Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

Started Dec 20, 2018 | Questions
tampajay New Member • Posts: 1
Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

I just purchased the Sony A7m3.  24mp is enough for me. I enjoy landscape photography. I usually make 11X14 photographs to hang on the wall.

Sony and Zeiss have come up with some great modern prime lenses that I am considering.

I was also wondering what would be the quality of the the results using a 20 year old Zeiss T* Distagon 35mm f2.8 prime lens from my old 35mm film camera (Contax 137md)? I know it would not take advantage of the autofocus and many of the features of the camera.  But what about the resolution and sharpness of the lens?

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Sakisf Regular Member • Posts: 404
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

tampajay wrote:

I just purchased the Sony A7m3. 24mp is enough for me. I enjoy landscape photography. I usually make 11X14 photographs to hang on the wall.

Sony and Zeiss have come up with some great modern prime lenses that I am considering.

I was also wondering what would be the quality of the the results using a 20 year old Zeiss T* Distagon 35mm f2.8 prime lens from my old 35mm film camera (Contax 137md)? I know it would not take advantage of the autofocus and many of the features of the camera. But what about the resolution and sharpness of the lens?

It will be fine. Just find a hood.

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edform
edform Veteran Member • Posts: 7,424
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

tampajay wrote:

I just purchased the Sony A7m3. 24mp is enough for me. I enjoy landscape photography. I usually make 11X14 photographs to hang on the wall.

Sony and Zeiss have come up with some great modern prime lenses that I am considering.

I was also wondering what would be the quality of the the results using a 20 year old Zeiss T* Distagon 35mm f2.8 prime lens from my old 35mm film camera (Contax 137md)? I know it would not take advantage of the autofocus and many of the features of the camera. But what about the resolution and sharpness of the lens?

This is worth a read...

https://phillipreeve.net/blog/wideangle-lenses-for-the-sony-alpha-7-series/

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Ed Form

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olstrup Veteran Member • Posts: 3,939
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3
1

Older lens design without aspherical lens elements in them are more often than not a bit soft in the corners wide open but usually cleans up nicely by stopping down 2-3 stops. An exception is really old super fast lenses like say the old Canon rangefinder 50/1.2 lens. I had one of them years ago but sold it because it never cleaned up enough even when stopped down a lot. Really old wide angle lenses are also often mediocre by todays standards. Older tele lenses are often excellent. I regularly use a Nikon 200/4 AI-S and love it. The Leica M Tele-Elmar 135/4 is not only good but stellar (and not expensive in its two oldest iterations). The Leica R Apo-Telyt 180mm is also very well reputed.

Also note that some rangefinder wide angle lenses have problems with corner smearing on Sony A7X sensor stacks (which is different from the mentioned corner softness wide open). That is a problem with some Leica M wide angle lenses - but not all. Also, some modern rangefinder lenses with aspherical elements shows corner smearing. That goes for some modern 35 and 50mm Leica M lenses. In fact one may be better off with the older non aspherical versions of these lenses (for example the 35 and 50mm type IV Summicron and Summilux which are excellent non aspherical lenses also on Sony A7X).

As always with older adapted lenses: If possible try them before money changes hands or be sure you are able to return them for a refund if you don't like them.

The above may sound as if there are many problems with adapted older lenses, but that's not the case - just a few things to be aware of. In fact, I use nothing but adapted MF lenses (Leica M and Nikon AI-S - because I had them in the closet) on my Sony A7X cameras with the purpose of keeping down weight and bulk.

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Scott Alan Regular Member • Posts: 489
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

Consider the Sony SAL 24mm F2.0 Z.  It can be picked used for $530.  You would need the LA EA 3 adapter, but you would have a very good 24mm prime with auto focus design for digital cameras.

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ricmsm
ricmsm New Member • Posts: 6
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

tampajay wrote:

I was also wondering what would be the quality of the the results using a 20 year old Zeiss T* Distagon 35mm f2.8 prime lens from my old 35mm film camera (Contax 137md)? I know it would not take advantage of the autofocus and many of the features of the camera. But what about the resolution and sharpness of the lens?

I used the 28/2.8 and this 35/2.8 for a bit (with A7R I) and arround 5.6/6.1 I was satisfied with the results. Gave me joy of use until I had enough cash to upgrade for a more modern lens.

PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,756
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

There are lots of choices.

Personally since I have not experienced virtually all those old prime lenses crossing brands and don't want to carry multiple adapters for different mounts, I just stay in two mounts - my familiar EF-mount with MB4 and MC-11 adapters and native FE mount that now most my lenses are. I am largely still a zoom lenses user but gradually collecting more prime lenses. So far I have Canon 17L TS-E, very old EF 15/2.8 fisheye, Sigma EF 150/2.8 OS macro (that likely will be replaced by FE 90/2.8 macro), FE 35/2.8 ZA, FE 55/1.8 ZA, Zeiss Batis 135/2.8 and newly acquired Voigtlander 12/5.6 E-mount, Sigma EF 35/1.4 Art (cheaper than E-mount on street price and AF works equally well via MC-11 while there are reports of E-mount AF issue), Zeiss/Loxia 21/2.8 (going to receive in a few days). FE 85 GM and maybe FE 50/1.4 ZA are in my plan list.

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QuietOC
QuietOC Veteran Member • Posts: 4,267
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3
1

Scott Alan wrote:

Consider the Sony SAL 24mm F2.0 Z. It can be picked used for $530. You would need the LA EA 3 adapter, but you would have a very good 24mm prime with auto focus design for digital cameras.

I don't think I'll be using mine much on my A7II. It is just too big and heavy.

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Rol Lei Nut Veteran Member • Posts: 5,155
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3
1

tampajay wrote:

I just purchased the Sony A7m3. 24mp is enough for me. I enjoy landscape photography. I usually make 11X14 photographs to hang on the wall.

Sony and Zeiss have come up with some great modern prime lenses that I am considering.

I was also wondering what would be the quality of the the results using a 20 year old Zeiss T* Distagon 35mm f2.8 prime lens from my old 35mm film camera (Contax 137md)? I know it would not take advantage of the autofocus and many of the features of the camera. But what about the resolution and sharpness of the lens?

Very good lens with a very flat field for a 35mm. One of the best for landscape use.

I use it without the slightest hesitation on my A7RII.

Don't listen to anyone who might say "it wasn't made for high resolution sensors". Used at f/5.6 or beyond, the only advantages the better current lenses could have are slightly better flare resistance and nicer sunstars.

MILC man Senior Member • Posts: 4,493
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

tampajay wrote:

I just purchased the Sony A7m3. 24mp is enough for me. I enjoy landscape photography. I usually make 11X14 photographs to hang on the wall.

Sony and Zeiss have come up with some great modern prime lenses that I am considering.

I was also wondering what would be the quality of the the results using a 20 year old Zeiss T* Distagon 35mm f2.8 prime lens from my old 35mm film camera (Contax 137md)? I know it would not take advantage of the autofocus and many of the features of the camera.

it should be great for your 11x14 prints, when stopped down a bit, with careful processing.

make sure that you use magnification and peaking to focus it... a bigger eyecup can be helpful for keeping extraneous light out of the evf.

But what about the resolution and sharpness of the lens?

modern lenses are typically sharper and better corrected, but why not try what you have, see how you like it.

Chester McCheeserton Regular Member • Posts: 101
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

olstrup wrote:

....the 35 and 50mm type IV Summicron and Summilux which are excellent non aspherical lenses also on Sony A7X).

not to hijack the thread here, but Olstrup or Rol,  wondering what either of you do when using 35 Summicron v4 on the A7r3 in terms of applying a lens profile corrections in lightroom?

I've asked about this elsewhere, and been directed to the procedures for making my own profile via adobe raw download procedures...the directions for doing this include a 22 page pdf, that looks like a lot of work!

I like the idea of just not using a profile most of the time, I'm aware that applying one will cost a little sharpness, detail at extreme edges of the frame, etc...and I like the natural vignetting some of the time...

It's an issue though, when I'm hand holding the lens at like F4 and shooting in fog, snow, or otherwise, light even background.  I'm not worried about distortion (which is prob nill anyway) but that vignetting can sometimes be distracting. Do you fellows just use the 35 cron asph profile?

(unknown member) Senior Member • Posts: 8,068
just try it !!!

You got the lens. All you need is a cheap dumb adapter for $10 off eBay.

I used Zeiss Contax lenses a lot, adapted to Canon, later adapted to Sony camera bodies. They are great!!! Manual focus works very well with the Sony cameras.

Eventually I sold them all for the modern Sony/Zeiss glas, but that's more because I like to have AF and EXIF available, and modern glas does have an edge (more noticeable on 42MP high resolution sensors).

olstrup Veteran Member • Posts: 3,939
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

Chester McCheeserton wrote:

olstrup wrote:

....the 35 and 50mm type IV Summicron and Summilux which are excellent non aspherical lenses also on Sony A7X).

not to hijack the thread here, but Olstrup or Rol, wondering what either of you do when using 35 Summicron v4 on the A7r3 in terms of applying a lens profile corrections in lightroom?

