Sony introduces lightweight Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens @ 12000$/€

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,803
3,291
neuroanatomist said:
AlanF said:
neuroanatomist said:
AlanF said:
There is more than one data point: the conventional Nikon 300mm f/4D is 222.5mm long and weighs 1440 g, the Nikon equivalent to a DO, the 300mm f/4 E PF, is 148mm long and weighs 750g.
When I mentioned a comparison to the Canon 300/4, you replied:

AlanF said:
neuroanatomist said:
...Compare the [Canon] 300/4...
The 300/4 is an antique lens with poor IS and takes a TC poorly. If it had modern configuration....
The Nikon 300/4D is an 18-year-old lens. So I should refrain from making comparisons to old lenses lacking a modern configuration, but it's fine for you to do so. Interesting application of a double standard…
I am not applying double standards. Let's compare it with another very modern 300mm/f4, the Olympus Zuiko, described as compact and lightweight, https://www.olympus.co.uk/site/en/c/lenses/om_d_pen_lenses/m_zuiko_pro/m_zuiko_digital_ed_300mm_1_4_0_is_pro/m_zuiko_digital_ed_300mm_1_4_0_is_pro_specifications.html

The fine Olympus is 227mm long and weighs 1220g, which is very similar to the Nikon's 222.5mm length and 1440g. The Nikon DO equivalent is substantially shorter and lighter.

Nikon has announced the development of a 500/5.6 PF lens https://www.nikon.com/news/2018/0614_lens_01.htm "that is significantl smaller and lighter than comparable predecessors due to the adoption of the same type of Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element used in the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED".
We should probably drop the tangent. I have no argument with the fact that incorporation of DO elements makes a lens smaller and lighter. I do take issue with your initial comparison of the Sony 400/2.8 to the Canon 400/4 DO – that comparison is obviated by the difference of a full stop of aperture (regardless of the DO).
What I have been arguing consistently and unambiguously is that the DO technology is better than the Sony optical innovation of using smaller glass elements further back in the body. The Sony has managed to decrease weight and move the centre of gravity closer to the body. The DO technology does both of those and reduce size as well. There is a huge great (waste of) space behind the front element of the Sony, but Canon and Nikon have been able to move the front element back into that space and make the lenses shorter.
 

ethanz

1DX II
Apr 12, 2016
1,066
306
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AlanF said:
What I have been arguing consistently and unambiguously is that the DO technology is better than the Sony optical innovation of using smaller glass elements further back in the body. The Sony has managed to decrease weight and move the centre of gravity closer to the body. The DO technology does both of those and reduce size as well. There is a huge great (waste of) space behind the front element of the Sony, but Canon and Nikon have been able to move the front element back into that space and make the lenses shorter.
But Canon has only done that on f4 lenses. Sony has done something to reduce weight without using DO-like technology, and in an f2.8 lens.
 

jolyonralph

Kodak Brownie
Aug 25, 2015
1,103
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neuroanatomist said:
Facts and data rule the day. If you look at the block diagrams of the two lenses, you'll see that the space behind the rear elements of both of them is similar.
That is true, but I think you're not taking into account the different flange distance, so for an equivalent design you'd need to take 26mm off the end of the Sony layout for it to work on EF - and that is why I am saying it potentially could be done, but only at the expense of the extenders.

I am sure there are optical formulae that would allow a rear-heavy design to still work with the EF mount, but I stand by my statement that I doubt this could be done to the same level of weight reduction/weight redistribution that the new Sony 400mm does.

There are a lot of things I think Sony need to catch up on to get the pro market to pay attention, not least their poor record on weather sealing. And the Canon 400mm 2.8 remains an outstanding lens that I sorely wish I had in my arsenal.

But, as I've said before, a shorter flange distance gives more flexibility with lens design. it's not just about the light-weight compact lenses. It's about designers having new options for all designs. No design that currently performs well on the EF lens couldn't perform at least as well on a shorter flange mount, and more likely than not it could be designed better.

neuroanatomist said:
Regardless, you tell yourself whatever you need to so you can sleep at night. You have plenty of company from other forum members who also choose to ignore reality.
If I am wrong then feel free to point out my mistakes and I'm happy to listen. I certainly don't know everything. But please do so with some civility, there's no need to descend to insults.
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,803
3,291
ethanz said:
AlanF said:
What I have been arguing consistently and unambiguously is that the DO technology is better than the Sony optical innovation of using smaller glass elements further back in the body. The Sony has managed to decrease weight and move the centre of gravity closer to the body. The DO technology does both of those and reduce size as well. There is a huge great (waste of) space behind the front element of the Sony, but Canon and Nikon have been able to move the front element back into that space and make the lenses shorter.
But Canon has only done that on f4 lenses. Sony has done something to reduce weight without using DO-like technology, and in an f2.8 lens.
Fresnel lenses are not limited to f/4 or narrower. As neuro has pointed out, there are Canon patents for a 16-35/2.8 DO and a 70-200/2.8 DO. The biggest opportunities for DO/PF technologies, however, are for the 500/600/800 supertelephotos, which will be f/4 or greater anyway. And length is very important. The 400mm DO II is often used on safaris (along with the 100-400) because there is room to swing it round in a Jeep whereas the current 400s, 500s etc are often too long.
 

sanj

EOS 5D MK IV
Jan 22, 2012
3,219
82
jolyonralph said:
neuroanatomist said:
Facts and data rule the day. If you look at the block diagrams of the two lenses, you'll see that the space behind the rear elements of both of them is similar.
That is true, but I think you're not taking into account the different flange distance, so for an equivalent design you'd need to take 26mm off the end of the Sony layout for it to work on EF - and that is why I am saying it potentially could be done, but only at the expense of the extenders.

I am sure there are optical formulae that would allow a rear-heavy design to still work with the EF mount, but I stand by my statement that I doubt this could be done to the same level of weight reduction/weight redistribution that the new Sony 400mm does.

There are a lot of things I think Sony need to catch up on to get the pro market to pay attention, not least their poor record on weather sealing. And the Canon 400mm 2.8 remains an outstanding lens that I sorely wish I had in my arsenal.

But, as I've said before, a shorter flange distance gives more flexibility with lens design. it's not just about the light-weight compact lenses. It's about designers having new options for all designs. No design that currently performs well on the EF lens couldn't perform at least as well on a shorter flange mount, and more likely than not it could be designed better.

neuroanatomist said:
Regardless, you tell yourself whatever you need to so you can sleep at night. You have plenty of company from other forum members who also choose to ignore reality.
If I am wrong then feel free to point out my mistakes and I'm happy to listen. I certainly don't know everything. But please do so with some civility, there's no need to descend to insults.
Neuro thrives on rudeness. He has issues.
 

neuroanatomist

I post too Much on Here!!
Jul 21, 2010
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jolyonralph said:
neuroanatomist said:
Facts and data rule the day. If you look at the block diagrams of the two lenses, you'll see that the space behind the rear elements of both of them is similar.
That is true, but I think you're not taking into account the different flange distance, so for an equivalent design you'd need to take 26mm off the end of the Sony layout for it to work on EF - and that is why I am saying it potentially could be done, but only at the expense of the extenders.
I disagree. The Sony design has space at the back for a TC protrusion, the Canon design does, too. I see nothing about the design of the Sony lens that suggests Canon could not design the lens similarly to save/redistribute weight.


jolyonralph said:
I am sure there are optical formulae that would allow a rear-heavy design to still work with the EF mount, but I stand by my statement that I doubt this could be done to the same level of weight reduction/weight redistribution that the new Sony 400mm does.
Completely disagree with that. I think it’s possible for Canon to achieve that with traditional optics. But even if not, as AlanF points out Canon could design a 400/2.8 DO that wold be significantly smaller than the Sony lens, and likely at least as light...and being much shorter, the center of mass would be even closer to the body than with the Sony lens. I’m not at all convinced they would do so, but they could.

So far, no new lens designs have challenged the notion that a shorter flange focal distance allows designs that offer significant benefit (however, it does allow smaller lens designs at the cost of sacrifices in optical quality).
 

takesome1

EOS 6D MK II
Aug 23, 2013
1,490
122
98
Licking, Missouri
neuroanatomist said:
Incidentally, the discussion above got me thinking about the TCs. The Sony 400/2.8 is weather-sealed just like the A9 and a7RIII (well, mostly sealed...except for the hotshoe and bottom plate). But unlike Canon's TCs, the Sony TCs aren't sealed. This very nice new lens is targeted at sports shooters...is it that they never use TCs? Or that pro sports aren't played in inclement weather?
"Weather Sealed" can be a broad term. I have never seen a standard of testing that a lens manufacture would have to meet to make this claim. The Canon 400mm has been proven in the field when it comes to weather sealing, the Sony has only the claim that they have weather sealed.

I think the best that could be said, both brands equally claim Weather Sealing however there is no evidence that their Weather Sealing is equal.
 

scyrene

EOS 5D MK IV
Dec 4, 2013
2,510
395
UK
www.flickr.com
jolyonralph said:
Maybe finally we are seeing the end of the myth that the EF mount can do everything and doesn't need replacing.
You're conflating two separate things. I don't recall anyone saying the EF mount could do everything or was perfect. But that doesn't mean it needs replacing. I don't think any mount can be perfect, can it?
 

docsmith

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 17, 2010
869
249
This is dancing around what is likely the most interesting part of this release.

If Canon could do a design similar to Sony's (lighter, back centered elements), why haven't they? Or, put another way, is there something special about Sony's lens and current tech that precluded Canon from doing something similar in 2011?

I am with Neuro in the above debate, I do not think this is flange distance. That comes into play with UWA lenses. I've never heard it as a factor for telephoto lens designs. I actually think this may have been intentional on Canon's behalf. Simply put, the 1Ds III (1D camera in 2011) weighs twice that of the Sony A9, 3.1 lbs (1404g) to 1.5 lbs (673 g). I've never used the 400 f/2.8 II, but I can tell you the 500 f/4 II, and 600 f/4 II are remarkably well balanced at the tripod ring with a Canon body.


So, I do wonder if this design is all about balance at the tripod ring. Sony is trying to balance a lighter camera, so they needed less weight upfront. Of course, if you mounted a Canon 1D to the Sony lens, it actually probably isn't balanced.

If true, this will be perhaps the first time I'll conceded that Sony's "mirrorless" resulted in a real weight savings in a lens-body combo. Of course, Canon could release a lighter body, but you would start to get into their famed robustness (the 1Dx II is heavier than the 1Ds III).
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,544
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AlanF said:
The Sony has managed to decrease weight and move the centre of gravity closer to the body. The DO technology does both of those and reduce size as well. There is a huge great (waste of) space behind the front element of the Sony, but Canon and Nikon have been able to move the front element back into that space and make the lenses shorter.
It will be interesting to see what happens as users test the lens. There are virtually a infinite number of possible optical formulas, each has its strengths and weaknesses. You always trade off one thing or the other. I expect that Canon decided that putting the glass toward the front enhanced properties that they value and sacrificed balance and weight. It is possible to build much lighter lenses of the same focal length and aperture, but they always lose something in te process.
 

neuroanatomist

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Jul 21, 2010
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takesome1 said:
neuroanatomist said:
Incidentally, the discussion above got me thinking about the TCs. The Sony 400/2.8 is weather-sealed just like the A9 and a7RIII (well, mostly sealed...except for the hotshoe and bottom plate). But unlike Canon's TCs, the Sony TCs aren't sealed. This very nice new lens is targeted at sports shooters...is it that they never use TCs? Or that pro sports aren't played in inclement weather?
"Weather Sealed" can be a broad term. I have never seen a standard of testing that a lens manufacture would have to meet to make this claim. The Canon 400mm has been proven in the field when it comes to weather sealing, the Sony has only the claim that they have weather sealed.

I think the best that could be said, both brands equally claim Weather Sealing however there is no evidence that their Weather Sealing is equal.
Agreed, but my main point was that the Sony TCs lack a mount gasket entirely, so even if the lens and body sealing are effective adding a TC renders the lens/body sealing useless.
 

xps

EOS 6D MK II
Oct 19, 2011
894
32
Middle Europe
docsmith said:
This is dancing around what is likely the most interesting part of this release.

If Canon could do a design similar to Sony's (lighter, back centered elements), why haven't they? Or, put another way, is there something special about Sony's lens and current tech that precluded Canon from doing something similar in 2011?

I am with Neuro in the above debate, I do not think this is flange distance. That comes into play with UWA lenses. I've never heard it as a factor for telephoto lens designs. I actually think this may have been intentional on Canon's behalf. Simply put, the 1Ds III (1D camera in 2011) weighs twice that of the Sony A9, 3.1 lbs (1404g) to 1.5 lbs (673 g). I've never used the 400 f/2.8 II, but I can tell you the 500 f/4 II, and 600 f/4 II are remarkably well balanced at the tripod ring with a Canon body.


So, I do wonder if this design is all about balance at the tripod ring. Sony is trying to balance a lighter camera, so they needed less weight upfront. Of course, if you mounted a Canon 1D to the Sony lens, it actually probably isn't balanced.

If true, this will be perhaps the first time I'll conceded that Sony's "mirrorless" resulted in a real weight savings in a lens-body combo. Of course, Canon could release a lighter body, but you would start to get into their famed robustness (the 1Dx II is heavier than the 1Ds III).
This might be indeed one of the problem, like I wrote in an posting.
Try to attach an 7AIII with adapter on an 600 or 600+1.4x extender. You need an very long Arca swiss plate to get it balanced too.
As I wrote, this might be one of the problems, Canon has to master. And just think of the big bashing, if they would release an 400/500/600 III lens that is not balanced for all the Pros out there?
So, the rumor, they could offer an MLS in an DSLS body could be an way to circumnavigate this problem
 

FramerMCB

Canon 40D & 7D
Sep 9, 2014
390
81
52
On paper this new Sony lens looks great! They have achieved something good here! I've enjoyed reading the back and forth that you gents have been engaged in.

One thing that has really stood out for me over the years: Canon is in the business of making IMAGING SYSTEMS that work. Period. Everything they make works well together and they seem to design cameras, lenses, accessories, printers, etc that all work extremely well together and reliably. And they have the customer service piece figured out too, especially in taking care of the Professional photographer...

It's great that Sony has brought/introduced all this new tech to market, and they are getting there with their camera bodies and some lenses. But they are not there yet with the complete system and system reliability and service.

With Canon, it's not just that they make reliable stuff with little copy variation (especially with their PRO stuff), it's that when a PRO has an issue with a piece of kit - need a repair, calibration, etc. - Canon's service will loan a replacement out to get one "over-the-hump". Perhaps Sony does this too, but if there is such copy variation between lenses, for example, then a loaner might not be that helpful...

The good news is, it will be very interesting to read performance reviews of this new lens attached to an A9, and the A7R III.
Cheers!
 

Keith_Reeder

No apologies for not suffering fools gladly...
Feb 8, 2014
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mjg79 said:
Got to be honest, it looks a great lens and we should always welcome more competition as it will only drive Canon forward.
Don't see why it would - you can't use this lens on Canon bodies, and if a photographer is moving to Sony he won't be doing it just for this lens.

So there's no obvious pressure on Canon here.
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
7,973
502
Keith_Reeder said:
mjg79 said:
Got to be honest, it looks a great lens and we should always welcome more competition as it will only drive Canon forward.
Don't see why it would - you can't use this lens on Canon bodies, and it a photographer is moving to Sony he won't be doing it just for this lens.

So there's no obvious pressure on Canon here.
+1 on "just for this lens".

This lens is a statement piece and pricey toy for now -- nothing more. A lot more stuff/developments/offerings need to happen before this new lens is part of a compelling value proposition to sports/wildlife folks. As others have said, at present, there are numerous gaping holes with Sony here that need to be addressed before folks will stake their livelihood on an A7/A9 setup.

That said, though it's just a statement piece for now, a statement piece that alleges to outperform Canon is one of its strongest areas may warrant Canon getting all hot and bothered and (I hate using this word in this context) respond with a step forward of their own.

So, no, this new lens is not a shot across the bow business-wise, but it may be one from a 'pride of lens design' perspective. But if a 24-70 f/2.8 VR for Nikon didn't get Canon to spring to action to respond, I doubt this will.

- A
 

Keith_Reeder

No apologies for not suffering fools gladly...
Feb 8, 2014
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docsmith said:
If Canon could do a design similar to Sony's (lighter, back centered elements), why haven't they? Or, put another way, is there something special about Sony's lens and current tech that precluded Canon from doing something similar in 2011?
I suspect we're simply in the usual "Canon doesn't see a market for a significant redesign, so sees no need to change its current offer" space - that's how Canon tends to work.

And while light is nice and all, I think way too much is being made of it here. Once this lens is on a monopod (or a tripod, but monopods are more usual on the sidelines), the weight advantage will pretty much go away.

Compared with an "equivalent" (400mm f/2.8 or 500mm f/4, say) Canon lens, properly balanced, on a monopod: the Sony and the Canon will feel pretty much the same used that way.

Conversely, I (not a big guy, and almost 58 years old) shoot all day long with my 500mm f/4 Mk II, handheld: and I honestly believe that the slight heft and weight-forward nature of the design makes it easier to keep steady, and to move around quickly.

It doesn't feel weight forward either, when my hand is positioned under the CoG - which is right where you'd want it to be on the Canon. So it feels right as it is.

And when it's in the bag, it's in the bag - I've yet to find myself wishing that my bag was lighter, so no advantage there either...
 

Keith_Reeder

No apologies for not suffering fools gladly...
Feb 8, 2014
823
273
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Blyth, NE England
ahsanford said:
That said, though it's just a statement piece for now, a statement piece that alleges to outperform Canon is one of its strongest areas
Matt Granger has a video review out already (I don't watch video reviews, so I'm quoting from a site that links to it) where he asserts that the Sony "smokes" Canon (and Nikon) optically.

That's - to be kind - exceedingly unlikely, isn't it? Any optical improvement over the best that Canon and Nikon have to offer would be vanishingly small. Then bear in mind that IBIS doesn't come close to in-lens stabilisation at this kind of FL, and I struggle to see the real world advantages of this lens over the "opposition".
 

Durf

Picture Taker - Image Maker
Keith_Reeder said:
ahsanford said:
That said, though it's just a statement piece for now, a statement piece that alleges to outperform Canon is one of its strongest areas
Matt Granger has a video review out already (I don't watch video reviews, so I'm quoting from a site that links to it) where he asserts that the Sony "smokes" Canon (and Nikon) optically.

That's - to be kind - exceedingly unlikely, isn't it? Any optical improvement over the best that Canon and Nikon have to offer would be vanishingly small. Then bear in mind that IBIS doesn't come close to in-lens stabilisation at this kind of FL, and I struggle to see the real world advantages of this lens over the "opposition".
Yeah, it won't be long and Matt Granger will be known as "That Sony Guy"...... ;)