If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
djp58
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to turnstyle, 11 months ago

turnstyle wrote:

djp58 wrote:

Most of my 50+ legacy lenses were acquired after my NEX system (started with NEX3 three years ago, now have NEX7 and will get A7R next month). I bought into the NEX system primarily to use my Contax G lenses (these and 2 Minolta A-mount were my only legacy lenses at the time). Since buying my NEX 7 two years ago, I've found that I love shooting true MF. Have recently bought several lenses in anticipation of the new FF cameras.

Thanks! So does that mean you mostly consider yourself "system agnostic"?

eg, you might vaguely prefer to get a new lens that matches an adapter you already have, but that's a relatively minor factor?

I've also wondered if it makes sense to focus on Canon lenses, to get the benefits of the smart Metabones adapter.

Definitely "system agnostic!"  Most adapters are relatively inexpensive (with exception of "smart" adapters -I only own one, the DEO TechArt for Contax G), so can experiment.  I've got lenses from many different systems; have found that I prefer Olympus OM for WA to Normal primes, Nikon F (pre-AF) for Normal and macro, and Canon FL/FD for longer lenses.  I've also got Minolta MC/MD, Sony A-mount, Sony E-mount, c-mount,  Konica AR, and have even used my Hasselblad lenses.

I've got the A7R pre-ordered and debated whether to get a lens with it.  I finally decided on the 35mm f2.8 since it suites me better (I wanted something light to take hiking and do landscapes).  Will probably pick up the 70-200 f4 when it's available.  From everything I've read, the 55mm should be a fantastic lens - I just don't need it at this time.

sticking with one "smart" adapter might make sense - I didn't have that option when I started, and now have too many older legacy lenses that I like.  I did consider picking up the Metabones for Canon along with one of there stabilized longer zooms (70-200), but am glad I waited since I think I will prefer the native 70-200G.

david

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harold1968
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to turnstyle, 11 months ago

turnstyle wrote:

Hi all,

I'm thinking ahead to A7 or A7r with a fast 'normal' prime.

I generally prefer to manually focus. And the FE 55 does look like it's going to be a great lens.

But I'm wondering if I should still skip the FE 55, and abandon the option to use autofocus -- and instead go for a physically focused lens, rather than always have to use focus-by-wire.

Anybody wrestling with a similar decision?

unfortunatley, until someone reviews that aspect it will be difficult to tell

I wouldn't assume its bad, for example the Fuji X100s had better MF then the X100 after customer feedback

I can also say my RX1R is actually very good for manual focus, so perhaps the A7 will be good as well

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turnstyle
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Re: Maybe
In reply to sroute, 11 months ago

sroute wrote:

The Sony FE55/1.8 looks to be a markedly better performer than the 50/2 Planar; it is brilliant at f/1.8, lovely smooth out of focus area rendering - it just looks superior. For that reason I've ordered the FE55/1.8 and will use it in AF mode most of the time, MF via Sony's Direct Manual Focus mode when necessary.

Thanks for that! Yes, from what I've seen of the FE 55 so far, it seems to manage to pull off remarkable sharpness, corner-to-corner, wide open -- and also have a nice smooth OOF.

I wish I could have it with manual focus control.

What manual focus lenses offer similarly sharp, wide-open, corner-to-corner performance -- and ALSO have a nice smooth OOF rendering?

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djp58
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to turnstyle, 11 months ago

turnstyle wrote:

djp58 wrote:

I have several AF lenses to complement my many MF only lenses. I keep my NEX 7 in MF and have the AF/MF button on the back set to "hold" vice toggle. That way, when I want to use AF, I push and hold the back button. if I want to switch back or fine-tune manually, I just release the button. Works well for the few times I use AF and focus-by-wire lenses. Will set my A7R up the same way when it arrives.

When do you prefer to go out with a focus-by-wire-but-potential-to-autofocus lens vs. the physical manual focus lens?

Put another way, if you were choosing between a physical manual lens or a focus-by-wire with option to autofocus lens -- which would you choose?

If I'm going to one of my daughters sporting events, I typically bring an AF capable lens; lighting is always horrible (junior high), so wish I had a faster stabilized lens, but AF definitely helps.  Most of my other shooting is outdoor/nature/landscape, and I definitely prefer MF in this case.  Just picked up an OM 21mm F3.5 and a Nikon 20mm f4 - looking forward to hitting the trail with one of these mounted on the A7R.

David

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areichow
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to turnstyle, 11 months ago

turnstyle wrote:

areichow wrote:

If you prefer manual focus, why not go for one of the many great cheaper options? A bunch of fast 45-50mm Zeiss MF lenses you can adapt that cost a lot less.

Thanks,

I suppose I'm somewhat mislead by the term "legacy glass" -- as my thinking has been most people are mounting lenses they *already have*.

Is it common for people to purchase manual focus lenses, specifically for use on NEX (eg, not because you already have the lens, or another system)?

It is pretty common, at least for the enthusiast types who frequent the NEX and m43 forums. The NEX is my first system camera, but the only other E-mount lens I have is the SEL16F28. I've bought a handful of older manual lenses and I'm really enjoying it. I'm *really* enjoying the Canon FD SSC 50mm f/1.4 I recently got from KEH for $33. The price is shocking for what I got - the glass is perfect, but it was given a lower grade because a serial number is engraved onto the barrel.

KEH has Zeiss lenses for the Contax G rangefinder and Contax/Yashica mounts. The G 45mm f/2 Zeiss Planar is ~ $450 and the C/Y Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7 can be had for $200. The C/Y is a DSLR lens and will be a bit bigger with an adapter, but not all that much longer than the NEX 18-55mm kit lens, I suspect. I haven't seen any reviews of it with the A7 and the new FE 55mm might be an even better lens. But it is supposed to be a very nice lens and it'll have a the nice manual focus and manual aperture feel that the FE 55mm doesn't.

Depending on what you're looking for, I'd recommend KEH.com for buying these lenses second hand. I've had much better luck with the quality of lenses from KEH than from eBay. Prices are generally good. Other companies sell used lenses as well, but I've not bought any legacy lenses from any sources other than KEH and eBay sellers so far. Personally, buying a legacy lens that cost more than $100 off of eBay makes me kind of nervous, though there are some sellers with near-perfect approval and a good return policy.

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turnstyle
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to djp58, 11 months ago

djp58 wrote:

sticking with one "smart" adapter might make sense - I didn't have that option when I started, and now have too many older legacy lenses that I like. I did consider picking up the Metabones for Canon along with one of there stabilized longer zooms (70-200), but am glad I waited since I think I will prefer the native 70-200G.

Thanks again!

If one were to orient the decision toward picking a smart adapter -- and without already owning corresponding lenses -- is there a "best" adapter/system to focus on?

(I didn't even realize there were smart adapters for systems other than Canon!)

I assume it's mostly for the benefit of EXIF? Is there such a thing as a manual focus lens with stabilization?

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turnstyle
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to harold1968, 11 months ago

harold1968 wrote:

unfortunatley, until someone reviews that aspect it will be difficult to tell

I wouldn't assume its bad, for example the Fuji X100s had better MF then the X100 after customer feedback

I can also say my RX1R is actually very good for manual focus, so perhaps the A7 will be good as well

Thanks! RX1R is focus-by-wire, correct? I've not yet had an experience in which focus-by-wire "felt real" (so to speak) -- I don't much care if it *actually* is manual, but just that it *feels* manual.

Though I also gather you can't use an on-lens distance & DOF scale?

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turnstyle
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to djp58, 11 months ago

djp58 wrote:

If I'm going to one of my daughters sporting events, I typically bring an AF capable lens; lighting is always horrible (junior high), so wish I had a faster stabilized lens, but AF definitely helps. Most of my other shooting is outdoor/nature/landscape, and I definitely prefer MF in this case. Just picked up an OM 21mm F3.5 and a Nikon 20mm f4 - looking forward to hitting the trail with one of these mounted on the A7R

I've actually wondered -- with practice on a manual lens, to what extent can you track a moving subject (assuming a reasonable DOF).

I don't do a lot of sports-type shooting -- and I can't help but feeling that with autofocus, I'd wind up with a lot of pictures focused on the background.

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turnstyle
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to areichow, 11 months ago

areichow wrote:

It is pretty common, at least for the enthusiast types who frequent the NEX and m43 forums. The NEX is my first system camera, but the only other E-mount lens I have is the SEL16F28. I've bought a handful of older manual lenses and I'm really enjoying it. I'm *really* enjoying the Canon FD SSC 50mm f/1.4 I recently got from KEH for $33. The price is shocking for what I got - the glass is perfect, but it was given a lower grade because a serial number is engraved onto the barrel.

KEH has Zeiss lenses for the Contax G rangefinder and Contax/Yashica mounts. The G 45mm f/2 Zeiss Planar is ~ $450 and the C/Y Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7 can be had for $200. The C/Y is a DSLR lens and will be a bit bigger with an adapter, but not all that much longer than the NEX 18-55mm kit lens, I suspect. I haven't seen any reviews of it with the A7 and the new FE 55mm might be an even better lens. But it is supposed to be a very nice lens and it'll have a the nice manual focus and manual aperture feel that the FE 55mm doesn't.

Depending on what you're looking for, I'd recommend KEH.com for buying these lenses second hand. I've had much better luck with the quality of lenses from KEH than from eBay. Prices are generally good. Other companies sell used lenses as well, but I've not bought any legacy lenses from any sources other than KEH and eBay sellers so far. Personally, buying a legacy lens that cost more than $100 off of eBay makes me kind of nervous, though there are some sellers with near-perfect approval and a good return policy.

And what of currently manufactured lenses? What would compare to the FE 55 -- in sharpness and smooth OOF -- but be manual -- and, ideally, relatively small/light -- and still made?

Thanks so much to everybody for helping me think this through!

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120 to 35
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to turnstyle, 11 months ago

Zeiss announced they will be releasing a set of manual focus lenses for FF FE-mount next year. Who knows, they may release a 50mm lens with a more up-to-date result that rivals the FE 55.

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harold1968
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to turnstyle, 11 months ago

turnstyle wrote:

harold1968 wrote:

unfortunatley, until someone reviews that aspect it will be difficult to tell

I wouldn't assume its bad, for example the Fuji X100s had better MF then the X100 after customer feedback

I can also say my RX1R is actually very good for manual focus, so perhaps the A7 will be good as well

Thanks! RX1R is focus-by-wire, correct? I've not yet had an experience in which focus-by-wire "felt real" (so to speak) -- I don't much care if it *actually* is manual, but just that it *feels* manual.

Though I also gather you can't use an on-lens distance & DOF scale?

I believe it is focus by wire

It feels quite good, but then I'm not an expert so its worth you trying in a shop. I mainly use it on the macro setting for close up as I find the RX1R focus to be very good normally.

There isn't an on lens distance scale on the RX1R, but there is a rough one which pops up on the screen when you manual focus.

No idea if this exists on the A7. Again, something to see in a shop.

The one nice thing on the RX1R which definitely disn't on the A7 is the manual aperture ring, but you can't have everything

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Jefenator
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to djp58, 11 months ago

djp58 wrote:

I have several AF lenses to complement my many MF only lenses. I keep my NEX 7 in MF and have the AF/MF button on the back set to "hold" vice toggle. That way, when I want to use AF, I push and hold the back button. if I want to switch back or fine-tune manually, I just release the button. Works well for the few times I use AF and focus-by-wire lenses. Will set my A7R up the same way when it arrives.

I'm glad you mentioned using the AF/MF button in "hold" mode - I've been using it in "toggle" but I think for my purposes "hold" would be better. (I have my EOS-M set up more like that - hold a button down to acquire focus then release it and shoot away without having to have the camera reacquire focus each and every shot. Much better way to go IME with slower AF systems for many types of shots…)

When I'm using mostly old manual lenses, I change the AF/MF button function to engage MF Assist. I find that to be super handy and pretty much indispensable for really nailing critical focus.

Like some others, I find myself torn between the two worlds. I know for sure that I love handling and working with old manual lenses. I will probably never give that up. That's what got me into the NEX system in the first place.

OTOH I also "get" the appeal of dedicated AF lenses. It's a whole different experience, having the camera and lens work together as a system, more like the engineers intended. For the focal lengths I currently use e-mount for (19mm, 24mm and 30mm) the blend of price, size and performance is very hard to beat. (Oh, right, I almost forgot: the AF comes in handy from time to time as well.)

