Sony AF 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G SSM II A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#44125 date: Aug-25-2018
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
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 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Tamron 18-250
Tamron 28-300 XR Di
Tamron 28-300 XR
Sony DT 55-300 SAM
Sony FE 70-300 G OSS
Canon EF 70-300 F4-5.6 IS II USM
Tamron 70-300 USD
Minolta AF 75-300 "Big Beercan"
Minolta AF 75-300 D
Minolta AF 100-300 APO
Minolta AF 100-300 APO D
Minolta AF 100-400 APO
price paid:343 USD (used)
positive:Large petal hood
Flat focus plane
Internal, rear focus
Non-rotating focus grip in AF
Non-rotating filter threads
Always available DMF
Weather sealing
Side button
negative:Chubby size and weight
Focus breathing
Limited range
Extending zoom
Heavy and uneven zoom action
Zoom creep
Heavy/vague focus clutch mechanism
Slow, somewhat noisy AF
comment:This lens is listed new for $1150, $50 cheaper than the newer, stabilized Sony FE 70-300 G OSS. It doesn't feel any better made than the Tamron USD or even the Sony DT 55-300 SAM. Unlike those lenses it is "Made in JAPAN."

It's control grips are in the same arrangement as the Tamron USD, but it actually employs a rear focus design unlike the Tamron. This means there is less weight at the front of the lens and less shifting of the center of mass with focus action. Unfortunately this also gives it a considerable amount of focus breathing. The long end is about 240 mm at minimum focus. The 55-300, 75-300, 100-300, and Tamron 70-300 USD zooms all maintain their focal length at minimum focus.

The front barrel and front lens element extend with zoom the same amount as the Tamron. The zoom action is also quite heavy and a bit uneven much like the Tamron. The 55-300 and 75-300 D zooms have nicer zoom actions.

Despite the rear focus design and SSM designation it doesn't seem to focus any faster than the old screw-drive x-300 zooms. The II designation means it supports the faster communication rates introduced with the A77 and DT 16-50 F2.8 SSM. It also means that like with the 55-300, the Kenko teleconverters will not adjust the focal length and aperture values on the recent SLT bodies. It does allow 2 extra FPS of AF-C tracking on the Sony A9 with the LA-EA3 and 4x better tracking on the recent SLT bodies. The Tamron USD zoom does not support this faster communication speed.

It doesn't quite match the central sharpness of the 55-300, but it has less chromatic aberrations. The focus breathing arguable makes it a downgrade compared to the Tamron 70-300 USD. It is very uncomfortable to hold for several hours on the A68.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 2
  • sharpness: 4.25
  • color: 5.00
  • build: 3.50
  • distortion: 4.50
  • flare control: 5.00
  • overall: 4.45 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania