Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?

Started Apr 6, 2013 | Questions
Dirk U
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to TiagoReil, Apr 7, 2013

TiagoReil wrote:

Still,t ye are not the sharpest at 1.4 and are old designs. Sometimes you get less contrast , and obviously less sharpness, and a lot of CA. They are old lenses.

This is my question.  I am thinking about getting into mirrorless too, but will the legacy lens movement last?  Do those old lenses yield images which can stand up to those from pro-sumer grade lenses or can they only match today's kit lenses?  Are today's lenses better wide open and better wrt defects which can not be corrected in PP?

Thanks for raising the point.

Dirk

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Amamba
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Dirk U, Apr 7, 2013

The more I research the topic the more I think I would need to splurge on a modern lens first.

I wish there was a Sony E mount equivalent of Sigma 17-50/2.8 OS (but compact). The difference when shooting the same subject at same settings with Sony kit and T3i with Sigma is noticeable, and I think it's lens more than camera.

Right now it appears the lens that could make most difference is SEL50F1.8. Doesn't look like there's a zoom available yet that would combine the IQ of Sigma with compact factor at reasonable price.

I wish Sony had a 35 1/8 or similar, 50 mm is a bit tight.

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captura
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Amamba, Apr 7, 2013

Amamba wrote:

The more I research the topic the more I think I would need to splurge on a modern lens first.

I wish there was a Sony E mount equivalent of Sigma 17-50/2.8 OS (but compact). The difference when shooting the same subject at same settings with Sony kit and T3i with Sigma is noticeable, and I think it's lens more than camera.

Right now it appears the lens that could make most difference is SEL50F1.8. Doesn't look like there's a zoom available yet that would combine the IQ of Sigma with compact factor at reasonable price.

I wish Sony had a 35 1/8 or similar, 50 mm is a bit tight.

Typically a portrait lens, which you requested, is in the range of 50mm although there is a lot to be said in favour of 85's; the flat look, etc.

A 35 is really to wide to use as a portrait lens, introducing slight facial distortion.

I am hoping that Sony will bring us a fast prime 85mm very soon...it's a gaping hole in their line-up. In the meanwhile a good Russian 85 was mentioned. Other cmanual lenses can be found, some are excellent. There was a famous Minolta MD 50mm f2, for example.

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Letsgokoulos
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Amamba, Apr 7, 2013

Amamba wrote:

The more I research the topic the more I think I would need to splurge on a modern lens first.

I wish there was a Sony E mount equivalent of Sigma 17-50/2.8 OS (but compact). The difference when shooting the same subject at same settings with Sony kit and T3i with Sigma is noticeable, and I think it's lens more than camera.

Right now it appears the lens that could make most difference is SEL50F1.8. Doesn't look like there's a zoom available yet that would combine the IQ of Sigma with compact factor at reasonable price.

I wish Sony had a 35 1/8 or similar, 50 mm is a bit tight.

There is a SEL35F18... if you insist on a 35mm.

For me, there is a pleasure shooting with legacy lenses that simply cannot be matched by the Sony AF lenses, even when manual focusing. As for the IQ than you can obtain with legacy lenses, many of us are very happy with it.

But I confirm, the SEL50F18 is a real nice lens for portrait.

Marc

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fotowbert
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Sony does offer a 35mm f/1.8 OSS Alpha E-mount Prime Lens
In reply to Amamba, Apr 7, 2013

Amamba wrote:

The more I research the topic the more I think I would need to splurge on a modern lens first.

I wish there was a Sony E mount equivalent of Sigma 17-50/2.8 OS (but compact). The difference when shooting the same subject at same settings with Sony kit and T3i with Sigma is noticeable, and I think it's lens more than camera.

Right now it appears the lens that could make most difference is SEL50F1.8. Doesn't look like there's a zoom available yet that would combine the IQ of Sigma with compact factor at reasonable price.

I wish Sony had a 35 1/8 or similar, 50 mm is a bit tight.

Wish granted! 

Sony does offer a 35mm f/1.8 OSS Alpha E-mount Prime Lens

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Stujomo
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Amamba, Apr 7, 2013

Amamba wrote:

As the topic says... what would be a fast (1.8 at least), inexpensive (as NEX is going to be my backup camera used mainly for travels) portrait (i.e. nice bokeh) manual focus lens that I could use with a simple adapter (don't need AF confirm or other bells and whistles).

I understand that NEX can use Canon's FD lenses (which are incompatible with Canon EOS).

What about Oly OM, Nikkor, etc. ?

Any brands that can't be easily adapted (e.g. no infinity focusing) ?

Any known bargains out there ?
Any help is much appreciated !

Samyang 85mm f1.4. I have mine in nikon mount to use with my Nikon and NEX bodies.

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Amamba
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Re: Sony does offer a 35mm f/1.8 OSS Alpha E-mount Prime Lens
In reply to fotowbert, Apr 7, 2013

I was looking at some old reviews.
However, after much thinking, I am probably still better off with 50 1/8 as I hate being in people's faces with my camera and 35 is too close.

I ended up ordering SEL50f1.8 on Amazon, if it doesn't meet my expectations I will return it. So far, the shots from NEX are just a tad less sharp / contrasty than the shots from my T3i, but then I am using much faster glass on T3i.

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captura
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to captura, Apr 8, 2013

Correction, please make that: "there was a famous Minolta MD 85mm f2, for example."

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RustierOne
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Stujomo, Apr 8, 2013

I don't consider my self as having much skill in general portrait photography - just a degree of skill in astrophotography. But I would suggest that one of the most severe tests of a lens' resolution is in astrophotography. A star should look like a point whether located in frame center or its corners. A portrait lens described as "soft in the corners" with often show badly misshaped star images in astrophotography. Even some highly regarded (and expensive) lenses will show this defect in the corners.

With that point in mind, I would like to suggest another lens which may have merit - the M42-mount "Auto Mamiya/Sekor 1:1.4 f = 55mm". I believe this one can be had for less that $50. What follows are two examples: one showing its resolution wide open and another stopped down to f/2.8. As can be seen, its performance stopped down a bit is quite good at least as far as resolution is concerned.

Another lens that I have is the "Olympus OM-System Zuiko Auto-S 50mm 1:1,8 Made in Japan" lens. I believe some others have mentioned this nice little lens. As yet, I've not had an opportunity to try it out in astrophotography. When I do, I'll see how it does regarding resolution.

What follows is with the Mamiya/Sekor 55mm @ f/1.4:

Milky Way in Scutum - NEX-5N, ISO 1600, 120 seconds

While the resolution in the center is quite crisp, the edges and corners show some severely distorted star images. These areas would certainly  be considered "soft" in a portrait.

Now here's a similar exposure with the lens stopped down to f/2.8:

Milky Way in Cygnus - Vicinity of North American Nebula, NEX-5N, ISO 1600, 151 seconds

As can be seen in the above image, the star images are tiny points in the center and nearly so in the corners and edges. Used in portraiture at this f-stop, the lens would not exhibit much if any "softness".

I'm not aware of this lens' performance regarding bokeh or color rendition, but its worthy of consideration regarding resolution.

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Best Regards,
Russ

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JPG
JPG
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Amamba, Apr 8, 2013

Amamba wrote:

As the topic says... what would be a fast (1.8 at least), inexpensive (as NEX is going to be my backup camera used mainly for travels) portrait (i.e. nice bokeh) manual focus lens that I could use with a simple adapter (don't need AF confirm or other bells and whistles).

I understand that NEX can use Canon's FD lenses (which are incompatible with Canon EOS).

What about Oly OM, Nikkor, etc. ?

Any brands that can't be easily adapted (e.g. no infinity focusing) ?

Any known bargains out there ?
Any help is much appreciated !

I think any 50mm. manual focus 35mm. film camera lens would do well for portait work.  However I like my Leica 50mm. Simmilux f/1.4 the best.  I seems slightly softer then Carl Zeiss Paner 50mm. f/1.4 that I once had on my old Contax SLR and it has nicer bokeh.  I like the Carl Zeiss better for fine detail work.

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pwmoree
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to JPG, Apr 8, 2013

With a nikkor 50 mm f1.8 on a nex5

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saintz
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Dirk U, Apr 8, 2013

Generally the image quality of legacy and modern prime lenses should be very close. It's relatively simple to design a prime lens, so modern advances haven't made leaps-and-bounds differences. Also, most of the f1.4-f2 50ish mm lenses being discussed were pinnacle lenses for their respective manufacturers and were expected to be the lens used 90% of the time by 90% of their pickiest users. They were good lenses, and there just haven't been huge jumps in prime lens design to make modern lenses much better, without being much more expensive.

Zooms are a different story. Zoom lenses are hard to build, especially when you have to design them on plotting paper. Modern computer design (and in camera image corrections) has made it possible to make a cheap zoom lens that performs pretty darn well (the Sony NEX 18-55 or Canon 18-55 IS are good examples). So a cheap modern wide-to-tele zoom lens will generally beat all but the best legacy zoom lenses.

As for a direct comparison, I would much rather shoot a portrait with a legacy 50 f1.4 (any of them) than a 18-55 at 55mm f5.6. It's not a matter of which is sharper (probably a wash at the same f stop) but the fact that the legacy lens can open up so much wider. That translates into a better, although less sharp, picture.

I would second the recommendations for the Asahi Pentax Takumar 50 f1.4 and Samyang/Rokinon 85 1.4. I would take either over the modern autofocus Canon 50 f1.4. Both will fit Canon, although the Takumar may not clear the mirror on a full frame 5D/6D.

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Amamba
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to saintz, Apr 8, 2013

I am starting to find out that the biggest problem with NEX system is really the lack of lenses. For primes, NEX seems to have at least some choice, but I really don't see any stellar mid-priced  zooms like Tamron 17-50/2.8, Sigma 17-50/2.8 OS or Canon 17-55/ 2.8 IS. At least not in the E mount with correspondisite compact size.

The photos I was taking over site week with 18-55 OSS are nice but compared to what I get with T3i and Sigma 17-50/2.8 softer, especially in the edges / corners, and lacking contrast somewhat. I assume this is part due to the kit being a much slower lens being used wide open much of the time and part due to the optics.

I hope this is not the camera problem, with sensor size and Sony known sensor quality It really shouldn't be.

I ordered SEL50f18, and I expect to see much better results with it. Seems there's a few primes in E mount that are pretty good, and a plethora of old MF primes.

But I couldn't find E mount zooms. 16-50 seems to have the same IQ as 18-55. 18-200 is a superzoom so I would be very surprised if it was anywhere near the desired quality. Plus it's expensive and rather large. Unless I missed something, looks like there's a glaring hole in NEX lens lineup...

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Anotherlab
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Amamba, Apr 9, 2013

I picked up a Minolta MD 5mm f1.7 on eBay in excellent condition.  I've been very happy with it.  At some point, I'll try to get the MD f1.4 lens.

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Alex Armani
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Amamba, Apr 9, 2013

Portrait range for 35mm (24x36) is 85mm, but Sony has smaller sensor. For Sony portrait range from 50 to 60mm. If you would like to use M42 lenses, my best recommendation Tomioka 55mm1.4. Tomioka was japan optical company. Tomioka made  M42 lenses for Chinon, Ricoh, Cosina, Sears, Porst  ..........

Exaktar 55mm/1.4

SEARS 55MM F1.4

Rikenon 55mm 1.4

Cosinon 55mm 1.4

Porst  55mm 1.4

CHINON 55mm F1.4

Tomioka  55mm 1:1.4

Tomioka has also 1.2 version lenses, but they are expensive.

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saintz
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Amamba, Apr 9, 2013

No, there is no fast zoom for NEX. Virtually all of the available lenses are primes. There is a f2.8 zoom for m43, but it's over a grand. Canon/Nikon have several fast zoom options. You could run a Sony Alpha 16-50 with adapter. That would probably be your best bet for a fast zoom on the NEX platform.

Also, the camera body will make a difference. The 18-55 has some corner distortion. The 14mp sensors in the NEX3/5 are also not good at capturing oblique angle light, which the 18-55 produces in the corners. Changing your body to the 16mp 3C/5N will help with corner softness, as this sensor is designed to better capture that oblique angle light. The 5N also introduces distortion correction (or you can do this in post processing) which will also generally improve the optical performance of the lens.

So, you could consider a new body or software to fix some of the optical issues, or a Sony A mount lens for better optics and speed.

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Amamba
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to saintz, Apr 10, 2013

The body I use is actually F3, not 3. So it should in theory already have the same sensor as the 5 right ?

I received SEL50F18 today and looks like it's very nice, but the price is rather stiff  (relatively). I have 30 days to return it, but it's probably a keeper. I am also going to pick up a MF Rokkor-X 50/1.7 tomorrow (if its in good shape as the seller claims) so will see how easy it is to use it as everyday lens, of course I would need an adapter. I  am curious to see how it performs vs Sony lens, too.

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DRode
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Amamba, Apr 10, 2013

$298 for a stabilized, fast 50mm AF lens is, IMO, a great price. I think it's a bargain, especially compared to the 35mm f/1.8 and the Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8.  Nikon's 50mm f/1.8 is only a little less and it's not stabilized.

The old Nikon 50mm AF-D version is cheap ($125) and sharp but you'll need an adapter.

Amamba wrote:

I received SEL50F18 today and looks like it's very nice, but the price is rather stiff  (relatively). I have 30 days to return it, but it's probably a keeper.

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Michael J Hoffman
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to captura, Apr 10, 2013

captura wrote:

I have those, too but I prefer the 50 f2 over the 50 f1.7 because it is sharp across the frame from wide open, and has better anti-flare coating.

I second the recommendation for the Minolta MD 50mm f/2, which I prefer among all the Minolta MC/MD 50s.  Just last night, I tested my Minolta 50/2 against my Leica 50/2.8 Elmar.  At equal apertures, and in real world shooting situations, I couldn't see a dime's worth of difference in image quality.  Amazing when you consider that the Minolta lens cost me $19, which would not even pay for the lens hood on the Leica.

Michael

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saintz
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Re: Recommend an inexpensive fast MF portrait prime for NEX ?
In reply to Amamba, Apr 10, 2013

Yep, the F3 has the improved sensor edge performance. When I moved to a fast 50, I never missed a 2.8 zoom. Some people really do. Once you play with the Sony and Minolta 50s, you'll have an idea which camp you are.

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