Sony’s a6000 series has always lacked a really respectable telephoto lens, at least until recently. Although the Sony 55-210mm has existed for years, it’s terrible image quality and questionable autofocus made it more of a just “for fun” lens.
Enter the Sony 70-350mm F4.5-6.3. Released a few years ago in 2019, this lens has largely satisfied Sony APS-C users’ desire for a strong telephoto zoom.
So, is this the best telephoto lens for Sony a6000 series cameras? Let’s talk about it.
Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?
- Consistent and great sharpness
- Autofocus is reliable & fast
- Well built and aesthetically pleasing
- An overall incredible telephoto zoom lens
Size & Weight: very large.
First off, I would like to note that the Sony 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 is certainly not small. Weighing 22oz (625g), it feels a bit front-heavy on my Sony a6000. In addition to the weight, it’s also super long, measuring a whole 5.59 inches (142mm) which then extends even more when zooming.
So yeah, it can certainly feel as if it is way too big for the tiny bodies from the Sony a6000 line, but for lenses that provide this kind of versatility without sacrificing image quality, the large size is to be expected. I’m not sure I’d ever want to take a lens this large to travel with, but for any shoots where a very wide focal range is needed, it’s hard to beat.
Build Quality: excellent G-series quality.
Contributing to the hefty weight is the build quality of the Sony 70-350mm F4.5-6.3. Made from a combination of high-quality polycarbonate and metal, this lens just feels exceptional in the hand. Both of the rings (zoom & focus) are very large and ribbed/textured and feel great to use.
Personally, I’ve always loved the aesthetic of the G lenses, and this one is no exception. The white lettering and branding pops against the sleek black surface (plus that beautiful big iconic “G”). Sony states the lens is partially sealed against dust and splashes, which I’d imagine would do well when combined with the newer weather-sealed bodies in the Sony a6000 lineup. Overall the lens feels great to use, even if it is pretty heavy and long when attached to a small APS-C body. I also really like the physical switches and buttons, which we’ll expand on later in the review.
Image Quality: overall excellent.
On top of the exceptional build quality, the Sony 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 also delivers great results in terms of image quality. Wide open at 70mm/F4.5, sharpness is consistent and strong edge-to-edge. Stopping down doesn’t really even matter as the frame looks so good even wide open.
Zooming in a bit more to 210mm (F5.6), sharpness does drop a little bit, but it’s honestly hardly noticeable unless you’re really pixel peeping. Stopping down to just F8 delivers results that are just as good as 70mm.
Zooming in all the way to the extreme telephoto side of the focal range, 350mm (F6.3), we still see pretty good results. Center sharpness is still good while corner sharpness falls off ever so slightly. Either way it still looks excellent, and stopping down to F8 allows it to match the image quality of the wider focal lengths. Previously I had a bit of a stigma against super telephoto zooms, having only ever used lenses such as the extremely lackluster Sony 55-210mm 4.5-6.3. So yeah, overall I’m just extremely impressed with the image quality on the Sony 70-350mm F4.5-6.3.
Bokeh: rich and creamy.
As one would expect at such a tight focal length, bokeh and subject separation look fabulous. At the farther end of the focal range, the Sony 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 renders rich, creamy bokeh that’ll make your subject pop.
It should be noted, also, that this lens does have a shockingly close focus distance when zoomed in, allowing for some decent macro photography.
Optical Quirks & Flaws
Usually, most lenses have at least some sort of optical flaw to talk about, but the Sony 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 is largely free of pretty much anything. Flaring is extremely well controlled as is chromatic aberrations. Vignetting and distortion are minor and are easily fixed either with in camera JPEG processing or through a raw processor such as Lightroom.
Autofocus & Other Features
The autofocus on the Sony 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 is excellent. It’s blazing fast, reliable, and nearly dead silent (good for video). With eye AF, portraits are a breeze, and I imagine it would be even better on newer bodies with upgraded autofocusing systems (not that the Sony a6000 is bad in that regard). Optical image stabilization also works very well as we’ve seen on pretty much every Sony lens.
Another thing I like about this lens is all the physical buttons and switches. There’s switches for autofocus/manual focus and optical image stabilization like you’d expect. However, there’s an additional circular button that can be assigned to pretty much anything (eye AF perhaps?).
My Final Thoughts
Oftentimes I try to offer alternatives at the end of an article, but I don’t really think anything can compare to this lens. Perhaps one of Sony’s full frame offers may be slightly better, but likely at a much higher cost.
Overall, I’m simply very impressed. The Sony 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 combines great and consistent sharpness, exceptional G-series build quality, and blazing fast autofocus all wrapped up in an incredibly versatile zoom range. In fact, I think it’s the best telephoto lens for Sony a6000 series cameras. So, if you’re interested in checking it out yourself, I’ll drop purchase links below. Thanks for reading!
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