Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Sony Alpha Lens Lineup

One thing I hear over and over again by photographers and internet reviewers when people ask them about the Sony Alpha system is the 'poor lens selection' - their words, not mine (see last post).

To the uninitiated newbie to photography, this sounds exactly like the put-down that it's intended to be. They may as well say "Don't buy a Sony Alpha camera, all the lenses suck!" And indeed, some of them almost go that far.

But is this really true? Or is the uninitiated aspiring photographer being sold a lie?

I believe that it is a lie. And in fact, I'd go so far as to say that not only is it not true, I also believe that it could be turned a full 180 degrees. I'd go so far as to say that Sony has the best lens lineup of any manufacturer out there today! Can anyone say 'Minolta'?

So much glass... but it's just the tip of the iceburg
It just so happens that I have lens brochures from Sony, Canon and Nikon - as well as from Minolta, so a 'real' lens system comparison can be made. The Sony 'A' mount is the same as the Minolta mount, so all Minolta AF legacy glass from the 1970s onwards will fit perfectly on the Sony bodies. Yet people seem to ignore this. Why? Did Minolta not make any decent lenses? Are you kidding me! Minolta made crazy, insanely good, fantastically sharp glass. And guess what. They are ALL Image Stabilised, thanks to the Sony 'Steady Shot' system being inside of the camera, not the lens.

One of my favorite lenses to put on the a200 is a Minolta 35-70mm f4, the 'kit' lens that came with the Minolta 7000 film camera. Man is that thing sharp! I also have a Minolta 100-200mm f4.5, and it's a beautifully made, smooth, fast and sharp piece of glass too! Then there's the famous Minolta beer can (70-210mm f4) of the same era. Solid, well made and, you guessed it, sharp. And best of all, these lenses can be had for a song.

So lets take a look at the lenses available for the Sony Alpha system. And yes, I am going to include Minolta legacy lenses. And no, I don't think it's cheating. None of these lenses are scarce or hard to come by (except for maybe the really big guns like the 600mm), and all work perfectly on all Sony bodies.

For fixed prime lenses we have a 16mm fisheye, 20mm, 24mm, 24mm Zeiss, 28mm (f2 & f2.8), 35mm (f1.4G & f1.8), 50mm (f1.4 & f1.7 & f1.8), 85mm f1.4 Zeiss, 85mm (f1.4G & f2.8), 100mm f2, 100mm f2.8 Soft Focus, 135mm f1.8 Zeiss, 135mm f2.8STF, 200mm f2.8G, 300mm f2.8G, 400mm f4.5G, 500mm f4G, 500mm f8 Reflex and 600mm f4G! As well as the macro 30mm f2.8, 50mm f2.8, 50mm f3.5, 100mm f2.8 and 200mm f4 macro. Extensive enough for you?

Everyone loves zooms nowadays though - right? So presumably the zoom lens range for Sony is left wanting? OK then, let's check it out.

We've got an 11-18mm f4.5/5.6, 16-35mm Zeiss f2.8, 16-50mm f2.8, 16-80mm Zeiss f3.5/4.5, 16-105mm f3.5/5.6, 17-35mm f2.8/4, 17-35mm f3.5G, 18-55mm f3.5/5.6, 18-135mm f3.5/5.6, 18-200mm f3.5/6.3, 18-250mm f3.5/6.3, 20-35mm f2.5/4.5, 24-50mm f4, 24-70mm f2.8 Zeiss, 24-85mm f3.5/4.5, 24-105mm f3.5/4.5, 28-70mm f2.8G, 28-75mm f2.8, 28-80mm f3.5/5.6, 28-85mm f3.5/4.5, 28-100mm f3.5/5.6, 28-135mm f4/4.5, 35-70mm f4, 35-80mm f4/5.6, 35-105mm f3.5/4.5, 55-200mm f4/5.6, 55-300mm f4.5/5.6, 70-200mm f2,8G, 70-210mm f4, 70-210mm f4.5/4.6, 70-300mm f4.5/5.6, 75-300mm f4.5/5.6, 70-400mm f4.5/5.6G, 80-200mm f2.8, 100-200mm f4.5, 100-300mm f4.5/5.6, and100-400mm f4.5/6.7. Are you sure that's not a decent enough lens line up for the 'average' photographer to choose from?

And notice the inclusion of the name 'Zeiss' in there. Pro's who use Sony (yes, actual Pro's who do actually shoot with actual Sony cameras) claim that these Zeiss lenses are the best they've ever used. And if it's Zeiss, then I believe them. And that's on the SONY system baby.

Is anything really missing from the extensive list above? Maybe (although I can't think of anything right now). But nothing that you couldn't find by going to a Sigma lens instead.

So next time some block-head camera know-it-all tells you not to buy a Sony because they don't have the lens selection that the 'other' (re: Canon and Nikon) brands have, just smile and nod. Oh and yeah, point them in this direction....

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