IME juggling the two during one shoot can add confusion. On the NEX-7 I have settled in to using mostly e-mount for landscapes (occasionally slapping on an old manual 50mm for a telephoto shot) and manual lenses for home studio product shots.

When I step up to the A7, I will probably start with all legacy glass, but I know the temptation of the native lenses will probably be too strong to resist. If you want to make the very most of the capabilities of the sensor, with that crispy modern micro-contrast, in as small and light a form as possible, at a small fraction of the price of Leica glass, there's not going to be much getting around the FE lineup.

Another thing to consider: apparently Zeiss might be coming out with some manual focus e-mount lenses soon. If the rumor is true, that could be a groovy way to combine the best of both worlds (though I doubt their 50mm 1.4 will be $15, like the MC-Rokkor PG I found at a second hand store this spring).

Exciting times, indeed.

I didn't answer the OP's question, did I?

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to turnstyle, 11 months ago

EinsteinsGhost wrote:

Yep. I LOVE manual focus. It is what prompted me to get NEX. But, it is best enjoyed with lenses that aren't built around the focus by wire system and as a result my E mount AF lenses are mostly unused. The only lens I really care about using on NEX with AF is the good old Minolta 200/2.8 G APO HS via LAEA2 and primarily because that lens is designed for fast AF with its high speed gearing and a pain to MF.

Thanks! Have you been interested in the rumored FE manual Zeiss lenses?

Of course we have nothing specific to talk about -- but it strikes me that a if I get a lens that requires an adapter, I should be able to use that same lens on other mirrorless cameras.

So a drawback (imho) to an FE manual lens is that it won't likely work on any other camera systems.

Indeed. I am most curious to see 85mm lens and in fact believe that Sony's initial launch should have included 24mm and 85mm along with 35 and 55 and only one zoom 28-70. Then add 24-70 and 70-200.

If anything, I would also love to see Sony go for couple of no nonsense (no AF, no OSS) manual focus lenses like 35/1.2 and 55/1.2, and may be an STF type lens at 85mm as well.

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djp58
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to turnstyle, 11 months ago

turnstyle wrote:

djp58 wrote:

sticking with one "smart" adapter might make sense - I didn't have that option when I started, and now have too many older legacy lenses that I like. I did consider picking up the Metabones for Canon along with one of there stabilized longer zooms (70-200), but am glad I waited since I think I will prefer the native 70-200G.

Thanks again!

If one were to orient the decision toward picking a smart adapter -- and without already owning corresponding lenses -- is there a "best" adapter/system to focus on?

(I didn't even realize there were smart adapters for systems other than Canon!)

I assume it's mostly for the benefit of EXIF? Is there such a thing as a manual focus lens with stabilization?

I think the only 2 systems supported by aftermarket "smart" adapters are the Canon EOS and the Contax G systems.  DEO TechArt makes adapters for both Canon and Contax.  Metabones makes theirs for Canon only.  There may be others, but I'm not aware of them.  Some of the Mirrorless manufacturers also make a smart adapter to adapt their regular lenses to their  Mirrorless offerings (Sony makes 4, the LA-EA1-4; I have the LA-EA4 on order so I will be able to use my Sony (or Minolta) lenses with full PDAF AF like an SLT).

I don' know of any older stabilized MF-only lenses, though the AF ones out there still work well if you want to MF.  You need to have a smart adapter to get the EXIF data, and most of these lenses will also AF if you want.  Only exception is Leica m-mount which are chipped to provide EXIF date, don't know if there are smart adapters to use these on other systems.

David

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blue_skies
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to turnstyle, 11 months ago

turnstyle wrote:

Hi all,

I'm thinking ahead to A7 or A7r with a fast 'normal' prime.

I generally prefer to manually focus. And the FE 55 does look like it's going to be a great lens.

But I'm wondering if I should still skip the FE 55, and abandon the option to use autofocus -- and instead go for a physically focused lens, rather than always have to use focus-by-wire.

Anybody wrestling with a similar decision?

Just a couple of things to consider:

The FE55 is very, very good, but there are many very good FF 50/1.8 lenses out there.

AF is very nice, but you may use the kit lens when you need AF.

