From the believe-it-only-when-you-see-it world of Sony comes another sign that the wide-ranging former world-bestriding giant really realizes it needs to get serious about lens lines (comma, yay). Four beautiful new full-frame lenses for full-frame Sony E-mount are available for pre-order and thus are, to all appearances, um, real.
The four are the Sony Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm ƒ/1.4 ZA ($1,598); the Sony FE 90mm ƒ/2.8 Macro G OSS ($1,098); the Sony FE 24–240mm ƒ/3.5–6.3 OSS, ($998); and the Sony FE 28mm ƒ/2 ($448), for which eventually there will be two matching wide-angle converters, one for 21mm-e and one a fisheye.
A curious side-note about the 35mm ƒ/1.4 (pictured) is that there seems to be almost a genetic link to an ancient Zeiss C/Y strategy. In 1972 when Zeiss entered into a cooperative agreement to make lenses for Yashica-built, Porsche-Design-designed cameras branded with the old Zeiss model name Contax, its strategy was to mimic Nikon's practice of making a more premium line of faster lenses (then preferred mainly by pros and well-heeled amateurs), and a slow, more compact, more affordable version in the same focal length for those who needed those properties. In the new fast 35mm and the existing ƒ/2.8 35mm lens, that old strategy has been duplicated duplicated.
About the new fast 35mm, let's take a look at a short comparison:
Weight: 601 g (21.2 oz.)
Length: 8.94 cm (3.52")
Filter size*: 67mm
Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG HSM (DSLR)
Weight: 665 g (23.46 oz.)
Length: 9.4 cm (3.7")
Filter size: 67mm
Fujifilm XF 23mm ƒ/1.4 R (mirrorless)
Weight: 301 g (10.6 oz.)
Length: 63mm (2.48")
Filter size: 62mm
New Sony Zeiss Distagon T* FE 35mm ƒ/1.4 ZA (mirrorless)
Weight: 630 g (22.2 oz.)
Length: 112mm (4.1")
Filter size: 72mm
There are lots of reasons to buy a lens, and there are other parameters to look at (close-focusing distance, system considerations, weatherproofing, IS). But doesn't this kinda look like you're sacrificing TTL viewing and still having to buy a lens that's as big, as heavy, and as costly as the biggest, heaviest, and costliest DSLR lenses?
I guess everybody knows my current choice (Fuji), but I hafta say that APS-C and Micro 4/3 mirrorless certainly rationalize well as great compromises of competing factors**. Could be that's just me being a typical gearhead and self-approving my own choices post hoc; can't deny the possibility.
*Indicates approximate size of objective (outermost element)
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Featured Comments from:
Gordon Lewis (partial comment): "...There may be a lot of Sony A7-series owners who bought them less because of their small size than for their relative affordability as compared to other FF cameras. There are photographers for whom nothing matters more than having the highest spec lenses available, regardless of size or cost."
[To see the full text of partial comments, please see the Comments Section. —Ed.]
Patrick Perez: "Duplicated duplicated? I don't know whether to respond 'You can say that again' or 'I see what you did there.'"
Dennis (partial comment): "Personally, I'm very interested in the 28mm ƒ/2 for my A6000. The old Minolta 28mm ƒ/2 was my favorite lens when I was shooting A mount (K-M 7D and Sony A700) and before that, I really enjoyed a rangefinder with a 40mm ƒ/1.8. It's a little bigger than I'd like (I'd love a dedicated APS-C lens like the Samsung 30mm ƒ/2) but the focal length is ideal...."
Ben Shugart: "When Leica can build a 35mm ƒ/1.4 for the full-frame digital M at 320 g and a 56mm front element, what design elements of Sony E-mount cameras necessitate a 35mm ƒ/1.4 at 630 g and a 72mm filter thread? Does AF require that much weight in incremental mechanics?"
Mike adds: A fondness for large size is also a longtime tendency of Zeiss SLR lens designs. There have been many that were at or near the largest size and/or heaviness of their respective classes. Contax shooters were used to this.