Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.

Started Sep 30, 2012 | Discussions
Rodger Richardson
Regular MemberPosts: 122Gear list
Like?
Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
Sep 30, 2012

I have a Sony A700 (plus a KM-7D and a Minolta 800si) with a couple of zoom lenses including my most favorite 70-200G lens, 18-200mm, 28-300mm, 11-18mm and an 18-70mm (which I had to buy once when I dropped my 28-300mm on a business trip). Anyhow I am looking to expand my collection with another prime lens and was considering going fixed focal length such as the SAL135F18Z.

As I never used a fixed before, I am looking for some advice from forum members that faced this decision before. I have the finances for purchasing this lens, but I don’t want to invest in this and end up not using it. Does this lens offer anything different than a zoom lens, will I be able to try different a form of photography with a fixed focal.

My photography is general and I play around in many areas including portraiture, wildlife, landscapes and travel (and hundreds of pictures of my dog who always is a willing subject). None of my photography is for commercial use; I just enjoy it very much since my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic many years ago.

I thought of upgrading to the A77, but was put off with the negative comments and decided to wait for the release of the A99 before making a decision for a body upgrade. My A700 still suites me well, so no rush to upgrade yet, but that is a topic for another discussion.

 Rodger Richardson's gear list:Rodger Richardson's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony SLT-A77 Sony 70-200mm F2.8 G +5 more
Pentax K-m (K2000) Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony SLT-A77 Sony SLT-A99
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
goetz48
Senior MemberPosts: 2,607Gear list
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Sep 30, 2012

The advantage of prime lenses is better image quality and larger aperture. The 35mm is a 'normal lens' for APS-C cameras as its focus is about equal to the sensor diagonal. The aperture enables to shoot with shallow DOF if you want to concentrate on a special object. But for portraits you should take a short tele lens lsomwere between 60 and 100 mm.f

 goetz48's gear list:goetz48's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony SLT-A77 Sony DT 16-105mm F3.5-5.6 Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM +4 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
GuyMcKie
Contributing MemberPosts: 534
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Sep 30, 2012

The SAL 135 1.8 CZ is the best lens in the minolta/sony lens range.

Absolute sharp without flare and ghosts wide open, with excellent bokeh and close focus distance.

at f2.0

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
kathyk
Senior MemberPosts: 1,585
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Sep 30, 2012

I would agree the 135/1.8 is very special, especially good if you are thinking of the A99. It is large, heavy and expensive though, so make sure that suits your shooting style and budget.

Another one to consider would be the 85/1.4.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Stv
Stv
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,494Gear list
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Sep 30, 2012

I purchased the CZ135 simply for all the great stuff attributed to it, but for all the wrong reasons. As a casual hobbyist, I had no practical uses for this lens other than a low-light-telephoto lens. Over the course of a year plus, this wasn't enough to justify another expensive and very heavy lens carried around in an already over weight kit.

Unless you are flush with cash, if I were in your shoes, I'd upgrade the @700 to a 77 or 99 or look at the CZ24-70 (great lens) or the CZ16-35 first.

Steve
--
Simplify_balancE_eXclude = photo SEX

http://stv.smugmug.com/

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
theswede
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,936Gear list
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Sep 30, 2012

I definitely recommend giving prime only photography a try for a bit. It opens a new way of viewing the world for you and will also make it easier for you to find the proper framing with your zooms once you learn to manage it. But the 135 is rather specialized to start with.

If you want a good prime lense which suits general photography I would recommend starting with a 50F1.4. The Sony model or a used Minolta will serve you well. This is a lense you can use for indoor portraits, including of your dog, as well as for low light outdoor photography and casual photography of all manner of subjects. If you find you enjoy using a fixed focal length you can expand to get something wider or narrower, as you find what you would need.

Jesper

 theswede's gear list:theswede's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix X100 Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D Sony SLT-A37 Sony 50mm F1.4 +2 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
EinsteinsGhost
Forum ProPosts: 11,072Gear list
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Sep 30, 2012

An important consideration for 135mm focal length on APS-C is... what will you be using the lens for? It is a short tele focal length (200mm equivalent). I made the choice to go with 135mm STF instead, but you may (and most people do) find 135/1.8 CZ to be more useful.

That said, I've been considering going to A99 eventually and have evaluated pros and cons of getting 24-70/2.8 zoom versus getting 30mm/1.4 (or 24mm/2), 50mm/1.4 and 85mm/1.4 primes instead, and couple them with 70-200G with 2X TC (or 70-400G). I already have 135mm STF (a very special lens but only useful if you engage in manual photography and are willing to deal with the demands of the lens... no focus confirm but works superbly with Focus Peaking).

The prime advantage is clearly in size, weight, cost, speed and an edge in IQ. The disadvantage is lack of flexibility (must carry more lenses, which negates size, weight and cost advantages).

If you feel 135mm/1.8 is a lens you could use regularly (given the field of view on A77), it is a great lens to have.

 EinsteinsGhost's gear list:EinsteinsGhost's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F828 Sony SLT-A55 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Sony 135mm F2.8 (T4.5) STF +12 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Rodger Richardson
Regular MemberPosts: 122Gear list
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Sep 30, 2012

Thanks for the advice, I'll look at the SAL2470Z as an option.

 Rodger Richardson's gear list:Rodger Richardson's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony SLT-A77 Sony 70-200mm F2.8 G +5 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
JohnBee
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,968
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to GuyMcKie, Sep 30, 2012

GuyMcKie wrote:

The SAL 135 1.8 CZ is the best lens in the minolta/sony lens range.

Loving that composition!
Excellent photograph potential.

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Stflbn
Senior MemberPosts: 1,161Gear list
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Sep 30, 2012

Rodger Richardson wrote:

I thought of upgrading to the A77, but was put off with the negative comments and

Sorry, but I just do not understand comments like this. If you have a real need to shoot in the dark at 16,500 ISO then you should be looking at faster lenses rather than worry about the troll threads comparing ultra low light shots.

The a77 is a fantastic camera. Period.

IMHO... you mileage may vary.

 Stflbn's gear list:Stflbn's gear list
Sony SLT-A77 Sony SLT-A99 Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS Macro HSM Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG HSM +6 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
dlkeller
Veteran MemberPosts: 6,235
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Sep 30, 2012

This type of question comes up often and the best response is "it depends on the user". I would buy a lens for specific needs not just to spend excess money or "to have it". I recommend you review the shots you are taking and look for the following: 1) Focal Lengths you are using most 2) Light conditions you're shooting in 3) Would your shots be improved with brokah of a faster prime lense or are they the type of shots where this wouldn't be significant.

-- hide signature --

Dave

Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Draek
Senior MemberPosts: 2,028Gear list
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Oct 1, 2012

My recommendation is, get a cheaper one so you can get a "feel" for using a fixed focal lens. The Sony 35/1.8 would be a good choice, since it's roughly a normal lens, but if not the Minolta 50/1.7 or Sony 50/1.8 would be interesting choices as well: they're good focal lengths for portraiture, so you can get a feel for their shallow DOF as well. Jumping straight into the 135/1.8 Zeiss... well, I'm sure it's a great lens, but if you don't like it and sell it on eBay you'll probably have to take a loss as large as the price of any of the aforementioned lenses, so I'd really recommend against it.
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/Draek

 Draek's gear list:Draek's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR Samsung TL500 Canon PowerShot A1200 Sony Alpha DSLR-A390
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Alpha Jack
Senior MemberPosts: 1,413Gear list
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Draek, Oct 1, 2012

Ditto. An even cheaper and less risky way of trying out fixed focal would be to set one of your zooms to the focal lenght you think you want and shoot for a few days without changing it. You won't get the benefits of course, but you will see some of the limitations and it likely will change what you get first. I would recommend that especially if you think you want a 135. I wanted that lens at one time but ended up with an 85. I found that 135 is too long on APS-C except for very specific situations. Even 85 is too long to mount as much as I would like. Everyone is different though. It all depends on what you shoot.

Draek wrote:

My recommendation is, get a cheaper one so you can get a "feel" for using a fixed focal lens. The Sony 35/1.8 would be a good choice, since it's roughly a normal lens, but if not the Minolta 50/1.7 or Sony 50/1.8 would be interesting choices as well: they're good focal lengths for portraiture, so you can get a feel for their shallow DOF as well. Jumping straight into the 135/1.8 Zeiss... well, I'm sure it's a great lens, but if you don't like it and sell it on eBay you'll probably have to take a loss as large as the price of any of the aforementioned lenses, so I'd really recommend against it.
--
http://www.flickr.com/photos/Draek

-- hide signature --

Zeiss taste...Beercan budget!

 Alpha Jack's gear list:Alpha Jack's gear list
Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony Alpha NEX-7
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Dennis
Forum ProPosts: 13,544
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Oct 1, 2012

Rodger Richardson wrote:

Anyhow I am looking to expand my collection with another prime lens and was considering going fixed focal length such as the SAL135F18Z.

Does this lens offer anything different than a zoom lens, will I be able to try different a form of photography with a fixed focal.

It's good that you're asking that before spending the money; I'm just not sure why you even want to buy more lenses at all ...

135/1.8 gives you shallower DOF, great sharpness (even wide open). It's more compact than the 70-200 but still big & heavy. AF is sluggish and not as smooth when it comes to tracking. You can get a different look with the shallower DOF (do you ever think DOF isn't shallow enough on the f/2.8 zoom ?) And again, sharper wide open images (do you ever find your f/2.8 zoom images aren't sharp enough ?)

My advice, after 30 years photographing as a hobby (and at least 25 years of SLR buying/upgrading) is to avoid buying anything until you have a need for it. (By "need" I mean that you should be looking to do something specific where you feel let down by your current gear; not just buying because there's something out there that you don't have). My biggest buying mistakes over the years have been (1) buying something I thought I might need one day and (2) trying to save money and choose a cheaper option.

  • Dennis

-- hide signature --
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Rodger Richardson
Regular MemberPosts: 122Gear list
Like?
Re: Advice on fixed focal length lenses please.
In reply to Stflbn, Oct 1, 2012

Stflbn wrote:

Rodger Richardson wrote:

I thought of upgrading to the A77, but was put off with the negative comments and

Sorry, but I just do not understand comments like this. If you have a real need to shoot in the dark at 16,500 ISO then you should be looking at faster lenses rather than worry about the troll threads comparing ultra low light shots.

The a77 is a fantastic camera. Period.

IMHO... you mileage may vary.

I mostly ignore the trolls, however when I read the reviews and owner feedback it "seems" as though there are two different A77 models available one really spectacular one and one with a multiude of negativity. When the A700 came out it also fell flat in some areas, however after a few Firmware updates it became a wonderful camera, I hope that the A77 will get over its first release jitters

 Rodger Richardson's gear list:Rodger Richardson's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 Sony SLT-A77 Sony 70-200mm F2.8 G +5 more
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
stan_pustylnik
Senior MemberPosts: 3,310Gear list
Like?
another amateurish advice
In reply to Rodger Richardson, Oct 1, 2012

Roger,
You are stepping onto dangerous way if purchasing 135mm f/1.8 CZ lens.

I'm saying it, because IQ of this lens is head and shoulders better than zooms you use. On A700 it will not show as well as on FF camera body, but still bokeh quality in portraits will be as high as any professional portrait master could wish for.

Why is it dangerous? Because if you will love 135 f/1.8 IQ - you will sell all APSc zooms soon and migrate to FF system.
--

Person is taking photos, not camera. When photograph is bad, it's because photographer doesn't know how to choose settings optimal to "own preferences". Then blames camera for bad IQ.
This is same as blaming car about arriving to wrong destination.

http://stan-pustylnik.smugmug.com

 stan_pustylnik's gear list:stan_pustylnik's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 Sony Alpha DSLR-A850
Reply   Reply with quote   Complain
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads