Showcase Sony FE400 f2.8

Ziggy99

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With 1.4 TC on an A9. First efforts ...

Black Kite landing at dawn
Black Kite landing (2).jpg
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Black Swan and cygnet
Swan and Cygnet gliding (1).jpg
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Whiskered Tern
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JonathanF2

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Nice! How's the weight of the lens? I used to own the Nikon 400mm 2.8 VR and that thing was a beast. The Sony 400mm GM is supposed to be quite manageable I've read.
 

Ziggy99

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Yes Jonathon, it's not bad at all. Lens alone is supposed to be 2.9kg and I think extra with the foot. Then about 650g for the body and a bit more for battery grip, sling etc.

I'm used to the D500 and Nikon 200-500 which with sling etc came in at around 3.5kg.

The weight is mostly behind the mid point on the lens and as reviewers have noted this makes it feel lighter than it is. It definitely needs a grip though.

The bulk is something else, and I'm fiddling with various options to carry it accessibly in the car and sling it while walking.

Some further observations ...

It sure is crisp and renders plumage very nicely with care (see the shot below).

AF is rapid and sticky and looks more discerning than that with the 100-400 & 1.4 TC - except I had trouble at infinity. See https://www.talkemount.com/threads/a9-focus-fails.19467/post-164909

The soft lens 'cap' is disappointing. It's not designed to be used with the sun hood in place; it's just designed to go on a reversed sun hood. So if I'm just walking to another site and need to keep sand or spray off or whatever, the sun hood has to be fiddled with or the lens cap forced a bit on the in-place hood.

I'm not a fan of the 3 bracket focusing range option. How many of us can accurately judge what's 7m (FE400) or 10m (on the 200-600mm) away? I was running it on full for this first shoot and need to learn more about this I think.

560mm on this, with the 1.4 TC and the A9, captures enough detail to allow significantly more cropping than the 100-400 & 1.4 TC. It also perhaps rather oddly feels like it has more reach at that length than the 100-400 & 1.4.

It comes with a hard case with cut-outs for filters and the two TCs, and that's a neat idea. What would improve it is a cut-out to allow a body to be left on.

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Little Pied Cormorant

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Ziggy99

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Build quality

Roger Cicala of Lensrentals.com was pretty caustic about the FE 70-200 2.8.

He has done a tear down of the latest Canon 400 2.8 along with the Sony 400 2.8. His conclusion:

I’ll call this one a draw, and a draw is a win for Sony. Canon has been doing this for a long, long time; this is, I think their 8th generation of 400mm f/2.8 lens. It’s Sony’s first and to have made a product equal to the gold standard of engineering is an amazing feat.

https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2019/01/the-great-400mm-teardown-comparison-part-ii-the-sony-400mm-f2-8-g/
 

Ziggy99

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Another sample: the gift of life

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I used AF Small Spot to get the heads of birds in the reeds and it did very well, better than the 100-400 & 1.4 TC in locking and sticking.
I also tried AF Zone and that also did very well staying on the head of the adult Dusky Moorhen with lots of distractions. The A9 software is clearly doing what you want.
 

Ziggy99

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Some idea of size ...

The lens is attached to the body along with a 1.4 TC.
From the body tripod socket to the end of the lens is 51cm.
For comparison is the FE 100-400 (without TC).

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Richard Crowe

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I would guess that a photographer might do a bit better using an APSC camera (1.5x factor) with the 400mm f/2.8 lens rather than using the 1.4x teleconverter on a full frame camera.
I can't base his on experience with the Sony line of cameras but, when I shot Canon, this is how it turned out...
Of course if you use one of the recent Sony "R" models, A7Riii or A7Riv, the massive resolution should allow you to either: 1. crop the image significantly and or 2. shoot in crop mode...
OTOH: a 1.4x TC plus the APSC format would result in a 840mm f/4.0 equivalent! WOW!
 

Ziggy99

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I think it's likely that the lens was designed to work with the two TCs.

You can see some shots here - https://www.flickr.com/photos/154088944@N03/albums/72157702233462745
Pretty speccy - even the 2x.

I wouldn't consider a crop sensor body with it. There's the matter of balance but more importantly why take a lens that gathers a huge amount of data in terms of light and resolution and throttle that with a sensor 40% the size of full frame?

Nor would I shoot in crop mode. BIF cropping in post is normal anyway, plus max FoV helps with initial framing.

What Alex Phan has demonstrated is how good CIZ can be with these primes, if extra reach is needed.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/sony-clear-image-zoom-the-most-amazing-shooting-mode-you-never-heard
 

Ziggy99

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Hmm, I'm learning to do manual exposure, now that f4 is on offer. All the other lenses started at f6.3 or f8 - so they became the default.
These guys proved ideal test subjects - Rainbow Lorikeets having a play wrestle.

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Ziggy99

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First shots with the 2x TC.
Focus acquisition in non-Spot modes is plenty fast.

Royal Spoonbill. This was taken slower than normal through error so may not be as sharp as it could be.

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Grey Teals and Shelduck

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Ziggy99

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First shots with the FE400 mounted on an A7R III. There was a high rate of soft ones but I still have the learner plates on.
Black Swans in the morning mist
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Australasian Grebe
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Pacific Black Duck
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Ziggy99

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Yes, lol. Thanks. Ironically I'm seeing more shots like this - silhouetted, back lit or misty - just as the resolution of my gear increases!

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Ziggy99

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I'm continuing to explore the 7R3 along with this lens for bird shooting and I'm pleasantly surprised by the AF performance. For BiF it's not up to A9 standard but is by no means shabby. I've had it capturing swallows on the wing at some distance away.
This was a gift at closer range; there's almost no cropping here.

Black Swans run on the water in order to get airborne.
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Ziggy99

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The lens with the 2x TC on the A9.

Magpie Geese - habitat loss in the SE of the country drastically reduced their numbers. Drought elsewhere has driven them back in large flocks.

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Ziggy99

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Hmm ... not ready to draw a conclusion about the ratio of tack sharp to acceptable but will say this:
My impression is that it performed better getting focus on bird heads through the reeds, using Small Spot AF. Maybe as a result of getting more light.
Like the A9 & 100-400 & 1.4 TC it has done a flat-out failure to lock on a small bird in mid-ground. This was on the 7RIII. This seems to be a Sony 'feature'.
AF is quicker but I wouldn't say it's in a different league (both with 1.4 TCs) and of course that means more keepers.
 

Ziggy99

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Some shots from a one-day pelagic cruise.
The light was grey, I got wet and the rig got a splashing.
This was with the 1.4 TC fitted. 560mm was sometimes too long but generally a good compromise. The wind pushed the lens around a bit but it was OK handholding and clambering around the boat.
Looking at these I think stopping down one would have helped and maybe going one click faster. They're f5.6 and 1/3000s.
Note that none of these are cropped.
They're all Shy Albatross, adult or immature. Wingspan is up to 2.5m. This was at the edge of the continental shelf where the ocean birds hang out. Fish scraps were tossed out to attract them.

A9_07139.jpg
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A9_07244.jpg
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Shy Albatross imm feeding.jpg
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A9_07487.jpg
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