Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

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sportyaccordy Forum Pro • Posts: 15,864
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens
2

migus wrote:

"much more likely to be using it in the f2- f5.6 range"

+1 : most of my daily subjects are in the densely wooded sub-Alpine area of Central Switzerland, where i live, commute, hike, climb, jog, ski, bike, swim etc. (no more FF cameras and lenses for such activities and me!)

While the wooded hills (500-1600m / 1500-5000 feet elevation) do offer plenty of scenic natural landscapes, particularly under more 'special' conditions (fog, pre/after-storm, dusk/dawn, lower light), it entails Mega-counts of 'noisy' plants, leaves, grass, needles etc.

Lower light (for drama) and mega-counts often exceeding even A7R4's sensor and the sharpness of the best GM lens are a VERY tough subject for a tiny 16-24Mpix APS body with a pancake...

None of the compact Sony "day light" lenses discussed here are any good the moment i enter into e.g., a dense forest during rain or fog - where one needs to shoot fully open in very low light.

Sigma's 1.4 triad would be ideal, and yet it's way too bulky to haul during my activities, all day long. E.g., just my daily commute to/from Lab is ca. 10 miles thru rough / slippery / steep terrain, with short climbing stretches.

hence my wish for compact APS zooms and pancakes of max. 150-200gr, and for better A5x00 bodies (A6400 and even A6000 are too chunky already for just an EVF).

You sound like a prime candidate for an RX100. Good 150-200g primes/zooms are not happening, at least from Sony.

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GaryW Veteran Member • Posts: 9,382
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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migus Senior Member • Posts: 1,127
Re: Why?

Indeed, Sony's pancakes and 2 kit zooms are quite usable in good light (closed down a few steps), or even with less ideal light - as long as the subject is 'good' (strong geometry, attractive shapes, interesting composition). Ditto for nearly any phone today. Some casual snapshot examples SooC i shot recently, ranging from cheap phone up to a6400: Strong subjects, or good light, or a mixture thereof => Easy shots, IQ a non-issue.

Meggen near Lucern

Lucern, forced long exposure

Detail in lower light

Backyard art of 0.8B$ hotel near Lucern.

Any phone or Sony kit could render these agro-oldies behind Albishaus (my backyard).

Jaguar meeting one evening on Albispass... had only a cheap phone.

and yet even in lower light it got the shapes

...albeit not much subject isolation was possible in a tight/crowded lot.

migus Senior Member • Posts: 1,127
Re: Why?

However, my daily photo subjects are often darker, moodier, noisier, far from simple/strong shapes in good light... Hence tougher to shoot, much less attractive, often prompting the question "what's the actual subject/message here..?"

Getting there sometimes could be long/tough, no room for A7R4 or even an a6K 'hunk'; that's when i favor a Nex 5N with pancake, or at most an a5k with kit (all too slow and low IQ, unless closed => yet no tripod either...). Except that none of these small Sony lenses are any good open, except the center

migus Senior Member • Posts: 1,127
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

"You sound like a prime candidate for an RX100. Good 150-200g primes/zooms are not happening, at least from Sony."

Perhaps, when it'll run gcam7 in Night Mode... or more intensive CP directly in camera - to compete with pixel4, P30, iphone11 etc..

Else i can choose between my pancake primes (or a future Laowa 9/2.8 on a5100), and a phone with good CP.

sportyaccordy Forum Pro • Posts: 15,864
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens
1

migus wrote:

"You sound like a prime candidate for an RX100. Good 150-200g primes/zooms are not happening, at least from Sony."

Perhaps, when it'll run gcam7 in Night Mode... or more intensive CP directly in camera - to compete with pixel4, P30, iphone11 etc..

Ha, I just made this suggestion elsewhere. I would probably ditch ILCs completely if such a camera were made.

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migus Senior Member • Posts: 1,127
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

"sharpness of the best GM lens are a VERY tough subject for a tiny 16-24Mpix APS body with a pancake...

Have you tried it? As long as I can get a clean (not blurry) shot, I pretty much don’t worry about not having enough resolution."

Yes, i'm ok with cameras from 7Mp and above; my 3 nex bodies of 16Mp are plenty good for Sony's kits and pancakes. My 20 and 24Mp alphas work best with adapted primes.

Generally I'm glass-limited for my compact systems: ie., if i want Sony's compact lenses, shot fully open i must accept their lower IQ (except ca. 1/3 around the center).

I must try Laowa's 9mm, and also the Fuji X-A7 15-45kit, perhaps (Fuji got a really good SooC jpg engine, though Sony's most recent ain't bad either - but not in a5k series).

migus Senior Member • Posts: 1,127
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

"You sound like a prime candidate for an RX100. Good 150-200g primes/zooms are not happening, at least from Sony."

Perhaps, when it'll run gcam7 in Night Mode... or more intensive CP directly in camera - to compete with pixel4, P30, iphone11 etc..

Ha, I just made this suggestion elsewhere. I would probably ditch ILCs completely if such a camera were made.

Many younger gents are asking about 'real' cameras (sensors 1" and larger) with phone-like CP features (not the decade-old DRO, HDR etc.)... The demand was there since a few yrs already, w/o any such product yet.

And yet, whenever i talk with a camera pundit (designer, engineer, exec), they quickly recite their bucket list: Sensor readout speed, much larger memory, faster CPU, heat, battery life, s/w complexity, IP cross-licensing, cost of AI gurus to tune the new algos for the larger lenses and sensors... etc.

All valid points. Behind all the excuses and posturing, it seems that the Japanese camera makers are reluctant to open Pandora's box of CP => What if such 1" P&S cameras will compete with FF (high margin main staple product lines) and even larger formats...?

Would anybody else (other than pros) buy the old school (brute-force) cameras, and especially critical, the multi-K$ super-fast lenses coming out now for them?

sportyaccordy Forum Pro • Posts: 15,864
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens
1

migus wrote:

"You sound like a prime candidate for an RX100. Good 150-200g primes/zooms are not happening, at least from Sony."

Perhaps, when it'll run gcam7 in Night Mode... or more intensive CP directly in camera - to compete with pixel4, P30, iphone11 etc..

Ha, I just made this suggestion elsewhere. I would probably ditch ILCs completely if such a camera were made.

Many younger gents are asking about 'real' cameras (sensors 1" and larger) with phone-like CP features (not the decade-old DRO, HDR etc.)... The demand was there since a few yrs already, w/o any such product yet.

And yet, whenever i talk with a camera pundit (designer, engineer, exec), they quickly recite their bucket list: Sensor readout speed, much larger memory, faster CPU, heat, battery life, s/w complexity, IP cross-licensing, cost of AI gurus to tune the new algos for the larger lenses and sensors... etc.

All valid points. Behind all the excuses and posturing, it seems that the Japanese camera makers are reluctant to open Pandora's box of CP => What if such 1" P&S cameras will compete with FF (high margin main staple product lines) and even larger formats...?

Would anybody else (other than pros) buy the old school (brute-force) cameras, and especially critical, the multi-K$ super-fast lenses coming out now for them?

Exactly. I think the best way to summarize it is mainstream camera sales have always been driven by convenience. When DSLRs were booming they just happened to be the most convenient path to decent photos. Once cameraphones + 4G + social media/cloud storage came into the picture, that became the top convenience dog.

I still don't think that connectivity is that big of a deal, but I do think combining the computational capabilities of phones with smaller/cheaper cameras will definitely spark some excitement. The problem for manufacturers may be that something like an RX100 that can get to 90% of the IQ and "look" of a flagship FF body could be a margin/sales killer. Someone buying an A7xxx is in for four to maybe even five figures in their total investment. A FLC with "fokeh" and the like is a one and done that might only net 3 figures per sale. So there is an incentive in maintaining a hierarchy to some degree.

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GaryW Veteran Member • Posts: 9,382
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

migus wrote:

"sharpness of the best GM lens are a VERY tough subject for a tiny 16-24Mpix APS body with a pancake...

Have you tried it? As long as I can get a clean (not blurry) shot, I pretty much don’t worry about not having enough resolution."

Yes, i'm ok with cameras from 7Mp and above; my 3 nex bodies of 16Mp are plenty good for Sony's kits and pancakes. My 20 and 24Mp alphas work best with adapted primes.

I bought an old 58mm f1.4 which I've used a couple of times, mostly at f2.0, where I needed all the help I could get in low light with movement. But f1.4 is too soft and only a sliver is actually in focus, so f2 became a more practical compromise.  But using this lens isn't just for sharpness -- it has an interesting character, plus you do have the option of f1.4 if absolutely necessary.  Maybe a shorter focal length at f1.4 would work better?  (More DOF to work with...)

For years, I've used an old 50/1.7 as well.  The problem with these is that it's easy for find a prime in this range, but it's really more suited to 35mm film/sensor -- a bit long for APS-C except for portraits or certain situations.  24mm primes are  harder to come by (and more expensive).

