Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Review

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens

The Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens takes this popular general-purpose telephoto zoom focal length range and moderately wide aperture down to a new size and weight low. All will appreciate this lens's professional grade build, excellent image quality, and affordable price. The half life size (0.5x) macro capabilities extend this lens's versatility.

  • Excellent choice for general-purpose telephoto needs
  • 0.50x maximum magnification
  • Moderately wide f/4 aperture
  • Great image quality
  • Fast, smooth, and quiet XD Linear AF
  • Professional grade
  • Quiet optical image stabilization
  • Compatible with FE teleconverters
  • Moderately priced
  • Compact, lightweight
  • Moderate lateral CA at 70mm
  • Modest color blur throughout range
  • Shallow tripod foot threaded insert and narrow anti-twist pin hole
In-Depth Review

Sony's extremely popular 70-200mm lenses have long been the first choice for those wanting a high-quality general-purpose telephoto zoom lens. Standard is for these lenses to be available in f/2.8 and f/4 variants, with the darker f/4 option featuring lighter weight, smaller size, and lower price.

Also standard is for an upgraded lens model to get the "II" designation. Not long ago, the impressive Sony FE f/2.8 version II was released, and now we have the f/4 II.

Lens upgrades always bring benefits, and this version II lens features a world's first, half lifesize (0.5x) macro capabilities throughout the focal length range, along with an extending design, a shorter retracted length. Optical and AF performance improvements are also featured in this upgrade.

Overall, the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens is a high-performing, premium-grade telephoto zoom lens with great utility, a modest size, and a moderate price. Let's dig into the details.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Top View

Focal Length Range

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I've had 70-200mm lenses, usually both aperture variants, in my kit for as long as I can remember, and a great number of photographers can say the same. That this focal length range is incredibly useful is the reason that so many of us turn to a 70-200 lens for whatever the need is.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Girl Wearing a Hat with Her Horse Sample Picture

At the top of the list of my favorite uses for a 70-200mm lens is portrait photography. If you are taking pictures of people, this focal length range has your name on it. Containing a superset of the classic 85-135mm portrait focal length range, 70-200mm lenses are ideal for capturing pleasing perspectives of people. This lens invites subject framing ranging from full-body portraits at 70mm to tight headshots at 200mm. These mid-telephoto focal lengths naturally push the focus distances far enough away to avoid perspective distortion, including large-appearing noses, yet not so far that communication with the subject becomes difficult.

The "portrait photography" designation is a broad one that covers a wide variety of potential still and video uses at a wide variety of potential venues, including both indoors (home, church, school, etc. with adequate lighting or flash) and outdoors (yard, beach, park, parade, playground, etc.). Portrait subjects can range from infants to seniors, from individuals to large groups (if enough working distance is available). Engagements, weddings, parties, events, theater, stage performances including concerts and recitals, speakers, kids' events, families, small groups, senior adults, graduating seniors, fashion, documentaries, lifestyle all are great uses for the 70-200mm focal lengths. There is often adequate space in even a small studio for portraiture with the focal length range provided by this lens. It is not hard to use this lens exclusively for portrait shoots.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Girl in Hat Posing with Her Horse Sample Picture

That portrait photography is one of the best revenue-producing photography genres helps justify the acquisition cost of this lens (you cannot buy stock photos of most people), and you likely noticed the paid applications in the just-shared list of portrait uses.

People are also frequently photographed participating in sporting and other action scenarios using this focal length range. The 200mm focal length will usually be too wide for large field sports photography, but it works great for closer action such as that found at track and field meets and on the basketball court. While this focal length range is a good choice for indoor sports, the f/4 max aperture (more on this soon) is not optimal for this use.

By virtue of the longer focal lengths, the background of 70-200mm images can be strongly blurred. That attribute is especially great for portraits captured where the background cannot be fully controlled, including at sporting events and performances captured from a seat in the audience.

While portrait photography generally refers to images of people being captured, we also refer to certain types of wildlife photos as portraits. These images typically include the animal filling much of the frame, and for that task, this focal length range often falls short. Unless the wildlife subject is large or close, this lens's longest focal length will usually be found inadequate for this task (without cropping). If capturing environmental wildlife portraits or captive wildlife (such as at the zoo), this focal length range may be perfect. Teleconverter compatibility makes considerably longer focal lengths available, and these accessories make this lens considerably more attractive for wildlife photography.

The 70-200mm range is great for photographing pets, including dogs, cats, and horses.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Girl Losing Hat While Running with Her Horse Sample Picture

When landscape photography is mentioned, many immediately think of wide-angle lenses. However, it is easy to create excellent landscape compositions with a telephoto lens, and telephoto focal lengths are an essential part of a landscape kit. Telephoto focal lengths can emphasize a distant subject, rendering, for example, mountains large in the frame. Telephoto lenses are optimal for filling the frame with the color of an even marginally nice sunrise or sunset.

Another great use of telephoto lenses for landscape photography is to focus on closer details, allowing a strong background blur to isolate those within the image. This lens's 0.5x macro capabilities take this option to another level.

Cityscapes are essentially landscape images with cities in them, and this focal length range is often an excellent choice for more distant city views. Street photography, usually done in cities, is another excellent use for the 70-200mm range.

A 70-200mm lens is my most-used studio lens, working especially well for product images and many other general studio applications. Most product images on this site were captured within the 70-200mm range, and this range is ideal for larger products, including vehicles.

Here is a focal length comparison (captured with a different lens).

70-200mm Focal Length Range Example

On an APS-C imaging sensor format camera (1.5x), this 70-200mm lens has an increased angle of view equal to that of a 105-300mm lens on a full-frame camera.

Sony Alpha 6700 Chipmunk Sample Picture

While the narrower angle of view does not significantly change the uses list for this lens, these angles of view make wide-framed portraits less ideal, and most will prefer this angle of view range for sports and wildlife pursuits.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Front View

Max Aperture

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As established, 70-200mm lenses are typically offered in f/2.8 and f/4 max apertures. That one-stop (2x as much light) difference is a big deal, and each option holds advantages.

Less light from the f/4 lens means that slower shutter speeds (more challenging to stop subject motion) or higher ISO settings (with increased noise) are required to make up the difference. With a narrower max aperture, the AF system sees less light, increasing that function's challenge.

Consider your lighting conditions in the scenarios this focal length range will be used to determine when the wide aperture advantage is essential. If freezing low light action is on the requirements list, f/2.8 is the better option.

Another advantage a wider aperture holds is the ability to create a shallower depth of field and correspondingly stronger background blur. While the telephoto focal lengths are well-suited for background blurring, the wider aperture increases this advantage.

The advantages of a narrow aperture are primarily related to the lens elements sized significantly smaller. A smaller overall lens size, a lighter weight, and a lower cost are the result. We all can appreciate those factors, and they apply to the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens.

Here are examples of the strongest blur this lens can create.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Maximum Blur Example

The details in these images are gone. Of course, we must remember that this lens focuses extremely close, enabling a stronger background blur with a macro subject. The blur will not be so strong at longer distances, as illustrated in some of the sample images above.

While the f/4 aperture is not wide relative to the f/2.8 option, many other telephoto zoom lenses sharing this focal length range cannot open to f/4 at any corresponding focal lengths. In some of these comparisons, the f/4 lens is nicely advantaged, and most of those other lenses have a variable max aperture.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Side View with Hood

Image Stabilization

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The longer the focal length, the larger subject details (captured at the same distance) are rendered, and the more still the camera must be held to avoid subject details crossing imaging sensor pixels, the source of image blur. Image stabilization, OSS (Optical SteadyShot) in this case, is an extremely valuable feature in any lens and an especially valuable feature in a telephoto lens.

Sony marketing touts their cameras as also having IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization). Perhaps not immediately clear is that these two stabilization systems are complementary: "5-axis image stabilization becomes available when used with α series bodies that feature built-in image stabilization." [Sony] One example of the IBIS benefit is camera rotation correction, which the lens cannot perform.

Perhaps not immediately obvious is that image stabilization benefits AF precision. The camera's AF system can produce improved focus precision if the image it sees is stabilized.

Sony does not provide an assistance rating in stops for this lens.

The OSS difference seen in the viewfinder is significant, and image stabilization is helpful for stabilizing the viewfinder, aiding in optimal composition. Handheld movie recording quality is significantly improved by image stabilization.

While OSS is active, drifting of framing is not an issue, and the viewfinder view is well-controlled, not jumping at startup/shutdown and permitting easy reframing. A faint, scratchy whir is heard by an ear next to the lens when the switch is enabled — and when it is disabled.

Along with the standard Mode I, Mode II (panning mode, stabilization in one direction only), and Mode III (stabilization provided only at precise moment image is captured) are provided via a switch. The On/Off switch on the lens controls both the lens and in-body image stabilization systems simultaneously.

When you need/want to leave the tripod behind, OSS is there for you, helping to ensure sharp images and adding significant versatility to this lens. When vibrations, such as those caused by wind, are present when using a tripod, OSS can save the day, enabling image capture not otherwise pOSSible.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Angle View

Image Quality

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The not long prior released Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens set a new benchmark for zoom lens optical performance. While the F4 II lens is not designated with the top-of-the-line "GM" moniker, "G" lenses are still high-performing, and despite having a 4-figure lower price tag, the F4 II lens's price is still substantial. Thus, great optical performance was anticipated from the 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens.

Most photographers will say that image sharpness, a combination of contrast and resolution, is their most important image quality attribute, and this lens will make most photographers happy in that regard. It is sharp. While this lens does not reach the wide-open performance of the F2.8 lens, it mostly surpasses that of the already sharp F4 predecessor.

In the center of the frame, the F4 II lens is extremely sharp at 70mm and shows little improvement at f/5.6 (none is needed). The longer focal lengths do not produce center results quite as sharp as 70mm, but the results are still sharp. Stopping down to f/5.6 mostly brings the sharpness up to the 70mm F4 level. The 200mm f/5.6 results remain slightly softer than the 70mm F4 results.

In the periphery of the image circle, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center, lenses usually show decreased sharpness. The test chart results from this lens show a gradual but minimal decline from the center to the corner at f/4 and stopping down primarily reduces peripheral shading.

Taking the testing outdoors, we look at a series of center-of-the-frame 100% resolution crop examples. These images were captured in RAW format using a Sony Alpha 1 and processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method. The sharpening amount was set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. Images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

70mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
120mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6
200mm: f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6   f/4.0 | f/5.6

Be sure to find details in the plane of sharp focus for your evaluations. These results appear as expected — nice.

Next, we'll look at a series of comparisons showing 100% resolution extreme top left corner crops (the green plants are from the bottom right) captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

70mm: 4.0 | 5.6 | 8.0  4.0 | 5.6 | 8.0  4.0 | 5.6 | 8.0
120mm: 4.0 | 5.6 | 8.0  4.0 | 5.6 | 8.0  4.0 | 5.6 | 8.0
200mm: 4.0 | 5.6 | 8.0  4.0 | 5.6 | 8.0  4.0 | 5.6 | 8.0

Extreme corners usually show the worst image quality, but this lens performs relatively well and remarkably well at 70mm. The longer distance results from the longer focal lengths tend to be slightly soft in the extreme corners with improvements showing at f/5.6.

Corner sharpness does not always matter, but it sometimes does, often when photographing landscapes. When I'm photographing landscapes with sharp corners desired, f/8 or f/11 are likely in use to obtain enough depth of field for in-focus corner details, and this lens works especially well for these purposes at these apertures. Out of focus corners are often desired when shooting at wide apertures, and typical wide-aspect ratio videos also avoid the use of corners.

This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA). Many modern lenses automatically correct for focus shift, though focus breathing (more later) can create slight angle of view changes.

A lens is expected to show peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings when used on a camera that utilizes its entire image circle. At f/4, this one produces only mild shading, about 2 stops at the focal length ends and about 1.5 stops in the middle. Stopping down one stop reduces the shading by about 1 stop, and shading levels out at around 0.5 stops throughout the range at f/8.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the strongest shading, just under one-stop, showing at 200mm f/4 may be slightly visible in select images, primarily those with a solid color (such as a blue sky) in the corners.

One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing, with increased noise in the brightened areas the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. I sometimes add vignetting to gain this effect. Study the pattern shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii), with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples. The images below are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of a1 frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

Only black and white colors should be present in these images, with the additional colors indicating the presence of lateral CA. Primarily, modest lateral CA is present in the 70mm corners. The balance of the focal length range performs quite well in this regard.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration, along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally colored subjects.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

While some color separation is showing in these examples, narrow max aperture lenses tend to show little separation as this one does.

Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare and ghosting effects in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Additionally, flare and ghosting can impact AF performance.

Despite having 19 lens elements in its design, this lens shows few flare effects, even at f/16 in our sun in the corner of the frame flare test, aside from moderately strong streaking showing at 200mm f/16.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Unfortunately, removal is sometimes challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can destroy image quality. Thus, high flare resistance is a welcomed trait of this lens.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light that can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). The coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-left corner of a1 images captured at the widest available aperture.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Coma Example

While these results are not unusual, they are not especially great either.

The Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens has modest pincushion distortion at 70mm. This distortion increases in strength as the focal length increases until it becomes strong at 200mm.

With increasing frequency, manufacturers are relying on software over physical lens design to manage geometric distortion. Reasons include lower cost, smaller size, lighter weight, reduced complexity, and improved correction of aberrations not software correctable. Most modern lenses have correction profiles available (including in-camera via lens communication), and the distortion can be corrected using these. Still, geometric distortion correction requires stretching which is detrimental to image quality.

As seen earlier in the review, this lens can create a strong background blur. Due to the infinite number of variables present among available scenes, assessing the blur quality, bokeh, is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) examples.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Bokeh Example

70mm | 100mm | 135mm | 200mm |

The first set of 100% crop examples shows defocused highlights shaped relatively round but with a darker dot or circle in the middle. The reduced-size outdoor environment images look good.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round. That is the shape we're looking at here.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

Except at 200mm, the corner shapes are relatively round. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting diminishes, making the corner shapes rounder.

A 9-blade count diaphragm will create 18-point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. Generally, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better shaped the sunstars tend to be. This lens and its moderately wide aperture create modestly sized but nicely shaped sunstars.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Sunstar Effect Example

"Excellent corner-to-corner resolution and contrast throughout the zoom range are achieved by combining AA (advanced aspherical) and aspherical lens elements. Three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and one Super ED element suppress chromatic aberration and color bleeding for revealing sharpness." [Sony]

In summary, the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens produces sharp imagery over its entire range, with especially the wide end being remarkable. Corner sharpness is slightly reduced from that of the center, the color separation is mild, lateral CA is primarily visible at the 70mm end, and wide-open peripheral shading is mild. Distortion is relatively strong, and corner stars are not especially round. The real-world application sample images look great.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens on Tripod


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"Sony's unique XD (extreme dynamic) linear motor increases the autofocus speed by up to 20% during still image shooting. Tracking performance for moving objects has improved approximately twice as much compared to the previous model, so it continues to track the target subject with high accuracy. Focus tracking performance during zooming has also been greatly improved." [Sony]

This lens smoothly and quietly focuses fast, even with the defocus and focus behavior in the Alpha 1's AF-S mode. Autofocusing is consistently accurate.

Despite the moderately wide aperture, my experience is that this lens does not focus well in dark environments. As usual, focusing becomes slow as the darkness limit is approached.

Non-cinema lenses usually require refocusing after a focal length change, and as illustrated in the 100% crops below, the reviewed lens does not exhibit parfocal-like characteristics. When focused at 200mm, zooming to wider focal lengths results in focus blur.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Parfocal Example

If you adjust the focal length, re-establish focus. This rule usually applies.

