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Hello Gurus.

 

A couple of years I asked some questions here regarding my first proper camera purchase - the Sony RX100iii

 

I am now considering upping my game to acquire the Sony 7Rii.

 

My doubts are around which lens: zoom or prime?

 

Zoom would be the Sony 24mm-70mm F/4

Fixed would be the Sony 55mm F1/8

 

Does anyone have a take on which lens I should consider?

 

I take mostly street/portrait/still life photographs. 

They are similarly priced.

The zoom would be convenient and give me some scope for control, though "slower" at F/4

The prime would be faster, and wider at F1/8. It would not allow me to get any closer without moving my own body.

 

I am pondering this: if the zoom is slower then I wont be able to take lower light pictures and the shallow depth of field would be much less.

However, with the 42M full frame Sony, would I be able to just crop afterwards to get closer? WOuld the advanced sensor/higher resolution give me some wriggle room in this department?

Is the quality of the 55mm always going to trump (yes, that is still a verb we can use) that of the slower zoom? Is it that obvious? 

 

I am undecided. Please help me, if you can. I am happily set on the camera, but this is costing a lot of money (that I should be spending on our car getting body work done to it) and I am 100% not likely to ever buy another similarly priced lens.

 

Thank you in advance,

 

David .

 

I just realised there is another Sony zoom, the Sony E 16-70mm f/4, which i could consider.

Edited by DJ72
not 24 - 50 but 24 - 70mm
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I can't advise on Sony gear as I am a Nikon user but I can say something about general principles. Also the sensors on the high end NIkons are very similar to those on the high end Sonys as Sony has been manufacturing sensors for Nikon for some time (although the latest backlit sensors by Nikon (D850 and Z series mirrorless are supposedly made by Nikon themselves).

 

Firstly, if you are moving up for the first time to a full frame camera from a point and shoot,   moreover a 42MP camera, then you should only consider using top quality lenses. In general, a standard prime (50-55mm on FF) will be far superior to any consumer level zoom. Certainly the Nikon 50mm F1.8 is an incredible lens for the price and certainly adequate for a high MP camera. If the Sony zoom you mention is not a professional quality zoom, then don't even think about putting it on a 42MP camera. Edge sharpness is the issue here. Consumer zooms will be fine in the centre but will likely exhibit fall off in sharpness towards the edges.

 

Secondly, if you are going to buy a zoom as a general carry-round lens, then get a 24-70 and not a 24-50 and get a good one if buying a high MP camera or again you will be disappointed. 

 

Thirdly, yes a larger sensor allows a lot more space for cropping and this is one of the main reasons I am a total advocate of high MP cameras. That said, good shooting technique becomes critical. Again having a quality lens on board is essential here as edge sharpness becomes far more important if doing heavy cropping. 

 

Fourthly, it is not such a big issue with mirrorless cameras to have really fast lenses for low light shooting as the electronic viewfinder brightens things up a lot. The more critical thing here is the sensor and ability to control noise at high ISOs. Yes you won't have the same shallow depth of field but shooting at the widest aperture on a lens is usually risky as quality generally suffers.

 

Finally, you might want to have a look at the new Nikons before you dive in to Sony FF.  You are looking at a 4 year old camera there and technology is moving on, particularly with mirrorless. The Nikon Z6 with 24-70 f4 could be a better alternative than diving straight into very high MP and the lens is superb even at  widest aperture. The kit price for the Nikon with the 24-70 f4 is very competitive at the moment as Nikon have some excellent deals right now.

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MDM thanks for your elaborate reply. Apologies, it is a 24 -70mm zoom.

 

And this zoom is, I believe, considered a pro level lens.

 

I am interested in your comment (since this is vital): 

Fourthly, it is not such a big issue with mirrorless cameras to have really fast lenses for low light shooting as the electronic viewfinder brightens things up a lot.

 

Apologies again but I dont understand - I presumed a "fast" lens meant you could shoot subjects in low light, so what has the viewfinder got to do with how the lens performs in low light?

 

Thank you again for your reply! 

 

I am still looking at low light & fast vs zoom capability and general convenience. 

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10 minutes ago, DJ72 said:

 

I am interested in your comment (since this is vital): 

Fourthly, it is not such a big issue with mirrorless cameras to have really fast lenses for low light shooting as the electronic viewfinder brightens things up a lot.

 

Apologies again but I dont understand - I presumed a "fast" lens meant you could shoot subjects in low light, so what has the viewfinder got to do with how the lens performs in low light?

 

Thank you again for your reply! 

 

I am still looking at low light & fast vs zoom capability and general convenience. 

