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Sony announces 500mm f/4 super telephoto

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Sony has officially announced the long awaited 500mm f/4 at Japan's CP+ show, which was shown as a prototype at CES last year, alongside mock ups of the SLT-A77 and SLT-A33. There's no mention of the price in the press release (see below), though some sites are quoting $13,000 / 13,000 Euros.

For those that just can't wait (or afford) the Sony lens, Sigma's 500mm f/4.5 EX DG (not HSM unfortunately) could be a serious alternative at a fraction of the price, just £3,779.95 (Jessops online price).

Press release:

Closer encounters with new 500mm super-telephoto 08 February 2012
Rugged, pro-focused SAL500F40G lens from Sony for A-mount SLT and DSLR cameras

Longest-ever focal length G Lens from Sony
Bright F4.0 aperture for superior light gathering
Nano AR Coating on optical surfaces for flawless still images and HD video
Compatible with SteadyShot INSIDE featured in all α cameras
New SSM drive circuit for quick, accurate autofocus
Rugged dust- and moisture-resistant design: ideal partner for SLT-A77
Enhanced handling and operability

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 sports, wildlife 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.

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 ruggedized 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.

Inside, the advanced optical design of the SAL500F40G includes 11 elements in 10 groups, including three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements. It’s also the first G Lens from Sony to feature advanced new coating process that ensures crisper, clearer images. Exclusive to Sony, the ground-breaking Nano AR Coating process cuts internal reflections by up to 80% compared with previous models. 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.

Razor-sharp autofocus performance makes the SAL500F40G ideal for capturing an athlete’s explosive movements or the unpredictable flutter of wild birds. The high-torque SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) features a new drive circuit, ensures rapid, responsive AF with up to 4x 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 positive, fumble-free operation when you’re shooting under pressure.

Built to order, the SAL500F40G super-telephoto lens from Sony is available in Europe from late March2012.

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