Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens - A serious days shooting

So what do I do now? Just as I think I'm getting everything sorted I have to go and buy this lens. Yesterday we had a taste of spring in the UK. I was able to spend a day using the Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lens. The sun was the strongest it's been for a while and I was able to use the lens at apertures like f/8 and f/11 on my A7r. And there is a real problem with the files this combination produces. They make all the pictures I've ever taken with any camera or lens I've ever owned before, in terms of image quality, look mediocre. 

So now I know what images shot with a lens that's off the chart in some DxO tests look like. And I know that from now on anything else is going to be a disappointment. Of course it's what's actually in the rectangle that counts, but then that's down to me. With this camera / lens combination I now have no excuse to produce anything other than image files that are pretty close to technically perfect. Yesterday I posted some jpg. files but shooting raw with the 55mm at narrower apertures produced some extraordinary images. I may have expressed some concerns about how this focal length might restrict me, but I think I'm going to have to learn to use this as my primary lens.

Regular readers would expect by now to see some dropping off of my enthusiasm for the A7r. After all I've had it a couple of months! But I'm afraid that those who were wondering whether this blog had turned into Sonyimageplus a few weeks ago are in for another bout of me drooling over the output from my Sony A7 and A7r cameras.

I remember Michael Reichmann over at Luminous Landscape writing about taking out the Sigma DP2 Merrill just so that he could get back to his computer and look at the files. I think I'm going to be feeling the same way about pictures I shoot with the A7r and the 55mm f/1.8 lens. There may be all sorts of issues with Sony's lack of lenses for this FE system but with this lens on the A7r they have got it spectacularly, gloriously right. 

Yesterday I wanted to travel light. It was a sunny day and the warmest it's been for a while. However the constant rain we've had for so long has turned much of the ground into a bog. A piece of injudicious parking saw me starting my photographic excursion by trying to push my car out of a mud patch from which it was unable to extricate itself using the engine! After some assistance from some passing motorists I was able to drive off and find some tarmac on which to leave the car! Since I was less full of energy than before my 'off-road' experience, and was planning to climb a rather steep hill, I decided to forego the battery grip and other lenses and I went off shooting with the outfit pictured above. 

And two things struck me while I was taking pictures with it. Firstly I can understand why some people can't get their heads round mirrorless, because it is difficult to believe that something this small and light can 'do the business' in quite such a spectacular fashion. And secondly I had the remarkable thought that what I was carrying around so easily is very close to the ultimate quality achievable with digital photography this side of medium-format. The only thing I imagine that would top this would be if I fitted a Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 to my A7r. But since I don't have a spare £4000 lying around and I really like using AF this is for me MY ultimate 'no compromise' outfit.

And no it's not the technical excellence of my gear that will make me a good photographer, but I have to admit the thought of working mainly with this lens from now on is actually a mouth-watering prospect. Because it really is that good. 

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