 

The viewdinder doesn't have any effect on image quality but a mirrorless camera has an electonic viewfinder which gives a really bright image so it is much easier to see what is ion the viewfinder. An f4 lens with an optical viewfinder on a DSLR can be very dark in low light, whereas an f2.8 is quite a bit brighter so easier to use in low light on a DSLR. So while I would go for the 2.8 over the 4 for a DSLR, it is not necessary for a mirrorless camera. I am talking specifically 24-70 Nikon zooms here. Optically the new f4 is pretty much just as good as Nikons f2.8VR lens so that is really saying something as it is half the price. 

 

Obviously an f1.8 or f1.4 50mm prime will be brighter in a DSLR viewfinder but for mirrorless there is no advantage in terms of viewfinder brightness. If you want really shallow depth of field then a fast prime is going to be better but for general convenience a 24-70 zoom is way better. A wider aperture may be better for AF in low light but I don't really know how much difference it would make. I would definitely go for the zoom if I were you. 

 

Do check out the Nikon before you commit to the Sony though. 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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If you're using a conventional DSLR, then a faster lens gives you a brighter image in the viewfinder as more light is transmitted through the lens - also shallower depth of field means it is easier to focus in low light, if you're focusing manually. As MDM says, electronic viewfinders offer controllable brightness unrelated to the maximum aperture of the lens.

 

Alex

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thanks for the verdict. I think the problem for me is that I dont ever envisage having the $ to buy any other lens so I need to get it right. Im pretty sure with the prime i could crop and get away with that. But then, as you say, the convenience of a zoom is compelling. Thanks. 

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I don't know about Sony but you can get a Nikkor 1.8 50mm prime brand new for £169 and a lot cheaper secondhand so you could add one later. This is actually a big advantage of Nikon over Sony - there is a massive amount  of quality secondhand lenses out there. 

 

You would be really limiting your photography in the long term if you were to just stick with a 50mm as it is not just about cropping, it is also about squeezing scenes into a single image at the wide end and perspective of course. You can do panoramas, both horizontal and vertical (which I often do) but it is not a real substitute for a quality wideangle lens. And a 50-55mm is not great for portraiture - a 70 would be much better as it flattens the perspective which is generally more flattering. 

 

 

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Good point MDM...now im erring on the side of the zoom. Let's face it, I'm not a pro. I love the shallow depth of field on the 55mm and the low light capabilities....but everything else points to the zoom. Im going travelling soon, I suppose thats another reason to go zoom. 

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After many years of swapping around both brands, primes vs zooms, max aperture speeds etc. I settled on an all stabilised Canon L lens line-up of 16-35L f/4 IS, 24-70L f/4 IS (with useful macro function) and the 70-200L f/4 IS. Currently used with a Canon 5D Mark IV. All these lenses are fantastically real life sharp, especially the 16-35 is an amazing lens, super-sharp corner to corner - replaced my much loved, but soft-cornered 16-35L f/2.8 II. Today, with modern lenses there is negligible trade-off going with a zoom instead of a prime, so why not choose convenience?

 

I also used LR to analyse images to see how much use I did of my f/1.4 primes, my f/2.8 zooms etc. and came to the conclusion that I preferred the look of and spent the majority of "time" in f/4 and above territory. Also ISO performance on cameras have progressed to a point where it is almost, for me, a non-issue/consideration.

 

Now, of course, Canon has released and mapped out an amazing looking and amazingly expensive RF line-up...don't have any desire for mirrorless per se, but this new Canon RF mount and thus new lineup is looking sweet (unfortunately) giving me some serious GAS.

 

Also, many look into filter systems and after having spent many $£ and years going through different brand I can whole-heartedly recommend the "Nisi V5 Pro" 100mm system. Very expensive, but worth the premium IMHO - tough and durable, the integrated CPL (Circular Polariser) solution and no cast - an absolute gem of a system and tremendous quality throughout.

Edited by Martin Carlsson
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Thanks Martin, most informative. 

I particularly like your comment about finding yourself in f/4 and above territory. Why is that? It seems that all the lenses you prefer are in some way or other zooms? 

 

And you are quite sure about there being "negligible" trade off? I am thinking about F1/8 v F/4 thats all.

 

Thanks again!

 

David .

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thanks ReeRay, that has impressive reviews. Do you own one? 

 

https://www.camerastuffreview.com/en/tamron-lens-review/review-tamron-28-75mm-f-2-8-di-iii-rxd-model-a036-2

The Sony Vario Tessar 24-70 mm f/4 is slightly smaller and lighter than the Tamron and now costs about the same. It offers slightly more wide-angle range. The Tamron wins in terms of image quality and brightness.

