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Super Telephoto Lenses | Sony 400mm f2.8 GM v The Super Telephoto Lens Market

By Wendell Weithers on June 27th 2018

With the Announcement of the Sony 400mm f2.8 GM, Sony enters a segment of the market that, until now, remains firmly in the grasp of DSLR cameras. However, this is only the first gust of the winds of change as Sony’s A9 finally has a lens with extended reach and speed to pair with its power.

However, these features don’t reside in uncharted territory because Canon’s 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens and Nikon’s NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens stand at the ready awaiting their new challenger. But, if you’re willing to sacrifice some speed, reach, shoot third-party, or any combination of the aforementioned features, you’ll find you have a few options in the super telephoto lens market. Let’s see how they compare.

These are big lenses meant to capture the biggest moments in sports, action, and wildlife, so it comes as no surprise that they demand hefty price tags. However, Sony’s G Master tax is pretty stout. Then again, as you’ll see in the coming days with our hands on review, there’s a list of reasons why, and they aren’t small.

Lens Price

Canon’s 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens$9,999.00
NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8 FL ED VR Lens – $11,196.95
Sony 400mm f2.8 GM OSS lens – $11,998.00

Body + Lens

Canon 1DX II + Canon’s 400mm f/2.8L IS II = $15,998

Sony A9 + 400 f2.8 GM OSS = $16,496

Nikon D5 + NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8 = $17,693.9

300mm Alternatives

Sigma 300mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM – $3,399
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II – $5,496.95
Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens – $6,099

f4 Alternatives

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM Sports Lens – $5,999

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens – $8,999
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens – $11,499

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4E FL ED VR Lens – $10,296.95
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR Lens – $12,296.95

f5.6 Alternatives

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Lens – $12,999
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR Lens – $16,296.95

[REWIND: Sony Announces FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens]

Fast 400mm Weight

Speaking of heft, 400mm lenses aren’t for casual photo-walks, not that you’d expect them to be. However, the G Master is significantly lighter than both its Nikon or Canon counterparts. For travel and overall comfort while shooting, every little bit helps.

Weight

Sony – 6.4 lb / 2.90 kg
Nikon – 8.38 lb / 3.8 kg
Canon – 8.47 lb / 3.85 kg

Sony a9 – (1.48 lb / 673 g)
Canon 1DX II – (3.37 lb / 1530 g)
Nikon D5 – (3.11 lb / 1415 g)

From the lenses listed above, its obvious that Sony still has a few boxes to check in order to provide an entire well-rounded sports and wildlife lens lineup. They may be two or three lenses away but they have finally arrived as a competitor for this segment of the market.

You can pre-order the Sony 400mm f2.8 GM lens here.

Wendell is based in Atlanta where he shoots events, portraits, and food photography. He also supports his wife Andrea as she runs their cake design business, Sweet Details.

Instagram: Wendellwphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Matthew Saville

    While having a lens be well-balanced is VERY good, (whether hand-held or on a gimbal tripod) …many telephoto sports & wildlife photogaphers prefer to have a bigger, heftier, and more “spacious grip” style camera body itself.

    Having said that, the A9 is still a force to be reckoned with, considering the claims it is touting about AF with this 400 2.8! Nikon and Canon need to be working in earnest on their hybrid / on-sensor AF if they don’t want their sports flagships to be wholly surpassed in the next camera generation or two.

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