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Friday, 06 March 2015


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New lenses (especially Zeiss lenses) are always a good thing. But....when it comes to the Sony A7-series, one is still dealing Sony's wonky 11+7 RAW compression scheme that causes posterization in the shadows and highlights. Read Ming Thein's Sony A7 reviews for a reality check (the A7 II review just went up a few days ago).

Mirrorless is caught in a tough spot. Sure they want to be compact and portable, but everybody only wants the biggest and fastest sensors and apertures. Something's gotta give.

Fuji seems to at least be addressing size along with giving people their f/1.4's and f/1.2's. Their upcoming 35mm f/2 (50mm equivalent) is a perfect example of this. Slower but smaller. Their 18 and 27mm pancakes are nice as well. Hopefully they stay the course.

Although I'm unemployed and watching my pennies, I couldn't help but place an order for the 28mm/f2 and wide-angle converter to go with my A7R. I hope their performance will prove worth the wait!

Regarding these Fuji cameras I have 2 big complaints:
1) X-Trans is a big minus for me. Regular Bayer 24M pixels please.

2) Shutter speed dial should have 100,50, and if possible 25 settings to accommodate flickering lights in 50Hz country.
Or at least there should be a custom setting to change 125>100, 60>50, 30>25.

Ideally any Live View camera camera should automatically detect flickering lights and flicker frequency, adjusting 125/60/30 shutter speeds to 100/50/25 if needed.

For shutter speed shorter that 1/125 small warning icon should be shown that flicker is detected.

Auto-shutter modes should use this detection of course.

Hi Mike,
Another reason for APS-C/DX, you can get closer. Here a link to Ohm Image http://ohm-image.net/opinion/photophile/reach-aps-cs-biggest-advantage-over-ff Where he shows the difference between a 50mm FF Nikon and a 35mm on a Fuji X-Ti.

Sony keeps coming out with lenses that I have no interest in buying for my a7. All my old Leica and Nikon lenses suit me better. And when I want AF and auto exposure I just pull out the D600.

Kind of a shame they don't do any better. But the 40mm Summicron etc. keep me happy.

I'm with you on this one, Mike. Although I'm happy to see Sony add more lenses, the size, weight, and cost of the 35mm f/1.4 ZA is a non-starter for me. I just don't see the point of mounting a large and heavy lens on a small camera body. On the other hand, 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. I just don't happen to be one of 'em.

While you may suffer from confirmation bias (who am I to say), I think you're right on the mark regarding these Sony lenses. Sony fanboys are defending the 35mm, in particular, by saying that "if you put in on the small A7 body, it is still smaller than a D810." For me, PERSONALLY, that isn't good enough. Maybe I'm spoiled by the smallish-sensor EM-1, but I'm not willing to give up portability by having such big FF lenses, even on a smaller body. Great for some, but still not my cup of tea. Sony, IMHO, needs to prioritize compact size when designing FE lenses.

The huge size of the faster lenses on the E-mount really puts me off the A7 line, which is otherwise wonderful.

I'm curious why Leica's lenses, which are also full-frame, and for all I know every bit as good, are so much smaller - the 35mm 1.4 is about the same size and weight as the Fuji 23mm 1.4.

Is it just because they don't have auto focus? Do they have optical shortcomings? Do they use more expensive glass?

"Give up" TTL viewing? Wrong phrasing for me.

I've recently been using a Nikon D800 after years of Panasonic EVF. Optical viewing is something I would gladly "give up." "Be rid of" is more the phrase I would use.

The big Nikon will probably hang around for a while because there are times I can really use all those MP, but only because I don't see a mirrorless alternative that meets my needs -- yet.

What I think gets lost in the comparison of the APS-C and the Micro 4/3 cameras is the lenses are smaller for the same maximum aperture, but they don't behave the same in terms of depth of field. A better comparison to the Fuji 23mm lens would be a 35mm f/2, not the FF 35mm f/1.4 behemoths. Or said another way, put a 23mm f/1.0 lens on the Fuji and it won't be nearly so small.

[I see f-number as a measure of light transmission primarily. Does anyone really care about a little more wide open d-o-f with such a wide-angle lens anyway? BTW I loved your subtle winter landscape you submitted to the Keck contest. --Mike]

I still have my Nikon D800e and the Sigma 35mm pretty much lives on it. It's admittedly a fairly large camera for everyday use, so I have been keeping my eye on the alternatives.

Of course if Nikon, or others, came out with a nice line of AF slower primes for my Nikon I might not be looking at the Sony or Fuji mirrorless options. Where's the modern 35mm f/2 (no the old Nikon AF does not cut it)?

The Sony/Zeiss FE lenses I currently own are substantially lighter and generally also much smaller than my Canon EF analogs. And although economy is not the stated promise of the mirrorless world the lenses are also less expensive than my EF analogs.

Well, in all fairness, in terms of DOF and total quantity of light transmitted to the sensor, the Sony/Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 is already a competitive proposition in terms of size and weight with the Olympus 17mm f/1.8...and maybe even the Fuji to some extent.

I hate to even mention this, because for some bizarre reason, aperture equivalence makes some people go ballistic, but you could compare that 23/1.4 to a Nikkor 35/1.8 ... using layman terms instead of equivalence terms, whatever you would do with f/1.4 on APS-C, you could do with f/1.8 on FF.

Personally, I'm very interested in the 28/2 for my A6000. The old Minolta 28/2 was my favorite lens when I was shooting A mount (KM 7D and Sony A700) and before that, I really enjoyed a rangefinder with a 40/1.8. It's a little bigger than I'd like (I'd love a dedicated APS-C lens like the Samsung 30/2) but the focal length is ideal, the aperture is ideal - the Sigma 30/2.8 compromises speed and the Sony 35/1.8 (which has image stabilization) sacrifices on focal length (I'm using the Nikkor 35/1.8 DX on the D7000 now). The 28/2 is basically as close as I think I'll get to the lens I've been waiting for.


For the last four years I've been craving a digital equivalent to my beloved Yashica TLR. I shot a series of half-length portraits with that camera, and I was delighted with the angle of view and the way the plane of sharp focus quickly descended into mild bokeh. (The lens was a Yashinon 80/3.5, a Tessar design.)

To get the same vertical angle of view, I need a 35mm lens on full frame, and then I need to trim off the sides to crop it square. To get the same depth of field and focus falloff, I need it to be f/1.5. So this 35/1.4 on an A7, would be a way forward for me. Except, even on a discounted A7, that's an enormous amount of money to hang around my neck. (Not too light, either.)

For the last three years or so I've been using a lowly Panasonic 20/1.7 on m43 cameras. The angle of view works almost identically, but the bokeh is obviously not as intense. I think I'll be sticking with this a while longer.*

You would be right to question whether I should go back to doing film for the handful of occasions that require for this focal length. But I think my deal is that I so like this angle of view, that I want to use it freely, almost all the time.

*I've toyed with using the APS-C 35/1.8 on an A7, and cropping to a square instead of using the default APS-C crop. Still not cheap, and still not quite right, but 1300-1500 for the set is much cheaper than the 2600+ for the alternative.

There will come a time when no one will have a reason to complain about the paucity of E-mount lenses. They'll be complaining about their price, though...

Where the heck are the inexpensive, small, but excellent 35 and 50mm f:2.0s? These (along with the 70-200) were the bread and butter of 35mm (in the 'old days'.)

Catnip to this cat too.

If I wanted full-frame I could get a D750 with Nikon's F1.8 prime lineup and not only save a small fortune but end up with a lighter kit. The loss of 1/3 of a stop is neither here nor there, frankly.

Full frame is full frame, so lenses have to cover that. With the high demands made of the results now and the status FF enjoys, top quality lenses tend to be large, as that is easier (and cheaper) than making them excellent and small. See Otus 55 vs. Apo Summicron 50. Put enough money into it and you can have excellence and compact dimensions, but that is a direction that few can afford.

Considering that I've made 36" wide prints from m43 that I could not achieve technically with 645 in film days, I think m43 hits the sweet spot for me. I do have FF for specific tasks, but for general use I don't find it necessary.

holy crap that thing is huge!

I know it's an apples to oranges comparison (or perhaps apples to spaghetti squash) but I can't help myself; my little Oly 17mm f1.8 (e-34mm) is 120g. I know, I know, DOF, half a stop, quality, etc. Not knocking it, just an observation.

"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?"

Not sure what you mean by "sacrificing TTL viewing" unless you prefer OVFs on DSLRs?

But to answer your question, only if you see the A7 series (and whatever comes next in the line) as something other than a DSLR killer. Maybe not now but soon. I think that's how Sony sees it.

I like what Sony has done with all their camera bodies but I can't say the same about their haphazard lens decisions. Sony has always had a roadmap (except when they don't) but it's a rough, mountain road with lots of switch backs and blind spots.

