Review of the Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS

Review of the Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS

A 300mm lens with an aperture of f/2.8 is a wonderful lens. But it’s often large and heavy, or so it used to be. Although the diameter of the lens is unchanged, Sony managed to keep the weight within acceptable limits. It makes the FE 300mm GM OSS a great tool to work with.

When I received the Sony a9 Mark III for a review, it came with the FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens. Its large aperture makes it possible to collect a lot of light, enabling fast shutter speeds in low-light situations. It also provides a shallow depth of field, which is perfect for portraits and other subjects that needs to be separated from the background.

The Sony FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS is great. Here it is fitted onto a Sony A9 Mark III.

On most occasions, such a lens is large and heavy. You would not bring it along on a hike that easy. Especially the weight is something to consider while hiking, and when you’re shooting with this lens.

Sony has managed to reduce the weight of this lens significantly, making it nearly as heavy (or light) as a 70-200mm lens. It’s only 1.74 kilograms with dimensions of 12.4 x 26.5 centimeters. It offers portability, which makes this lens quite attractive.

The lens is perfect for a wide range of sports. Sometimes, it’s a bit on the short side, but nothing a small crop can’t fix. If needed, a 1.4x or 2.0x extender can be fitted, offering a nice 420mm f/4 or a 600mm f/5.6. The only downside is perhaps the lack of zoom capability, which can be an issue if the subject is too close.

The lens hood is large, as expected. If offers a welcome protection for the large front lens element.

The closest focus distance is two meters, offering a 0.16x magnification. That’s not a lot, but an extension tube can be used if needed. If the minimum focus distance is not needed, the focus limiter enables you to reduce the focus range from six meters to infinity.

The focus limiter can be helpful for fast autofocus. But I noticed how fast this lens is able to focus, even without the limiter. With an f/2.8 aperture, it was able to focus accurately in the blink of an eye.

How It Looks

At first glance, the FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS looks like every other 300mm f/2.8 lens. There is a large front lens with a huge lens hood. The lens cap is replaced with a soft cap that is kept in place with Velcro.

On the other end of the lens, the regular selection of switches can be found. There is the AF/MF switch, a full-time DMF switch, and the aforementioned focus limiter. The image stabilization has its own on-and-off switch. You can also choose between three stabilization modes: normal mode, panning mode, and automatic mode.

The switches offer the necessary functionality you would expect from such a lens.

The lens also offers a couple of lens buttons that can be programmed to your liking. However, it also features a function ring that allows for a couple of programmable functions, some of which are limited to certain camera models like the Sony a9 Mark III.

There are a couple of lens buttons and a function ring. Both are programmable with a range of different functions.

The lens has a reasonably small sized lens collar. It’s removable, of course, but it is also a way to carry the lens around. An extra lens plate may offer some extra grip because it's not that long. An Arca-Swiss connection would have been nice. The lens has the ability to use 40.5 mm filters in a special holder.

The lens collar can't be removed, but the foot itself can. It's fitted with a RRS lens plate for the necessary Arca Swiss connection. 

For filters a 40,5 mm filterholder is available.

Using the FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS

Using the FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS is amazing. Its weight makes it easy to handle, and it doesn’t pose any problems for handheld shooting. The lens is well-balanced, and the focus ring is wide and easy to use. The function ring is located right in front of the focus ring. It can only be used as a switch, moving up or down to activate the programmed function.

The balance is good, it's weight acceptable, and the location of the buttons is well designed.

The lens buttons have a slight offset. These are not exactly at the top and side of the lens (0 degrees and 90 degrees). This makes it much easier to reach while holding the lens. This is a well-thought-through detail.

Image Quality

The image quality is good, just as to be expected. The color rendering is great, as far as I can tell. There is slight vignetting at f/2.8, but it’s nothing to worry about. Especially because most subjects you capture with this lens won’t reach the corners of the frame. The remaining light fall off will be removed adequately with the in-camera lens correction.

I didn't do extensive image quality testing, but it renders a lot of detail and nice colours. The image is straight from the camera.

The eleven lamellae offer a round aperture, resulting in a nice-looking bokeh. There is some cat-eye appearance in the corners. At f/5.6, the cat eyes are gone, but the rings are no longer perfectly smooth. I can’t detect any union ring effects.

The bokeh rings look great. There is some cat-eye at the corners.

As mentioned, the focus speed is amazing. It can keep up even with the amazing 120 frames per second speed of the Sony A9 Mark III. It also features power focus with the function ring, which is perfect for video. It offers a smooth and controllable change of focus.

My Conclusion

The FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS can be recommended. I love how it handles and the switches and buttons are in the right place. The weight and size invite you to take the lens with you.

The FE 300mm f/2.8 GM OSS with the Sony A9 Mark III. These are made for each other. 

However, the focal length may be an issue. It’s not long enough for birds and wildlife, and it may be too long for some sports. The former can be solved with one of the two available extenders, the latter would need a zoom to fix it.

I love the bokeh of this lens. There is a lovely transformation from focus to out of focus. Its autofocus is swift and accurate. Are there any downsides? Perhaps the price, but then again, I think it’s worth it.

What I Liked

  • Compact design
  • Weight
  • Slight offset for the lens buttons
  • Easy to operate control ring
  • Bokeh

What Can Be Improved

  • Lens foot can be a bit longer with Arca-Swiss
  • Strap connectors
Nando Harmsen's picture

Nando Harmsen is a Dutch photographer that is specialized in wedding and landscape photography. With his roots in the analog photo age he gained an extensive knowledge about photography techniques and equipment, and shares this through his personal blog and many workshops.

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Fine review. But time has moved on and today a 100-300mm f2.8 replaces the 300mm f2.8 and addresses the severe shortcoming of being too long for many activities. While current state of the art lenses of 100-300mm f2.8 address that failure and shortcoming with a far more versatile lens.
300mm f2.8 is so 20th century.

100-300 is undeniably much more versatile. However, cost could be a factor. $6000 vs $9500. And, weight: 3 lbs vs 6 lbs.

I've reviewed the Canon RF 100-300mm lens as well (find the review somewhere here on Fstoppers) and it's more versatile as you mentioned. But is larger and heavier, but more important, extremely expensive.

I think I might be the only person that read this review to 1/see more pictures of the dog and 2/to see if there were any of the dog using the camera.

That works for me
Thanks :)

It's like a longer, lighter, more expensive Fuji 200mm f2 without a 1.4x teleconverter.