Tiny Second Hand Camera Smackdown: Ricoh GR vs. Sony RX100 IV

Recently I exchanged the Sony 20mm f/2.8 that I bought when I purchased my a6000 not that long ago for the Rokinon 35mm f/2.8. My thinking was that the two lenses were redundant since 35mm (50-ish in full frame terms) was my preferred focal length and the Rokinon seemed barely larger than the 20mm (2.43 x 1.30″ (61.8 x 33 mm) vs 2.46 x 0.80″ vs (62.6 x 20.4 mm)) while gaining another full frame lens in my quiver. No brainer, right? Nope. I really like the Rokinon, but it was not a suitable replacement for the 20mm. Why? Glad you asked:

  • Despite its tiny profile the Rokinon better marries with the full frame Sonys in operation. Where focus speed seems adequate on the A7Rii it is less so on the a6000. No idea why. While not awful on the a6000 it is nowhere near as fast as the 20mm on the a6000. Had no idea how good that lens was until I no longer had it… The framework for an R&B or Country song right there.
  • 0.5″ (12.6mm) does not seem like a huge difference in theory, but in application that turns a very pocketable camera into a somewhat pocketable camera. Also the slightly rounded front edge and metal build of the 20mm meant it went in and out of pocket far easier than the square cornered and plastic Rokinon.

Simple fix. Buy the 20mm again. One problem. Southeastern Camera had two tempting full-blown second-hand cameras (ones I always thought about buying) that barely cost more than the 20mm lens new that would be even smaller than the already petite a6000. The thinking was that for a little more spend than a lens ($350-ish) I could potentially have a whole camera ($500-ish).

 

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What to do? Continue reading “Tiny Second Hand Camera Smackdown: Ricoh GR vs. Sony RX100 IV”

I like wide. The Sony G FE 12-24mm f/4 does wide well.

If you ask my conscious self to rank the order of my wide, normal, and tele lens preferences it would be normal, then tele followed by wide. My flickr galleries and blog posts would back this up if you only considered the number of photos posted and the type of lenses written about respectively. For this reason it is the one AF, name brand lens type I did not really budget for once returning to Sony with a vengeance. Thought the vintage K-Mount Vivitar 17-28mm

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would suffice adapted to a full frame Sony technically, but I never used it. Why? Continue reading “I like wide. The Sony G FE 12-24mm f/4 does wide well.”

The kit lens that could. Another Sony FE 28-70mm lens post.

Recently considered replacing my Sony FE 28-70mm w/ an f/4 or f/2.8 lens once again. I say once again because I have been here before. Makes sense right. Humble variable aperture kit lens is just a stop-gap measure until I can get a ‘real’ normal lens. That has always been the case since kit lenses are usually just passable before. But in all honesty when I ask what more I want from a lens I come up empty with the 28-70mm.

Know what I am losing.  A good chunk of my bank account. Losing a lens so small and light it is barely noticed in my bag. Losing the invisibility of a mortal sized lens. Continue reading “The kit lens that could. Another Sony FE 28-70mm lens post.”

Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G: Apologizing to a lens.

Apologizing to an inanimate object does not make sense admittedly. Yet doing so seems right with this lens. Perhaps I should direct any apology to the designers or marketers.

What was my issue with the Sony FE 70-200mm f.4 G back when I had the Sony A7? As the ultimate FE mount lens it was not f/2.8 mainly. Looking back that was really it. Being new to the market it was quite expensive as well.

What changed?

Continue reading “Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G: Apologizing to a lens.”

Good new. Great second hand. Sony FE 50mm f/1.8

One of the lenses that Sony has released in the last year that interested me was this lens. (The other being the instant favorite 85mm f/1.8.) Why? It is 50mm. And I am a sucker for a 50mm sub f/2.0 prime lens.

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And now Sony was offering one at an unusually affordable price… for Sony. $249. Not quite the bargain that the $599 85mm f/1.8 is, but I beat that price by finding one used for $156. Even better. So I heard a few murmurs about this lens online so let’s address those first.

Continue reading “Good new. Great second hand. Sony FE 50mm f/1.8”

New Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 Review: Thank you Sony.

What I really like from a system are solid 50mm and 85mm lenses. Affordability, f/1.8 or larger apertures, and sharpness on center are welcome here. As stated in a recent blog post Sony seems intent on providing both:

  • 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
    • Now released and on line tests were already touting this as a bargain Batis. And with a sub $600 asking price day 1 ’nuff said for me

First acquired of the 2 above is the FE 85mm f/1.8. I have had and loved many 85mm and crop rough equivalent lenses and one native crop, but 85mm anyway lens. Some native. Some manual focus marvels. Ranging from f/1.2 to f/2.0. This lens is better than all of those. Batis, L, G Master, and the like are too rich for my blood but I believe Sony has brought levels approaching those to the masses in my opinion. Why such a claim? Glad you asked. Here are things no 85mm lens I had before this could muster:

  • AF focusing is swift and silent. I say again completely silent and quick. So much so that I thought the AF was not working at first. This has been the achilles heel of every single 85mm lens before. For example the Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2 was wonderful, but it was not the lens for candid moments and would often require that I ask portrait subjects to wait as AF caught up. Not horrible, but put to shame by the Sony FE. Case in point the sequence below was taken casually, day 2, hand held from the 7th row past the band pit.

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    No camera and lens combination I have used has ever performed this well. This is not a fluke. And I do not even know Sony’s focusing system well enough to use tracking focusing yet. This is on the A7ii with 5 fps and I would love to see how it would do with the a6### series 11 fps. Especially now that I see an a6000 can still be bought new for $500-$800 depending on whether you get body only, one lens, or two.

Continued after the break:

Continue reading “New Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 Review: Thank you Sony.”

New Lens To Me… again: Sony 28-70mm

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.

Back to Alpha.

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

But first.

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.20047333534_f999625e82_o

Continue reading “New Lens To Me… again: Sony 28-70mm”