Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
GaryW Veteran Member • Posts: 9,298
Re: They're not necessarily as bad as their painted to be
1

zackiedawg wrote:

effer wrote:

Beautiful shots.

Thank you.

These lenses are sure usable, if you know the limitations and avoid wide open. The problem is that after shooting with 16mm Sigma (apples and oranges), even though I sure don't expect the same performance, but still wish for a bit faster aperture (for low light and better subject separation)

I wouldn't worry too much about subject separation at 16mm!  For low-light, sure, every bit helps.

and better sharpness wide open.

The 16mm has a goofy design.  It's pretty sharp in the center, it's the corners that are all wonky at wider apertures.  I think this is what really put people off, but I think it's just a matter of Sony coming up with a design that was compact and worked with the add-on lenses.  
When you start to look at this as a system of lenses, and stop using the 16mm/f2.8 at f2.8, then it's a nice, fun addition.  I had not bought any UWA lenses before this combo, and maybe wouldn't have at all, without this lens combo.  I guess recently, we start to see some cheap alternatives, but still -- the Sigma y'all mention is almost twice the price, and not even close to being a pancake.

I don't disagree - I also have the Sigma 16mm F1.4 and love it - I use it primarily as a dark indoor and low light lens, but if a reasonably fast, cheap pancake came along similar to the Sony 16mm but sharper, I'd be tempted to pick one up. And with the Sony 16mm, I didn't want to buy it new as I didn't feel it was worth the cost, but getting one on a cheap sale made it suddenly reasonable - for $150 I think it performs very well...for $250-300, it would be disappointing.

$250 has been the retail price as long as I can remember.  Early-on, it was also sold as part of a kit, which is probably why so many became available at $150?

Again, I don't expect very high IQ as compromises definitely will be made, I just think that Sony is capable of producing a better pancake lens than 16mm and 20mm and can capture a bigger share of the market as a result. Canon has no problem offering a better solution at $230. Even if Sony priced their equivalent at $400, it would generate sales.

I think if Sony had debuted the E-mount 4-5 years ago, they would have probably made a higher quality 16mm pancake...but when they first developed the E-mount line, back in 2011,

I don't know why you guys keep shorting it by a year.  I bought mine in summer of 2010!  I submit this photo as proof:

I left my DSLR at home and did a Disney visit just with the Nex-5 as a test to see if I could make the switch.  Yeah, the AF was worse, but everything else was better.  It was great to have the reduced bulk.

the 16mm was one of the first lenses made and primarily needed to match a 14MP sensor.

The 16mm wasn't available in a kit when I bought my Nex-5 at launch.  Maybe they were out?  Anyway, they eventually got them in stock.

I think Sony's goal was to make a "fun" lens, one compact enough to match the compactness of the camera.  The kit 18-55 looks huge on the Nex-5!

They were going for small and cheap and just enough.

They expected not pros or even advanced enthusiasts, but some group of more casual photographers that wanted high quality results.  Perhaps in Japan  it made more sense than in the US, where I think people either don't care as much about quality and are OK with a P&S or people are obsessive about quality, and complained bitterly about the lens.  Not to mention m43 fans.

But what everyone refuses to realize is that it's actually really sharp in the center.  Yeah, it falls off to "meh" at the edges, and the corners are really bad unless you stop down a lot, but it makes it very usable.

As E-mount took off, larger lenses and more diverse lenses to expand the lens lineup became more important, then debuting and expanding the FE lineup became more important...so I think going back now and redeveloping low cost (and admittedly low profit) pancake lenses just isn't on their list of must-dos.

Their focus seems to be in pushing upscale.  They definitely don't seem to be interested in budget lenses.  Although, compared to some alternatives, the new 50-350 is not bad in that regard.

As for my fast, small walkaround solutions, I find some of my manual lenses to be extremely enjoyable - not as wide as the 16mm and 20mm - but for compactness and sharpness, lenses like the Leica M mounts are lots of fun to use and very compact...and have their own flavor in color and bokeh. When I need fast and wide, I use the sigma 16mm as compactness isn't as important to me...and if wide and small is needed, I'll pull out the Sony 16mm pancake as it's still quite usable. If a new Sony 16mm fast pancake came along that was also sharper wide open...I might indeed add one to my collection.

The 20mm is my go-to, but in some situations, I like the 16mm with the UWA option.

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Gary W.

 GaryW's gear list:GaryW's gear list
Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 Sony Alpha NEX-5 Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony a6500 +10 more
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