Sony AF DT 55-200mm F4-5.6 A-mount lens review by JeremyT

reviewer#6184 date: Oct-6-2009
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
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 own this lens
compared to:SAL 75-300mm F4.5-5.6
Min 28-135mm F4-4.5
price paid:
positive:* Great range
* Good sharpness
* Great price
* Relatively fast
* Very portable
* Minimal CA
negative:* Rotating filter ring
comment:I find this lens surprisingly sharp, even wide open. You can eek a little bit more detail out of it by stopping down, but I never feel the need to do so on my A200. Maybe not quite as sharp as the 28-135mm, but seemingly on a par with the SAL 75-300mm.

This lens has CA well controlled, although purple fringing is present when shooting wide open in high contrast situations (more obvious on the long end). It's better in this regard than the 75-300 or the 28-135.

This lens is faster than you might suspect. It only hits f5.6 at the extreme long end and it stays under f4.5 for a majority of its range. A very pleasant surprise considering how most cheap lenses only retain their max aperture at the extreme wide end.

It focuses fairly close for its range, too, at 950mm, which is substantially better than the 1.5m MFD on the other lenses. For this reason it claims to be a "Macro" lens, and indeed you can get some macro type shots at 200mm.

As for build, this may be the most 'plasticy' feeling lens I've ever seen, which I guess is why people give it poor marks. I don't think that's really fair, since it actually operates quite well: no creep, no rattling or shimmying, and the rings both move smoothly. My copy is used, but it shows no signs of wear and still functions flawlessly.

All in all, if you're a value-conscious APS/C Alpha shooter looking to get to 200mm, this is perhaps your best bet. Unless you *really* need f/4 at 200mm, ignore the beer can and grab one of these little guys! You can spend the money you'll save on quite a few actual beer cans :)

NOTE: If buying new, the optically identical Tamron version is cheaper, and features a longer warranty. However, on the secondary market, this thing goes for peanuts since it's 1) a kit lens and 2) discontinued in favor of the "SAM" version. I think there's really no way you can beat it at its used price point.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 35
  • sharpness: 4.33
  • color: 4.40
  • build: 3.71
  • distortion: 4.43
  • flare control: 4.40
  • overall: 4.25 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania