Lens review

Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II

13 October 2021
Maciej Latałło

3. Build quality and image stabilization

The following chart presents a comparison between basic parameters of the tested lens, its predecessor, and other mirrorless rivals. It is clear that the weight of the new model was reduced – actually the new Sony is lighter than even the Canon, so far a record-holding device in this category. Compared to those of the predecessor, the physical dimensions of the lens remained the same, along with the filter diameter. Both Sony and Panasonic models also boast as many as 11 diaphragm blades.

In the photo below the Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II is positioned between its predecessor and a reflex camera standard lens, the Sony A 50 mm f/1.4. Even though the overall physical dimensions of the new lens and of its predecessor remained the same, there are several new features on its barrel. The manual focus ring is smaller because the constructors needed more space for an aperture ring the older model lacks. There are also more switches.

Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II - Build quality and image stabilization

The tested lens starts with a metal mount that surrounds a contact plate and an inner tube with a rear element. That element is 30 mm in diameter, it doesn't move and is hidden inside the tube almost 2 cm deep. The area around the element is nicely blackened, matted, and ribbed. From this side everything looks splendid.

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Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II - Build quality and image stabilization

The proper body of the lens starts with a white, metal ring with an inscription 'Optical Steady Shot' meaning the instrument features optical image stabilization system. Apart from that you see the mount type mark (E-mount), a whte dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, the serial number along with the model number of te lens, and information that the lens was produced in Thailand.

Then you find a place for a rotating tripod collar – its shoe can be removed and, after taking it off, there is a small protrusion with a tripod thread, an excellent solution in our opinion. Still, you can't remove the whole rotating ring and take it off the lens's barrel. In newer constructions that option is often unavailable and it's a pity. If you could remove the whole tripod collar, meaning the shoe and the ring, the camera-and-lens set would weigh far less. Of course it would spoil the appearance of the lens but still.

Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II - Build quality and image stabilization

Further on there is an immobile ring with an inscription 'FE 2.8/70-200 GM OSS II'. If you look at it from above, on its right you find the producer's logo and a CLICK ON/OFF switch that allows you to choose the modes of the aperture control ring so it click-stops or turns freely. On the left side of that inscription you can find a whole array of switches. The first of them, marked as AF/MF, is used to control the autofocus mechanism mode. The second one, FULL TIME DMF, allows you to switch on or off manual adjusting of focus, available even if you work in the autofocus mode. The third one is an autofocus limiter with two options available, FULL and from 3 meters to infinity. The fourth switch, OSS ON/OFF, controls optical image stabilization, and the fifth (MODE 1,2,3) allows you to choose stabilization working modes. The last switch locks the aperture ring in place, either in automatical or manual mode, from f/2.8 to f/22.

Then you find an aperture ring, 12 mm wide, half of its surface covered by fine ribbing to ensure you a firmer grip. On the ring there is also an aperture scale from f/2.8 to f/22 and an A point that allows an automatic aperture choice by the camera body. The ring, depending on the setting of an appropriate switch, can work smoothly or every 1/3 EV step.

Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II - Build quality and image stabilization

The zoom ring is 36 mm wide, mostly covered by black, rubberrized ribbing. Below there are focal lengths markings at 70, 100, 135, and 200 mm. The ring moves smoothly, evenly, and is quite efficient. Running through the whole distance range takes a turn through an angle of about 60 degrees.

The next part is a white ring that doesn't move. On it you find a red G letter, marking the series of the tested lens, and three round focus lock buttons.

Further on you get a manual focus ring, as wide as 32 mm, almost completely covered by black, rubber ribs. The ring doesn't have any markings and it's a focus-by-wire construction. It moves quite smoothly but, in our opinion, its resistance could have been a tad more pronounced. Running through the whole distance range needs a turn through an angle of about 130-160 degrees – the precise value depends a bit on the focal length and speed of your turning. Still, these values allow you quite precise settings.

Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II - Build quality and image stabilization

A black, metal ring that doesn't move and turns into a hood mount and a non-rotating filter thread, 77 mm in diameter, is the last part of the tested lens. On that ring you can find an inscription informing you about the minimum focusing distance – at 70 mm it amounts to 0.4m/1.32ft and at 200 mm to 0.82m/2.69ft.

The front element - flat, immobile, 67 mm in diameter – is very shallowly hidden inside the barrel.

Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II - Build quality and image stabilization

When it comes to optical construction, you deal here with 17 elements positioned in 14 groups, six elements less than in case of the predecessor. That's why the new lens weighs less. Sony decided that quality not quantity matters the most – and they weren't skimpy with special elements either. Inside the new lens you can find as many as four low dispersion glass elements (two Super ED and two ED ones), one ordinary aspherical lens, one XA aspherical lens, and one that is aspherical and made of low dispersion ED glass at the same time. Additionally, you get a round aperture with eleven blades that can be closed down to a value of f/22 at the maximum.

New Nano AR Coating II layers are supposed to ensure good performance against bright light.

Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II - Build quality and image stabilization

Buyers get in the box with the lens: both caps, a hood with a removable frame (after removing it you have a free access to an optional filter), and a black, hard case, very solid and sturdy. It's worth mentioning that the hood is different than the hood of the older model of the lens which was of petal-type variation.

Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II - Build quality and image stabilization

Image stabilization

Producers declare that the Sony 70-200 mm f/2.8 is equipped with an image stabilization system as efficient as 4 EV. In order to check that claim we set the lens at 200 mm and took several dozen photos with exposure times ranging from 1/250 to 1/2 of a second and the stabilization switched on and off. For every set of photos we determined a percentage of out-of-focus shots; then we presented it in a form of a graph of exposure time which was expressed in EV (with 0 EV being an equivalent of 1/200 of a second).

Sony FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS II - Build quality and image stabilization

The maximum distance between both curves indeed reaches 4.3 EV and such is, in our view, the real efficiency of the stablization mechanism of the tested lens. It is an excellent result, even slightly better than the result of the Nikkor Z 70-200 mm f/2.8 VR S we tested not long ago.