FE 35mm F2.8 vs Voigtländer 35/2.5 with A7R for street photography

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
M Dennis Fern
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Re: FE 35mm F2.8 vs Voigtländer 35/2.5 with A7R for street photography
In reply to EinsteinsGhost, 8 months ago

No one has mentioned the Pentax vintage 35mm lenses and you should consider them for use on the A7/A7R.  I recently tested the Pentax A 35mm f:2.8 and the Pentax A 35mm f:2 and compared them (in a non-scientific way) to my Summicron 35mm f:2 (4th generation--known as the "bokeh king") and 35mm on my FE 24-70mm Zeiss.  Both Pentax's are fine lens, with the tiny F2.8 being amazing.  I shot all test pictures on a tripod at ISO 50 in good sunlight.  At f:8, the Leica and Zeiss had a small but perceptible edge over the two Pentax lenses, which I suppose I should have expected given their age and relative cost.  Although the Summicron and Zeiss  seemed about the same in center sharpness, the Zeiss zoom produced a somewhat warmer picture overall than the cooler (more neutral?) Leica--as if I had used a sunny glow filter.  At f:8 the 2 Pentaxes performed very well, however, and the difference between them and the more modern lenses were quite subtle.

For street photography (as I do it) edge sharpness is not critical, but out of curiosity I did check the edges and sharpness seemed acceptable to me with all lenses  even at 100% magnification.  I think the Zeiss at 35mm is superior to the Summicron at the edges when used on the A7R, even though neither are great at the edges.

When shot wide open at the maximum apertures, the f:2 Summicron was clearly the best lens for center sharpness.  Wide open, the two Pentax lenses surprisingly outperformed the Zeiss zoom (even at f:2 and f:2.8 versus f:4 for the zoom).  The Pentax f:2.8 lens outperformed the Pentax f:2 at their widest aperture in the center--so that little lens is a real wonder and was about equal to the larger and more expenssive f:2 at f:2.8.  My conclusion is that the little Summicron is the best lens I own for street photography on the A7R, but the little Pentax A f:2.8 is excellent, coming in a surprisingly close second.

Incidentally, I also shot the Summicron 35mm using the Sony PlayMemories lens correction app for comparison purposes and discovered that the app clearly degraded sharpness of the image compared to the same shot (same speed, ISO, and aperture) taken by the lens without the app.  So, unfortunately, there goes that app for usefullness as far as I am concerned.

The big negative for the Pentaxes versus the Leica Summicron (ignoring the huge cost disparity) is that the Pentax lenses  require a fairly large, heavy adapter on the A7. The small and light Leica lens mounts with a compact and light adapter  (I used the Novoflex, but cheaper adapters seem to work just as well).   Even though the Pentax lenses are pretty compact, when mounted with an adapter they are are much longer than the Leica on its adapter, nearly the length of the Zeiss 24-70mm zoom.  The Zeiss zoom is relatively light and has the (major) advantage of autofocus, but is not ideal for street photography because of its size.

In conclusion, the Pentax A 35mm f:2.8 is a major bargain, performing close to a $2K Leica Summicron (Pre-Asph) and better than the FE 24-70mm.

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