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ReeRay

Sony lens advise

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I've recently purchased a Sony A7r and am now considering lens options. My main interest is FL 35/50mm with 75mm occasionally.

 

The Zeiss "top of the range" selection is out of my budget and I wonder what would you consider a suitable quality lens (or two) within the "more affordable" bracket. Maybe a zoom, maybe primes. I have no idea of Sony lenses and your advices would be most appreciated. 

 

Thanks

 

Ray

 

 

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Can't help directly I'm afraid as I use the smaller format Sony, just graduated from a NEX 6 to an a6500.

 

My experience of Sony lenses is limited to the kit lens and a 55-210 zoom. Both will do a job, and pass QC here, but neither is outstanding. Further, my 55-210 lens was very soft on one side on delivery, but that was sorted under guarantee. I use the kit lens when travelling light, but, for serious shooting, it stays at home. The fixed focal length Sony glass is probably better, but also not cheap.

 

I prefer my collection of heritage manual focus lenses on the crop camera, but whether they would cut the mustard on full frame is debatable. 

 

 

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The 35mm f2.8 Sony is very good (I have one), but pricey at around GBP 635. The Samyang 35mm is 400 less.

The Sony FE 50mm F1.8 is not as sharp as the 55mm, but at GBP 230 vs 750 it's a steal.

 

wim

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The Sony E 35mm f/1.8 with OSS is a very good lens. I use one on my Sony NEX-6 and am very pleased with the results. Guess you would have to use APS-C mode (?) with the a7, though, which is probably not what you're after. I found a used one of these lenses in pristine condition for a very good price ($350 Canadian). There seem to be quite a few slightly used ones out there. People probably buy them and then end up using a zoom most of the time.

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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Thanks all. That gives me something to work on. Appreciated

 

Ray

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Prices near you may be lower than UK prices.

How are prices in BKK nowadays? I seem to remember a huge import tariff on some luxury goods.

 

wim

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In most respects Thailand seems about the same as the UK. However, Hong Kong is very close by and that's a different story. Even with import duties (which are not always applied) their items are cheaper. 

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Just to add my part. If you have a full frame and you want to full use it recommended is to use a full frame lens. I would start with the 50mm 1.8 FE. 

 

If really an APS C lens to shoot in APS C mode then i would go for the Sigma 1.4 E-mount 30mm. This lens create outstanding sharpness that no Sony lens is able to under 800 dollars. This Sigma lens has also fast autofocus. It costs around 350 dollars new. Check out the reviews for it on the Internet. 

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And then today  at last came this 24-105mm.

$1299.

 

wim

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14 minutes ago, wiskerke said:

And then today  at last came this 24-105mm.

$1299.

 

wim

 

That'll do me fine. All the lenses in one. 

 

Thanks for the heads up. 

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14 hours ago, wiskerke said:

And then today  at last came this 24-105mm.

$1299.

 

wim

 

Wim, I'm a long time admirer of your work and suspected you were shooting a Sony A7r.  I saw where the Sony also announced today the A7r MkIII with 5 ½ stop IBIS.  I am finding, sadly, that I need IBIS.  I just can't hold the camera as still as I used to as I advance in years.

 

I am testing next week an Olympus OMD E-M1 MkII with their new weather sealed 24-200mm (35mm equiv) lens because it offers a whopping (advertised) 6 ½ stop IBIS.  I know micro 4/3's sensor size is markedly different from the 42mp Sony FF sensor, and there is a huge price difference, but I would like to hear your thoughts on the Sony IBIS.  I'm getting tired of being limited to 1/500th sec to guarantee a sharp image.  It is very limiting.

 

I guess this is a little off topic.  I wish we had direct messaging here.  Your thoughts?  

 

Rick

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19 hours ago, wiskerke said:

And then today  at last came this 24-105mm.

$1299.

 

wim

 

A very useful zoom range. I have the Canon equivalent, and, while not perfect (distortion and CA), it is reliably sharp across the frame. Unfortunately the Zeiss badged equivalent for Sony crop frame cameras gets very mixed reviews, and that has deterred me from buying.  I would therefore be reluctant to buy this latest offering without reading what the pundits have to say. 