If I need ultimate sharpness, the Sigma 30mm/2.8 is probably the best that I have -- has a decent resolution on the edges.  (The 18-105 isn't too far behind, though.  It surprised me that it does well on the edges.)  While the 30/2.8 isn't at its best at f2.8, it's known for being decent even at f2.8.  So, sure, it's a bit of a compromise still, but you can actually use the lens at f2.8.  Many years ago, I did run into a party situation where this was not enough; they turned off most of the lights, and it was crazy-dark.  With moving people and f2.8, that was kind of a disaster.  With normal indoor lighting, high ISO will get you there, but there's always a point where you need more.
I'm not ready to run out and buy a 16mm/f1.4, but it's nice to know that the option is there.  It just doesn't fit into my small-and-cheap mentality. 

Generally I'm glass-limited for my compact systems: ie., if i want Sony's compact lenses, shot fully open i must accept their lower IQ (except ca. 1/3 around the center).

Yes, they are very sharp in the center.  They are not at their best fully open, to say the least!  Most lenses don't seem to be at their best fully open, and a lot of them are downright soft (at least my two 50-ish primes).
The 16mm/2.8 is the one that you really have to worry about with wider apertures, but the center is sharp as long as you stay away from f2.8 -- it's the corners that are the problem with this lens.  I think this is a case where it often doesn't look so bad (seems better indoors?), combined with not often finding corners so important.  Or use f8.

For example, the flags have sufficient detail, but aren't really critical to the photo.  Nothing in the corners looks so bad that it distracts, while the center is plenty sharp.  Here's a case of "low-light".  Yeah, I would have been better off with an f2.0 lens, but for what I'm doing, this is just fine.  This is a case where I'm willing to live with the compromise of a compact lens rather than try to use an adapted 50/1.7 and not be able to get the framing indoors, but at least I'd get another stop or two of light in on the framing I didn't want. 

I must try Laowa's 9mm, and also the Fuji X-A7 15-45kit, perhaps (Fuji got a really good SooC jpg engine, though Sony's most recent ain't bad either - but not in a5k series).

In the past, Sony has been a bit heavy-handed with the noise reduction or something, but photos out of the 6500 look really good, IMHO.  Regardless, I generally use RAW+JPEG in case I need better results.

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liopleurodon Senior Member • Posts: 1,298
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

The Zony 35/2.8 FE lens isn't quite small enough to be a "pankcake" but optically its very good for a compact lens.

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migus Senior Member • Posts: 1,127
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

"Someone buying an A7xxx is in for four to maybe even five figures in their total investment. A FLC with "fokeh" and the like is a one and done that might only net 3 figures per sale."

Yes, most camera makers target the 4/5-digit $ system customer with 1-3 bodies and a plethora of lenses. As margins are often proportional to the size (body, lens) and feature set, the incentive is for larger=better... Long bygone are the days of 1/2-lb. bodies and 1/4-lb. lenses, deemed non-compatible with the 4/5-digit system

Compare the above with the millions of kids wielding a $99 Chinese phone (3-4 top brands of incredible bang/$) with tiny plastic lens and running gcam's super-res / night mode etc., and often achieving an arguable comparable results, at least on their 5" displays - if not on our 32-45" AdobeRGB monitors (or DolbyVision OLED UHD TVs).

Photo results that keep improving every quarter with CP, for the same 1/4-lb phone costing 100x less than our multi-pound camera systems (10x heavier/bulkier)...

Net: Our big sensors and even bigger lenses could work much harder with CP, in stead of arrogantly concluding "we don't need CP".

sportyaccordy Forum Pro • Posts: 15,864
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens
1

migus wrote:

Net: Our big sensors and even bigger lenses could work much harder with CP, in stead of arrogantly concluding "we don't need CP".

Exactly. I think there is a missed opportunity in the middle of the market, especially considering all the "last camera" folks as well as people simply tired of lugging around their multi lb camera kits. May be better to get 10000 $800 sales than 100 $5000 sales. Especially factoring in development and tooling costs.

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jimkohn Regular Member • Posts: 455
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

I've just given the Canon 22mm f2 pancake lens a trial run. It is a FANTASTIC lens that I could easily see becoming a mainstay on my M6 Mkii. Really great combination. If Sony had one like this I wouldn't even own the M6.

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snapa
snapa Veteran Member • Posts: 4,184
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

jimkohn wrote:

I've just given the Canon 22mm f2 pancake lens a trial run. It is a FANTASTIC lens that I could easily see becoming a mainstay on my M6 Mkii. Really great combination. If Sony had one like this I wouldn't even own the M6.

You should have bought the Sigma 16 f1.4 and cropping it to 22mm you would have better IQ, and saved a lot of money. How much did your M6 MKii and 22mm f2 cost you, vs just getting the Sigma 16 f1.4 and cropping to 22mm?

BTW, how is that clip-on EVF working out for you, or do you even use an EVF?

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PhotoFactor Veteran Member • Posts: 3,311
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens
2

snapa wrote:

jimkohn wrote:

I've just given the Canon 22mm f2 pancake lens a trial run. It is a FANTASTIC lens that I could easily see becoming a mainstay on my M6 Mkii. Really great combination. If Sony had one like this I wouldn't even own the M6.

You should have bought the Sigma 16 f1.4 and cropping it to 22mm you would have better IQ, and saved a lot of money. How much did your M6 MKii and 22mm f2 cost you, vs just getting the Sigma 16 f1.4 and cropping to 22mm?

BTW, how is that clip-on EVF working out for you, or do you even use an EVF?

Sigma 16 is great but nowhere near a pancake.

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GaryW Veteran Member • Posts: 9,382
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

snapa wrote:

jimkohn wrote:

I've just given the Canon 22mm f2 pancake lens a trial run. It is a FANTASTIC lens that I could easily see becoming a mainstay on my M6 Mkii. Really great combination. If Sony had one like this I wouldn't even own the M6.

You should have bought the Sigma 16 f1.4 and cropping it to 22mm and got better IQ,

How would you get better IQ?  That's a big crop.  Cropping at wider angles makes a much larger difference than normal or tele range.  Wouldn't you lose half your pixels or something?
I kind of feel like I should crop my 20mm to 24mm to eliminate any desire to buy a 24mm lens, but that's a pretty hefty crop, and still much less than the jump from 16 to 22!

and saved a lot of money. How much did your M6 MKii and 22mm f2 cost you, vs just getting the Sigma 16 f1.4 and cropping to 22mm?

Or getting the Sony 20mm and calling it good enough? 

If buying a new camera today, it sounds like it's worth looking at, though.  Too bad it wasn't available a decade ago when I was looking for a high-quality, yet compact camera...

BTW, how is that clip-on EVF working out for you?

I'm glad there's at least an EVF available, but in one review, they said you could slip it in a jacket pocket, with the pancake lens.  How about with that EVF sticking out?  Seems like that would be annoying; it's difficult enough to put my cameras in a pocket with just the EVF hood on.

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snapa
snapa Veteran Member • Posts: 4,184
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens
1

PhotoFactor wrote:

snapa wrote:

jimkohn wrote:

I've just given the Canon 22mm f2 pancake lens a trial run. It is a FANTASTIC lens that I could easily see becoming a mainstay on my M6 Mkii. Really great combination. If Sony had one like this I wouldn't even own the M6.

You should have bought the Sigma 16 f1.4 and cropping it to 22mm you would have better IQ, and saved a lot of money. How much did your M6 MKii and 22mm f2 cost you, vs just getting the Sigma 16 f1.4 and cropping to 22mm?

BTW, how is that clip-on EVF working out for you, or do you even use an EVF?

Sigma 16 is great but nowhere near a pancake.

No sh*t sherlock, that is one reason I don't own it. If you want a 16mm super high IQ lens, you might as well forget it in Sony land if you don't go with the Sigma. If you need a great 22mm pancake lens, get a Canon M6 Mkii and deal with its compromises it comes with, just like the Jimkohn did.

I'd still like to hear how his clip-on EVF is working out for him.

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migus Senior Member • Posts: 1,127
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

"BTW, how is that clip-on EVF working out for you, or do you even use an EVF?"

=> Clip-on is adding too much bulk if we want a compact body/pancake; even the a6000 with a low-ish EVF is already too much vs. an a5100 or 5N, for little IQ benefits IMHO. Hence my hopes for more a5x00 bodies.

"Sigma 16 is great but nowhere near a pancake."

=> Indeed, we're looking for best IQ in a compact APS-C (Canon's 1.6x is actually smaller, it matters with UWA) system in the 350-450gr. (less than 1 pound).

Sigma has top IQ for low $, while sacrificing the size. Sony sometimes achieves excellent small factors, yet they seem often to SNAFU the IQ and QC (sample variation), and jack the price beyond what the IQ would suggest.

Advent1sam
Advent1sam Veteran Member • Posts: 8,477
Re: Sony needs at least one really good pancake lens

jimkohn wrote:

I've just given the Canon 22mm f2 pancake lens a trial run. It is a FANTASTIC lens that I could easily see becoming a mainstay on my M6 Mkii. Really great combination. If Sony had one like this I wouldn't even own the M6.

I still think the Sony 24 1.8 would/is probably a better choice than the 22 f2,

despite the price difference, the rendering and sharpness probably favours the zeiss, above I doubt tells the whole story! the lens is constantly on sale in the UK and although its a lot of money typically >£700 new in the UK, half used in ex-cond. it would of been stabilised on your a6500 too, and if you could of found a good copy, not difficult you would of saved a lot more than buying a new camera, that evf would drive me nuts but good luck with the m6 ii

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