Owning the Sony FE 24-70, a few suggestions.

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LBJ2
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Owning the Sony FE 24-70, a few suggestions.
7 months ago

If like me you want to own the $1200 USD FE 24-70 for your A7r regardless of the less-than-stellar reviews and in some cases recommendations to pass on this lens altogether by respected reviewers, here are a couple of lessons-learned from my own experience:

*Experienced photographer alert--you guys already know all of these recommedations--please go easy on me For fellow photo newbies like me, feel free to PM me for links to the references I noted below (I am not 100% on what I can or can't post on this forum so didn't want to risk breaking the rules)

1. Make sure you get a good copy

There are bad copies out there. I received a bad copy from Sony's initial release. Fortunately I was able to return my first copy for a full refund and buy another from their most recent March shipment. I realize everyone is not able to return or refund lenses--therefore do your best to try-out the lens on your camera before making a purchase commitment if not, then its probably a good idea to purchase lens insurance for this particular lens. One person I compared notes with returned his lens twice before he got a good copy.

2. Test the lens with both test charts and real-world subjects

My first week with this lens:

For me I was able to see pronounced issues on my first copy from the very first set of test shots. Due to earlier posts on this forum and other early reviews, I was already prepared to see issues so I specifically looked for complicated scenes to test my copy. I tested with hundreds of real-world shots and at all FLs and settings, jpegs/raw, OSS on/off etc. During my test I also reached out to others who have a lot more experience than I do asking them to confirm what I was seeing.

I just received my second copy from the latest March production batch and just like my first copy I was able to tell with the first couple of real-world test shots I had a better copy which I confirmed under heavy zoom scrutiny using iPhoto zoom tool. However, this time I also decided to use the Zeiss Siemens Star Chart ( printed out a copy off the internet) and another popular reviewer's site "do-it-yourself centering sanity check " patterns to test for de-centering -- now that I know more about this affect , I suspect centering may have been an issue with my first copy. Either way, using a printed-out star chart and other de-centering test patterns, I think I confirmed no de-centering issues with my second copy.

3. Use Hyperfocal Focusing technique for landscape shots

Many on this forum will be well versed on this subject/technique, not me. I had to do some googling and trial and error before I was able to climb out of my own "Circle of Confusion" to apply this DoF focusing technique which my initial testing seems to be very effective at 24mm + tripod with this lens. This lens like many others does not include DoF markings on the lens itself so again after much googling I ended up purchasing, for a couple of bucks the TrueDoF--OptimumCS-Pro app for my iPhone. For me of all the apps and charts I reviewed, this app enables me to not only apply Hyperfocal Focusing but helps me understand why this technique is beneficial for landscape shots. I'll be out today doing more torture testing with this technique--however early indications are very promising.

4. Update your camera firmware

I am not sure if my second lens copy is just a better copy or better copy with better in-camera processing due to the latest A7r firmware. Either way can't hurt to cover all your bases. Also * If you are using this lens on a tripod don't forget to turn off OSS ;-). This tripped me up a few times and can lead to some bizarre distortions.

5. Last but not least--don't put your subject in the extreme corners

I know, I KNOW everyone knows this already and I don't know how many times I heard or read this advice ( seems to apply to any lens really), but my experience with this lens as with all other challenges in life puts this advice into perspective

In summary and to fellow photo newbies, as always the decision to spend $1200 on a lens is personal and there are many who will decide to spend their hard earned money elsewhere. However, if like me this is what you want to do, I think you might find the above helpful.

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