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26 minutes ago, Bryan said:

 

A very useful zoom range. I have the Canon equivalent, and, while not perfect (distortion and CA), it is reliably sharp across the frame. Unfortunately the Zeiss badged equivalent for Sony crop frame cameras gets very mixed reviews, and that has deterred me from buying.  I would therefore be reluctant to buy this latest offering without reading what the pundits have to say. 

 

Without a doubt I'll be waiting the real life reviews before I make a move. In between, and not yet having any native lenses, I'm having a lot of mixed success with my M mount lenses on the A7r. The Zeiss lenses display an incredible amount of colour shading whereas the Leica lenses, especially the 50mm Summicron and 35mm Summilux FLE are great. Voigtlander lenses are so/so. Sharp in the center, rubbish in the corners. The Zeiss "wides" problem is well documented but I really didn't think it was that bad. Adobe's Flat Field or Cornerfix cures it but so fiddly to set up.   

 

As such, I'm really hoping this new zoom comes good. 

Edited by ReeRay

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1 hour ago, Bryan said:

 

A very useful zoom range. I have the Canon equivalent, and, while not perfect (distortion and CA), it is reliably sharp across the frame. Unfortunately the Zeiss badged equivalent for Sony crop frame cameras gets very mixed reviews, and that has deterred me from buying.  I would therefore be reluctant to buy this latest offering without reading what the pundits have to say. 

 

My thoughts entirely.

 

wim

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6 hours ago, Rick Lewis said:

 

Wim, I'm a long time admirer of your work and suspected you were shooting a Sony A7r.  I saw where the Sony also announced today the A7r MkIII with 5 ½ stop IBIS.  I am finding, sadly, that I need IBIS.  I just can't hold the camera as still as I used to as I advance in years.

 

I am testing next week an Olympus OMD E-M1 MkII with their new weather sealed 24-200mm (35mm equiv) lens because it offers a whopping (advertised) 6 ½ stop IBIS.  I know micro 4/3's sensor size is markedly different from the 42mp Sony FF sensor, and there is a huge price difference, but I would like to hear your thoughts on the Sony IBIS.  I'm getting tired of being limited to 1/500th sec to guarantee a sharp image.  It is very limiting.

 

I guess this is a little off topic.  I wish we had direct messaging here.  Your thoughts?  

 

Rick

 

Thank you for those kind words!

I have only been using the Sony since January this year and I'm definitely not yet up to speed like with my Canons.

Only a tiny part of my collection has yet been shot with the A7R II.

What you see in my images I suspect is the other way around: because of the look of my images I have changed to Sony. Mostly because I hope it's easier to get the quality and the look than with the Canon 1Ds-s. Those Canons are quite old by now. Ever since the Nikon D800 came out it has been clear that Canon had a serious problem with dynamic range and especially with the shadows. Well, they all had, but now it had been shown it was fixable. About 4 or 5 Canon generations further on, they are still behind that 2012 camera in that respect.

Honestly when I bought the Sony I had expected to be using all or most of my Canon glass on the Sony and wait until Canon would catch up.

However the quality of some of the Sony/Zeiss lenses is so good, that within a couple of days I have bought some more. I now only use my Canon 17mm TS on the Sony. Like others I have tried some legacy lenses like my Zuikos, which benefit from the IBIS. And yes the quality of some is not all that bad. However most of my Canons are twice as good and the Zonys now easily top those. So yes it's certainly doable with legacy lenses, but the real advantage comes with some of those native lenses. Which all seriously drive up the price. Like it always was when changing systems. It was the same with going over to Canon from Olympus: it is nice to be able to fall back on drawers full of legacy stuff, but before you know it you're shooting all native glass in the every day practice. And after a while very little or no third party lenses too.

 

Now will IBIS help with getting sharper images? That depends on your subjects and on your usual technique. In general there are two forces working against you here: smaller and lighter cameras will show more shake. Simple physics that: mass (and size) is stable. The other one is that the massive resolution of the A7R II reveals the slightest tremble and the slightest focus error. The Olympus will probably have the edge there.

To test the Sony, I would rent one including a battery grip.

 

Even with your current gear you could  consider using higher ISO speeds. Wider angles reduce (the effects of) shake as well. You would have to be a lot closer of course.

You could consider shifting towards using a monopod or a tripod more. Thereby probably shifting subjects as well.

The previous A7R had serious shutter shake problems. However the cure was very easy: just screw a big piece of copper underneath and most of the problems went away.

So you could think of making your camera more heavy.

Also making it longer in one direction will help: screw in a monopod without extending it works wonders. Sticking the end in your belt is effectve too. (My current favorite.)

A good small ball head makes it easier to use of course. (My current favorite.) If you want to add weight to this contraption, do so at the lowest point. (Think video stabilizer.)

Taking up target shooting (with a good instructor) helps a lot too. ;-)

 

Try to set up one or two repeatable test shoots. Maybe from inside an open window (=no wind) looking at a target with text at a short distance. Maybe even tack up a test target somewhere.

The same inside at your normal shooting distance with a repeatable constant light source. Again use the same target for all tests. Text combined with one or more Siemens stars works best.

Repeatability is key. That will tell you all you need to know.
 

wim

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14 hours ago, wiskerke said:

 

Thank you for those kind words!

I have only been using the Sony since January this year and I'm definitely not yet up to speed like with my Canons.

Only a tiny part of my collection has yet been shot with the A7R II.

What you see in my images I suspect is the other way around: because of the look of my images I have changed to Sony. Mostly because I hope it's easier to get the quality and the look than with the Canon 1Ds-s. Those Canons are quite old by now. Ever since the Nikon D800 came out it has been clear that Canon had a serious problem with dynamic range and especially with the shadows. Well, they all had, but now it had been shown it was fixable. About 4 or 5 Canon generations further on, they are still behind that 2012 camera in that respect.

Honestly when I bought the Sony I had expected to be using all or most of my Canon glass on the Sony and wait until Canon would catch up.

However the quality of some of the Sony/Zeiss lenses is so good, that within a couple of days I have bought some more. I now only use my Canon 17mm TS on the Sony. Like others I have tried some legacy lenses like my Zuikos, which benefit from the IBIS. And yes the quality of some is not all that bad. However most of my Canons are twice as good and the Zonys now easily top those. So yes it's certainly doable with legacy lenses, but the real advantage comes with some of those native lenses. Which all seriously drive up the price. Like it always was when changing systems. It was the same with going over to Canon from Olympus: it is nice to be able to fall back on drawers full of legacy stuff, but before you know it you're shooting all native glass in the every day practice. And after a while very little or no third party lenses too.

 

Now will IBIS help with getting sharper images? That depends on your subjects and on your usual technique. In general there are two forces working against you here: smaller and lighter cameras will show more shake. Simple physics that: mass (and size) is stable. The other one is that the massive resolution of the A7R II reveals the slightest tremble and the slightest focus error. The Olympus will probably have the edge there.

To test the Sony, I would rent one including a battery grip.

 

Even with your current gear you could  consider using higher ISO speeds. Wider angles reduce (the effects of) shake as well. You would have to be a lot closer of course.

You could consider shifting towards using a monopod or a tripod more. Thereby probably shifting subjects as well.

The previous A7R had serious shutter shake problems. However the cure was very easy: just screw a big piece of copper underneath and most of the problems went away.

So you could think of making your camera more heavy.

Also making it longer in one direction will help: screw in a monopod without extending it works wonders. Sticking the end in your belt is effectve too. (My current favorite.)

A good small ball head makes it easier to use of course. (My current favorite.) If you want to add weight to this contraption, do so at the lowest point. (Think video stabilizer.)

Taking up target shooting (with a good instructor) helps a lot too. ;-)

 

Try to set up one or two repeatable test shoots. Maybe from inside an open window (=no wind) looking at a target with text at a short distance. Maybe even tack up a test target somewhere.

The same inside at your normal shooting distance with a repeatable constant light source. Again use the same target for all tests. Text combined with one or more Siemens stars works best.

Repeatability is key. That will tell you all you need to know.
 

wim

 

Thank you so much, Wim.  I did put a grip on my Nikon D500 and have a very hefty 17-55mm f2.8G Nikkor lens on it.  I noticed right away I was able to keep it much more stable than my Fuji gear.  I carry the Fuji X-E2 & kit lens almost everywhere I go but can only achieve maybe a 50% hit rate with it, as you said "mass (and size) is stable".  I'm intrigued by the Olympus but not convinced that small of a sensor will benefit me in the long run, as it pertains to passing QC here, regarding shadow noise.  We'll see.  I will have it four days next week and even have a night shoot set up at a local carnival.  

 

My thoughts on the Sony was that it would obviously produce cleaner files at higher ISO values which can lead to higher shutter speeds at that given value.  I like to travel as light as I can now so there will always be a trade off somewhere.

 

Lastly, I just read a quick initial impressions report from a professional that was invited to the Sony announcement in NY.  He (not someone paid by Sony BTW) said the IBIS was noticeably better than on the A7r MkII.  So much so he stated for that alone it was worth upgrading.  I think he was probably thinking video when making that statement but it would also translate well for stills.

 

Thanks again, and happy shooting.  :-)  

 

Rick

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2 minutes ago, Rick Lewis said:

My thoughts on the Sony was that it would obviously produce cleaner files at higher ISO values which can lead to higher shutter speeds at that given value.  I like to travel as light as I can now so there will always be a trade off somewhere.

 

Lastly, I just read a quick initial impressions report from a professional that was invited to the Sony announcement in NY.  He (not someone paid by Sony BTW) said the IBIS was noticeably better than on the A7r MkII.  So much so he stated for that alone it was worth upgrading.  I think he was probably thinking video when making that statement but it would also translate well for stills.

 

The MkIII sure looks attractive. Let's wait a bit till the dust settles and like with that 24-105mm judge it by real life results.

One of my dealers here deducts half the rental fee of the sales price if I buy within a month or so. And they become more generous in slower times.

 

Cleaner files at higher ISO is certainly true for me, but as I said: compared to rather old sensors.

Because of the enormous size of the files, it's also easy to just reduce the size a bit and clean them up that way.

 

wim

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Ray, I've been shooting with both the A7ii and the A7Rii for nearly three years and I now have 4 Sony lenses:

FE 28mm f2 prime

FE 50mm f2.8 macro

FE 85mm f1.8 prime

FE 24-240mm zoom

 

My first lens, the 24-240mm, is a good travel zoom but is a bit big and heavy and at f3.5 isn't super fast. It's relative sharp but a bit soft at the edges. The FE 24-105mm might be a more compact choice but at $1298 is $300 more and a bit slower.

 

I know it's wider than the 35mm you like but I mostly shoot with my Sony 28mm prime. It's fast, compact, very sharp and focuses quickly. At US $448 +tax it's a bargain. The A7Rii's in-body IBIS is great so as long as there are street and shop lights I can even shoot handheld at night. I've been so happy with it that I didn't bother to buy another lens for nearly two years.

 

Last year I bought the FE 90mm f/2.8 macro and shot extensively with it for a couple weeks. It was fast and reasonably sharp with good bokeh but it was $1100. On top of that it was bulky and heavy so when it malfunctioned after just a couple weeks I returned it.

 

I just bought the 50mm f2.8 macro and the 85mm f1.8 primes but haven't had an opportunity to use them so I can't give an opinion on them yet.

 

EDIT: I agree with Rick Lewis. I tried using my Canon and Minolta lenses on my Sony with the adapters but was never satisfied--bulky, slow focus, etc.

Edited by Lynn Palmer
Additional information noted in text.
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Hi Lynn

 

Thanks for the rundown. I'll take a look at that 28mm. 

 

Ray

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Just updating this. I recently purchased the Tinray close focus adapter for Leica M to Sony and it really is a remarkable piece in that the normal focus distance is literally halved, I.e. 0.7m now becomes 0.35m with a 50mm and the wider lenses can get in as close as 0.25m. There's a helicoid within the unit enabling this. 

 

Highly recommended if thats of interest to anyone. 

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