It looks like Sony has finally got things sorted out:
1. FE for pros, advanced amateurs, people with plump wallets (more profit)
2. E mount for the great unwashed — "we'll get back to it when it suits us if it ever does".
3. A mount for the old schoolers on their rocking chairs — "maybe we'll throw you a bone. Maybe."

I think lots of people (myself included) misread Sony's intention with the FE mount and A7 cameras. Now I realize that Sony is not prioritizing size and weight. Sony is prioritizing innovation, quality and prestige in the hope of a bigger market share in the future and bigger profits.

My interest in the A7 cameras increased substantially since they were first released but, frankly, I cannot afford or justify the glass.

I'd just like to point out that with electronic viewfinder you're not sacrificing TTL viewing, you're shedding the obsoletne crudeness of TTL viewing, getting instead the awesomeness of seeing exactly what your photo will look like even before pressing the shutter button.

You're not giving up TTL viewing. Last I heard Sony didn't make TLR's or rangefinders :-). I think you mean giving up the optical viewfinder (OVF) for an electronic one.

Personally I hope to never go back to a DSLR type OVF. EVF's are far superior in every way for me. The extra information that's available in the viewfinder and the ability to preview exposure is invaluable.

And I have seen this argument a few times, that mirrorless cameras and lenses should be smaller than DSLRs. I still don't know why. Smaller formats allow smaller cameras and lenses. The Sony's are a 35mm sensor and so they'll have bigger lenses than Fuji's or Olympus'. Yet some think that we should have no choice of a larger sensor and really good fast glass in a mirrorless body with a larger than m43 sensor. People go on about the "heart of the system" and how big lenses go against "what mirrorless stands for". Who gets to decide that mirrorless stands only for small? I think the Sony owners, who shoot fast 35mm lenses will be thrilled with this lens. After all as a Sony owner it's not like I'm going to buy a D750 just to get a 35mm 1.4.

Of course all the internet forum regulars, who no longer get to go on and on about how Sony don't have enough lenses can switch to Sony having the wrong lenses. That'll be fun.

Mind you, I'm not a 35mm guy. I've tried a few times but I'm a 50mm junkie so when they bring out a 50mm f1.2 I'll be all over it.

OVF's are so 2010.


No, you are not self-approving your own choices post hoc. I have both Fuji XT1 and Sony A7II and as I look at sizes vs. files vs. price I feel Fuji has nailed down best "bang for the buck" ratio with quality of result being high enough that majority of time I don't feel the need for better.

I chose Fuji and absolutely love the 23mm F1.4 lens. Here's a set of casual portraits I shot last week with this lens on my XT-1 while walking around at a renaissance fair down in Florida.


Well, you're not sacrificing TTL viewing, you're sacrificing pure optical TTL viewing. But that's beside the point: I see the Sony 35/1.4 for a dual stills/video role, offering some compelling features for each one whereas its competitors are clearly for still use. Granted, it really needs to be spectaculr to justify the size and cost; I can't really see why something like the new Zeiss 35/1,4 ZM couldn't have worked instead (ray angle issues shouldn't be that severe).

The really interesting prime is the 28/2, which seems promising and is priced in a more "traditional" range.

Day late and $$$ too much. Sold my Sony mirrorless, went Fuji, never looked back and actually have no GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). The Fuji xe-1 and XT-1 and a couple lenses work. So far I'm really happy.

You could add :

Leica Summilux 35mm ƒ/1.4 (mirrorless)

Elements: 9
Weight: 320 g (11.3 oz.)
Length: 58mm (2.3")
Filter size: 46mm
Cost: $4,900

But it doesn't have autofocus which would probably put it in line with the Fuji in diameter (but not in price!).

Anything up to about 50mm (e) is pretty comparable between Fuji's APS-C and Micro 4/3 in size and weight, which is impressive for the larger sensor, but the advantage goes to M4/3 once they get longer than that. Still I prefer my Fuji (X-T1) system over the EM-5 that I used to have. It's just the goldilocks for me.

Some A7 series lenses may be bigger than they need to be even when allowing for the fact that they're FF because they're quality FF lenses.

I own the 55mm f1.8 and it's a very nice lens and compared to the Canon 50mm f1.8 it may look a bit hefty but the Canon lens is... less good.

If we look at the better FF lenses they do often tend to be a bit larger as all that quality and excellence tends to come at the cost of size and weight.

So the 35mm f1.4 could very probably have been smaller and if it had been it'd almost certainly be less good. Choices choices.

I think it's good that Sony are building a high quality system but personally I'd like more choice and I'd like to see a range of lenses which are compact and merely good and not aiming to be the very best on sale.

I have no problem with large WA, Macro, or telephoto lenses if they come with rotatable lens collars (which dispenses with the need for fidgety L-brackets) or at least a fixed tripod socket. It seems none of the FE lenses has this feature.

Normal FF lenses for smallish mirrorless bodies should be handholdable. That is, small in size or fast enough for non-IBIS bodies. I'll only consider a large (DSLR-sized) normal lens if it is stabilized or fast (<=F/1.4) and reasonably prized.

Let's call a spade a spade here. The majority of the Fuji's excellent lens lineup is generally oversized for the bodies you would mount them to (if our measuring stick is a compact camera and lens combination). There are a handful of small primes and pancakes and the rest are large zooms and hefty primes. I see the Sony lineup progressing along a similar path but with a focus on higher resolution and FF sensors, and the requisite glass to match.

There will still be moderately compact options - 28/2, 35/2.8, 55/1.8, 35/2 Loxia and 50/2 Loxia - but expect larger for faster and more esoteric lenses. This should not be a surprise.

I think one could safely say that the A7 is the most flexible platform in the history of the 35mm format - film or digital. If my Fuji X-Pro could have mounted the diminutive M-Rokkor 40/2 at its native focal length or allowed me to use my Contax G 45/2 with AF (which you can do on the A7 with the Deo Tech adapter), I may have remained but the A7 cameras present almost no barriers to the lenses I want to use, big or small.

I must disagree. The Sony a7 system already has two small light 35mm native mount lenses; the Sony/Zeiss f2.8 and the Zeiss Loxia f2.0. Sony has produced something very different to those two offerings for the third 35mm prime for the system so as not to (ahem) 'duplicate' what's already been done. I don't think every single lens they produce should concentrate primarily on size and weight. I think they've taken a very interesting approach to this round of lenses and I'm sure we will continue to see more small and light lenses in the future.

Manuel, you said "There will come a time when no one will have a reason to complain about the paucity of E-mount lenses."

This, of course, presumes that Sony do not move on to another completely new mount type, not that they have done that before :-(

Larry Gebhart says:
What I think gets lost in the comparison of the APS-C and the Micro 4/3 cameras is the lenses are smaller for the same maximum aperture, but they don't behave the same in terms of depth of field. A better comparison to the Fuji 23mm lens would be a 35mm f/2, not the FF 35mm f/1.4 behemoths. Or said another way, put a 23mm f/1.0 lens on the Fuji and it won't be nearly so small.

Mike replies:
"I see f number as a measure of light transmission primarily. Does anyone really care about a little more wide-open d.o.f with wideangle lenses.... Mike"

I look at this the other way around. Everything the APS 23/1.4 can do, the Canon 35/2 can do, plus the addition of IS - it has the same, or slighltly more, focus selection wide-open, and as a system (which I presume is what is most relevant) the same light gathering capability, if sensors are roughly of the same generation. In addition they are more or or less the same size, weight but, as system the Canon FF has better IQ, and yet it is cheaper still.

It seems to me the prime advantage with the Fuji system lies with the delightfully petite bodies, but not with the size of the lenses. And, as you say, you lose optical TTL viewing.

A couple of things...

Sony's decision to use e-mount for their full frame mirrorless cameras is partly why some of the lenses are so large. While there are mounts as small or smaller than e-mount for FF sensors, none are also as close to the sensor. You'll notice that the mount size to sensor ratio of other mirrorless cameras (m43, Fuji, aps-c e-mount, etc.) is much larger. This bottleneck makes wide lenses faster than f1.8-f2 pretty large. The new f2 28mm lens was a better move, IMO.

That being said, even if the fast lenses aren't small, removing the mirrorbox allows for more interesting lens designs (and, to compare actual size of a7 lenses to their DSLR counterparts, you need to add in the size of the mirrorbox.) So, at least the potential is there to make very technically good lenses.

Leica was able to make small 35/1.4 lenses. However, not only does Leica use sensor top modifications to allow these designs (which leads to other issues, like IR contamination,) but most of their lenses also have noticeable Zone B dips in resolution. Their lenses aren't necessarily leading in across the frame, technical image quality, any more, outside of that awesome 50 APO.

It's odd, the direction the A7 has taken me. I have fallen in love with the thing because it has allowed me to use all the great old legacy glass I have. I have never had time to even consider the shortage of E mount glass. I mean, with the A7, I can now play around with the FD 85 1.2 on something other than the ancient F1. The Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 for $1600?, can't I get the real Zeiss equivalent for about the same?,and use it forever?.....Pass it on to future generations for their enjoyment?

The latest twist is that it has directed me back to Pentax. Now, everything can be viewed from a FF A7 angle: hey, if I don't like the camera, the glass will always work on the A7. Recent fire sale price on the K5IIs was irresistable. Among other amazing stuff, I was able to purchase an ancient Pentax K mount M SMS 35-70 2.8-3.5 zoom (like new) for $150.00. It's nice. Real nice. I can use it on the K5IIs; or, if I want FF and EVF, it goes on the A7. I think I will pass on these new E mount lenses until the price drops.

On second thought, maybe I will use the money to upgrade to the A7II, and gain the IS for all these old gems.

This confirms my decision then. I'm going through a bout of camera rationalization now, and decided that when I need full frame goodness, but don't care about portability, I'll stick with my D800. It already has the lenses, the quality, and the shooting experience. For travel, I went m43 (Olympus), and am in the middle of buying lenses for it. I can build a m43 travel kit out of high quality, fast lenses that are small, light, and don't break the bank.

I cannot tell you how many people tried to convince me to go with Sony, but when I did the math, I couldn't come up with a kit with good lenses that was actually any lighter and smaller than my D800 travel kit (18-35, 50/1.8, 70-200/4).

Nice, but way too BIG! Offsets the smaller advantages of mirrorless!

What's wrong with 35 f2? Sweet spot between f2.8 and f1.4. This new Zeiss is huge.

I am quite happy using a C Sonnar 50 ZM and a Leica Tele Elmarit 90 2.8 with my A7II, keeps the kit small and handy.

Waiting for Zeiss to come up with a 21 f2.8 (or even f4) in the Loxia range, if they can tune the lens design for the short registration distance and the FF sensor.

One more lens 35 f/1,4 here Sony A-mount

Elements: 10
Weight: 510 g
Length: 7.6 cm
Filter size*: 55 mm
Cost: $1,398

The posting should include the new Sony cinema zoom which was introduced a few months ago.

Sony FE PZ 28-135mm ƒ/4 G OSS Lens
Elements: 18 in 12 groups
Weight: 1215 g
Length: 163 mm
Filter size: 95 mm
Cost: US$2,498

This zoom lens features constant focus across the entire zoom range and a smooth powered zoom that is silent in operation.

This makes the Sony A7 family a serious contender for video production including 4K with the A7s body.

the canon 35 F2 with image stabilization is an almost unbelievable gift to photographers as are their other image stabilized wide-angle lenses. The trade-offs for slightly shallower depth of field, the other options do not begin to make up for the ability to shoot at f/2 or f/2.& with image stabilization and I say this is a person who is always owned Nikon cameras. My envy knows no limits

"pre-order". Yuk. Is that the order before you order?

[No, it just means ordering before they can deliver. --Mike]

You might have added a micro 4/3 lens to your 35mm/e list, like the Olympus 17mm, which I use a lot:

Elements: 9
Weight: 120 g (4.23 oz.)
Length: 35.5 mm (1.4")
Filter size: 46mm
Cost: $499

Makes the others -- even your Fuji 23mm -- look like monsters!

I think we have to see beyond the new lenses.
This is good news to people that, like me, can't afford a FF camera.

With the original Rebel a few years ago, Canon did something no one thought possible: to sell a DSRL for less than $1000.

By now, the market has evolved so much that a FF almost broke the same barrier.

We have some exiting times ahead of us.

Interesting thread that has brought several thoughts to my mind:

1. The 35/1.4 is a niche lens. Those who really want or need it will not be bothered by its size. Everyone else will get along just fine without it.

2. Of course FF lenses are larger than those for smaller formats. That's simple physics. The reason that some people are willing to accept this trade off is that they value the superior IQ that a larger sensor can provide. Those who don't value it as highly are better served by MFT or APS-C, but that too is a trade off.

3. The advantages of an EVF far outweigh its disadvantages, IMO. Now that I have gotten accustomed to shooting with the mirrorless RX1 and A7ii, I cannot imagine going back to an OVF. Having a live histogram has become indispensable to me.

Today, I purchased a new Pentax FA 77mm 1.8 Limited lens for $850. A beautiful lens. Small, light and very solid construction. Top of the line for Pentax. Designed for full frame film cameras. Filter size, 49mm! Another example of a small, quality, full frame lens. They don't have to be so big.

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