New Sony 500mm f/4.0 G Series Super-Telephoto Lens: Very Long and Very Fast

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Along with fast reflexes and the ability to keep a half step ahead of the action, sports and nature photographers depend heavily on the flexibility and performance of their gear. If you’re a Sony shooter with a penchant for sports and nature photography, you’ll be interested in Sony’s new SAL 500mm f/4.0G, an A-mount super-telephoto that according to the specs and features is quite a hunk of glass.

Optically speaking, the new SAL 500mm f/4.0G features 11 elements in 10 groups, including three ED (Extra Low Dispersion) glass elements. For combating flare and maintaining optimal contrast levels even when shooting backlit subjects, the new lens features Nano AR lens coatings, which according to Sony reduce internal reflections by as much as 80%. Even the carbon-fiber lens shade that comes with the lens is lined with black velvet as an additional hedge against stray light.

To combat moisture, dust, and grit—three culprits inherent to outdoor photography—the Sony SAL 500mm f/4.0G features interlocking, weather-resistant seals in and around the lens’s focusing ring and other potential points of entry. 

As with all Sony A-mount lenses used on Sony traditional and SLT-series DSLRs, the new lens is compatible with Sony’s in-camera SteadyShot image stabilization system, which according to Sony enables a shutter-speed advantage on the order of approximately 4.5 stops. The lens’s SSM (Super Sonic Wave motor) focusing system also features a newly designed drive circuit that’s reportedly four times faster than the SSM focusing system found in previous generation Sony optics.

To further improve AF performance, the new 500mm also has a focus-range switch to narrow the search range of the lens when shooting at clearly defined distances from your subject. For times you wish to override the lens's AF system, the new tele also features an easily accessible two-way DMF (Direct Manual Focus) mode button.

Sony’s SAL 500mm f/4.0G, which should be available here in the States in the not-too-distant future, is compatible with all full-frame Sony (and Minolta AF) DSLRs as well as Sony’s APS-C format DSLRs, with which the lens has the effective angle of view of a 750mm lens.

Focal Length 500mm
Aperture Range f/4.0–32
Aperture Blades 9
Maximum Magnification Ratio 0.135
Minimum Focus Distance 13.1' / 4 m
Optical Design 11 elements in 10 groups
Number of ED Elements 3
Lens Coatings Nano AR
Weather-Sealed Yes
AF System Sony SSM (Super Sonic Wave Motor)
Format Compatibility Sony / Minolta AF Full-frame and APS-C 
Manual Focus Override Yes
Focus Range Selector Switch Yes
Filter Diameter 42mm
Dimensions 5.5 x 14.5" / 14 x 36.75 cm
Weight 7.63 lb / 3.46 kg

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