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Back to adapted lenses - Full Frame, IBIS and more Megapixels!

mingus2112

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Jun 16, 2014
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As you may or may not have seen in my other thread, I've recently "upgraded" from my a6000 rig to an a6500 AND an A7Rii. I'm sure most of you have been in this situation before: You have a clear (or maybe not so clear) goal, but once you buy the gear, your focus shifts. My goal since the beginning of this journey 6 or 7 years ago was to use by manual focus lenses on a digital body. Once I had a NEX-6 (after a short stint with an NEX-3) I astarted accumulating even more adapted glass. At the time, I was still using a Canon DSLR as my main camera for "serious photography." (as serious as any amateur can get - weddings, baptisms, kid pictures, etc.) The Nex-6 was used primarily as a creative tool - I didn't even have any native glass for it.

Fast forward to 2017 and I was planning a trip to Italy. I wanted to take some great photos and couldn't fathom carrying a Canon 60D all over Italy. Thanks to many suggestions here, I picked up an a6000, Zeiss 24mm, Samyang 12mm/f2 and BOTH kit zooms for the a6000. I brought all 4 of those lenses to Italy and fell in love with both the Samyang and the Zeiss. Since I got back, over two years ago, I don't think I spent much (if any) time with my adapted glass other than moon shots with the 1000mm Rubinar and some other 500mm mirrors. I picked up the Zeiss 24-70/f4 last year in anticipation of going full frame (so i'd have some native glass for it). So when the a6000 seemed to start to act a little wonky recently I figured this is it...it's time for full frame! Being the thrifty (not cheap) guy I am, I ended up with a used A7Rii and a used a6500 to replace my a6000/NEX-6 combo as well as a Zeiss 55mm. I'm actively looking for a Zeiss 35mm 2.8 as well as a Sony 85mm/1.8. My thinking with still picking up the a6500 was that it's small and I can still use the Zeiss 24mm. So over the past few days, i'm reading Ad's thread on upgrading to an A7Riv and someone asks about adapted glass. That got me realizing that I need to start using mine more. It's literally 100% of the reason I got into E Mount in the first place!

So having the two bodies, I'm assuming that there would be times to use one vs the other. For example, i'll probably keep doing moon shots on the a6500 to keep the resolution on that crop. Cropping that A7Rii to APS-C size would still be nice, but i'd get higher resolution just using the APS-C body. Then I have lenses like the Tamron 51B (17mm). I think I used that once or twice on the crop body and then never used it again. Being a bit distorted and the equivalent of 25.5mm, it ends up not really being wide angle and just not useful on the a6000. On full frame, though, I think it might be cool. Are there lenses that people like for crop and not full frame? Full frame but not crop?

For other advantages, namely IBIS and higher megapixels, are there times this could negatively affect any of these older lenses? Ad mentioned that if a lens was sharp on the R2, it seems as though generally it will be sharp on an R4. Would that hold true if we were comparting, say, an A7II vs an A7RII? Does that translate to "a lens is either sharp or it isn't?" I am already assuming that some lenses I love and seem sharp across the frame on my a6000 will disappoint on the R2 as they'll be soft in the corners (which were cropped out on the a6000).

And finally, for those of you who shoot with adapted lenses, what custom buttons do you find most useful? Both the A7Rii and the a6500 have more user assignable buttons than I had before. I'm sure i'll tweak and change several times before I come up with something that works for me, but does anyone have some suggestions on what works for them?

-james
 
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For other advantages, namely IBIS and higher megapixels, are there times this could negatively affect any of these older lenses? Ad mentioned that if a lens was sharp on the R2, it seems as though generally it will be sharp on an R4. Would that hold true if we were comparting, say, an A7II vs an A7RII? Does that translate to "a lens is either sharp or it isn't?" I am already assuming that some lenses I love and seem sharp across the frame on my a6000 will disappoint on the R2 as they'll be soft in the corners (which were cropped out on the a6000).
In my recollection the step from the A7's 24 MP to the R2's 42 MP was bigger than what I see now, going from the R2 to the R4. Of course it's not a simple sharp or not sharp, it's a gradual thing and some lenses just fall off the cliff when testing them with higher resolution. Also, pixel-peeping 42 MP files reveals defects that aren't necessarily a problem for the end result, especially not when using the whole frame or a large part of it. For example, the Zeiss Loxia 2/35 is infamous for its "bad" performance wide-open. However, if I look at a picture taken wide-open, I often have difficulty to see what's wrong with it when viewing it on my 27" iMac Retina screen; it loses a little contrast and that's it. These days I don't test as much as I did, I find it's simply not that relevant to pixel-peep 42 MP images, let alone 61 MP. My prints are usually 30x45 cm and I was never unpleasantly surprised, far from it. Up to now I did a quick and dirty check of the lenses I use regularly to see if there were any unpleasant surprises, fortunately everything works just fine the way it did before.

When I went from APS-C (NEX-6) to FF (A7), I was expecting the disappointment you mentioned. However, the opposite was generally true. The lenses looked better in the center of course and the corners weren't as bad as I feared. Later on I discovered that many lenses, especially wide-angle ones, have a mid-field dip: field curvature is wavy, often resulting in features closer that are sharp halfway to the corners, while optimum focus for the corners is closer to that in the center. The Minolta MD W.Rokkor 2.8/20 is an extreme example of this phenomenon, it won't even sharpen up acceptably at f/11 in that midfield zone, while corners are fairly sharp already wide-open. If you use such a lens on APS-C the corners will be very unsharp, because they fall into the FF's midfield zone.

IBIS is a godsend, especially for legacy glass, simple as that. IBIS, the electronic viewfinder and LCD and the fact that there can be no calibration errors because the sensor is used for viewing and shooting, makes legacy glass shine like it probably never did before. Oh, one thing: as a general rule, focus at the shooting aperture. Optimum focus often shifts when stopping down the lens, and this is noticeable with most legacy lenses. It's easy to see when magnifying the image in the R2: focus wide-open, note the focus scale setting, stop down to f/8, focus again and mostly you'll see that the focus has slightly shifted.

One thing I did gave me great peace of mind. I was wondering if my Sony FE 4/24-70 really was as unuseable as some people would want me to believe. So I had a 40x60 cm print made of a picture taken with that lens at f/8 on my A7. It looked fine. Worrying ended.
And finally, for those of you who shoot with adapted lenses, what custom buttons do you find most useful?
On the R2 I programmed the directional pad's down button to set the level of peaking, allowing me to change from mid-level to no peaking with three button presses of the same button. I used the directional pad's right button to set the minimum shutter speed for auto ISO. The Steadyshot focal length was assigned to one of the Fn menu options.

Most of all: have fun!
 

mingus2112

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I certainly won't be pixel-peeping - especially with adapted lenses. My prints so far haven't been larger than 12"x18" (~30cmx45cm) so far, with most being much smaller. I'd be interested in how the Minolta 50s will perform - even though I won't use a lot of them with the Zeiss 55mm around. I have most versions of their 50mm lenses (50mm, 55mm, 58mm) with the exception of that 58mm 1.2. The 135mm (various versions), the 100mm F2 as well as the 50mm 3.5 macro would also be neat to check out. Maybe this weekend!

Good to hear about IBIS. It was the number one reason I hadn't gotten into full frame sooner (because I wasn't going to buy a used A7 or A7R without it). But now that I had it, I was hoping it wasn't going to be a let down...or worse, a detriment!

The 4/24-70 was the first fill frame native E glass I bought. I think it actually may have been what made my a6000 a little wonky. It was just NOT focusing great on it. On the A7Rii, though, it seems to work just fine. And when I threw the kit lens on the a6000, it was fine too. So maybe there was nothing wrong with it. I got the double bonus of having an affordable and decent full frame zoom in addition to having it be the catalyst to me upgrading. win/win!

-James
 

bdbits

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Ad is way more experienced than I am, but I'll toss my two cents in.

I recently updated from an A7ii (24MP) to A7Riii (42MP). I used to use APS-C bodies with adapted glass (NEX-5N, NEX-6, A6000), mostly Minolta and later a handful of excellent Zeiss lenses, and really enjoyed it. Then I contracted Voigtlander fever, and now only have one contemporary lens that is not a Voigtlander (Tamron 28-75 for the AF). There has been a definite increase in sharpness of my images on Voigtlanders, very noticeable to me at least, even when not pixel peeping. I have not shot the Tamron enough yet to know how it does on the A7Riii; it seems fine so far but no critical shots yet.

I also still have a number of my old lenses but do not use them anymore (my loss). I should pull them out of the drawer and see how they do. When using them on the A7ii and the crop bodies prior, I used focus peaking quite a bit early on, then came to rely more on focus magnification as time passed. So I had custom buttons set up for these. I also used back-button focus with a TechArt Pro adapter, and sometimes used zebras for exposure checking, so buttons for these, too. And as Ad mentioned - don't forget the Fn menu can be customized, for things you want handy but do not use often enough to consume a button.

I agree on IBIS. I know I have some handheld shots in low light that I could not have gotten without it, new or old lens.

You may already know but in case you don't, instead of cropping in post you can shoot in APS-C "mode" on your A7Rii. That yields about an 18MP image, so yes lower resolution than your A6500. Could still be handy in a pinch and might be easier to compose on the spot.

Thinking about all this makes me realize how much more capable the A7Riii is over the NEX-5N where my Sony ILC journey started. As much as I love having electronic integration and EXIF details with my contemporary lenses, I realize they may not be useful as long as the old lenses we still have with us today (partly for physical reasons like our very short flange distance).
 

mingus2112

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Jun 16, 2014
Messages
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  • #5
Thinking about all this makes me realize how much more capable the A7Riii is over the NEX-5N where my Sony ILC journey started. As much as I love having electronic integration and EXIF details with my contemporary lenses, I realize they may not be useful as long as the old lenses we still have with us today (partly for physical reasons like our very short flange distance).
Isn't that always the way? Most of my manual focus lenses are Minolta or Minolta mount as they were cheap as dirt when I started collecting. They are built like tanks, though, and will definitely outlast anything I have now physically as well as usefulness. Unless there's a new mirrorless mount that's closer to the sensor, we obviously won't be adapting the E mount lenses to a different system...unless it is with an adapter with glass - which is how I adapted my SR mount Minolta to my Maxxum bodies. It was terrible...
 

bobbill

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I have never knowingly used auto-stablization...and confine arty shots to one camera and body and adapted Nikkors...cannot leave the old lenses alone...or cannot not put a bit of me into it! If that makes sense.
 
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