kingfisher sitting on a branch with a fish in its beak

Wildlife With the New FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II

Petar Sabol

Anyone who follows Petar Sabol’s work will know that he holds a soft spot for Kingfishers and he hasn’t tired of photographing them since he first discovered their delights back in 2013. So when he was asked if he would try out the new FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II, he didn’t have to think twice about his choice of test subject.

kingfisher diving into the water

© Petar Sabol | Sony α1 + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II + 2x teleconverter | 1/4000s @ f/5.6, ISO 2500

 

What were your first impressions of the lens?

“It's a zoom lens that offers prime lens performance! The first thing that surprised me most was the weight of the lens and the overall compactness. The difference in weight compared to its predecessor is huge - so much so that I initially thought there was no glass inside! I could quite happily use this day without fatigue, even without the use of a tripod.”

kingfisher flying with a fish in its beak

© Petar Sabol | Sony α1 + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II | 1/10000s @ f/4.0, ISO 2000

 

What did you think about the balance of the product with your camera?

I’ve recently switched to the Alpha 1 and the combination of the body with the new 70-200mm is phenomenal – very well balanced and fits perfectly in the hand. The zoom ring is smooth and responsive, just like the focus ring which works brilliantly when directly adjusting the focus. The switches for focusing, stabilisation modes and the new manual aperture ring are well placed; after just a few minutes I was using them without having to check which one was which, which tells me that a lot of thought has gone into the design of this lens.

kingfisher with its wings spread

© Petar Sabol | Sony α1 + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II + 1.4x teleconverter | 1/6400s @ f/4.0, ISO 800

 

How did you find the AF speed compared to your original 70-200mm GM?

The focusing speed is absolutely amazing! In combination with the Alpha 1 it instantly hits focus, even from the minimum focal length to infinity, or vice versa. Following the Kingfishers as they dive into the water is a great test for any autofocus system, and every time the birds emerged from the water, the AF locked on to the subject immediately.

two images of a kingfisher emerging from the water with its catch

© Petar Sabol | Sony α1 + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II + 1.4x teleconverter | 1/10000s @ f/4.0, ISO 2000

 

We’ve introduced a new stabilisation mode, designed especially for panning shots. How did you find this feature?

I followed the kingfisher when it crashed into the water and emerged with its catch. The stabilisation does a great job, because we must take into account that it is an extremely fast and small bird that jumps out of the water in a split second when fishing and can suddenly change direction. I used the new mode 3 setting and it kept the frame perfectly each time.

Did you use the new lens with a teleconverter, and if so, how did you find the performance?

I was especially impressed with the performance when using teleconverters! I used both my 1.4x and 2x converter and didn't notice any loss of sharpness or contrast at all and the focusing speed was almost the same as without them. With this lens I essentially have 3 lenses in one if I use teleconverters. A truly phenomenal piece of equipment that has greatly pushed the boundaries compared to anything offered so far.

kingfisher emerging from the water

© Petar Sabol | Sony α1 + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II | 1/1250s @ f/2.8, ISO 2500

 

Any final thoughts about the lens?

What I love is that by buying this lens along with the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters, you effectively get 3 great zoom lenses with G Master performance as good as a prime.

This is the best 70-200mm f/2.8 lens I’ve ever used and I honestly didn’t expect so many improvements across the board."

Featured products

Petar Sabol

Petar Sabol | Croatia

"I always try to make my photos look better, no matter how long it takes and how much effort it requires"

Related stories

Sign up to get your α Universe newsletter

Congratulations! You've successfully subscribed to the α Universe newsletter

Please enter a valid email address

Sorry! Something went wrong

Congratulations! You've successfully subscribed