Sony A7s - 16-35mm zoom - An 'alternative' telephoto option


Above images - Sony A7s - Sony Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm F2.8 ZA SSM lens


Above images - Samsung Galaxy 2 camera

For my Sony A7 cameras A7r / A7s, I'm pretty much sorted at the wide end, particularly with the 16-35mm zoom, which is a great lens. However, for telephoto shots I've nothing longer than the 100mm Nikon Series E, which is manual focus anyway. So I've come up with a radical solution. I take out out my ultra-small (size and sensor) Samsung Galaxy 2 compact camera, with it's 23-483mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens. And no it's not the best quality camera I have, in fact it's probably the worst, but since I'm never going to be carrying around a 'full-frame' lens that's even close to the focal lengths I can get from this thing, it's actually a way of creating images I wouldn't otherwise be able to capture. It shoots a mean panorama as well.

The Sony FF mirrorless interchangeable lens system has many advantages, but small, light, easy to carry around telephoto lenses isn't one of them. And that's probably going to continue to be the case. As is usual on the above excursion, I walked a fair distance and with the state of my back, heavy telephotos on top of what I'm already carrying are out of the question if I want to make it back to my car! The Samsung is an easy to use alternative and fortunately the pictures are just this side of useable, but only just. Which is why this looks really interesting. 1" sensor (Sony?), 24-600mm (35mm equivalent) zoom and possibly a bolt-on EVF. Hopefully, a scaled down lighter version of my Panasonic FZ-1000, which is a fine camera in it's own right, but somewhat similar to carrying around a heavy telephoto if I want to go with the two camera option.

I've often used my Olympus OM-D E-M10 + the wonderful 75mm f/1.8 as an alternative to the Samsung, but it is a fixed lens and only a moderate telephoto. That 'pulling in' capacity of the Samsung is very useful and creates some interesting images, particularly as the small sensor depth-of-field makes the files look they weren't shot on a very long telephoto. So it does do a job, but as I say, the jpg. only files, which are after all from a camera that uses a smartphone sensor and a lens not much better than that, are heavily noise reduced and somewhat 'smeared' at 100% magnifications. My libraries are happy with them, but then they take smartphone images already, but I really would like something better. Maybe the upcoming Canon will suitable, maybe not. In which case I'll probably persevere with the Samsung. I'm never going to sell it anyway, because it comes with the Android smartphone operating system on board, which makes it just as vulnerable as smartphones to hacking (no matter what you do apparently) and I have a few too many passwords to various accounts on the camera that I'd rather keep private.

So an interesting alternative, particularly as I'm not holding my breath for something similar from any of my FF or APS-C systems. I've got the 55-135mm for my Leica T on order which at 500g, is just about the limit for what I want to carry around, but that's only an 85-200mm FF equivalent. Hopefully, small sensor technology will continue to improve, so that we can enjoy the benefits that cameras like the Samsung offer, but with a significantly better image quality. Fingers crossed for that.