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Is the 200-600G the best lens for field sports? I think it might be...

pm-r
Rising Star

394mm394mm900mm (punched in 1.5X)900mm (punched in 1.5X)312mm312mm600mm600mm309mm309mm200mm200mm600mm600mm900mm (punched in 1.5X)900mm (punched in 1.5X)600mm600mm600mm600mmI have both the 400GM and the 600GM and so you may wonder why I would also use the 200-600G so often.  I mean, it's much slower than the 400GM (2 1/3rd stops) and the same focal length as the 600GM but without the eye candy bokeh.  So, why then do I find myself reaching for the 200-600G which costs a fraction of the price?  Because of it's extreme high level of versatility.

When you have used long fast primes for as long as I have, you always bring a second body with a 70-200 on it, so when the action gets close, you can just change cameras and hopefully get what you need.  This action, no matter how well-timed, pulls your eye out of the viewfinder and causes you to lose the fight for a few seconds.  Also, as I'm a manual shooter, it often means that once I get the shorter zoom lens up to my eye, I have to adjust exposure before I begin tracking the action.  All this time away from the viewfinder is dangerous and things can happen in that time.  You can miss pictures.

So, on one hand, even though the bokeh of the 200-600G at 600mm can't touch the 600GM prime, I often get pictures with the zoom that I would have missed in the changeover when using the big primes.  So, like David Byrne asked in the 1980's, "Well, how did I get here?"

Bottom line is that if you cannot miss a picture and you are covering a game by yourself and not as part of a team, the 200-600G can make a lot more sense.  Furthermore, you will probably get a few frames that other shooters using primes will miss because they are either too tight on the action or the picture happened when they were in transition to the shorter zoom lens.  

Case in point...  I shot a soccer game last Sunday afternoon that started at 2pm.  It was a windy day with high clouds so the light was in and out all game. Typically, I keep around 90-100 images from the 60 clock minutes at soccer.  My selects ended up at 193.  So I had almost 50% more select images from using the zoom vs. my primes.  This is significant!

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

DonSmith
Key Contributor

I love this lens Patrick. It is tack sharp as you know throughout the entire zoom range yet light enough to carry in my backpack. I love it for both action and landscape. Matches beautifully with both the Sony 1.4x and 2x! Think of that - a 1200mm lens in a backpack. I've made some amazing landscapes with this combination that was never possible before.

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5 REPLIES 5

I get a ton of e-mails and IM's from people asking me exactly this question.  For me, it comes down to your use-case.  If you are going to be walking 4-8 miles a day shooting, I'd want the 100-400GM because it's so lightweight and small.  But for what I do at games and shooting golf, etc, I will always choose the 200-600G.  1. because it offers 200mm more focal length than the 100-400.  2.  Because it's a sealed lens for both focus and zoom and more impervious to dust getting in to flatten out my images.  3. Because it is so much newer than the 100-400GM that came out in 2017.  I feel like the AF is maybe a smidge quicker than the 100-400 on the 2-6G.  4.  Because I don't have to use a 1.4X TC as it's already at 600mm.  5.  Because when I punch in from 600mm, I get a 900mm field of view on the a1 and I still have a 21mp file to play with.

DonSmith
Key Contributor

I love this lens Patrick. It is tack sharp as you know throughout the entire zoom range yet light enough to carry in my backpack. I love it for both action and landscape. Matches beautifully with both the Sony 1.4x and 2x! Think of that - a 1200mm lens in a backpack. I've made some amazing landscapes with this combination that was never possible before.

agreed on all points 🙂