How is the new Sony 200-600 G OSS compared to the Sony 100-400 GM?

Even if I’m away from my country, where I’ve acted as a Sony Europe Imaging Ambassador since 2015 (we are moving with the entire family to Sweden), I’m still lucky enough to have the amazing people from Sony Europe trusting me to test new cameras or lenses they are launching.

This time around, the newly launched Sony 200-600 G OSS.

Sony 200-600 G OSS

Weighting 2,115 grams it is a lot heavier than my Sony 100-400 GM (1395 grams), but when I’ve heard of this new lens, my first thought was to sell the 100-400 and buy the later, since only great reviews were coming out from the launch press-event.

Less than a month after its launch, I got my hands on the Sony 200-600 G OSS, thanks to Sony Hungary (I’m located now in Budapest, till autumn) and played with it for a weekend.

So will I sell my Sony 100-400 GM and buy the new Sony 200-600 G OSS?

Maybe you have arrived on this article to get the answer to the same question, or maybe to the another one “Which one to buy?”.

I will spare your time and say it from the begining:

I still don’t have an answer to that!

There are so many pluses on both lenses that I can’t make up my mind. So even if I didn’t own yet the G Master lens, I would have still be in doubt which one to buy. Sorry guy, but I’m not going to lie. I really loved them both, but I can’t tell one to buy both of them, it might be redundant.

How does the Sony 200-600 G OSS compare to the 100-400 GM, size-wise?

Well, words can explain, but an image explains it better.

Actually two images explain even better.

What we see above are both lenses at their max length with lens hood on, and fully extended (valid only for 100-400 GM since the Sony 200-600 G OSS has internal zoom). The second image is of course their minimum length and as you can see the 100-400 GM has now a really great advantage, since it is way more portable and can fit in smaller camera bags.

But I still prefer internal zoom, so here goes a big plus for the new lens. Actually, the zoom ring has a really short moving distance, so you find yourself able to zoom instantly from 200mm to the max focal length of 600mm. This might come in handy when shooting fast moving action, especially subjects coming towards you, the photographer.

With the 100-400 GM I find myself 99% of the time at max focal distance. To that “helps” also the cammo I’ve employed which has a detachable part that can be added only when the lens is fully extended. But is also because I need more reach so that’s why I’m shooting mostly at 400mm.

So here comes again another big advantage to the Sony 200-600 G OSS, and that is it’s max focal length. I know it is a 6.3 at 600mm, but if I want to come close with the 100-400, I need to add the 1.4x converter that will give me 560mm but F8. And I thought it is a very sharp combo, the 100-400 with the 1.4x at its max range, but boy, after you see the IQ on the Sony 200-600 G OSS, you get to change your mind.

Here is an example:

Sony 200-600 G OSS
Sony 200-600 G OSS shot at 600mm F6.3 1/500s ISO 2500
100% crop from previous image

And not only the sharpness, but also color rendering and of course, what we photographers love most, the bokeh. It has a creamy and pleasing bokeh, that only great lenses can achieve.

Sony 200-600 G OSS shot at 600mm F6.3 1/1000s ISO 500

Not to mention the perspective compression a long focal length gives you. Unless you have no problem being seen with a long lens, there can be an amazing street photography lens too.

Of course, I don’t think Sony ever though to launch this lens as a street photography lens, but one can ask himself either it is good or not.

Is it sharp across all its range?

I’ve asked this myself after seeing how incredibly sharp the Sony 200-600 G OSS, how does it perform wide open at both ends of its focal range. I’ll let the images do the talk.

Sony 200-600 G OSS shot at 200mm F5.6 1/1000s ISO 125
Sony 200-600 G OSS shot at 600mm F6.3 1/1000s ISO 200

And to get an idea how much a 600 focal length will mean compared to 200, here is another example of same scene shot at 200mm and then at 600mm.

Sony 200-600 G OSS – wildlife and sports?

This lens has in mind sport and wild-life photographers, so I’ve also tried some of these subjects even if I had so little time with it. A park or a nearby lake comes always handy even if there are not so great subjects there like an ferocious raptor attacking its pray.

But I could still find some birds to show you, even though not so many were in flight so I could tell how well this lens does BIF (birds in flight). I’m no expert at tracking them, so I relay mostly on camera and lens performance (camera is Sony A9).

What about tracking you might ask. Well, it performs flawlessly with the A9 even when the subject gets obstructed or goes behind some trees. Here is an example:

Its weakest point though is it’s focusing speed. Don’t get me wrong, it is still damn fast, but by not being a G Master lens, with dual linear motor, has something to do with this, because it takes longer to focus from close to far, or the other way around. It might help a lot to use the focus limiters on the lens, which are 3 in total:

  • 2.4m – 10m
  • 10m- ∞
  • Full range

So the main problem might be with fast subjects coming direct towards you. If you have the focus limiter set to Full (that was my case here) it will not have time to catch a close bird coming directly towards me. I was on Tracking Wide with the A9 and it did catch the bird, but didn’t have time to focus properly. Also I had a long shutter speed for this action: 1/500s. The 100-400 GM never had issues with this, or at least I didn’t encounter any situation in which it didn’t focus.

Then another “issue” I’ve found during the weekend was the sheer size and weight of the lens. I was longing for my “little” precious 100-400 GM which I love now even more for how light it is :).

I wanted to shoot some sports also, but couldn’t find anything else in the city during my walks except this fast boats and sky-jets fooling around on Danube in Budapest. No issues at tracking that big subjects, even when they also came towards camera (speed wise they are like a snail, compared to birds :D).

In conclusion, will I buy the Sony 200-600 G OSS?

I don’t know. I really loved it: its reach is amazing, is incredibly sharp, has superb color rendering and bokeh and has an affordable price for this kind of lens.

But I still love the incredible lightness of my 100-400 G Master lens, it’s better weather sealing, speed of acquiring subjects and tracking them. And I can always add the 1.4x TC that will get me close to 600, but at a cost of 1 EV.

It’s even a tougher decision if you just want to buy now one of these two superb lenses Sony has produced. I feel you!

PS: not to mention the two prime monsters we also might choose: the 400mm GM F2.8 (hands on is here) and the 600mm GM F4.0. They are gold!

Author: Alin Popescu

Inginer ca formare, grafician ca meserie, fotograf ca mod de viata, Alin este pasionat de tot ce inseamna tehnologie si scrie articole detaliate pe intelesul tuturor.

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  1. Salut,

    “I really loved it: its reach is amazing, is incredibly sharp, has superb color rendering and bokeh and has an affordable price for this kind of lens.”

    Dupa ce ti-am citit review-ul si am observat in timp faptul ca de fiecare data esti sau devii brusc entuziasmat dupa ce pui mana pe ceva care scrie Sony am sa iti spun urmatoarele:

    – da focala obiectivului este buna dar e un obiectiv cu care sa lucrezi pe lumina buna chiar daca tragi cu A9 sau A7 III. A9 sta putin mai bine la ISO ridicat vs A7 III. Dar nu o sa il poti compara niciodata cu un 400 2.8 G care raspunde altfel si pe A7 III in lumina scazuta.
    – este mare greu de transportat fata de 100-400 G care e un best buy la SONY ptr cei care vor portabilitate si sa nu isi mai cumpere un extra rucsac ptr alt obiectiv mare de genul celui asupra caruia ai instat in review. Deci la portabilitate la drum lung pica testul in favoarea lui 100-400.
    – nu este incredibil de sharp cum te grabesti sa afirmi. Daca acest obiectiv este incredibil de sharp atunci 100-400 cum ar mai fi? Foloseste in exprimare chestii obiective reale nu lucruri rezultate din entuziasm. Atatea alte review-uri spun ca 100-400 este mai sharp la deschidarea maxima fata de noul zoom, incat ai ramane cam singurul din piata care afirma aceste lucruri legate de: incredibil de sharp. Deci daca vrei sa fii sincer poti sa spui este Ok sau bun, dar nu f bun, mai inchideti putin diafragma ptr rezultate mai bune.
    – Nu are un bokeh placut acest obiectiv ptr subiecte aflate la distanta, pentru care separarea fundalului devine si mai dificil de realizat chiar pentru un singur stop. Iar afirmi chestii pe care ori nu le stapanesti ori iti place sa faci reclama. Une sa tragi o rata de la 1 m si alta e sa o fotografiezi cand se afla la 10m. Fa acelasi test cu un obiectiv cu alta diafragma si atunci tragi alte concluzii. Da pentru subiecte situate la o anumita distanta din cauza focalei pe capatul de 600 poate reda un bokeh placut dar nu SUPERB cum afirmi.
    – NU, pretul nu este “affordable” ci este scump. Nikon 200-500 5.6 ca pret este mult mai ok si puse cap la cap s-ar putea sa ai o dezamagire in ceea ce priveste rezultatul final al actiunii.
    – Trackingul pe A7 III cu acest obiectiv nu este la fel ca pe A9, iar pe A7RIII preferi sa tragi cu el subiecte still.

    Fa pe viitor review-uri pertinente, asa lasi impresia ca dupa atatia ani de jucat cu SONY nu reusesti sa treci de un anumit prag.


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    • Eu doar cred ca ai citit printre randuri tot ce am scris eu pana acum.
      PS: nu poti trage o rata de la 1 metru, ca distanta minima de focus este 2.4m la 200-600. Dar cum vad ca esti expert inclusiv in 400mm 2.8 GM, sunt sigur ca stiai.

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