Three customizable AF hold buttons are provided. With the camera set to continuous focus mode, press AFL to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. This button also acts as a custom button and can be programmed to another function using the camera's menu.

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode, available on a switch. This lens has an AF/MF switch, allowing this frequently used camera setting to be changed without accessing the menu system.

This lens features a focus distance range limit switch that, in addition to enabling the full focus distance range, allows distance selection to be limited to 0.9'-9.8' (0.26-3.0m) and 9.8' (3.0m) - ∞, with the narrower ranges potentially decreasing focus lock times (reduced hunting). If your lens will not lock focus, make sure you didn't inadvertently change this switch setting.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Extended Top View with Hood

The moderately large rubber-ribbed focus ring is ideally positioned toward the front of the lens. The light resistance combined with a fast rate of linear adjustment (205° total), especially at 200mm, challenges adjustment and release of the ring at a precise distance setting.

It is normal for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This effect is focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus (without movement to camouflage the effect), and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus.

This lens produces only a moderate change in subject size through a full-extent (worst-case) focus distance adjustment, which includes 0.5x macro focusing distances.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Focus Magnification Example

70mm: Far | Close   120mm: Far | Close 200mm: Far | Close

"This is the world's first zoom lens in its class to offer half-macro capability throughout the zoom range." [Sony]

This lens has a minimum focus distance range of 10.2 - 16.5" (260 - 420mm). That distance range, from 70-200mm, holds the maximum magnification spec at an impressive 0.5x, half lifesize, over the full range. With this lens in the kit, you might not need a dedicated macro lens.

ModelMin Focus Distance "(mm)Max Magnification
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens27.6(700)0.23x
Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM Lens23.6(600)0.28x
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens15.7(400)0.30x
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens10.2(260)0.50x
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS Lens39.4(1000)0.13x
Sony FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G OSS Lens35.4(900)0.31x
Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens38.6(980)0.35x
Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens10.6(270)0.50x
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens37.4(950)0.16x

At 70mm, 135mm, and 200mm, a subject measuring approximately 2.7 x 1.8" (69 x 46mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum MF distance. At 135mm, a slightly reduced maximum magnification frames a 3.2 x 2.1" (81 x 54mm) subject.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Maximum Magnification Example

The USPS love stamps shared above measure 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm). With this magnification available over the focal length range, the optimal angle of view can be selected without giving up the magnification.

Just because a lens focuses extremely close does not mean you will be happy with the image quality produced at that magnification. Fortunately in this case, the minimum focus distance image quality is good, with the periphery showing only a slight field curvature.

Need a shorter minimum focus distance and higher magnification? Mount an extension tube behind this lens to noticeably decrease and increase those respective numbers. As of review time, Sony does not publish extension tube specs or manufacture these items, but third-party Sony-compatible extension tubes are available.

For a substantially increased maximum magnification, add a teleconverter.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens with Extender/Teleconverter


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The Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens is compatible with the Sony FE 1.4x and Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter.

The addition of a 1.4x teleconverter creates an attractive full-frame 98-280mm OSS lens, with a 1-stop narrower max aperture (f/5.6). The focal length versatility provided by the TC is quite advantageous, but magnifying the image by 1.4x negatively impacts image quality.

While this lens is modestly sharper wide open at wider-than-200mm focal lengths and the with-extender results will appear similarly improved at these focal lengths, the reason for using an extender is to gain a longer focal length than is natively available in the lens, and that need means any with-extender focal length below the 143mm focal length mark can be better-served without the extender in place. There are times when the full with-extender focal length range is desired, but the most focal length increase with a teleconverter is obtained at the 200mm setting. Thus, the with-teleconverter results at 280mm are the most important to consider.

The 1.4x increases barrel distortion, but that increase is just the right amount to offset the native 200mm pincushion distortion, resulting in a well-corrected distortion profile. The TC has a negligible effect on lateral CA.

With the 1.4x mounted behind the 70-200 GM, autofocus speed remains good, and I encountered no focus hunting in even low light conditions.

Use the 2x Teleconverter to create a 140-400mm OSS Lens with 2 stops of max aperture loss (f/8.0). The f/8 max aperture is wide enough to be useful for the wildlife and sports photography uses these focal lengths are especially suited for if the lighting conditions are bright. I am seldom enamored with the performance of 2x teleconverters and you will likely find this lens's 400mm f/8 image quality results ugly.

With the Sony FE 2x mounted, barrel distortion is again increased, and again that increase is just the right amount to offset the native 200mm pincushion distortion, resulting in a well-corrected distortion profile. Lateral CA becomes somewhat more noticeable, but a less sharp image means that lateral CA is less focused, making the color offset appear larger.

The 2x teleconverter behind the f/4 lens still results in quick focusing in normal lighting conditions, but expect slow focusing when the light becomes dim.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Angle View with Hood

Design & Features

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Usually, Sony's widest aperture lenses get the "GM" designation, and the next-fastest get a "G". In the zoom lens line-up, GM and G mostly reference f/2.8 and f/4 lenses respectively. The aperture to naming convention becomes less clear in the prime and long telephoto lens categories, but the GM lenses still have the widest apertures in their class.

Obviously, the FE 70-200 F4 II has both a "G" and an f/4 aperture. Sony's f/4 G lens line-up is comprehensive, to the point where Sony is improving an existing model vs. creating a new option.

Sony's GM and G lenses both feel solidly constructed and have a high-grade build quality.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Compared to the 70-200mm F4 G OSS Lens

Above, the version II lens is shown between the version I lens.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated   Compare »

The exterior construction is primarily high-quality, lightweight plastic.

Unlike its fixed-size predecessor, the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 II lens has an extending design, providing a shorter retracted length that is more easily accommodated in camera bags (and your drawer). Full extension adds 2.17" (55mm) to the length, with only minor play in the extended barrel.

The rubber-ribbed zoom ring is conveniently sized and located, and its resistance is ideal, but gravity extension can happen while walking around. A focus lock switch holds the lens at its shortest length, avoiding that behavior.

In addition to the focus lock switch and AF lock buttons, this lens has five switches on a slightly raised switch bank. The switches are flush mounted with the center area of each switch raised just enough for sure selection, including with gloves on. The two 3-position switches require extra attention to select the middle position, but the detents are noticeable, easing that task. Having 5 similarly designed switches next to each other means acclimation is required to make changes without visual confirmation.

This lens design features dust and moisture resistance.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Mount

The front lens element features a fluorine coating that repels fingerprints, dust, water, oil, and other contaminants and makes cleaning considerably easier.

An attractive feature of f/4 zoom lenses, especially the 70-200mm variants, is the relatively small size and light weight. The II lost a little weight and a modest amount of length (when retracted).

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens37.8(1070)3.5 x 5.7(89.9 x 146.0)772019
Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM Lens24.5(695)3.3 x 4.7(83.5 x 119.0)772020
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens36.9(1045)3.5 x 7.9(88.0 x 200.0)772021
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens28.0(794)3.2 x 5.9(82.2 x 149.0)722023
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS Lens29.7(840)3.1 x 6.9(80.0 x 175.0)722014
Sony FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G OSS Lens30.1(854)3.3 x 5.6(84.0 x 143.5)722016
Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens49.2(1395)3.7 x 8.1(93.9 x 205.0)772017
Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens28.6(810)3.2 x 5.9(81.0 x 149.0)672020

For many more comparisons, review the complete Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

Here is a visual comparison:

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM Lens
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens
Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens to other lenses.

The front filter threads accept 72mm filters, which are modest in size and price and commonly used.

The FE 70-200 F4 II ships with a removable tripod ring. Being removable takes this accessory's weight out of the lens's spec, but this slender ring only adds 2.4 oz (67.3g), a small penalty for the functionality it adds. Tripod rings provide balanced mounting on tripods and monopods, avoiding tripod head and camera strain and sag and allowing easy camera rotation.

This tripod ring rotates with reasonable smoothness, and it has moderate rigidity. Note that the joints of my fingers uncomfortably impact the tripod collar when firmly gripping the Sony a1.

The bottom of the foot provides standard diameter mounting thread and a small hole for an anti-rotation pin. Note that I said "diameter", as depth appears to be a different issue. The caliper’s depth probe measurement says 7.46mm for the minimum thread depth on the foot. Still, my about-7.16mm (extension) Wimberley Lens Plate's standard bolt does not lock the plate when fully tightened (Wimberley's shorter "Spotting Scope Screw" should resolve this problem).

No problem, I'll use a Really Right Stuff MPRS-40, I say. Tightening the RRS plate's bolt also resulted in a loose plate. A closer inspection revealed that this time the problem was that the MPRS-40's 5mm anti-twist pin does not fully fit into the lens foot's about-4.6mm-wide hole.

A Breakthrough Photography Universal Arca Plate with a 5.05mm bolt extension (beyond the plate surface measurement) works.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Angle View Extended with Hood

Sony includes the ALC-SH176 lens hood in the box. This semi-rigid petal-shaped hood is relatively large and provides excellent protection from impact and bright light. The matte black interior finish strongly contrasts with the white exterior.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Cap

No lens case is included in the box.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Extended Top View

Price, Value, Compatibility

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The FE 70-200mm F4 II lens has a relatively high price tag. It costs significantly more than its predecessor and modestly more than the Canon equivalent. However, many will find this lens's versatility and utility worth the price. If this lens replaces the need for a macro lens, reducing the need to purchase and carry a second lens, the price appears a good deal.

As an "FE" lens, the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including full-frame and APS-C sensor format models. Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens was online retail sourced.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Angle Extended View


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Alternatives to this lens abound, but the predecessor lens is always a good starting point for the alternatives section, illuminating the improvements featured in the new lens. Is the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens a worthwhile upgrade from the FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS Lens?

In the image quality comparison, the version II lens produces sharper center-of-the-frame results at 70mm. The two lenses perform similarly at 100mm and 135mm, and the version I lens shows a slight advantage in the center of the frame at 200mm. The II lens shows less flare and ghosting, but it has slightly stronger peripheral shading at 70mm and 135mm. The I lens has less geometric distortion.

The Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens vs. FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS Lens comparison shows the version II lens shedding 1.7 oz (46g). Its tripod mount ring and hood also lost about an ounce each. The II lens is an inch shorter when retracted and an inch longer when extended vs. the version I lens's fixed size, another difference to consider. The II lens's XD Linear AF system is an upgrade to the I lens's SSM-driven AF.

The II's 0.50x maximum magnification over the entire range is a big upgrade to the version I lens's low 0.13x capability, and the version II lens is compatible with teleconverters. The version II lens includes a switch for DMF, an additional AF range switch setting to include the close focusing capability, and a mode III OSS switch setting. At review time, the version I lens is considerably less expensive than the II, and it comes with a pouch.

Sony's version II f/2.8 lens, the FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II is an incredible performer. How does that lens compare?

In the image quality comparison, the f/2.8 lens is as sharp wide-open as the f/4 lens and slightly sharper at 200mm. At f/4, the f/2.8 lens outperforms the f/4 lens, and it is also sharper with teleconverters.

The two lenses show similar wide-open peripheral shading, but with a 1-stop advantage, the f/2.8 lens has considerably less shading at f/4. The f/4 lens shows slightly fewer flare effects, except at 200mm, and the f/2.8 lens has less geometric distortion.

Considerably larger lens elements are required to create an f/2.8 aperture vs. f/4, and the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II vs. FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS II Lens comparison shows the outcome of this requirement. The f/2.8 lens is 8.9 oz (251g) heavier, and it measures 0.22" (5.8mm) wider and 2.0" (51mm longer), but with a fixed size, the f/2.8 lens is slightly shorter at 200mm. The wider lens requires wider filters, 77mm vs. 72mm.

While the f/2.8's 0.30x magnification is impressive, the f/4 lens out-impresses with a 0.50x spec across the focal length range. The f/2.8 lens has an aperture ring. While the wider lens has a significantly higher price, over 4-USD-figures more, the f/2.8 aperture's 2x light transmission advantage is huge.

How does this Sony lens compete against the Canon equivalent, the RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM Lens?

In the image quality comparison, these two lenses perform similarly. The Sony lens has a slight advantage in the periphery at 135mm, and the Canon lens performs better at 200mm. The Canon lens has less peripheral shading at the wide end and more at the long end, it does not show the streaking flare at 200mm, and it has less geometric distortion.

The Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens vs. Canon RF 70-200mm F4 L IS USM Lens comparison shows the Canon lens weighing 3.5 oz (99g) less and measuring 1.18" (20mm) shorter. The Canon lens has 77mm filter threads vs. 72mm. The Canon lens does not have a tripod foot available, but the smaller size and weight are arguments against it needing one. The Sony lens features 0.50x maximum magnification vs. a still good 0.28x spec. The Canon lens is moderately less expensive.

The Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens makes an interesting comparison. While this lens gives up 20mm on the long end, it offers a 2x wider aperture in a similar-sized package for a considerably lower price.

In the image quality comparison, we see the two lenses performing about equivalently with wide-open apertures. Stopped down to f/4, the Tamron lens produces slightly sharper results in the center of the frame and sharper results across the entire frame at the wide end. The wide-open aperture peripheral shading advantage goes back and forth, but the Tamron lens easily wins the f/4 comparisons. The Sony lens shows fewer flare effects, and the Tamron lens has less geometric distortion at the wide end.

The Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens vs. Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD Lens comparison shows the two lenses weighing the same and having the same length. The Tamron lens is slightly thinner and shorter when fully extended (but it only goes to 180mm). The thinner lens uses narrower filters, 67mm vs. 72mm. Both lenses feature 0.50x magnification, but the Tamron lens only reaches this mark at 70mm. The Tamron lens is black, and the Sony lens is mostly white.

Those considering the purchase of an FE 70-200 F4 II may also be considering the Sony FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G OSS Lens.

In the image quality comparison, the 70-200 has a sharpness advantage in direct comparisons. The 70-300 has slightly less peripheral shading in wide-open aperture comparisons, but the 70-200 has the edge at equal aperture settings. The 70-300 has less geometric distortion.

The Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens vs. FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G OSS Lens comparison shows the two lenses weighing and measuring about the same. They even use the same size filters. The 70-200 has an XD linear AF vs. linear and a 0.50x maximum magnification spec vs. a still good 0.31x spec. The 70-200 has a wider aperture, but the 70-300 has a longer focal length range and costs considerably less. The 70-300mm lens is black, and the 70-200mm lens is mostly white.

Use the site's tools to create additional comparisons.

Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens Top View with Hood


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Like its predecessor, the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II lens fills an important niche in the Sony line-up, covering the super useful 70-200mm telephoto zoom range with a constant f/4 max aperture available.

This high-quality-constructed lens, including weather sealing, is reasonably compact and lightweight. While not inexpensive, the FE 70-200mm F4 II is considerably less expensive than the FE 70-200mm F2.8 II Lens.

From a performance perspective, this lens is excellent. AF is fast, quiet, and accurate. While its geometric distortion is a bit strong for a lens at this quality level, it has great overall optical quality, delivering sharp imagery, and OSS assistants in that regard, extending this lens's low-light capabilities.

That this lens focuses to 0.50x maximum magnification throughout the focal length range is especially valuable. Leave the dedicated macro lens at home or capture images you would not otherwise have access to.

If you are looking for a high-quality, high-performing Sony telephoto zoom lens that can be comfortably carried for long periods of time and has a moderate price tag, this lens should be on your shortlist.

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Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 Macro G OSS II Lens
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