Sony DT 55-300mm F4.5-5.6 SAM A-mount lens review by balacau

reviewer#11930 date: Jul-29-2014
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
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:Sony SAL75300 75-300mm kit zoom lens
Tamron 18-270mm PZD hyperzoom
Sony 16-105mm zoom
price paid:£250 (new)
positive:Compact & lightweight design
Effective lens hood which can be reverse-mounted for storage
Damped zoom action, seems to be more resistent to lens creep
Focal range (55-300)
Snappy AF in good light.
negative:Noisy SAM motor (why not SAM II?)
Hunts a fair bit in low light conditions & can have issues locking onto a moving target
APS-C only; this may be an issue for some, but not so for me
comment:I've been looking to upgrade from my original SAL75300 75-300mm kit zoom lens for some time. After much reading, viewing reviews and looking at example pictures I finally decided on ordering the SAL-55300 through Amazon. I snapped this up at a pretty good price and the lens arrived a full day ahead of schedule which was a great start!

This lens certainly has an edge in build quality over the previous SAL75300. It feels heavier, tougher and the quality is also much improved. I dare say its even better than the 16-105 although that lens is also considerably older too. In terms of weight, this lens is just over half of the weight of either Sony's 70300G or Tamron's 70-300 USD lenses but still packs quite a punch.

Recently I've been playing around with the on-camera HDR and have been using this lens for some of that. The optical quality produced is great, even shot at wide open. I have not yet noticed any softness at either 55 or 300mm but I don't tend to pixel peep that much.

I guess you can't read a review about this lens without hearing about its SAM in-lens motor. Well its true, it is pretty loud really, certainly louder than the SAM primes like 35mm or the F1.8 Easy Choice lenses. While I'm not one that shoots video, this may well be offputting to some. Perhaps the SAM II motor would have made it a little quieter & faster to focus?

While the AF is snappy on stationary subjects and objects moving towards or away from the camera, it has trouble locking onto subjects moving across its field of view. I have not noticed this being the case with the Sony 16-105 however.

Flare control is uncannily good! So far I do not have any filters for this lens but when I have caught the sun in the frame, it tends to produce a straight vertical line effect rather than the blobs that I'm used to seeing with some lenses. In sunrise/sunset scanarios, I have noticed far less flaring from this lens which really impressed me; hence the 5* rating.

I have to say that so far at least, I'm very happy with the lens and what its produced thus far. Its a little bit of an awkward focal range for me but I'm doubling it up with the 16-105 at the moment! Its only major flaw is locking onto sideways moving subjects but just perhaps I can get around that with technique.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 18
  • sharpness: 4.67
  • color: 4.50
  • build: 4.11
  • distortion: 4.67
  • flare control: 4.50
  • overall: 4.49 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania