Sony's longest-yet pro telephoto lens. Is the 500mm f/4 G another clue that a Sony A950 announcement is imminent?

The Sony 500mm f/4 G lens – or SAL500F40G to give it the full mouthful of aname – is the longest-ever focal length G lens from Sony.

The new lens has a Nano AR Coating on all lens surfaces for improved image quality and a bright f/4.0 aperture. A new SSM (Super Sonic Motor) drive circuit ensures quick and accurate autofocus, while the lens is both dust and moisture resistant.

All that sounds good to us, and it’s great to see Sony continuing to step up its Alpha lens range. But only serious pros are likely to consider purchasing such a lens, perhaps a pointer to a future Sony Alpha A950 launch – further supported by the announcement of a 36.3-megapixel full frame sensor (in the Nikon D800) earlier this month.

Full press release:  

Serious photographers can pull distant subjects closer with a powerful new 500mm (equivalent to 750mm with APS-C camera) super-telephoto lens from Sony.
The SAL500F40G is ideal for wildlife, sports and demanding imaging applications that require extreme magnification with uncompromised optical performance.
The SAL500F40G is the longest fixed focal length G Lens from Sony to date. Whether you’re shooting detail-packed stills or Full HD video, you’ll enjoy frame-filling close-ups with flawless resolution. With a bright F4.0 maximum aperture, its excellent light gathering power allows the use of faster shutter speeds to broaden shooting opportunities.

Inside, the advanced optical design of the SAL500F40G includes 11 elements in 10 groups, including three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements. It’s the first G Lens from Sony to feature an advanced new coating process that ensures crisper, clearer images. Exclusive to Sony, the ground-breaking Nano AR Coating process cuts internal reflections drastically. Resulting images are brilliantly crisp and clear, with dramatically reduced lens flare and ghosting. Flare is reduced still further by the carbon fibre lens hood that’s lined with black velvet fibres to absorb incident light.
The ruggedly-engineered SAL500F40G copes effortlessly with tough photo assignments. Focusing ring and front/rear joints are protected by interlocking seals that shrug off dust and moisture, even when you’re shooting outdoors in driving rain or arid desert conditions. This weather-resistant design makes the SAL500F40G a perfect partner for the SLT-A77 (α77) Translucent Mirror camera that offers serious photographers similarly rugged performance.
Like all other A-mount lenses, the SAL500F40G is compatible with the SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilisation system that’s featured in every α Translucent Mirror and DSLR camera from Sony. Depending on shooting conditions, camera model and settings, you’ll enjoy camera-shake blur compensation that’s equivalent to approximately 4.5 stops (max.) in shutter speed.
In a year that is filled with major sporting events, the razor-sharp autofocus performance of the SAL500F40G makes it ideal for capturing the true essence of athletic emotion as the worlds’ eyes look on. Complemented by α systems that deliver up to 12 frames per second (fps) stills shooting and 50 fps in full HD video mode, wildlife photographers now have the tools to capture and share every nuance of their chosen subject.

The high-torque SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) features a new drive circuit, ensures rapid, responsive AF with significantly faster object tracking than conventional Sony lenses.
Serious enthusiasts will also welcome a strong emphasis on enhanced handling and ergonomics. Four focus hold buttons are spaced around the lens barrel for easy operation in any position. They’re complemented by a two-way DMF (Direct Manual Focus) mode button and focus range switch for slick operation when you’re shooting under pressure.
Built to order, the SAL500F40G super-telephoto lens from Sony is available in the UK from April 2012.

Technical specifications

Key Specifications
500mm F4 G SSM
Min. aperture
No. of aperture blades
9 (Circular aperture)
Max. magnification ratio
Min. focus
4.0 m
Filter diameter
42 mm (Exclusive)
(Diam. X L)
140 x 367.5 mm
Weight (approx.)
3460 g
Teleconverter compatibility
Yes (1.4x: AF and MF Mode, 2x: MF mode)
Dust and moisture resistance