Sony announces the FE 70-200 f/2.8 GM II – but will it be a worthy replacement?

Sony announces the FE 70-200 f/2.8 GM II – but will it be a worthy replacement?
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony has just announced its newest lens in its G Master lineup – the Sony FE 70-200 f/2.8 GM OSS II. The updated 70-200mm promises faster autofocus, advanced features for videos and a 29% reduction in weight.

While the original Sony FE 70-200 f/2.8 GM OSS is one of the best 70-200 lenses, it's fair to say that it's a bit of a breeze block. Yes it produces high-resolution images thanks to its top-quality optics, but the thought of having to carry it any distance was enough to put anyone off. Not to mention the fact that even now, five years after it was released, it will still set you back $2,598 / £2,129 / AU$3,299.

• Read more: Best Sony lenses

So there was room for improvement – and it seems that Sony was paying attention. "Listening to our customers around the world, we decided to develop a new, improved conversion of our 70-200mm f/2.8," said Yann Salmon Legagneur of Sony Europe.

"The improvements in weight and focusing speed with this new lens is immense and will make a huge difference for both photographer and videographer. When used in conjunction with our compact and lightweight full-frame bodies, Sony is providing an ideally balanced and extremely portable combination."

As you'd expect, Sony promises outstanding image quality and corner-to-corner sharpness throughout the zoom range, even at f/2.8. The Sony FE 70-200 f/2.8 GM OSS II has seven lens elements, including two aspherical (one of which is an XA (extreme aspherical)), two ED (extra-low dispersion), and two super ED spherical glass elements to minimize lens aberrations and color bleeding. 

For the first time in an Alpha system lens, the new Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 also includes an ED aspherical element that suppresses both chromatic and spherical aberration – a common issue in telephoto lenses. It also features a Nano AR II coating to produce an anti-reflection layer, reducing unwanted flare and ghosting in tricky lighting conditions. 

The lens is capable of beautiful, smooth bokeh due to its large f/2.8 aperture and the newly developed 11-blade circular aperture unit. At 70mm, it has a minimum focusing distance of 0.4 meters and 0.82 meters at 200mm. It will also be compatible with two of the best teleconverters, the  Sony 1.4x and 2x extenders.

For those wanting to use the lens for video, the reduction in weight will be a massive advantage. The Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II has also been designed to dramatically reduce focus breathing, focus shift and axis shift, so there is minimal movement when zooming. It also features an independent control ring for focus, zoom and aperture use. 

Designed with professionals in mind, the lens features full-time direct manual focus, a focus range limiter and three customizable buttons. It also has an iris lock switch and an on/off function for a clickable aperture. Like the Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS, it's designed to be used in demanding environments and so includes water and oil repellent coating on the front element and is dust and moisture resistant. 

The Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II will be available from November 2021 for an estimated RRP of $3,478 / £2,600 / AU$4,199. Whether or not the lens will be widely available then is another question, given that five Sony cameras have just been hit by supply issues, but we can live in hope. 

Pre-order the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II at Adorama (US)
Pre-order the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II at B&H (US)
Pre-order the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II at Park Cameras (UK)
Pre-order the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II at Ted's Camera (AU)

Read more: 

Best Sony lenses
Best Sony cameras
Best telephoto lenses

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.