This summer just keeps on going. Autumn is almost upon us and yet the weather continues to be warm and sunny. I'm out making pictures day after day and the past three days was no exception. Here are some images shot with my Nikon Df, Sony A7r and Nokia Lumia 1020.
Three different cameras, three different shooting situations. The Df continues to impress with it's rendering of subjects in low light and / or with high dynamic range, the A7r for it's incredible resolution and the Nokia proves invaluable for those grab shots..
SONY A7r + Sony Carl Zeiss T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Lens + Sony 85mm f/2.8
The above outfit I took out a couple of days ago ticks a lot of mirrorless / CSC / E.V.I.L boxes. It's small, light and creates amazing detailed files with that 36MP resolution. I could live without the a-mount > e-mount adapter, but it does work well. It does however loose about 1/3 to 1/2 stop of light.
And it did get me thinking that Sony could have solved this FE lens problem by being somewhat less ambitious. I, like many others of my generation, was brought up on the 35mm film f/2.8 prime. When I started buying photographic equipment the faster lenses were beyond my budget. But there were those f/2.8 options which offered excellent quality at reasonable prices. So how hard would it have been for Sony to come up with a 20mm f/2.8, 28mm f/2.8, 85mm f/2.8 and 135mm f/2.8? Now these wouldn't be headline grabbers, but would have provided a nice complement to the excellent 35mm f/2.8 and 55mm f/1.8 lenses.
The FE lens range is still a bit of a strange selection, including those announced. That monstrous 28-135mm power zoom video lens for example. Why did they release that before a decent medium telephoto lens.? There is now a wide-angle zoom announced, but many of us are using the 10-18mm APS-C lens which does actually work well on the A7r. There's a 24-240mm zoom, which might or might not be decent, however with Sony's track record concerning their standard zooms, I'm not holding my breath. There's a 90mm macro which is a useful focal length and the 28mm f/2 plus a couple of converters. But even if these sound tempting don't get too excited, they aren't arriving until Feb / March 2015.
Contrast this with what m4/3 and Fuji X have available and you'll see why the mutterings about Sony and lenses won't go away. The Fuji X lens range is superb and they have it all out relatively quickly. And it makes sense, it's all a logical progression. Sony's is all over the place and if you remember they released the FE cameras with just two lenses.
All of this of course fuels the suspicion that the FE system was released prematurely, without any a viable system in place. And while it's true like all A7 system users I've found a way round it, it isn't particularly satisfactory. The 85mm I have is a decent lens. It's cheap, but that's because of the lightweight construction and plastic lens mount. Optically it's fine and I have no complaints. But I've had to buy the adapter to get it to work and as mentioned above there is a light loss because of the fixed mirror in the adapter. Now it really can't have be that difficult to manufacture the lens with an e-mount.
But Sony, unlike Fuji, seem to want to charge a premium price for their FE system. It's strange that cameras like the a6000 are very good value and there seems no justification for the 'full-frame' price premium. Sony obviously think they can charge more or don't think they will sell as many, since there has to be a reason for this. It's not as though they are using prime materials and making their FE cameras to the highest possible standards. My A7r creaks here and there and it's someway short of what I've come to expect from a Fuji or an Olympus for example, in terms of build quality.
So, more rumblings about Sony unfortunately. In terms of the tech. they are pretty much at the top of the tree, but for the nitty gritty of making cameras and lenses they still leave something to be desired. All the time I was using the A7r and the 35mm f/2.8 lens in particular, I was thinking "This is great, but it's just one prime. Why isn't the whole system like this?' And seemingly I'll be musing on the same topic for some time to come.