Mean Lean Product Shooting Machine

Started May 2, 2016 | User reviews thread
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Jefenator Senior Member • Posts: 2,866
Mean Lean Product Shooting Machine

I've been doing a lot of online store listing shots with legacy macros. My old Leitz 60mm and 100mm lenses are lovely, but I had a feeling the modern dedicated lens might benefit the shooting flow. And I was right. Not just shooting, though - the greater contrast, flare resistance and more vivid colors is making post processing noticeably easier.

I reallylike the BOKEH and out of focus transition with this lens. One user felt the effect to be somewhat jarring, as if someone did a background mask and applied blur in Photoshop. For what I'm doing, I find that's a good thing. 

The old Leica 100mm macro was somewhat hampered. I could only get up to about 1:4 (1:2 with the extension tube). No such trouble anymore - I get in as close as I like.

Stabilization and autofocus have both proven to be a huge deal. I was using the tripod a lot before. Going mostly handheld again is a tremendous time saver.

I find the stabilization gives me about 2 1/2 stops. 1/30 shutter usually works, as opposed to 1/160 or 1/200 like I used to have to use. That lest me keep the ISO in a much more usable range. (Also makes manual focusing noticeably easier.)

In some situations, AF speeds things up and actually makes it more reliable to get the shallow focus shot I want, handheld.

It quickly occurred to me I could pay for this new acquisition by selling a bunch of other unused stuff on eBay. Now that listing shots are such a snap, there's no more excuse.

When autofocus doesn't work as smoothly as I'd like, it's trivially easy to tug the focus ring back and go manual. This lens is unique among Sony E-mount lenses with a focus ring linked to a distance scale. The "throw" is much coarser than the voluptuous old Leica macros, and yet I find it is as easy if not easier to set focus precisely where I want.

The handling does take a bit of getting used to. (For instance, I now have to press a button when I want to focus manually without automatic magnification. If I don't get used to it eventually, I may go ahead and disable it...)

The sizing presents a bit of a conundrum. The weight and bulk are pretty much irrelevant for home studio use. But then, so is the speed.

Minolta MD 85/2 (not macro), Micro-Nikkor 105/2.8, Leitz Macro-Elmar-R 100/4, Sony FE90

For roaming, I would have welcomed a smaller, lighter f/4 version if this lens. But when I do take it out, the 2.8 setting is wonderfully usable. The AF can hunt a lot, but once it does lock in, the hit rate is pretty good. The rendering at f/2.8 is so good, I don't particularly crave the extra isolation I would get with a Batis 85/1.8 or "G Master" 85/1.4.

With the hunt-y AF and bulk this is definitely not the ideal general purpose telephoto but I do find it is much better than the old Micro-Nikkor and Leitz telephoto macros. (They are both very fussy to focus at moderate distances and have a lot more CA, wide open.)

My other gripe has to do with sun star rendering, or lack thereof. (Probably the flip side of the beautiful BOKEH and OOF transition which actually matter a lot more.)

Overall, this new setup has already delivered visibly better results in dramatically less time. It is definitely not for everyone, but I'm completely hooked. If you have a lot of close-up and/or product shooting to be doing, I recommend it very highly.

The teles at their minimum focus distance. The Sony is at 1:1 - the legacy macros would need to add a long extension tube to achieve that. Who's bulky now?

 Jefenator's gear list:Jefenator's gear list
Sony a7 Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sony Alpha NEX-7 +8 more
Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS
Telephoto macro prime lens • Sony FE • SEL90M28G
Announced: Mar 4, 2015
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