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

Started Nov 11, 2013 | Discussions thread
ottonis Contributing Member • Posts: 765
Re: If I prefer to manually focus, should I still get the FE 55?

sroute wrote:

ottonis wrote:

Sure, the FE55 is certainly a gorgeous lens with excellent IQ and all but I am sure that a MF Zeiss 50mm is gonna do the same for less money and better haptics/smaller size.

I wouldn't be so sure. The Sony Distagon FE55/1.8 ($999) looks to be better in virtually every respect than my old Zeiss ZM Planar 50/2 ($859, B&H) and is most certainly going to be a better general purpose lens than the lovely Zeiss ZM C Sonnar 50/1.5 ($1,200 B&H). Don't get me wrong, both ZM lenses are fabulous in their own right (although some find the C Sonnar difficult to work with, less so on mirrorless).

I have a Voiglander Nokton Classic 40mm f/1.4 sitting in my cabinet that I can't wait to put on the A7 and I don't plan to acquire any FE AF lenses at all, at least not for the time being.

I think the CV40 will do fairly well for closer in shots but what I've seen on it (Ron Scheffler's series) at distance even at f/4 there seems to be a very distinct zone in from the edges which suffers from smearing or maybe its focus due to field curvature. The issue is far less pronounced at f/8. The FE55 is pretty usable at distance almost from wide open, certainly stopped down a couple it holds up well to scrutiny.


Comparing the Nokton 40 ($449, B&H) to the Sony FE35 from a field of view perspective might be better as in that regard, the two are not that far off. In distance shots, the Sony is acceptably sharp all the way to the edges at f/2.8 (wide open) where the Nokton 40 needs to be stopped down to at least f/5.6 to catch up with the FE35 at wide  open.

I'm not at all saying the CV Nokton 40 isn't usable, far from it. It'll be a sweet little lens on the camera, probably fantastic close in, and those two additional stops should be useful working closer in for producing nice out of focus areas. It might deliver perfectly acceptable landscape performance too, stopped down. If I had one in my bag, I'd probably be trying it first over buying the FE35, unless testing showed worse problems close in or farther out on the A7r (I'm definitely sold on the A7r over the A7).

What we are going to find with the A7 and A7r cameras is there are tons of lenses we can use, but some are going to have issues - at times - out at the extremes of the frame simply because so many manual focus and other legacy lenses were designed in the days of film, not high resolution large size sensors. Yet we don't all throw our lenses hard to the infinity stop and shoot at f/8 all the time.

I've never been more excited about using old lenses than I am today, because finally we get to experience the original field of view and other characteristics of these lenses, but not on film, now on a compact high res digital camera. Best of all worlds.

Thank you for the heads up and on the insight on the potential performance of the CV40. I was not aware that this particular lens has already been tested on the A7, so it would be kind of a bummer if it worked well only when heavily stopped down. I will have to test and see it for myself, before getting to any conclusions, though. IIRC, Steve Huff got a CV 35 f/1.2 tested on the A7r and was very pleased with the results, so I was hopeful that the slightly longer CV40 would perform similarly. I will definitely post sample pics here in this forum with the CV40 when I'll get my A7.



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Sony Alpha NEX-5N Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Sony Alpha a7 II Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Voigtlander 40mm F1.4 Nokton Classic +6 more
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