Sony 500mm F4 G SSM A-mount lens review by cocciasik

reviewer#44278 date: May-3-2019
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.9
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:SEL400F28GM, Minolta 600mm f/4
price paid:8000 EUR brand new
positive:It has all the good characteristics that a modern lens of this price tag should have: sharpness, high contrast, fast AF, light enough (for this focal length), solid build. Works well with 1.4x TC.
negative:A veiling haze wide open reduces the contrast. Details are still there, just the contrast is slightly reduced. You will notice it when cropping or with high-contrast subjects. Stopping to f/4.5 drastically reduces the problem, at f/5.0 is essentially gone. No need to close more than f/5.6 for impressive sharpness and contrast.
comment:It is a great lens, as it should be for the price.

My only complain is about contrast when shooting wide open. At f/4, you get a veiling haze that is noticeable when you have a scene with high contrast or when pixel peeing. If there is enough light, better off closing to f/5 or f/5.6. I would close to f/4.5 when it is dark, and to f/4 only if I do not mind some softness in the picture or when the ISO is very high and you loose details anyway.

Apart from the above issue, everything else is simply perfect. It could be that I own a bad copy, but I do not believe it is the case. I found other pictures on Internet that show the same haze wide open, so at least I am not an isolated case. Unfortunately, not too many reviews online to compare with.

Compared to Sony 400mm f/2.8 (which is E-mount, so not 100% fair comparison), the new Sony wins only wide open. The 500mm is handholdable, but not for that long, whereas the new Sony can be carried around for more time. And the 400mm does not have the veiling haze issue wide open, even with the 1.4x attached. If you close the aperture a bit, both lenses produces great sharpness and contrast.

For A-mount, the 500mm f/4 is the best you can get at this focal length, unless you can live with the known limitations of the old Minolta 600mm f/4 -- in such a case, you could also consider the Minolta as an alternative.

For E-mount shooters, this 500mm works great with A9, A7RIII and A7III + LA-EA3 with latest firmware update. If you find a good deal, it is definitely worth it -- if you can live with half a kilogram more than 400mm and less sharpness/contrast just at f/4.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 6
  • sharpness: 4.83
  • color: 4.83
  • build: 4.50
  • distortion: 4.83
  • flare control: 4.83
  • overall: 4.77 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania