Hands On With Sony's $13,000 600mm f/4 Telephoto Beast

If you’re wondering whether to treat yourself to Sony’s new 600mm f/4 GM lens, you probably want to check out this hands-on video from Jared Polin. If a $13,000 lens isn’t for you, you might simply want to see how much of a difference the autofocus tracking on the Sony a9 can make when shooting sports.

As Polin is keen to point out, this is a high-end, specialist piece of glass reserved for those who make a living from shooting professional sports and perhaps people with far too much money who like taking pictures of birds. How much difference does it make to have a little over an extra stop compared to the f/6.3 offered by the long end of Sony’s other recently announced telephoto behemoth, the 200-600mm? Polin’s keen to point out the subtle difference in subject/background separation, but for me, image quality also becomes a factor, especially when shooting under floodlights. Those stops can make a noticeable difference in the amount of noise introduced into images when shooting at high ISOs.

Another thing that stands out is how impressed Polin is by the a9, both by its autofocus performance and the fact that it churns out 20 frames per second. Notably, this praise is coming from a seasoned Nikon D5 shooter.

If you’re interested in seeing how professional photographers work when covering large sporting events, you may want to check out this short video which goes behind the scenes with one of Getty Images’ most experienced shooters, chief photographer Ryan Pierse.

If you're planning to splash out and pick up the 600mm f/4 GM, be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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michaeljin's picture

I'd make a joke about selling a kidney, but I'm not sure that would cover the price of this lens... Maybe part of a liver?

Guy Incognito's picture

Might have to turn a few tricks, as well.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I'm planning on renting one for some horse racing at Del Mar. I just want to experience this thing just once.

romain VERNEDE's picture

Do you mean a high end lens delivers high end results?

Rodrigo Ortiz's picture

Who would have thought?

Rayann Elzein's picture

What on earth is that for a pejorative comment? "specialist piece of glass reserved for those who make a living from shooting professional sports and perhaps people with far too much money who like taking pictures of birds." Have you ever tried to shoot birds? Aren't there professional photographers who shoot birds with this? Why do you consider shooting birds just like a hobby for people with too much money? Pffff...

Rk K's picture

Bird photography, even more so than other types of photography, is largely a hobby, with few professionals. And that's not a bad thing.

Alex Herbert's picture

Yeah, most news agencies, fashion magazines and fine art collectors aren't that into photos of birds...

Rayann Elzein's picture

Oh yeah, because most covers of Cosmo are shot with a 600mm lens :-)

As much as I can imagine that there are less professional photographers that make a living from wildlife than from sports, stating that the lens is "reserved for rich people whose hobby is to shoot birds" is just pejorative and offensive.

Alex Herbert's picture

Actually they are... in massive cavernous studios. Something about the models not wanting to be able to see, or smell the photographer.

Rayann Elzein's picture

I just read the article. Put a thumb down and closed the video after 5 seconds. I have no idea why people feel the need to talk like that on Youtube. Is it to be "cool"? I must be an old fart haha!

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

I think you're right. haha! :P

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Let me think of buying this lens.................
No, I won't.
But seriously, this is a great lens for a very small group of rich amateur and a pros.