A sucker for a good kit lens. That would be me. But more on that later.
I have traded a lot of gear since the digital interchangeable lens gear churn started a few years back. Occasionally I have regretted trades and bought gear more than once. Once a brand I bought into twice burned me badly, but with a little fortunate timing their terrible business practices also provided me the trade currency necessary to land a full frame DSLR body that cost way more than I would be willing to pay outright. Funny how trade money can feel like funny money when you do not have to open your wallet.
This time it is a Sony lens that found its way back in to my camera bag. What was wrong with the lens the first time? Absolutely nothing actually. It was traded because I did not fully warm up to the camera it was attached to, the Sony A7. But 2 years is forever in the camera world nowadays and a lot has changed with this mount. What? Glad you asked.
- Sub G. Except for the K-1 I have never acquired an above $1,000 body. Either the new price was sub a grand or I purchased them second hand. But as of recent a second hand A7ii dipped below this threshold at KEH.com and I jumped on it.
- In body IS. Of all the A7ii additions/modifications that addressed the reasons I traded the A7 (better ergonomics, superior materials and such) this is tops. After all the main draw then and now is adapting legacy 35mm glass to a full frame sensor. The Pentax K-1 sold me on this IS/full frame combo and the A7 bests that since it can be adapted to even more lenses owing to it’s mirrorlessness.
- Lenses. This above all else doomed my first go around with Sony. Two years ago I scored an A7 when it’s new price dropped below a G when the A7ii dropped. But after the full frame fog cleared and the Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 haze dissipated I swiftly realized that I could not afford Sony’s native AF lenses. “Nifty 50? No, we have a Zeiss 55mm though. Price? Oh. More than you paid for your camera. You like 85mms? Are you sitting down? And all our zooms are priced out of reach even though we do not yet do f/2.8… but when we do you will not be able to afford them either.” But since then a couple of primes have caught my eye. They offer great specs and even better prices.
- FE 50mm f/1.8
- A true nifty 50. Though a bit pricier than alternatives and some disparage it’s AF speeds I am not that worried since I use MF mostly anyway so any AF is about acceptable in my book.
- FE 85mm f/1.8
- Though a few days from release as of this writing on line tests are already touting this as a bargain Batis. And with a sub $600 asking price day 1 ’nuff said for me
- FE 50mm f/1.8
There was one exception my first Sony go around. One outlier where bargain price met stellar performance. Especially if you were willing to pick one up second hand. Why was it exceptional? As I read and found out:
- While reasonable new and bundled as a kit lens the used market was littered with examples that were likely spurned kit lenses of those seeking greener slight wide to mild tele pastures. Amazing at $250 or less. (KEH’s current stock as exhibit A)
- I try not to get caught up in specs and I read in a few places that for all the extra cost the optical performance of the humble 28-70mm often held it’s own against it’s pricier step up 24-70mm ball of f/4 constant aperture goodness. The 24-70mm f/4 (new f/2.8 is clearly out of my reach) is better I am sure, but the 28-70mm easily falls in to that will do territory. In fact they both hold the same score of 4.5 on Sony’s own website.
- Surprisingly like the 24-70mm it is “Dust and moisture-resistant design”. Nice touch for a value lens.
- The lens barely extends at all during it’s full zoom sweep. Not internal zoom technically, but as close as you could get.
- Small and light.
- Silent focus.
- Fast focusing, especially in good light as is expected.
- OSS, or Image Stabilization. In their value offering. This combined with the last few bullets let’s you know that high content value Sony lenses were possible.
- Versatile. With it’s humble aperture specs there is no mind blowing bokeh, nor sliver thin depth of field to be found here, but that is it. It can muster acceptable isolation under the right conditions, but is excels at nearly anything else that falls within it’s focal range.
- Last, but not least none of this matters if it does not produce acceptable images. And yes. Yes, it does. Way more than acceptable IQ. This humble lens was the definite bright spot in my first Sony experience.
- Great, vivid colors
- There may be distortion, but none to a level that I took notice of and I any that would appear could be dispatched by hitting it with the lightroom stick.
Because of this I wasted no time in purchasing this lens as the first round 2 AF lens after securing the A7ii.
Still there? Just received the replacement copy and I look forward to getting around to using it. Until then here is the existing gallery link where images will be added and below are samples from this lens on the A7. Happy shooting.