I don't use LR anymore but when I did, I didn't use any lens profile and I still don't. Distortion correction of the lens is excellent (a hallmark of those older Leica lenses) so I don't find any sofware correction necessary. As for vignetting it is most pronounced wide open and diminishes as the lens is stopped down. I apply correction as needed - if needed - on an individual picture basis. It's fast - only a matter of pulling a slider.

Modern lenses designed for digital cameras often leave a lot of distortion uncorrected in order to prioritize other lens corrections. The distortions are then supposed to be corrected by software - either in camera or in PP via a lens profile. Older lenses like the Summicron 35 type IV were designed for film. Good distortion correction had to be there in the lens design because there was no PP software and computers back then. For example the second version of the Leica M Super Angulon 21mm was regarded as sensationally good because it corrected distortions better than most other super wide angle lenses at the time. It had quite a lot of vignetting, but that could be corrected in the darkroom when copying which distortions couldn't. Regrettably this fine lens can't be used on digital cameras because of the rear lens' proximity to the film/sensor (it was a variant of the symmetrical Schneider Angulon design) .

I've asked about this elsewhere, and been directed to the procedures for making my own profile via adobe raw download procedures...the directions for doing this include a 22 page pdf, that looks like a lot of work!

I like the idea of just not using a profile most of the time, I'm aware that applying one will cost a little sharpness, detail at extreme edges of the frame, etc...and I like the natural vignetting some of the time...

It's an issue though, when I'm hand holding the lens at like F4 and shooting in fog, snow, or otherwise, light even background. I'm not worried about distortion (which is prob nill anyway) but that vignetting can sometimes be distracting. Do you fellows just use the 35 cron asph profile?

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mick232 Senior Member • Posts: 1,026
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

The following page have some samples of that very lens on an A7 camera:

https://www.digicamclub.de/showthread.php?t=22364

Personally, I have used a Zeiss Flektogon 35/2.4 on my 24MP A99 and am very happy with the results.

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Chester McCheeserton Regular Member • Posts: 101
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

olstrup wrote:

I don't use LR anymore but when I did, I didn't use any lens profile and I still don't. Distortion correction of the lens is excellent (a hallmark of those older Leica lenses) so I don't find any sofware correction necessary. As for vignetting it is most pronounced wide open and diminishes as the lens is stopped down. I apply correction as needed - if needed - on an individual picture basis. It's fast - only a matter of pulling a slider.

Okay – Thanks for letting me know.  I'm aware of the stopping down bit, but handheld it becomes an issue as I'd rather shoot at iso 100 at F4 then 400 at F8 in anticipation of printing as large as I can.

The built in slider for vignetting in LR doesn't seems to match how the lens actually falls off at wider apertures.  Just trying to research a bit before belly flopping into that 22 page pdf and spending hours on planet earth printing test charts to make my own profile for the pictures when I do need it.

I do like the summicron on the sony, manual focus is unforgiving when trying to photograph people moving around at close distances though.

and to the OP: in unscientific testing think my Pentax K 28mm holds it's own in terms of across the board sharpness with a rented 21mm loxia ... manual focus nikkor 50mm 1.8 pankcake is solid too...

Rol Lei Nut Veteran Member • Posts: 5,155
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

Chester McCheeserton wrote:

olstrup wrote:

....the 35 and 50mm type IV Summicron and Summilux which are excellent non aspherical lenses also on Sony A7X).

not to hijack the thread here, but Olstrup or Rol, wondering what either of you do when using 35 Summicron v4 on the A7r3 in terms of applying a lens profile corrections in lightroom?

I usually don't.

Actually I use Capture One, but I still rarely use profiles for most of my manual lenses.

Distortion is rarely so bad that it needs to be corrected. Same with vignetting, which is sometimes simply part of the photo's "mood".

It's an issue though, when I'm hand holding the lens at like F4 and shooting in fog, snow, or otherwise, light even background. I'm not worried about distortion (which is prob nill anyway) but that vignetting can sometimes be distracting. Do you fellows just use the 35 cron asph profile?

In cases like that, I apply vignetting correction by eye.

Vignetting will be different for each f-stop anyway and those lenses don't send lens information to the camera, so a fully automatic profile won't work.

Chester McCheeserton Regular Member • Posts: 101
Re: Old Prime or new lens for Sony A7mk3

Okay Thank you...If I end up going to the trouble of making a profile I'll let you guys know...would do it at F4 since I nearly always take the time to crank iso up to get there...2 and 2.8 are too choma'd out on the corners

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