Sharpness battles – FE 70-200 GM f/2.8 vs my A-mount lenses

My friend, Thao Le who has just bought the new FE 70-200 GM, allowed me to borrow his beloved lens so I could make a quick review on his lens. He hoped that it was worth the price he payed for it.

For me, a street photographer, I do mostly street photography and street portraits, so the most important characteristic of a lens that I care of is center sharpness and then the AF speed. So in this article I will compare the FE 70-200 GM with my a-mount lenses, to see how sharp the lens is. And is the 70-200 GM can be a replacement for all of your long-end primes if you do not care about f/1.8 and f/1.4? Let see the samples and then make you own decision.

My a-mount lenses joined in this battle are:

  • Zeiss 24-70 f/2.8 SSM I
  • Minolta 100mm f/2.8
  • 70-200 G f/2.8 SSM I
  • Zeiss 135mm f/1.8

The camera I used for this battle is Sony A7ii. I sold my A7Rii to buy the A99ii last year so I didn’t have the A7Rii for the testing. However, by shooting some shots with the A99ii will show you that the A7ii is enough for doing the testing.

All photos were taken by using hand held. The LA-EA3 was used to mount the A-mount lenses on the A7ii body.

Day light tests

Clear Shampoo bottle

The first subject is a clear bottle, and I shot at 70mm, 135mm and 200mm from same distance.

At 200mm

200mm
FE70200GM vs SAL70200G1 at 200mm, FE lens is sharper and show more details than the SAL70200

200mm-2
A99ii+SAL70200G1 vs A7ii+FE70200GM, the bigger mpx didn’t help the SAL70200I to produce better image

At 135mm


FE70200GM vs SAL70200 at 135, again the GM is sharper


GM at 137mm f/2.8 vs Zeiss 135mm at f/2.8, the GM is a little bit sharper


At 70mm, the GM still wins the SAL70200

Radio tower

This is a real world test, because subject is faraway, let see how the lenses perform.

200mm


GM is sharper, but you can’t see the different if you don’t zoom in

135mm

At 135mm, the GM still out performs the SAL70200, however, the different is very small.

100mm

At 100mm, the 70200 lenses have nearly the same performance. The GM still better.

70mm

Hardly too see the different between the two lenses at this focal length.

Air conditioner

This comparison will show how the GM out perform the SAL70-200 at 200mm.

The GM is a clear winner, it retains too much details so we can easily read the information on the label. We can still read the info on the SAL70200 photos, however, it’s not as clear as the photo from FE70200.

Portraiture

In this test, I take photos of Thao Le, the owner of the GM lens. All photos are taken from the same distance. Unluckily, the eye auto focus is not working well with the SAL70200, so some test is failed. The security guards do not allow me to take more photos at this place so I cannot reproduce the test.

All photos were taken from the same distance with different focal lengths.

At 200mm, I have nothing to say about the SAL70200, it’s out of focus. For the GM, all the details retained well, you can see the futher of on Thao’s face. It’s so good.

At 135mm, the SAL70200 is still out of focus, the face detection on A7ii isn’t working correctly with A-mout lenses (maybe). The photo from GM is quite sharp.

At 70mm, there is no different between the two lenses. The color rendition is quite different because I use two diffrent A7ii this time, all auto WB, however, the A7ii in combination with the SAL70200 produce warmer photos.

Low light

The subject was about 2m away from me. ISO at 3200.

200mm

No different between the SAL70200 and the GM at 200mm.

135mm

No different between the SAL70200 and the GM at 135mm as well.

I feel that the Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 at f/1.8 is better than the GM in this case.

The Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 at f/2.8 is a little bit better than the GM.

100mm

The SAL70200 and GM have same performance at 100mm.

The minolta 100mm macro show better performance (vs. GM lens).

70mm

The SAL70200 and Zeiss2470 has better performance at 70mm (vs. GM).

Conclusion

In daylight with low ISO setting, the GM out performs the SAL70200 and even the Zeiss 135mm at f/2.8 (I doubt it is because I have to do MF without using a tripod so the Zeiss135mm performance is not as good as I expect).

In low light, the GM lens was not better than my a-mount lenses.

So, if you want a all-in-one portraiture lens, the GM is a great option thought it’s price is quite high. The GM showed its best performance in good lighting condition, in lowlight, it is just on par with my a-mount lenses.

Because I chose my A99ii as the main camera, so the 70200GM is not in my buying list. However, I wish to have the A-mount GM, I will try to buy one of them.

If you’re not a pixel peeper guy, you don’t have to buy the 70200GM, the old A-mount lenses are good enough for the A7 series (even A7Rii). I took a lot photos with A7Rii and a-mount lenses, they are all sharp even zooming at 1:1 ratio. But, if money is not a problem, and you have an A7Rii, the 70200GM is a no brain choice.

All samples are available to download on my onedrive folder.

Happy shooting!

One thought on “Sharpness battles – FE 70-200 GM f/2.8 vs my A-mount lenses

  1. Thanks for this comparison it’s hard to find much comparing e-mount to a-mount. The difference between them isn’t enough for me to feel I’m missing too much performance by sticking with a-mount. You can find a-mount lenses used for much lower prices then e-mount at this point. For example you can find the 70-200 2.8 amount used for around $1000 while the GM is $3000.

    Liked by 1 person

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