Need input for A65 lenses

Started Aug 14, 2013 | Discussions
perzpective New Member • Posts: 4
Need input for A65 lenses

Hello folks!

This is my first post at DPReview, so please advise if I don't follow any forum rules/regulations.

After much research and lots of browsing in the forums, I am going to pull the trigger on an A65 kit. This will be my first DSLR (or DSLT :)) ever, and so I am more interested in buying a kit that bundles the body with a couple of lenses and some accessories. To start with, I will be casually shooting pretty much everything i.e. portraits, landscapes and maybe even some wildlife. I have two options for the kit:

  1. A65 body with 18-55mm kit lens + Sony 55-200mm lens (newer SAM model).
  2. A65 body with 18-135mm kit lens + Sony 75-300mm lens.

I can choose from these 2 combinations only since these are two separate kits. If I try to mix and match, the cost exceeds my current budget. I also want to buy a nice prime lens in the future, maybe the Sony 50mm f/1.8, so need to save some $ for that.

From your experience about the quality of these lenses and considering that I will be shooting a little bit of everything, which of those is a better kit?

Thanks!

thebustos Veteran Member • Posts: 3,361
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

You can get lens ratings at dyxum.com for all the lenses available for the Sony A-mount. According to that, the 18-135mm is the highest rated of those choices, but the 75-300mm is the lowest rated. The 18-55mm SAMII is closer in overall rating to the 18-135mm, so if it is that 18-55mm I might go with the first option. However the 18-135mm would probably be a good walk around lens so it might be the best option. Just when you use the 75-300mm it might not be the sharpest.

If you get a prime I might suggest the 35mm f/1.8. In case you didn't know, with APS-C sized sensors you have to use a crop factor to get the effective focal length. For Sony that's 1.5x, so the 35mm will work out to be 52.5mm in FF format (35mm x 1.5= 52.5). That makes a 35mm good for all around shooting on the A65.

If you just want a prime for portraits, the 50mm would be equivalent to 75mm in FF format, which is closer to the classic portrait focal length of 85mm. But it's a little too long of a focal length to be easy to use in small spaces since you have to stand further back from your subject.
--
Good luck and happy shooting!

 thebustos's gear list:thebustos's gear list
Sony SLT-A77 Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM Sony DT 50mm F1.8 SAM Sony DT 30mm F2.8 Macro SAM Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM +17 more
craig66 Senior Member • Posts: 1,402
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

For the longer lens, I'd try to get the 55-300 in preference to either the 55-200 or 70-300. I have the 55-200 and 55-300 and the 55-300 is better in every respect. I'm not sure if the 55-300 is being offered in a two lens kit at the moment, but it would be well worth trying to find out.

 craig66's gear list:craig66's gear list
Sony a77 II Sony DT 55-300mm F4.5-5.6 SAM Tamron SP AF 200-500mm F/5-6.3 Di LD (IF) Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG OS Macro HSM Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG HSM +10 more
L R Harner Regular Member • Posts: 288
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

is it worth it to get the body only and the 35 1.8  or even jsut the A65 and 18-135 then save for the 70-300 tamron USD

or really save a bit and get the 18-55 kit and skip the long lens for now since you will have 24mp to crop from

might be able to also look on criegslist to see is anyone is getting rid the kit lens after upgrade might be able to score one for 50 bucks or so

 L R Harner's gear list:L R Harner's gear list
Sony SLT-A65 Tamron SP AF 70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) MACRO Sony DT 16-80mm F3.5-4.5 ZA Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Sony DT 30mm F2.8 Macro SAM Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX II
Anderton Contributing Member • Posts: 663
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

perzpective wrote:

Hello folks!

This is my first post at DPReview, so please advise if I don't follow any forum rules/regulations.

After much research and lots of browsing in the forums, I am going to pull the trigger on an A65 kit. This will be my first DSLR (or DSLT :)) ever, and so I am more interested in buying a kit that bundles the body with a couple of lenses and some accessories. To start with, I will be casually shooting pretty much everything i.e. portraits, landscapes and maybe even some wildlife. I have two options for the kit:

  1. A65 body with 18-55mm kit lens + Sony 55-200mm lens (newer SAM model).
  2. A65 body with 18-135mm kit lens + Sony 75-300mm lens.

I can choose from these 2 combinations only since these are two separate kits. If I try to mix and match, the cost exceeds my current budget. I also want to buy a nice prime lens in the future, maybe the Sony 50mm f/1.8, so need to save some $ for that.

From your experience about the quality of these lenses and considering that I will be shooting a little bit of everything, which of those is a better kit?

Thanks!

Hello Perzpective,

It comes down to your own personal preferences however I owned both the SAM versions of the 18-55mm and 55-200mm SAM and sold both on eBay within a few months of use.

The 18-55mm was nice to have for both wide angle and portrait however later on I found the 18mm on an APS-C camera is too wide and overall the focal range too short for an everyday lens. Image quality was also soft. The same for 55-200mm. It has very nice colour rendition however the Bokeh is very harsh in most conditions and image quality can be soft depending on the focal range.

Out of your selection I would choose the 18-135mm and 75-300mm combination. The 18-135 would make a good do-it-all travel lens and the 75-300 is more versatile. For example, with the 18-135mm you can use 60-120mm range for portrait shots to obtain a more compressed background. The difference between 55-200mm and the 75-300mm for wildlife and airshow shots is quite a margin as well.

A lot of new DSLR users are hesistant to purchase used gear. As I mentioned earlier, I sold both my kits lens for the sharper optics, Bokeh and build quality. Here are some reasons to consider used Minolta lens:

Pros:

- sharper image quality than kit lens and macro options

- first generation Minolta auto focus lens that are mostly metal bodies and are build to last

- many come with constant or wide apertures such as f/4 or f/3.5-4.5

- mostly full frame compatible

- bang for buck performance with better resell on the used market

Cons:

- lens heavier than plastic versions

- louder and slightly slower auto focus

- chromatic abberation issues requires stopping down or post processing

- older lens coatings are more susceptible to flare

- no in-camera body lens correction, long minimum focal distance

Camera lens generally outlast camera bodies - both my Minolta's zooms are over a quarter of a century old and I use Sony primes - so try and have a long term outlook on your lens selection. Sometimes it makes sense to spend that little bit extra now on a lens that is a few f-stops wider or has a longer focal length rather than going the cheap route and being stuck with the wrong lens now and have to spend more later upgrading.

Here are some links:

http://www.sonyalpharumors.com/an-introduction-to-the-alpha-mount-by-kelly-davis/

http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/maxxum7k/index7.htm

http://www.maxxcamera.com/secret-handshake-lens/

http://www.dyxum.com/reviews/lenses/reviews.asp?IDLens=38

http://www.dyxum.com/reviews/lenses/Minolta-AF-35-105-F3.5-4.5_review44.html

http://www.lowcost4dslr.com/tests/autofocus-lenses/24-minolta-35-105-f35-45-review-the-perfect-portraiture-zoom

http://www.photoclubalpha.com/2012/03/24/minolta-70-210mm-f4-versus-canon-70-200mm-f4-l-is/

http://www.lowcost4dslr.com/tests/autofocus-lenses/27-minolta-af-70-210-f40-review-beercan-the-legend

If budget is an issue, consider the Sony a57 if you can find one as it has virtually the same ergonomics as the a65 for a beginner at a cheaper price.

Good luck!

Anderton

OP perzpective New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

Thanks for your response thebustos!

I am not looking to buy a prime as of now, but will definitely keep what you said in mind.

The kit lens doesn't seem like its the SAM II from the description and so based on what you said the 18-135mm looks like a better choice.

geoffmalter
geoffmalter Senior Member • Posts: 2,798
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

I have an A57 with the 18-135, and happy with my choice. Great walk-around lens, IQ, and relatively fast AF. And like others who have responded, +1 for the 35mm f1.8 and Sony 55-300mm.

 geoffmalter's gear list:geoffmalter's gear list
Canon EOS M5 Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Canon EOS M Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM +4 more
OP perzpective New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

craig66 wrote:

For the longer lens, I'd try to get the 55-300 in preference to either the 55-200 or 70-300. I have the 55-200 and 55-300 and the 55-300 is better in every respect. I'm not sure if the 55-300 is being offered in a two lens kit at the moment, but it would be well worth trying to find out.

I checked the 55-300 and you're right! It is indeed a better lens based on reviews.
I did find a kit which has that lens, and that increases my confusion!

So now my choices are:

  1. A65 body with 18-55mm kit lens + Sony 55-200mm lens (newer SAM model).
  2. A65 body with 18-135mm kit lens + Sony 75-300mm lens.
  3. A65 body with 18-55mm kit lens + Sony 50-300mm lens.

There is a kit with 18-135mm kit lens + Sony 50-300mm but it is out of my budget.

I am getting kit #2 above for the same price as a kit with 18-135mm alone. So I was thinking I can just get the kit with the 75-300mm and maybe occasionally use it. Not like 75-300mm is a horrible lens, right?

geoffmalter
geoffmalter Senior Member • Posts: 2,798
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

I bought my Sony 55-300 used, in excellent condition for $200 with a B&H warranty. If you are patient, you can find similar deals.

 geoffmalter's gear list:geoffmalter's gear list
Canon EOS M5 Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Canon EOS M Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM +4 more
OP perzpective New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

Anderton,

I really appreciate your detailed response! Thank you!

I think I will go for the 18-135mm + 75-300mm kit for now. Since I am getting it for almost the same price as an 18-135mm kit, it doesn't seem like a bad idea to grab an extra lens.

Thank you everyone for the help and the useful info!

123Mike Veteran Member • Posts: 4,643
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

Forget about the kit lens, the 18-135, the 75-300.

I'm *very* critical on pure hardcore sharpness, bokeh, pure IQ, and I tell you, forget about any super zooms, and fast forward straight to the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 lens. Long focal ranges are way overrated. You'll find that even if you "have the power", you'll end up taking most shots in the shorter range anyway. The Tamron is *such* a sweet lens. It's so sharp, you can crop your way to what other lenses do with range (eg. 17-70, 28-85, etc).

Telelens, 55-300 all the way. It's as sharp as a G lens. Bokeh is not that great though.

Save $100 on avoiding the kit, don't bother with 18-250 or 18-135. Go for pure hardcore quality. Tamron 17-50 f2.8 @ $300 or better even - and for pure IQ for the buck - it's a *good* deal !

I've recently acquired the 35/1.8 prime one, but it's backfocusing like crazy. Also got the Minolta 24-85 RS because reportedly it's good. It *is* very good indeed. It's just about as sharp as the Tamron, and provides a tad more range, making for nicer bokeh. Bokeh is good.

Go for pure hardcore IQ and don't settle for anything less! Range smange !

Deocool Junior Member • Posts: 35
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

In my opinion (it is massively subjective of course) the best option would be to go for a body only, adding a couple of primes, if you don't mind constant lens swap. Or, what works well for me, a 16-50mm f2.8 Sony and 85 mm prime. Again, depends on what you want to shoot, in my case, most of the taken photos are in 20-50 range. So 16-50 was an obvious choice, since i understood (after a couple of mistakes) that constant f2.8 is a must. I'd stay away from the offered zoom lenses, which will, most probably, end up in your drawer or ebay for one third of the price. I tried those and 16-105 Sony on top, but the disappointment of not being able to take a decent picture when the the sun is not shining above your head, and in million other situations, where the light is not perfect, isn't really worth saving those extra 200 dollars.

123Mike Veteran Member • Posts: 4,643
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

I agree with that it's very nice having 2.8. But the Sony 16-50 is so bloody expensive! The Tamron 17-50 is half the cost and the image quality is just about the same.

But there is a case to be made for just a little bit more range. I'm not talking about 18-135 or any superzoom. Those in my books don't at all meet my demands for good quality. I want good looking background and I want *sharp* and no blurry corners.

I'm still a little torn on the range thing. I'm baffled how this year, for me, the 17-50 lens has been totally cutting it for me. I used to walk around with lenses like the 28-105 xi, and really, that's not that bad of a lens. But the bokeh is very harsh on it. But pure sharpness wise, it's actually quite good! So then I thought more is better. So, 28-300, but... needs stopping to f10 to become sharp. It and other lenses don't quite need full sunlight. Overcast works too. But, at dusk, and indoors obviously, yes, totally 2.8 is an absolute requirement! So much so, that I got a 35/1.8 prime lens. It's *sharp* at f2, heck, f1.8 even, but it has this insane backfocusing and I haven't fully figured out why...

But for the range thing. I got this 24-85 lens this week actually. Went to the park, took pictures of the kids playing in the playground. The quality really is as good as the 17-50. Absolutely razor tack sharp. Focus is spot on. Plus I have this extra range. I can stand back a little and zoom in a little more, not with the intention of taking a picture of the head way blown up, but still a good portion of the scene. But standing back and zooming in changes the background to become a little smoother and creamier. I haven't quite decided yet if it's better to have the 17-50 or the 24-85 on it though. The 17-50 lets me do something like f3.2 at 50mm (or f2.8 obviously) to be super sharp. The 24-85 is sharp wide open, but it sits at f4 at 50mm. So I can step back and zoom more to gain more 3D effect, but the 17-50 allows for side aperture also providing 3D effect. I'll be playing with this back and forth to decide which works better for me. I want to like the 24-85 because it's this shiny new toy effect right now. But I can't dismiss the 17-50 because it's so darn good.

feelingHipster Junior Member • Posts: 26
Re: Need input for A65 lenses

Given your wide choice of subjects (not a bad thing), I'd say go for second combo.  The 18-135 has served me well and I've found the IQ to be pretty darn good--not quite to the level of the 35mm f1.8 DT--but a very good lens to start with.  You might find yourself shooting with the 18-135 most of the time, which is good.  Get to know it well.  You'll get some good reach with the second lens in your package, but I'm not sure of IQ.

 feelingHipster's gear list:feelingHipster's gear list
Sony SLT-A65 +2 more
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