Alternative choices are:

  • SLR lenses: you can get 50/1.8, 50/1.7, 50/1.4, 50/1.2, depending on your likes
  • RF lenses: 50mm is NOT a magenta shifting focal length (but do check). These are wonderful lenses, but they can get as pricey as the FE55. 
  • Contax-G 45/2 on AF adapter. It auto-focuses, albeit slower, and the manual focus adjust override on the adapter is likely the easiest way to focus any of the lenses. 

Why rush now? I would wait until the early spring and then review users comments. The FE55 impresses, especially on the A7r, but I expect many 50mm lenses to perform on these A7/r cameras just the same.

I also expect more lenses to be offered for the FE mount. Zeiss will announce a FE specific MF line (like the ZM mount), and I expect that more FE primes will follow.

Just ipick up any 'ol 50/1.8 lens on an adapter for little money to bridge the time to make a decision...

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Henry

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Brian_Smith
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to LoneReaction, 11 months ago

LoneReaction wrote:

Manually focusing on the E lenses on the NEX is a real pain, they keep spinning forever. It should probably be the same with EF lenses.
Ever considered using DMF? You can auto focus and then fine tune if needed.

+1 on DMF. It's the perfect solution when you want to fine tune focus and make certain that the focus spot you picked is where you think it is. Just hit AF like normal and then give the lens a slight turn and the EVF or LCD will zoom into the focus spot you've selected.

Having shot with the FE 55 for a week, I can tell you that it's a spectacular lens and perfectly matched to the A7/A7R.

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120 to 35
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to Brian_Smith, 11 months ago

Brian_Smith wrote:

LoneReaction wrote:

Manually focusing on the E lenses on the NEX is a real pain, they keep spinning forever. It should probably be the same with EF lenses.
Ever considered using DMF? You can auto focus and then fine tune if needed.

+1 on DMF. It's the perfect solution when you want to fine tune focus and make certain that the focus spot you picked is where you think it is. Just hit AF like normal and then give the lens a slight turn and the EVF or LCD will zoom into the focus spot you've selected.

Having shot with the FE 55 for a week, I can tell you that it's a spectacular lens and perfectly matched to the A7/A7R.

Currently, the main advantage of a manual focus lens on an E-mount Sony is the ability to focus to a known distance. The need arises when focusing in dark settings, zone focusing back and forth between two zones, and infinity focus among others.

Showing the current focus distance of the lens alongside the shutter, aperture and other settings would help in those situations where we currently have to resort to manual lenses. It should also help sales of E-mount prime lenses in preference to legacy lenses with adapters.

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turnstyle
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to 120 to 35, 11 months ago

120 to 35 wrote:

Zeiss announced they will be releasing a set of manual focus lenses for FF FE-mount next year. Who knows, they may release a 50mm lens with a more up-to-date result that rivals the FE 55.

But I kind of wonder -- isn't E/FE mount kind of disadvantageous in that case? That you can *only* mount it to an E/FE body -- as opposed to a lens that requires an adapter, and so can be used on several competing systems.

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turnstyle
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to harold1968, 11 months ago

harold1968 wrote:

There isn't an on lens distance scale on the RX1R, but there is a rough one which pops up on the screen when you manual focus.

No idea if this exists on the A7. Again, something to see in a shop.

I wish the NEX had that -- do you find it handy? Or gimmicky?

The one nice thing on the RX1R which definitely disn't on the A7 is the manual aperture ring, but you can't have everything

Ah, I have a question for you: if you zoom in via Focus Assist, and while you're zoomed in, you turn the aperture ring -- does the RX1R keep metering (such that the overall brightness remains roughly the same) -- the NEX stops metering when zoomed in, and I've been curious about A7/A7r -- would be cool to know what RX1R does!

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120 to 35
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Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?
In reply to turnstyle, 11 months ago

turnstyle wrote:

120 to 35 wrote:

Zeiss announced they will be releasing a set of manual focus lenses for FF FE-mount next year. Who knows, they may release a 50mm lens with a more up-to-date result that rivals the FE 55.

But I kind of wonder -- isn't E/FE mount kind of disadvantageous in that case? That you can *only* mount it to an E/FE body -- as opposed to a lens that requires an adapter, and so can be used on several competing systems.

That's really up to you. But if you do use an adapter, make sure you get a very good, precision made adapter to get exact infinity focus and an even focus plane. Lots of adapters are two short and imprecise.

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