What Am I Missing in the Sony E-Mount Lens Line-Up?

A few years ago the answer to this question would have been everything. Especially for the new full-frame 7 series cameras, the line-up was woefully poor.  In the last three years Sony (and Zeiss) have really stepped up to the plate and launched a goodly selection of high end lenses for the FE (full-frame e-mount) cameras.  In fact at this point the wide angle options are pretty much complete.  For the normal range there are several excellent options including a 50mm f/1.4, an 85 f/1.4, a 100mm macro and the recently added 70 – 200 F2.8 G Master zoom.

What is left? Telephotos.  Now, Sony has added a 100-400mm zoom.  But I would say that Sony is lacking a telephoto zoom that reaches 600mm.  If I were a sports photographer I’d be looking for a 600mm F/4.  But that is a very expensive lens.  I think what would be appropriate is for someone like Sigma or Tamron to produce an e-mount version of their existing 150 – 600mm zooms.  This would provide the compromise between price and capability that a large number of amateur wildlife and sports shooters would be willing to pay for.  In fact I know that if Sony produced this lens it would probably be too expensive.  So it is a natural fit for these two third party manufacturers.

The other thing that I would like to see Sony produce is a 200mm macro. I currently use the Minolta version with an adapter but since it’s a screw-drive focus system it either has to be used as a manual focus on the LA-EA3 or with the “translucent mirror of the LA-EA4.  Both of these are compromises.  I also think the chance of Sony manufacturing this lens is zero.  So once again I think this is a good opportunity for Sigma.  They already have a long focal length macro and this would probably only require adapting it to the e-mount.  This lens probably won’t have as many buyers as a 150-600mm  zoom.  But I throw it out there because I’m greedy and annoying.

There is a rumor on Sonyalpharumors.com that Sigma is about to announce a major effort to break into the FE market. The initial offering has been guessed to be a 35mm f/1.4.  This is a lens that Sigma has done a good job on already in their Art Lens series.  Whether it would require a major modification to work on the e-mount is a question.

So if we assume Sigma is looking to get the maximum bang for their buck in the Sony ecosystem then they should go for some of the open focal lengths that they already have technology for.  In that case both the 150-600 and 200mm macro are lenses they already make and represent gaps in the Sony line-up.

If you’re listening Sigma, get busy. You make money and I get to stop complaining.  A win-win.

You’re welcome Sigma!

My Sony Ultimatum

Well, here we go again. SonyAlphaRumors (SAR) has a post today recapping the rumors for a new full-frame camera coming out soon.  The latest development is a registration with the Chinese government of two new Sony cameras.  The Admin at SAR says based on the designations, one of the two has to be a full-frame Sony.  Also the Admin says it’s typically 1-2 months later that the cameras are launched.  These developments are added onto rumors that say that Sony will be releasing a full-frame camera that will have a high frames per second rate and extremely good auto-focus but with moderate resolution.  This identified it as either the legendary A9 or an A7S III.  In an earlier iteration of this rumor it was stated that this camera was going to be very expensive.  This would point to an A9.  The Admin was saying that it would compete with the Canon and Nikon professional cameras that retail in the $6,000 – $5,000 range.  Currently he seems to be undecided whether it could also be an A7S III and moderately more expensive than the current A7X II series cameras.

From a personal point of view I hope it turns out to b the A7S III. I currently use the A7S.  It has only two weaknesses.  It needs much better auto-focus (which is actually a general problem for all the Sony mirrorless cameras) and it could stand to have 18 or 24 megapixels of resolution.  If those two weaknesses were addressed it would be the perfect camera for my needs.

So if SAR is right (which is a big if), then sometime between the end of April and the end of May a fantastic new Sony full-frame camera is due to debut. So, do I believe this?  Well, actually kinda no.  Maybe it’s the delay in new products caused by the earthquake that occurred in Japan a couple of years ago or maybe I’m just getting skeptical.  But I don’t think Sony has the goods yet.  Believe me.  I’d like nothing better than to plunk down $3,000 to get my dream camera.  It would be right in time for summer and all the photo opportunities that that entails.  And I would love for Sony to reach up into the top bracket of camera-making companies.  After all, I’ve got a pretty healthy investment in gear at this point.

But for some reason I don’t think they’ll put out the cameras that are mentioned above. I think they’ll put out the A7 III.  It will have some number of megapixels slightly less than the current A7R II and will have some new gimmicks built in that will appeal to the mass of people (something with the word selfy associated with it).  It will claim to have the state of the art of auto-focus technology (but it won’t).  It will be just another iteration of the A7 cameras that Sony has been putting out for the last few years.  And, if that turns out to be the case, that’s going to be a problem for me.  I’ve been a loyal and patient Sony fan going back to the A-850 DSLR.  I’ve owned four Sony mirrorless cameras and a ton of lenses.  But I’m just about out of patience.  I haven’t owned a Sony mirrorless that could auto-focus half as well as the A-850. And the A-850 was far from the best auto-focusing camera out back in its day.  So I guess what I’m saying is that Sony is about to be judged by me.  If they don’t come out with a full-frame I’ll stay in waiting mode.  But if they do, I’ll be deciding whether I have a future with Sony mirrorless or not.  So listen up Sony.  It’s either my way or the highway (that’ll scare ‘em).

Sony Photography – January 2017 Perspective

Back in August 2016 I gave a retrospective of my 5 years as a Sony photography equipment shooter.  Well it’s about six months later and I guess it’s time to update my opinion and look ahead.

Since then, Sony has not issued another full frame e-mount camera.  In fact, the last full frame e-mount announced was the A7S II back in September 2015.  As a sort of qualifier, I will note that a full frame A mount camera (Sony A-99 II) was launched in late 2016.  This launch combined with the damage to Sony’s factory in April 2016 probably explain this slower release schedule.  During this time, Sony released a couple of APS-C e-mount cameras that exhibited many interesting improvements in auto-focus ability and other important features.  In addition, Sony has announced an impressive number of very good full frame lenses for the e-mount.  So, taking all these mitigating circumstances into consideration you could completely excuse Sony for this slower schedule.

Well, maybe you could but I can’t!  As a certified Sony fanatic, I excuse nothing.  I consider that Sony owes me the impossible each and every day!  Okay, rant over.

Basically, we are still at about the same point of Sony mirrorless evolution as we were back then.  Granted, the APS-C cameras claim to have improved moving subject auto-focus greatly.  And more powerful processing chips have been added to the A-99 II.  But until Sony provides a full-frame that matches the auto-focus of the top end Canon and Nikon cameras from even 5 years ago I don’t think Sony can declare themselves a legitimate option for professional photographers.

In fact, lately it sounds like some of the other mirrorless manufacturers (Fuji and Panasonic) have really solved the auto-focus issues for mirrorless.  Now granted these are not full-frame cameras but it highlights the defect of the A7 cameras in this department.  On top of this I saw an article on a popular rumor site that stated that Sony lost quite a bit of sales ground to its competitors this last year.  Taking this all together it sounds like Sony needs to play some catch up to be seen as a competitor for Canon and Nikon.

Sounds sort of bad.  Well actually, I think Sony has learned that they need to stop churning out cameras with only minor improvements.  I think they are preparing to launch a significant upgrade to the A7 line.  Whether they will launch this series simultaneously with an A9 (professional model) is unclear.  From the perspective of maximizing overall sales I think releasing the A9 later would make sense.  But to get this high-end product out quickly into the market place I rather think launching the A9 at the same time is much more exciting.  Plus, assuming that an A9 would be greatly more expensive I don’t see that these cameras would interfere with each other’s sales.

So what insider knowledge do I possess that allows me to predict the imminent release of these new cameras?  None!

I’m going strictly on gut feeling that Sony knows they have to bust out a really compelling camera (or cameras) now to stay relevant and profitable.  So, there you have it.  I am putting my incredible reputation as a soothsayer on the line and predicting that Sony will announce a ground-breaking full-frame mirrorless camera in 2017.  It will have professional level auto-focus and all the other required characteristics (dual memory cards, good battery life, weatherproof construction) that a professional camera requires.

If I’m wrong may I be forced to take no other photos but selfies with smartphones for a year!

Autumn with the Sony A7S – Part 4 – Voigtlander 10mm vs. Loxia 21mm

Autumn with the Sony A7S – Part1
Autumn with the Sony A7S – Part2
Autumn with the Sony A7S – Part3

All but the last three photos were taken with the Loxia 21mm lens on the A7S. This lens has proven to be sharp wide open and corner to corner (of course it gets even sharper when it’s stopped down). The colors are excellent and the lens does not suffer from chromatic aberration or other faults. It is a fantastic lens for any photos that conform to a 21mm focal length. I highly recommend it to any A7-type camera users.

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The final three photos in the group above were taken with the Voigtlander 10mm. This lens cannot compare to the Loxia 21mm with respect to corner sharpness, or flare resistance or chromatic aberration. This is not to say that it is bad in these respects. On the contrary for an unbelievably wide 10mm focal length it’s actually amazingly good, just not in the same league with the Loxia. What it does excel at is providing the ability to juxtapose a foreground and background in extremely creative ways that only ultra wide angles can provide. And so if you need that type of composition I wholeheartedly recomment this Voigtlander (or the 12mm version too).

Voigtlander 10mm f\5.6 Review Part 3

Voigtlander 10mm f\5.6 Review Part 1

Voigtlander 10mm f\5.6 Review Part 2

Lenses for the Sony E-mount Cameras – Part 1

On Friday June 10th 2016 I took the 10mm Voigtlander out on my Sony A7S. I tried it on both landscape and closer objects. I’ll have to say that this lens is completely acceptable for both. The central sharpness is excellent and the corners are good enough for almost any lens critic. Let me clarify. The corners on the Loxia 21mm are much better. But that is a much narrower angle of vision. The correct way to compare this is to lenses that are close to the 10mm here. I’m comparing it to the Sigma 12-24 zoom at 12mm or the Voigtlander 12mm for M mount. When compared to these lenses it is actually better in the corners. Of course a tougher test would be against the Canon 11-21 zoom. I hear that lens has excellent corners and f\2.8 aperture. I’ll leave that test to others. Suffice it to say I’m very pleased with the 10mm Voigtlander. This summer I’m going to use it to capture Milky Way landscape shots. I think that will be interesting.

So here are some more shots to examine.



















Voigtlander 10mm F\5.6 on Sony A7S
Voigtlander 10mm F\5.6 on Sony A7S