Edited by DJ72
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28 minutes ago, DJ72 said:

thanks ReeRay, that has impressive reviews. Do you own one? 

 

https://www.camerastuffreview.com/en/tamron-lens-review/review-tamron-28-75mm-f-2-8-di-iii-rxd-model-a036-2

The Sony Vario Tessar 24-70 mm f/4 is slightly smaller and lighter than the Tamron and now costs about the same. It offers slightly more wide-angle range. The Tamron wins in terms of image quality and brightness.

No, simply because I already had primes of 28mm, 55mm and 85mm before the Tamron lens was announced.

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19 hours ago, DJ72 said:

Thanks Martin, most informative. 

I particularly like your comment about finding yourself in f/4 and above territory. Why is that? It seems that all the lenses you prefer are in some way or other zooms? 

 

And you are quite sure about there being "negligible" trade off? I am thinking about F1/8 v F/4 thats all.

 

Thanks again!

 

David .

 

Re. "f/4 and beyond". Don't know exactly why, but on a full frame I tend to find the too shallow depth of field just too gimmicky in many cases. Sure it can look great sometimes and has it's place, but personally I think I care less about effect and more about the image as a whole. Also, depending on the situation you might want to have a bit of critical sharpness "cushion" around whatever you intend to lay the focus on, the less controlled environment the more you may need. f/1.2-f/2.8 can be very very shallow and if not places exactly right, especially on high resolution cameras, the image is wasted. I think many, when they are new to the "art", want to distance themselves as much as possible from what they consider to be "amateurish" and try to look as "professional" so tend to overdo/overthink the technical bit instead of the image and perhaps it's message.

 

Re. "neglible trade-off". I was referring to quality/sharpness. Going back in time 5-7 years and zooms couldn't quite match primes in terms of achievable perceived sharpness. In my opinion, and others, that has been pretty much eliminated through lens development, in camera processing and in computer processing. So to ME it doesn't make much sense to set myself up for a lot of lens-swapping, call it lazy, I call it more efficient.

 

This whole thing is assuming that one doesn't NEED the extra stops/lights that a f/1.2-2.8 lens offers. I don't need it, even when I had it available to me I very rarely used it, BUT we're all different, with different needs and taste.

 

Good luck!

Edited by Martin Carlsson
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Hello All

 

Just to let you know, last night I put an order in for the Sony A7Rii, together with the Tamron 28mm-75mm. 

 

Now I'm feeling guilty about all that money spent - but I had no choice!

 

Thanks for the advice about the zoom/prime lens decision.

 

DJ

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When you get the lens, it is a good idea to test sharpness across the field of view at various apertures, focal lengths and even subject distances. There can be significant variation between different copies of a particular lens and you want to make sure you get a good one as the 42 MP will reveal any flaws in any lens. 

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Others have probably already answered this already ,  I am a Canon user,  but  I would use a mid-range  zoom (e.g. 24-70 or 24-105mm),  over a prime.  I only use L-series Canon  Lenses.  the 24-105 is the most useful lens I have and can cope with most situations.  In general, the wider angle you shoot, the softer the edges of the frame tend to get. I have always worked  with a full frame sensor and the best quality Lens I can afford.  In addition,  this type of Lens can cope  with  a large range of  lighting conditions when paired with a camera back which has  a good ISO  range.    I only need  a longer or wider lens when  conditions demand, The 24-105 is my ideal walk around lens,  

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Should have weighed in before. I shoot Fuji xt2 and my most useful lens for stock is my 18-135. I have many great lenses from the Fuji lineup. A couple of fast primes that work for food indoors and products. But when I’m out and about, the zoom is what’s on my camera.

I can pull my car into a parking lot, stand by my car and get a wide-angle and a closeup of a storefront without walking. Very useful on a frigid day. A minute in the cold, and I’m back in my warm car.

I would imagine, depending on what subjects you’ll find yourself wanting to shoot, you’ll probably add a fast prime eventually. But you won’t go wrong starting with a zoom.  I did, and only added the 35 and 56 prime later.  I also have a 50-140 zoom that is faster, and can give separation when I want it. Gorgeous IQ. It’s my second most useful lens. Pricier but when I want wide angle, the other is most useful.

 

I hope you enjoy full-frame. I shot Nikon crop cameras for years then went D800 FF. I didn’t enjoy it and went back to crop with Fuji. Of course, part of the reason was that I enjoyed shooting birds and the crop camera was best for that. 

I know...cropping and all that, but even so, I didn’t feel happy shooting full-frame so why not feel pleasure while doing business. It’s all about what floats your boat.

Betty

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