Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

Started Dec 18, 2013 | Discussions
FrankS009
FrankS009 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,998
Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

In a recent piece,

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/full_frame_myth.shtml

Michael Reichmann wrote,

"A lens has to be of a certain size to cover full frame. That size is now smaller than it used to be, because FE mount lenses don't have to have the large rear register distance that ones designed for DSLRs did. By way of comparison have a look at Leica M lenses vs. SLR lenses. They have always been considerably smaller. Compare the size of a 35mm f/1.4 Summilux, for example, to a Nikon or Canon 35mm f/1.4. The implication of this is that the size and weight disadvantage of digital full frame is rapidly disappearing. And if I were a manufacturer committed to the Micro Four Thirds format I'd be looking over my shoulder nervously. Very nervously!"

Would someone please explain this to me. Is it possible to be more explicit about size and weight of FE mount lenses than Reichmann is?

Thanks

F.

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schirmer Regular Member • Posts: 443
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses
1

Leica M mount lenses were designed for 135 film, thus full format. Leica M has a short mount - film (or sensor) distance, similar to m43 and the new A7. Wide angle lenses for Leica M are very small compared to (D)SLR wideangle at same aperture. This is mainly due to the shorter distance, not so critical 'projcet' the outgoing light on a far distance sensor.

So yes, Sony A7 allows smaller lenses. But APS-C DSLR would be the first victems: They combine the long distance with a smaller sensor at no size advantage.

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honeyiscool
honeyiscool Senior Member • Posts: 1,376
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses
10

In what world are Sony FE lenses small?

http://camerasize.com/compact/#488.394,380.345,488.395,380.306,wa,t

I think if anything, this shows that if FE's short flange register results in smaller lenses in theory, that Sony doesn't know how to actually take advantage of that. The Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 and 55mm f/1.8 are hardly "tiny" when compared to similar Canon lenses, considering everything.

Or take the f/4 zoom:

http://camerasize.com/compact/#488.393,380.210,380.367,wa,t

The Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 is not even that much bigger (in size) than the Sony Zeiss 24-70 f/4, and gains a full stop in aperture. The Canon 24-70 f/4 doesn't look all that much bigger, either.

If FE allows for smaller lenses, Sony hasn't shown it. If anything, when you look at the lenses visually, it looks like all the existing FE lenses except the 35mm f/2.8 spend the first centimeter or so of the lens just extending the mount, as though the small flange distance never existed. Look at how it compares with Leica 50mm Noctilux f/0.95, the grand-daddy of all normal rangefinder lenses:

http://camerasize.com/compact/#488.393,323.275,wa,t

The Noctilux is absolutely dwarfed by the FE 55mm f/1.8 that is supposed to be small. Seriously? In what world is that 55mm small? It's huge, considering specifications.

Makes me wonder if there's something technically wrong with the FE mount, or if there's something wrong with Sony's optical division if they have to make such a large normal lens w/ relatively modest specifications.

I have a hypothesis that maybe FE mount will always be crippled by the fact that they tried to squeeze a full frame sensor into a relatively undersized mount. To see what I mean, look at the M mount:

Plenty of room for that 35mm sensor.

Now look at the FE mount:

Notice how the sensor on the FE mount extends all the way to the corners of the mount.

I am not a lens expert, but I have to think that the relatively undersized FE mount has to be affecting lens design in one way or another.

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amtberg Veteran Member • Posts: 6,081
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses
5

I might be mistaken, but I don't think that the analogy to film rangefinder camera's is all that useful.  Unlike film, digital chips are sensitive to the angle of like striking the sensor surface.  I think that's why wide angle film camera lenses produce poor results with digital cameras.  It may be that this limits the ability of lens manufactures to miniaturize digital full-frame lenses.

Or not. 

honeyiscool
honeyiscool Senior Member • Posts: 1,376
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

amtberg wrote:

I might be mistaken, but I don't think that the analogy to film rangefinder camera's is all that useful. Unlike film, digital chips are sensitive to the angle of like striking the sensor surface. I think that's why wide angle film camera lenses produce poor results with digital cameras. It may be that this limits the ability of lens manufactures to miniaturize digital full-frame lenses.

Or not.

Fair. But why is the 55mm f/1.8 FE lens twice the size of even the 50mm f/1.4 Alpha mount lens? I just think there's something wrong with the FE mount if its lens sizes are no smaller than comparable SLR lenses.

And oops, I used the wrong picture for the 55mm vs. Leica comparison and the Nocti is in fact larger than the 55mm f/1.8, but the 55mm f/1.8 is still considerably larger than the Leica 50mm f/1.4, as well Sony's very own 50mm f/1.4:

http://camerasize.com/compact/#488.395,323.276,377.61,wa,t

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Jorginho Forum Pro • Posts: 14,237
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses
2

The current reality is that the lenses do not seem to be much smaller and the F4 zoom is bigger and heavier than its Canon equivalent. So..we'll see.

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jalywol
jalywol Veteran Member • Posts: 9,424
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses
8

FrankS009 wrote:

In a recent piece,

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/full_frame_myth.shtml

Michael Reichmann wrote,

"A lens has to be of a certain size to cover full frame. That size is now smaller than it used to be, because FE mount lenses don't have to have the large rear register distance that ones designed for DSLRs did. By way of comparison have a look at Leica M lenses vs. SLR lenses. They have always been considerably smaller. Compare the size of a 35mm f/1.4 Summilux, for example, to a Nikon or Canon 35mm f/1.4. The implication of this is that the size and weight disadvantage of digital full frame is rapidly disappearing. And if I were a manufacturer committed to the Micro Four Thirds format I'd be looking over my shoulder nervously. Very nervously!"

Would someone please explain this to me. Is it possible to be more explicit about size and weight of FE mount lenses than Reichmann is?

Thanks

F.

There are a lot of "ifs" in his statement.

If camera manufacturers choose to really develop small lens technology, then FF will be unbeatable.

If FF customers don't get weird about software lens distortion correction to achieve size advantages, then the system will have a chance of getting small.

If FF manufacturers can successfully address the sensor edge distortions, it will be a big step forward.

If FF lenses for these systems are released in a timely fashion, and are available at competitive prices, then that will be a big plus.

If they can put good IBIS into the FF bodies, that will be a huge plus.

Etc.....

Right now we are at the tip of some very promising future technologies with larger sensored cameras.  It is entirely up to the manufacturers as to what kind of systems they develop around them, and those systems are what will either make or break FF as a system that will be widely adapted by smaller camera enthusiasts.

Conversely, I expect that as technologies change over the next few years, we will continue to see advances in M43 sensor capabilities that will keep them competitive overall.....

Interesting times....

-J

David Kieltyka
David Kieltyka Veteran Member • Posts: 5,131
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

honeyiscool wrote:

But why is the 55mm f/1.8 FE lens twice the size of even the 50mm f/1.4 Alpha mount lens? I just think there's something wrong with the FE mount if its lens sizes are no smaller than comparable SLR lenses.

The FE lens sizes have little to do with the mount, at least as far as their length is concerned. As to why they're not compact...seems to me that wasn't a design goal, or at least not an overriding one. A lens design has to balance various goals against each other, which involves compromises. I honestly wouldn't read too much into the size thing given the few FE lenses available (and announced) so far. If the cameras are successful and Sony builds out a proper lens lineup, then we'll see.

-Dave-

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CharlesB58 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,838
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

honeyiscool wrote:

amtberg wrote:

I might be mistaken, but I don't think that the analogy to film rangefinder camera's is all that useful. Unlike film, digital chips are sensitive to the angle of like striking the sensor surface. I think that's why wide angle film camera lenses produce poor results with digital cameras. It may be that this limits the ability of lens manufactures to miniaturize digital full-frame lenses.

Or not.

Fair. But why is the 55mm f/1.8 FE lens twice the size of even the 50mm f/1.4 Alpha mount lens? I just think there's something wrong with the FE mount if its lens sizes are no smaller than comparable SLR lenses.

And oops, I used the wrong picture for the 55mm vs. Leica comparison and the Nocti is in fact larger than the 55mm f/1.8, but the 55mm f/1.8 is still considerably larger than the Leica 50mm f/1.4, as well Sony's very own 50mm f/1.4:

http://camerasize.com/compact/#488.395,323.276,377.61,wa,t

There are a number of factors that affect lens size in addition to focal length, aperture and the format. The 55mm FE lens is made by Zeiss, a company known for making "robust" lenses due to heavy duty construction and optical formulas that help resist aberrations due to temperature or wear and tear.

Lenses for Leica Digital M cameras don't have AF motors, which has a small impact on their size.

The difference is going to be greater the longer the focal length. While the FE 24-70 f4 is smaller than the Alpha 24-70, and not much bigger than the m.zuiko 12-40 f2.8, if you compare the FE 70-200 f4, it's about the same size as other 70-200 f4 lenses, but notably larger than the Panasonic 35-100 f2.8 It's roughly the same size and weight as the Zuiko 50-200 f2.8-3.5, with half the reach.

Sure, the A7 and kin will lure some people from m4/3. It already has. I don't think it's quite the threat that the article implies, at least until Sony decides to make it a camera system that is actually more than a nice sensor in a clunky set of bodies with noisy shutters and stripped down features.

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tt321
tt321 Forum Pro • Posts: 12,649
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

Leica M 90mm lenses are larger and heavier than typical 85-105 SLR lenses of similar speeds. When it gets to telephoto lenses the "thinner body advantage" disappears.

How many WA primes do you want to own?

And it's the Leica M-mount WA primes that have been reported to be poor adapted to the new Sony Sevens.

M43 looking back over its shoulder is a hyperbole.

Martin.au
Martin.au Forum Pro • Posts: 13,054
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

tt321 wrote:

Leica M 90mm lenses are larger and heavier than typical 85-105 SLR lenses of similar speeds. When it gets to telephoto lenses the "thinner body advantage" disappears.

How many WA primes do you want to own?

And it's the Leica M-mount WA primes that have been reported to be poor adapted to the new Sony Sevens.

M43 looking back over its shoulder is a hyperbole.

This.

Ignoring equivalence, as equivalent systems will often have similar weights, and looking at focal lengths.

300mm requires 600mm in FF terms to achieve the advantages available with FF.

45mm requires 90mm ""

35-100mm requires 70-200mm ""

Those focal lengths aren't going to get shorter, and following that the lens sizes aren't going to get much smaller. The only lenses that will shrink will be some of the wide angle lenses.

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dennis tennis Veteran Member • Posts: 3,783
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

Let's enjoy our gear, whatever they are and not have this size fetish.  First it was our mFT bodies are smaller.  Now, fan boy cling to our lenses are smaller.  Take a look at current Pentax primes APS-C DSLR.  You're going to convince yourself that if, when Pentax makes a real MILC, they won't have awesome, small  primes?

ironcam Regular Member • Posts: 100
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses
1

The reason why Leica lenses are so small, is because they have no auto focus. Also the minimum focus distance is 0.7m even for wide and normal lenses. Not everyone seems to talk about that, but I find close focus to be a really useful feature.

captura Forum Pro • Posts: 25,208
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

Of the three (only) lenses introduced with Sony's new A&/r FF cameras, only one is "small" and that is the fairly wide FE 35/2.8. prime. The other two, a zoom and a 55/1.8 prime are larger. So  although wide FE lenses for Sony FF cameras will remain smallish, anything from 'normal' to telephoto will be larger/longer than NEX lenses.

So this discussion is based on a false assumption, IMHO.

M43 has nothing to worry about.

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FrankS009
OP FrankS009 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,998
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

These are helpful comments. Perhaps it is early to reach conclusions. Michael Reichmann enjoys making these kinds of generalizations - I generally find them useful - but it seems that his thoughts about these kinds of FE lenses could use some more validation from your posts. The battle between mirrorless FF and m4/3rds might be one to watch. But m4/3rds will always be more affordable. Interesting times indeed.

F.

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G L Regular Member • Posts: 328
M43 is quite a good compromise

There will always be some whoe demand larger sensors for there type of shooting.

But for me as a private user and what I shoot m43 is quite a good compromise. Cameras and lenses are reasonable small and IQ is good enough for what I need. And sometimes I would like even more DOF, people in a room for example or say part of a tree in the foreground and an old house in the background.

The A7 may be small but lenses with similar range will be quite somewhat larger and more expensive too.

If I had to spend some money the 12-35 or the 12-40 would be on my radar or maybe the EM5 or GX7. As it is the GH1 with 14-45 and 9-18 will have to do for some time.

But I have not the least interest for a system with a larger sensor and therefor larger lenses. When I read this forum I get the impression that there are quite some people in a similar boat.

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TrapperJohn Forum Pro • Posts: 16,488
Two reasons Leica M glass is so small
3

Leica M is pure manual operation.  This eliminates two features common to all DSLR glass, both of which add size.

No autofocus, so no autofocus motor, gearing, electronics, or connections.

Leica M also doesn't have any form of external aperture control. Since it's a rangefinder and doesn't use a TTL viewfinder, there is no need to externally control the lens aperture (leave wide open for viewfinder use, stop down to selected F stop when shooting), so no external aperture control mechanism. Even the earliest film SLR's had external aperture control on their lenses so the VF didn't go dark when the photog stopped down.

Those are two big reasons Leica M glass is so small, neither of which relate to registration distance.

As for shorter registration distance making the lenses smaller... don't know about FF, but with 4/3, the shorter reg distance did not make the lenses smaller. Compare the kit grade 4/3 ZD 14-42 and 40-150  to their functionally identical M43 counterparts - they're about the same size, except the 14-42 uses a 'folding' design to make the lens shorter when not in use.

