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Friday, 07 May 2021


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Sigma's E-mount 30mm f/1.4 is one of only two pieces of gear that I sold, almost immediately regretted, and tracked down a replacement copy. (And I don't even really shoot Sony anymore.)

Hey Mike, have you considered the well regarded Viltrox 23mm F1.4? It's only $329.

I will be very interested in what you think of the Sigma. I bought the same lens for my Leica CL to complement the Leica zooms I had been using. At $290 it is practically free by Leica standards! I am very pleased with mine.

There's also Sigma's wonderful 30mm f1.4 HSM Art lens. I used it with the SD Quattro H camera, but its also available in Sony mount. Great lens and a bit smaller than the lens shown in your post yesterday. $500

[I believe that's the SLR lens, for Sony A mount, not Sony E. --MJ]

I also second the Fuji 27/2.8 pancake lens. Its one of my two favorite Fuji lenses (the other being the 35/1.4). The 27mm lens, although not fast, produces really excellent images that are equally sharp across the frame.

Something close to what you are asking for is coming soon:


It’s a full frame lens, but it’s f/2.8, so it apparently only weighs 162 g. I think that f/2 designed specifically for APS-C would be better, but this might be sufficient for many people.

It probably wasn't you intention Mike, but the thing that most intrigued me about this post was "studio lighting for an iPhone picture". I hope you can elaborate on a future post!

I have owned that same Sigma 30mm f/1.4 in micro four-thirds mount. I ended up selling it because it was an odd focal length for the format (60mm full-frame field of view). But that doesn't mean it's not a good lens - and a bargain at the going price.

I also own the Sigma 16mm and 56mm f/1.4 lenses from the same family. Also for micro four thirds. Somewhat surprisingly, the 16mm and 56mm lenses feature weather resistance and the 30mm does not.

Meanwhile... on the subject of Sony... they're just a cynical company. I used to own an APS-C kit from them. But when they brought out the A6600, it was essentially the same camera that came before it with a firmware update. And it cost $1,400. I sold off all of my Sony ASP-C gear within weeks - vowing not to play that game.

Sony makes great products - and I still own a full-frame kit from them. But all of my zoom lenses are from Tamron. I do have a number of high-quality Sony primes. But in cases where the price was just too high to justify, I went with Samyang glass. I've never been disappointed.

You've done the right thing, Mike. I'm sure you'll be pleased.

I will order the new Fuji 27mm pancake, which should be in stock in about a fortnight. Click on your B&H link, go down to the photo of its dome hood -- that, and the aperture dial, is what sells me. This lens will only cost $200 if bought with the new X-E4 kit. I am really looking forward to getting back into the Fujifilm system. Complementing the kit lens will be the new XF 70-300mm, which I hope to adapt for birding with the 2X teleconverter.

Occasionally I am asked by someone what camera they should buy. I usually reply that they should base the purchase on the quality and availability of the lenses. Frankly in apsc Sony can't hold a candle to Fujifilm.

Thom Hogan has posted this article Camera X Isn’t Better Than Camera Y https://bythom.com/newsviews/camera-x-isnt-better-than.html

I can’t believe I wrote this first in 2004, but here it is: “If you can’t get great images from any of the current DSLRs, it’s not the camera that’s the problem.” That’s not only true today, but it’s octupily true, and may even be true of some compact cameras and even smartphones.

I'm neither persnickety nor a spendthrift. I don't suffer from FOLO (Fear of losing out) or GAS. I totally agree with Thom Hogan's comments.

I bought the Sigma 19mm and 30mm f2.8 EX DN in Sony E-mount back in 2013.

I bought some inexpensive Sony NEX-3 that were used.

They were inexpensive, they felt cheap, they rattled, but their performance was outstanding.

Both the NEX-3 and the Sigma lenses combined to make a tiny hand-held package compared to my full-frame Nikon DSLR.

I adopted a fast point-and-grab imaging style that made the images I made look totally spontaneous. That was fun.

My technique has slowed down (I guess I am getting older) and I do really like the set of FujiCrons (sic) on my X-Pro2, they give me the same joy that I got from my M4 back in the '70s.

When I wanted to get a camera to adopt my orphaned Contax G lenses, I considered the choice of either Fuji or Sony.

Somehow, and price being not of particular concern, I opted for the Fuji. It's instinct or maybe chemistry that sometimes influence our choices.

The brand new Samyang AF 24mm ƒ/1.8 for Sony FF is $499, weighs 8 oz, and would have to be excellent when cropped to APS-C and 36mm-e.

As you say, everyone has their own preferences (thankfully, otherwise we'd all use identical gear). I own the Sigma 30 f1.4 in micro-4/3 mount (with a Pen-F) as well, and really like the versatility of the 60mm-e field of view for portraits, so much so I'll probably end up with the Sigma 65 f2 for my SL2-S. No complaints with the lens functionally or IQ-wise. As for 45mm-e, I'm using the Sigma 45 f2.8 on the Leica and finding it "just right".

I recently purchased a Pentax 43mm f1.9 Limited lens for my Pentax K-1. It was used, rated as 9, and sold for $445. It is a thoroughly beautiful lens, that is also all metal and optically amazing. The prices for these wonderful prime lenses is the main reason that keeps me with Pentax.

[Yes, that's an outstanding lens. When I tested it against the then-current Leica 50mm Summicron, the 43mm won. I believe one of the magazines declared it to be the highest-resolution lens it had ever tested when it was new. Sort of a sleeper, in that not many people know it.

Here's a picture I like. I like weird pictures...




My guess: Photographers who like and use prime lenses are the minority. So production volume is low and per unit cost is high. QED.

[A good guess, but I doubt that's it. A lot of prime lenses that are just as good are a lot cheaper. My guess was that it was an early arrangement with Zeiss that required either a MAP or a high premium for the use of the name. But that's just a guess too. --Mike

Just one more data point in favor of the new Fujifilm XF 27mm f/2.8 R-WR.

I have both the f/2 and f/1.4 versions of the 23mm and 35mm Fujis, and since the 27mm arrived, it is hard to not take that out as my only lens when shooting outdoors in good light.

It splits that gap between the 23 and 35 making the usual, "which one should I take?" decision moot. As for the aperture, people brag about their 2 pound "pro" f/2.8 zooms, so that aperture is fine in most situations... mine lives at f/5.6.

I have no regrets buying this seemingly redundant lens. On an X-E class camera, it begs you to get out and shoot.

I have the 30 f1.4 in the m4/3 mount, and I quite like the field of view - it's very good for portraits, for example. It is also has very nice rendering, which will carry over to the e-mount (I expect).

I had that Sigma and it was wonderful, as close to perfect as matters.
It does have that weird clunk when the camera is turned off because the center group of elements is positioned by a magnetic field but once you get used to the clunk reminding you that it is an artifact of cutting edge technology and not the cement holding the elements together failing* you will be fine.

*Oh do I hate it when the balsam melts on an old lens in a hot car. Have a few pairs of dead binoculars with that problem.

I’ve shot with that sigma on Nikon since I first got a “big” camera in 2006. Back then Nikon had zilch in the way of fast cheap wide-ish normals (this was before the 35 1.8), just as you complain of Sony today. I bought the new version once the old one wouldn’t auto focus on a newer body too. But that lens is how I fell in love with taking pictures. I love it’s look and maybe 90% of my exposures, and even more of those I esteem, over maybe 60,000 shots since then. Here’s a shot of my grandma from long ago that sticks with me and is one of very many winners that lens helped me see: https://flic.kr/p/61Lq1t

The 27mm f2.8 Fuji lens is a tad slow to focus - but is 10/10 perfect everywhere else. Like APO-Lanthar kind of perfect.

It's the worst example of perceived value totally messing with it's actual value. It's so affordable, it gets passed over, because you expect it to be so-so. When in reality, it's the zenith, optically.

The Sigma 30mm f1.4 lens was just awful. A blight on the industry. A tour de force of worst case quality control. Even the ones built 'to specification' were ordinary affairs.

But regardless, I'm confused. Fuji have such wonderful haptics and ergonomics. Where Sony lean heavily toward 'camera as an appliance'. Extremely competent image making machines. But not something you'd covet, or regret selling as the model numbers march ever onward.

Do they have Shandys in America? (Half beer, half lemonade). Maybe sit somewhere comfortable, have a shandy, and look at both cameras side by side. Which one do you gravitate to? There's your keeper. Rebox the other, send it on it's way.

Kye :-)

[You're doubtless talking about the original EX 30mm from Sigma, from 2005. I'll do a "disambiguation" untangling the various Sigma 30mms soon, if I can get around to it. There have actually been three 30mm f/1.4's. --Mike]

What is "octupily"?

c.d.embrey used the term and he must have gotten it from Tom Hogan.

One of the best lenses for Sony that I bought for under $1000 is a Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2/35. The catch? It came attached to a larger sensor but that made the angle of view in the right ballpark. I'm talking of course about a used RX1.

I agree with your comments on the ZA 24mm lens. Good, but not great, and over-priced; I sold my copy on. I do second the comment by Rudy on the Viltrox AF 23mm lens. I own one and it performs very well. The Tamron 24mm f/2.8 has gotten favorable reviews and is currently on sale for $199. Sigma now has a 24mm f/3.5 in Sony E-mount for $549. I tested one, and it is small, lightweight and optically a good performer if you don't want/need a faster max aperture.

The Sony FE 28mm f/2 is US$448, and a 42mm equivalent on APS-C. Have you not considered that, or is there some objection to it?

[I don't personally like its rendering. It's an option, though. --Mike]

While I still have my Sony A6500 and the Sony Zeiss 24, I moved to Sony full frame a couple of years ago.
Sony's APSC cameras are a great size, and have excellent camera technology, but all the energy in lenses both from Sony and third parties is in the full frame market.
The current selection of Sony full frame lenses at or near 35 mm right now is astounding. It ranges from the new and excellent Sony 35/1.4 GM to the wonderful Sigma 35/2 to the various manual focus Voigtlanders at 35 and 40 mm. Even the lighter, less expensive lenses like the Tamron 35/2.8 1:2 macro are great.
So if you really like 35-40 mm, and also like the form factor of the Sony APSC cameras, you should probably try out the Sony A7C with one of these lenses.

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