FE Lens shootout: 35mm, 55mm, 24-70 FE comparisons

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Chad Hardy
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FE Lens shootout: 35mm, 55mm, 24-70 FE comparisons
6 months ago

Hello everyone, after doing a bit of reading yesterday and a bit of crafting today I was able to setup a make shift testing station for my 3 FE lenses with my A7R. A few items of note before we get into specifics: These are MY copies of each of these lenses. Your's may be different. I am only comparing my 3 to each other, not mine to yours LOL. My opinions are that of an enthusiast, I am no pro photographer. PLEASE do not post saying I should see what the pictures look like and use that to be the judge. I understand a good lens does not make a good photographer. This is strictly a little experiment I decide to conduct (yes I am a scientist by training) to compare my 3 copes of these lenses in a semi controlled environment. If anyone would like additional pictures of my testing I can share. I just didn't want to bore everyone with 90 pictures of this damn poster lol.

Anyway I read a bit on lens rentals and a few other sites on how to setup my station. I used white foam board (2 pieces put together for about 60x40 total size). I cropped portions of the ISO 12233 chart and the pinwheel (PM me for links if you want copies) and put it at center and corners to get max field of view. A7R with HVLF43M flash at 1.0 TTL and vertical grip was attached to ok tripod (not a gitzo mind you, but ok). Remote trigger was used, 2 shots from each focal length/aperture were taken with each lens. Therefore I ended up with:

2470FE shots at 24, 35, 50, 70mm with apertures of 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16.

35FE shots at 35mm with apertures of 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16.

55FE shots at 35mm with apertures of 1.8, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16.

I am attaching 1 shot of the 2470FE at 50mm f5.6 and the 55FE at 55mm f5.6. I have a whole bunch more pictures if you want to see them!

55mm FE f5.6

2470FE at 50mm f5.6

Here is a crop of the bottom left of my 55FE compared to the upper right side below it.

bottom left 55FE at f2.8

bottom right 55FE at f2.8

Here are my very unscientific observations at each focal length and aperture for each lens, and comparing the 2 at equiv lengths.

2470FE:

· 24mm f4: soft in center and all edges. Bad vignetting and distortion but corrects fine in LR with profile.

· 24mmf5.6: sharp center, soft corners. Heavy vignetting, minor distortion

· 24mmf8: ok center, soft corners, softer than 5.6. heavy vignetting, minor distortion ,upper left seems softest.

· 24mmf11: better than f8 in corners. Softest in top left corner like f8. Heavy vignetting, minor distortion

· 24mmf16: bit softer than f8 or 11 in center, same softness in corners. Again upper left seems worst.

· 35mmf4: sharp center, but soft in corners. Some distortion, vignetting

· 35mmf5.6: sharp through viewing area. Not much vignetting or distortion

· 35mmf8: touch soft in corners. Good in center. Not much vignetting or distortion

· 35mmf11: Sharper than f8 in corners.

· 35mmf16: tad soft but consistent through viewing ara

· 50mmf4: pretty sharp through out viewing area. Vignetting and distortion worse than 35mmf4.

· 50mmf5.6: sharp through viewing area

· 50mmf8: sharp through viewing area, not quite as good as 5.6

· 50mmf11: as expected a little less sharp than f8, but consistent. No soft corners.

· 50mmf16: as expected a little less sharp than f11, but consistent.

· 70mmf4: The worst at f4. Soft in all corners.

· 70mmf5.6: better than f4.

· 70mmf8: very sharp center, really soft in corners.

· 70mmf11: good center, really soft in corners

· 70mmf16: moderate softness in center, soft in corners

35FE:

· 35mmf2.8: tac sharp in center, sharp to corners. Some vignetting, no distortion.

· 35mmf4: tac sharp center, a bit softer than 2.8 in corners. Some vignetting, no distortion

· 35mmf5.6: sharp center, soft in corners. Some vignetting, no distortion. Disappointing in corners for prime lens.

· 35mmf8: tac sharp center, soft in corners, about like f5.6. vignetting, no distortion

· 35mmf11: sharp center, soft in corners. Vignetting, no distortion

· 35mmf16: bit softer than f11 in center, same softness in corners. Minimal vignetting, no distortion

55FE

· 55mmf1.8: sharp in all areas except lower left where soft. Some vignetting, no distortion

· 55mmf2.8: sharp in all areas except lower left where soft. Minimal vignetting, no distortion

· 55mm f4: sharp center, soft in corners. Markedly worse in lower left corner. Minimal vignetting, no distortion

· 55mmf5.6: sharp everywhere except lower left corner.

· 55mmf8: sharp except for lower half. Lower left worst.

· 55mmf11: at f11 the lower left cleans up. No longer softer than rest.

· 55mmf16:

2470FE vs 35FE at 35mm

· f4: much less sharp in center, just a touch less sharp in corners. More distortion and vignetting in 2470

· f5.6: 2470 is impressive, sharper than prime in center and edges. Yowza.

· f8: prime sharper throughout viewing area 2470 still good.

· f11: 2470 a touch sharper in corners, prime a touch sharper in center

· f16: again 2470 impresses, a but sharper in corners than prime, same in center

2470FE vs 55FE at 50mm

· f4: prime wins on all accounts except lower left corner where it is bad

· f5.6: prime wins on all accounts except lower left corner

· f8: prime edges out 2470 except on lower left where it is better

· f11: prime a bit better everywhere

· f16: pretty close everywhere. Prime maybe a bit better in corners

Impression overall:

1. I have a bad copy of the 55. Just arrived today and it has a very soft lower left corner. Going back to B&H tomorrow. The rest of the lens is fabulous.

2. 35FE is softer in the corners past f2.8 than I would like, but acceptable.

3. 2470FE is actually quite impressive at equivalent focal lengths, which parallels many observations. Somewhere around 30-60mm seems to be the sweet spots. In fact in a few cases the zoom was BETTER than the prime. If you want examples, I can post them.

4. Unfortunately for the zoom, it is good at the same focal lengths as the primes, yet it is slower. It isn't great at 24, and is worse at 70. Not terrible mind you, just much worse than 30-60mm. This is sad because the only reason I would keep it would be to shoot at less than 35mm or more than 55mm

5. Naturally if you love the portability of the 2470 then you should keep it. If you aren't going to swap lenses (35/55) then keep it.

6. If you are buying 1 lens and don't need a ton of speed, honestly I recommend getting the 2470. It is good enough to be worth the portability, OSS, and price compared to the 2 primes.

7. If you shoot video, get the 2470.

 Chad Hardy's gear list:Chad Hardy's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Sony Alpha 7R Fujifilm X-T1 RX100 III Fujifilm X-E2 +16 more
Sony Alpha 7R
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