There is a size reduction from the fast HG and SHG ZD glass to the Panny constant F2.8 zooms and MZD Pro lenses, but again, not directly related to registration distance. The 4/3 HG and SHG glass have a telecentric design: straightens the light out in the lens to eliminate edge problems, whereas the Panny and MZD Pro don't appear to use a telecentric design - a thinner sensor with shallower light wells was used to handle light at angles better.

The telecentric design resulted in a much thicker lens barrel - compare the ZD 12-60 to the MZD 12-40, main size difference is the 12-40 has a more slender lens barrel. Same is true, somewhat, comparing the ZD 50 F2 to the MZD 45 1.8... much thinner lens barrel, though the 50M's macro design probably contributes somewhat to its thicker barrel.

The A7 has to be a commercial success before third party lensmakers will even try to size optimze FF glass for it - what I see now looks like standard Zeiss designs with just a shorter reg distance. But, the A7 probably won't be a commercial success without truly size optimized FF glass, as M43 did.

My personal guess is - the concept and marketability of a truly small FF system has been proven, but it will take a serious photo company to make it successful with not only a small body, but a decent range of size optimized glass.

Nikon, Canon, here's a chance to hop in and join the party.

RickPick
RickPick Senior Member • Posts: 1,322
Re: Michael Reichmann's take on smaller full frame Sony FE mount lenses

My guess is that both Olympus and Panasonic will be looking into the "full frame" market along with the other camera makers. With their experience of making small lenses for m4/3, they would probably be in a good position if the market really takes off. I don't think this will affect their commitment to m4/3 equipment, as long as people keep buying it.

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harold1968
harold1968 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,687
Doesn't stand up to scrutiny

FrankS009 wrote:

In a recent piece,

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/full_frame_myth.shtml

Michael Reichmann wrote,

"A lens has to be of a certain size to cover full frame. That size is now smaller than it used to be, because FE mount lenses don't have to have the large rear register distance that ones designed for DSLRs did. By way of comparison have a look at Leica M lenses vs. SLR lenses. They have always been considerably smaller. Compare the size of a 35mm f/1.4 Summilux, for example, to a Nikon or Canon 35mm f/1.4. The implication of this is that the size and weight disadvantage of digital full frame is rapidly disappearing. And if I were a manufacturer committed to the Micro Four Thirds format I'd be looking over my shoulder nervously. Very nervously!"

Would someone please explain this to me. Is it possible to be more explicit about size and weight of FE mount lenses than Reichmann is?

Thanks

F.

Firstly lets get all of this into context, digilloyd, and by implication luminous landscapes, has made some very weird statements recently, e.g. Fuji X can't focus, the Nikon D800 can't focus,etc. Having used both these cameras I can say for certain its not true, in fact the X-pro1 is super accurate

Why they do that I don't know, others can speculate.

In terms of the statement above its true that not having a mirror box allows lenses to be smaller however:

1. Leica lenses are not AF, therefore they don't need the motor or other gubbins.

2. Leica lenses are actually quite big, e.g. the Leica 50mm f1.4 is quite a bit bigger and heavier then the Panny 25mm f1.4. Leica specialize in wide angle, they have hardly any telephoto, the longest is 135mm This is more then double the size and weight of the 150mm (75mm) Olympus f1.8 and is only f3.4. So lets chuck the Leica comment out.

3. The Sony 35mm FE f2.8 lens is actually bigger then the Olympus 17mm f1.8.

4. When it comes to zooms and telephoto all bets are off, e.g. the Sony 24-70mm f4 is bigger and heavier then the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8

So his comments don't work under scrutiny.

In summary, M4/3s lenses will always be smaller, but for zooms and telephoto the difference will always be large.

The Sony A7 series is a great camera BTW. Any rich person should have a A7 and a E-M1

However, contrary to much armchair philosophy, both cameras can be used for action, people and landscapes. Its just that there are advantages and disadvantages to every format (shutter sound, speed, DOF, tracking, lens size, detail, ISO performance, DR, etc.). On the surface make sure you buy the one that is closest to your requirements but at the end of that day, its the photographer that counts.

The first AF SLR was produced in 1981 by Pentax. Before this, all those sports actions shots were done with MF ......

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Grzzl
Grzzl Senior Member • Posts: 2,967
Re: Doesn't stand up to scrutiny

The first AF SLR was produced in 1981 by Pentax. Before this, all those sports actions shots were done with MF ......

Wasn't that not the Minolta Maxxum 7000?

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