 HS, 400 f/4.5 HS, 600 f/4 HS and their non-HS versions) which were, by all accounts, equivalent in optical and mechanical build quality to their contemporaries. So this isn’t much of a surprise to me, as Sony (and Minolta before them) were more than capable of building this kind of optic. It was a will problem, not a way problem. 400 f/2.8s appeal to a very specific market (sports) while wildlife shooters prefer something longer and Sony/Minolta always had more traction with the latter than the former. Now that Sony actually wants to compete in the sports market with the a9, they don’t have a choice, this lens is on the minimum equipment list. At least they managed to stick the landing.

    This is, however, the first time Sony managed to do it while costing the same or less than Canon. 🙂 Took them long enough!

    Very annoyed that they didn’t keep the 42mm rear filter size from A-mount. All Sony (and Minolta) teles up to this point used an interchangeable 42mm filter and tray. I guess E-mount means a break, but it would have been nice to be able to use an adapted lens and the native lens while retaining accessories.

Follow on Feedly