Sony A7: Why are the lenses so big?

Started Oct 17, 2013 | Discussions thread
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cs hauser Contributing Member • Posts: 731
Sony A7: Why are the lenses so big?

Normal Prime:

  • Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 = 2.5" x 2.8" (280g)
  • Canon 50mm f/1.4 = 2.0" x 2.9" (290g)

Wide Prime:

  • Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 = 2.4" x 1.5" (120g)
  • Canon 35mm f/2.0 = 2.7" x 1.7" (210g)

Telephoto Zoom:

  • Sony FE 70-200mm f/4.0G OS = 3.2" x 6.9" (840g)
  • Canon 70-200mm f/4.0L IS = 3.0" x 6.8" (760g)

Standard Zoom:

  • Sony FE 24-70mm f/4.0 OS = 2.9" x 3.7" (430g)
  • Canon 24-70mm f/4.0L IS = 3.3" x 3.7" (600g)

Comparing the sizes and weights of Sony's lenses for mirrorless format against those of Canon's lenses for SLR format.  I see no significant size or weight advantage.  The only notable difference is the weight of the standard zoom lens, where Sony's is much lighter than Canon's.  But despite the weight difference, then those two lenses still have almost the same size.  Of course, the Zeiss primes will certainly be optically superior to Canon's.  But that is somewhat offset by the fact that they're about 1 stop slower too.

Honestly, I'm seeing very little size benefit in mirrorless full frame format right now.  The size advantage comes from the camera body itself, where the Sony A7 weighs only 416g.  But there's nothing to stop Canon from putting a full frame sensor inside a Digital Rebel body, and I doubt it will weigh much more than the APS-C version (493g).

I've always dreamed of full frame mirrorless cameras.  But I never expected their lenses to be so... big.  I won't pretend like I'm an expert on optical designs.  But I'm guessing that all these new lenses for Sony must have retrofocal designs to minimize the problematic edges on mirrorless full frame.  In other words, their lenses are essentially designed very similar to SLR lenses.  If that's true, then it basically wipes out the supposed size advantage of lenses for mirrorless format.

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