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The 100-400 GM : a great high quality versatile lens

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Hi guys,

I wanted to share with you my growing experience with the Sony 100-400 GM :

When you buy such a lens, you are supposed to target a specific use such as sport or wildlife photography. And yes this is true, the first reflex may be to carry this heavy lens only for those purposes.

Let's say immediately that the weight is a relative criteria : in fact for such a focal length zoom, it's not very heavy and quite frankly not difficult to hold. The price is much more an issue for most of us, but what a lens ! Paired with my A7RIII, it is fast and accurate (it might be even better with the A9 I guess), the autofocus works quite well and the sharpness at all focal lengths and apertures is very good, if not outstanding. The build quality is excellent and the focus hold buttons (there are three !) very useful (eye AF).

Now what can you do with it ?. As already mentioned, sports and wildlife. Here are two basic examples : my son in action (ISO 1600, 1/1000, F5.6, 189 mm), it was a late afternoon with not a lot of light and I had to shoot at rather high ISO. Nothing is perfect and the 100-400 is not a F2.8 lens. This is the compromise you have to accept. But the picture is quite OK.


The second picture is a classical one (ISO 400, 1/1000, F7.1, 400 mm) : it was hand held and the the stabilization worked well. To be honest, 400 mm was not enough and I had to crop a lot in post.

 

Since that time, I bought the 1.4 teleconverter which works quite well and give the extra reach I was missing, the image quality reamining excellent.

But you know what ? I did not buy this lens for the above pictures. I got it because I needed something to get closer to my subject in landscape photography !

There are many occasions when you cannot be close to the subject, and if you can be, it will not provide you the same view at all. In addition the compression can be very interesting for landscapes. So may be you will find this awkward but this zoom comes with me in my bag with my other landscape zoom, the 16-35 GM. Here are two simple examples of lanscape pictures with the 100-400 : for the first one (ISO 100, 1/200, F8, 400 mm), I was on the other side of the lake in the mountain. The only other alternative would have been to be in an helicopter and then shoot with a shorter focal length !

 

The second one (ISO 100, 1/160, F8, 218 mm) could not be taken being close to this Vauban castle in the Alps. Let's say also, that all those pictures were taken hand held.

If you are really curious about landscape photography with such a lens, read the excellent Sony 100-400 GM review made by Albert Dros (www.albertdros.com): I am just an amateur and he is a real Professional.

But you can do even more with the 100-400 GM : I tried some close pictures of flowers in my garden and it's not bad at all. May be, it's not as good as with the excellent 90 F2.8 Macro G lens, but I was very positively surprised by what I got. Here are two examples : the pictures of the first flower (ISO 100, 1/400, F8, 198 mm) and  the second one (ISO 200, 1/200, F16, 221mm) have been taken on a sturdy tripod. The weather was a little windy and then the flowers did constantly move. However, as you can see, the pictures are reasonably sharp. Let's say also, that you need to close your aperture down since the depth of field is very narrow. The blurred backround was also a nice surprise knowing that with the help of Capture One, you can do a lot in post ! 

For this second picture, you may see a small insect in the top center of the rose. I did crop at 400 % and here is the result :

Personnaly, I am quite impressed by the quality of the 100-400 !

Last but not the least : when I want to do a shooting for portrait photography, I use my 85 F1.4 GM which is one of the best portrait lenses I know.

However, you can also get out of the logic box and use the 100-400 GM : I did some portraits hand held which are quite interesting and the sharpness  was really good. Shooting at 100mm F4.5 brings enough blurred backround and the colors are awsome.

So, in a nutshell, this 100-400 GM is a superb lens from which you can get many good surprises provided you are ready to keep open minded and carry it ! 

 

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