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?

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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.

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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

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New Camera To Me: This time it is A7 part deux

I’ll try to keep this brief. Had an A7 (as a starting point to this post here) that I really liked, but never fully warmed up to. They have since added phase detect AF and image stabilization to part II and with time it has been nice enough to depreciate in to striking distance. Along with with a couple of other tweaks it has developed in to something I could really hold dear. Plus I love adapting old lenses and this has IS like the K-1, plus added mount flexibility owing to the inherently short flange distances mirrorless cameras have. Day 1 I am already impressed and I do not even have a proper AF lens yet. Samples from day 1 below. Original A7 gallery here and this will be home to the A7ii gallery. Happy Shooting.

-ELW

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The Frugal Photographer: Vivitar 19mm f/2.8 Nikon Mount aka How I accidentally made a permanent Sony lens.

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I was looking at a new Sony FE Mount manual focus wide angle lens that was also a macro lens that was recently announced by a 3rd party vendor when I had a thought. It sold for about $450 and I wondered if I could spend less diving in to the used on line bins. I did not find one lens that could do both wide angle and macro, but I did find a converter that turned my adapter and existing 50mm Minolta MD 50mm f/1.7 lens in to frankenmacro recently. Now all that was left was a wide angle solution. Enter the Vivitar 19mm f/3.8. After an adjustment for the mount being misidentified by the vendor necessitating my need for a Nikon F adapter instead of Minolta I was in business.

Old timey mint condition #Vivitar 19mm f3.8 lens = $79 @bhphoto

Nikon F to #SonyA7 adapter = $14 @amazon

Aggressively permafusing adapter to lens due to ox gene inherited from my father = free

Good thing the Sony A7 is is the only camera I will be using it on. Here are first test shots from my first hour or so with the lens.: