Sony E-Mount Macro Lens Decision

I’ve been investigating how I wanted to do certain close-up photography work on the Sony E-mount.  Transitioning from the Sony A-mount I had the Minolta 200mm f\4 macro lens.  This is a superb lens but it has a screw drive autofocus system which is not accommodated by the LAEA3 adapter and if used with the LAEA4 adapter forces me to have the so-called “translucent mirror” of the adapter in between the lens and the sensor.  So I went around looking for other options.  I rented the Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens.  It is excellent and has an excellent autofocus response with the Sony A7 III camera.  But it is less than half the focal length of the 200mm lens.  I looked at adapting the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 macro in Canon mount with the Sigma Canon to E-Mount MC-11 adapter.  I rented this combination and found the autofocus inconsistent at best.  Finally I tried to find the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 in A-mount and see if the LAEA3 combination would autofocus better.  The A-Mount is not a very popular one so none of the rental places had this lens.  I called up B&H Photo who had the lens and asked them to mount it on an A7 III with the LAEA3 and test the autofocus.  They said the autofocus was fair but completely blown away by the native Sony lens performance.  When I heard this I knew it was time to give up and go with the Sony 90mm f\2.8 macro lens.  I’ll always have the Minolta 200mm for times when I want the extra reach but autofocus is not critical.  But for hummingbird and butterfly shots the autofocus of the native sony E-Mount lenses is more important than the extra focal length.  I ordered it from B&H last night.  Case closed.

Macrophotography and Me – Part 1

We’re entering the winter months in New England (also known as frozen hell) and at that point shooting outside is not only less interesting but also much less comfortable.  Luckily, macrophotography is something you can do from the comfort of your nicely heated home.  I like to do macro indoors in the winter.  To accommodate this, I look around during the year for interesting subject matter that I can bring inside for the winter and also try to improve on the set-ups I use to make indoor macrophotography more convenient and effective.

For instance, real macrophotography (which involves at least 1X magnification) requires extreme stability because even a tiny vibration will be noticed when apertures are small and magnification is high and exposures can be long.  One of the things I have lacked in my equipment is a table top tripod.  Up to now, I’ve compensated by setting up my full-sized tripod near a table and stood up while working.  I will be the first to admit that this isn’t a comfortable arrangement but I was always preoccupied with lens and camera buying priorities.  But now that I’ve got the A7 III I’m where I need to be for camera and even my Minolta 200mm f\4 macro becomes convenient enough for indoor macro work.  So, it’s time to look at the table top tripod.  The other thing that I wanted to add to my set up was a macro bellows.  It’s a bellows with a camera connection on one side and a lens connection on the other.  This allows you to increase the magnification with even non-macro lenses.  I’ve just purchased the Fotodiox Macro Bellows for the Sony E-Mount.  This adds 150mm of extension when completely extended.  And just in case I want to go completely macro crazy I can add my Kenko Extension tubes.  That adds another 68mm of extension.  Between the two extenders I can reach a little more than 2X magnification with my Minolta 200mm macro lens.  And with shorter focal lengths I can probably do even better.   If I add a lens reverse mount then I can take a wide-angle lens like my 10mm and get some really ridiculously high magnification but that may be a bridge too far right now.

I’ve got to mount all this paraphernalia on the table top tripod with my 200mm macro and camera to really test its stability.  I’ve selected the JOBY GorillaPod 5K Stand.  The sales literature says it can hold eleven pounds.  Between the camera, lens and macro thingamajigs it won’t add up to eleven pounds but it will be four or five I’ll bet.  If it turns out that this is not stable enough, I may have to add a rail to stiffen up the set-up but at that point I might as well paint it with purple polka dots and donate it to the circus with the other clown props.  Stay tuned and I’ll follow up with some photos of the rig and macro shots that I take. It may be interesting or ridiculous but I’m sure to learn something.

Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Canon – Lens Review

Previously I rented the Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Sports DG OS HSM Lens for Canon.  With both lenses I was using the Sigma MC-11 Canon to E-mount adapter to shoot them on my Sony A7 III.  My impression of this lens is positive.  It has good sharpness even at 600mm and autofocused well on the MC-11, Sony A7 III combination.  Comparing this lens to the Sport version I would say that you are looking at a number of trade-offs.  I’ll start off by saying that both of these lenses are good.  Both have good image and build quality.

 

But the Contemporary lens is half the price ($990 vs. $1,800) and 2 pounds lighter (4 ¼ lbs vs 6 ¼ lbs).

Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Canon with Sigma MC-11 converter on the Sony A7 III
Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Canon with Sigma MC-11 converter on the Sony A7 III
Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Canon with Sigma MC-11 converter on the Sony A7 III
Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Canon with Sigma MC-11 converter on the Sony A7 III
Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Canon with Sigma MC-11 converter on the Sony A7 III

On the flip side the Sports lens is a solid metal lens and has superior image quality.

A7 III with Sigma 150 – 600mm MC-11 adapter
A7 III with Sigma 150 – 600mm MC-11 adapter

Comparing their image quality, I would say the Sports lens has decidedly better contrast that holds up better at high light levels.  So, there you have it.  If either a 6 ¼ lb weight or an $1,800 price tag is too much for you then you will get a good lens for your $990.  But for the best image quality you’ll have to go for the Sports lens.

Review of the Sony 90mm f\2.8 Macro G Lens – Part 1

Tom D. you spoke the truth.  this lens is a pip.  Guess my macro problems are solved.

 

Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro
Insect macro with Sony A7 III and Sony FE 90mm f\2.8 Macro

A Sony Fan-Lost-Boy Finally Arrives in the Promised Land

This post is only for the long suffering Sony A-mount users.  You know who you are.  You bought the A900 or the A850 and you were looking forward to Sony re-issuing all those great Minolta lenses and competing head to head with the Nikon D3S.  You saw nothing but upside from a technology powerhouse like Sony improving the DSLR.  And then they pulled the rug out from under you. Translucent mirrors that lost a half stop of light.  LED viewfinders that lagged by a second or two when you triggered the shutter.  And then the true mirrorless camera with contrast detect autofocus that didn’t focus.  The NEX series that was unbelievably small but suffering from all these problems.  And then the A7 cameras.  Series one then series two.  Painstaking progress.  Slowly the potential of the mirrorless becoming real but always something still missing.  And then the A9 the camera that had all the pieces!  And a $4,500 price tag!

But now, the A7 III.  Oh my brothers I just must joyously exclaim.  It is a real camera made by Sony.  Hallelujah, hallelujah, halleleujah. The joy of picking a point in the viewfinder, half-pressing

Sony A7 III with Sony 55mm F\1.8

the shutter and seeing the autofocus work instantly and precisely.  I could barely see the result through my tears of joy.  Huzzah, huzzah.  Never again would I focus, then magnify, then manually refocus to save the shot.  Now I go through the pictures afterward and every shot is perfectly focused.  And ISO 800 and 1600 and 3200 are perfectly usable and even ISO 6400 is often fine!  And if I want to do a macro shot with a non macro lens I use magnify to get precise focus on the exact spot I want and the 24 megapixels give me plenty of room to crop.

Nirvana, Valhalla, Heaven, Elysium, Paradise.  I’m home.  I don’t need to wait or hope or give up and change systems.  It’s done.  I’m there.

Sony you are finally forgiven for keeping me out in the wilderness all these years.

 

 

My Butterfly Chasing Rig – My Descent into the Maelstrom of Long Macro Madness

Anyone who has been following my various macro lens posts knows that I am still fiddling around with available lenses to construct a long macro rig to photograph butterflies with the A7 cameras.  Another problem I’m investigating is finding a tripod head that would provide quick release on the monopod but also could hold the weight of a 200mm lens.  Previously I used the Manfrotto 327RC2 light duty grip ball head with Quick Release but the weight of the Minolta 200 macro caused it to flop over.  I recently bought the Vanguard Alta GH-300T Grip Head.  It differs from the Manfrotto which had a spring loaded trigger.  The Vanguard has a friction toggle switch that you engage with your thumb.  So far it’s working excellently.  The test will be to see if the friction element is long lasting.  Now I’ll have to determine if the Minolta 200mm f\4 macro and the LA-EA4 adapter is better on the Sony A7 III than the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 A-mount on the LA-EA3.

 

 

Macro Rig – Minolta 200mm f\4 Macro & Vanguard Alta GH-300T Grip Head & Primos 65802 Tall Monopod Trigger Stick, 33-65″

 

Vanguard Alta GH-300T Grip Head

 

 

Manfrotto 327RC2 light duty grip ball head with Quick Release

 

A Review of the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM – Sports Series Lens on the Sony A7 III

Up until very recently the Sony E-mount ecosystem has been extremely deficient of telephoto options. Recently, 300mm and 400mm focal lengths have appeared in native zoom lenses. But suffice it to say that there still remain a number of gaps in the lineup. Sigma has a lot of long glass. And Sigma lenses are decidedly less expensive than Sony’s. And lately Sigma has produced some extremely well regarded lenses. So, for both of these reasons I was very interested when I heard that Sigma had successfully developed an adapter that allowed Sigma lenses to behave like native Sony lenses on the A7 cameras. The MC-11 adapter allows 15 of Sigma’s Art Series, Sports Series and Contemporary Series lenses to perform auto-focus, optical stabilization and other functions as if they were Sony E-mount lenses. Although there are some very exciting Art Series lenses and possibly also the Contemporary Series items that may be of interest in the future, what I specifically wanted to try was the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM – Sports Series Lens. It had a good reputation and 600mm was a useful focal length for sports and wildlife, one that currently is completely unavailable in E-mount.
I can say categorically that Sigma has succeeded. The lens mimics all the focus and drive modes of the E-mount lenses on an A7 cameras. The one that I appreciate is staying in magnified view while autofocusing. And continuous autofocus functions also. Now when I say it functions I mean it deploys. But honestly, I’m not a sports shooter and this lens is so heavy that even panning was sometimes beyond my poor skills to perform. But when I pointed the lens at something it autofocused extremely quickly and very accurately. And the images are tack sharp all the way up to 600mm. In fact, one of my Canon shooting friends loaned me the Canon 1.4 teleconverter and even at 840mm equivalent the images were very sharp (see photos and 100% crops below). Physically the lens is solid as a rock but that also means it’s as heavy as a brick. It weighs in at a little over six pounds. Hand holding it is impractical and even a monopod needs to be pretty substantial to provide stability. But with the right support this lens is perfect for a sporting event or a wildlife shoot. Add it to the list of available E-mount options.
I wished that I’d had better weather during the two weeks I rented the lens but I learned enough about it to know it was an excellent item. One day I’ll try out the Contemporary series version. It’s supposed to be optically very similar but half the price and two pounds lighter.
And now that I know that the MC-11 works I’ll look at the other Sigma lenses for items that Sony hasn’t provided yet. Here’s the full list.
12-24mm F4 DG HSM | Art
14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM I Art
24-35mm F2 DG HSM | Art
24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Art
24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM | Art
100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary
120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Sports
150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports
150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary
14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art
20mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
24mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
85mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art
135mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art
500mm F4 DG OS HSM | Sport

 

A7 III with Sigma 150 – 600mm MC-11 adapter

 

A7 III with Sigma 150 – 600mm MC-11 adapter

 

A7 III with Sigma 150 – 600mm MC-11 adapter

 

A7 III with Sigma 150 – 600mm MC-11 adapter

 

 

A7 III with Sigma 150 – 600mm MC-11 adapter and Canon 1.4 X teleconverter

 

A7 III with Sigma 150 – 600mm MC-11 adapter and Canon 1.4 X teleconverter

 

A7 III with Sigma 150 – 600mm MC-11 adapter

 

A7 III with Sigma 150 – 600mm MC-11 adapter

 

26MAY2018 – OCF Update

The thirty degree mornings have relented.  There is a break in the seemingly endless succession of torrential rain and wind storms.  I have a non-work day where I can cut the grass and put the yard in post-winter order.So today may be a bit slow.  What’s on tap and coming up soon:

  1. Photos from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
  2. Photo essay on the Sigma 150-600 Sports lens on the A7 III.
  3. Book Review on Robert Silverberg’s “Valentine Pontifex.”
  4. Book Review on “Kill Team (Galaxy’s Edge Book 3).”
  5. Book Review on “Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past.”
  6. Review of the Vanguard Alta GH-300T Grip Head for heavy lens shooting.
  7. Review of Deadpool 2.
  8. Review of Capture One 11 Photo Editing Software.
  9. President Trump’s summary firing of the intelligence agency conspirators.  Wait I’m not supposed to write that.  Let’s call that Trump Humor.

And some of these may not be in this order.  I am human after all and sometimes the mood strikes me to switch stuff up.  So stay tuned.

Review of Sigma MC-11 Adapter – Using Sigma Brand Canon-Mount Lenses on Sony E-Mount Cameras – Part 1

As mentioned in earlier posts I rented the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens for Canon EF and the Sigma 180mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM APO Macro for Canon EF to use on my Sony A7 III with the Sigma MC-11 adapter.  I had heard on a “The Camera Store” video that the MC-11 paired with Sigma Canon mount lenses  was practically equivalent to native e-mount lenses with respect to autofocus on A7 cameras.  The only caveat was that the Sigma lenses for which this was true were restricted to three series, the Art Series, the Sports Series and the Contemporary Series.  Unfortunately for me I was interested in the Sigma 180mm f\2.8 macro lens which is not in any of these series.  So I rent ed this lens and the 150-600mm sports Series lens to compare how they performed with the MC-11.  I can now confirm that the lens series that are specified by Sigma for use with the MC-11 do indeed autofocus with Sony A7 cameras utilizing all the various capabilities of the autofocus system of the Sony A7 III (at least as far as I was able to determine).  And unfortunately, I can also confirm that lenses that aren’t in those sanctioned series of lenses have much less autofocus capability than those that do.  Many functions such as autofocus while remaining in magnified view don’t work at all.  As far as the accuracy of the autofocus it’s not as clear whether the capability of the lenses differ that much because I was using it as a macro lens and that type of lens usually doesn’t autofocus as quickly as normal lenses.  My sense is that it is less capable.  It feels like the autofocus that was available on the first generation of A7 cameras.

But the main message of this post is if there are Sigma lenses that extend the lens range for the A7 cameras in one of these three lens series (Art,Sports, Contemporary) you can expect to get near native autofocus capability with the Canon mount versions on the MC-11 adapter.