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Fixed vs zoom. My next lense?

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by The Sparrow, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. The Sparrow

    The Sparrow TalkEmount Regular

    30
    Apr 13, 2013
    Central Canada
    I have a nex 5r which came with the 18-55 kit zoom. I have also purchased the sel 35 macro (and love it)

    I'm lightly contemplating my next lense. I've thought about the 55-210 zoom but not sure if I would use it that much. It would have been nice to have at the zoo, but otherwise I don't find myself wishing for a longer lense that much.

    The SEL 35 macro lense has gotten some pretty harsh reviews when using it as a regular prime, but I don't know if I am sophisticated enough to notice it in my photos. Poor stats in a lab is one thing, visually noticeable results might be another.
    I've thought about a fixed length wide angel maybe, but thats under the idea that the quality of a fixed 20 mm for example would be so much better than the 18-55 zoomed out.
    A lower F stop would be nice yes, but not sure otherwise if the differences would be that much worth it.

    Perhaps if someone posted comparasin shots of the 18-55 zoomed out vs a fixed wide angle the differences and merits could be demonstrated.

    thoughts?
     
  2. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    Kevin
    Go thru your pics with the 18/55 and see what focal length you use the most.




    Sent from my iPhone using TalkNEX mobile app
     
  3. Mattithjah

    Mattithjah TalkEmount Veteran

    244
    Jan 17, 2013
    Czech Republic
    Matěj
    My opinion is, that one of the most impressive creative method in photography (generally) is to use narrow DOF (depth of field).
    Everyones like macrophotography or closeups because there is narrow DOF...

    so I recomend you some fast lens. If it has to be E-mount with AF, maybe looks for 50/1,8 or 35/1,8. But I thing some old manual focus fast lens will be good too! Something like 50/1,4 or 50/1,2...

    Edit: FIXED and fast! :)
     
  4. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    You really think this? In fact, the extremely shallow depth of field is one of the biggest challenges in shooting macro photos. Most photographers would give an arm and a leg to being able to get everything sharp in a macro picture. I agree that mediocre photos look better with shallow dof because the not-so-wisely choosen background doesn't take away as much from the picture as if it was sharp, but in fact a wisely chosen or carefully crafted sharp background can do even more to your picture than a totally blown out one. And a carefully crafted bokehlicous background is something we don't see too often, but it's something wonderful.

    To Sparrows question: As a general prime, the Sony 35mm f/1.8 is much better than the 30mm f/3.5 macro. It's not only faster, it's also stabilized, which means you'll get MUCH better pictures in low light. And as 30mm is too short for most macro work anyways, it's not a big loss. For macro lenses, there are tons of legacy or current adapted ones, as well as the Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 which will be available in a few months.
     
  5. Mattithjah

    Mattithjah TalkEmount Veteran

    244
    Jan 17, 2013
    Czech Republic
    Matěj
     
  6. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    "Subject Isolation Capability" is not only shallow depth of field. It's also micro contrast, contrast, colors and many more things. Shallow depth of field is overrated by a huge margin. Sure, it's unavoidable in many situations, and a slightly out of focus background helps isolating the subject, but in my experience, the Pulitzer price winners are not the images with the shallowest depth of field.

    Situations where the background is worth to be sharp occur only seldom in real-life situations? Then build the background yourself. I'm not a fan of any kind of 'found' photography (despite I'm a landscape shooter who mainly depends on this by now - but I also don't think I do great work by any means) - the artistic built from the ground photos are the ones that fascinate me. And shallow depth of field in most cases is not an element that really helps there.
     
  7. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    What do you shoot ?

    Other than shooting objects in the galaxies far, far away, a tele lens is great for portraits. In 7 years of shooting with Canon, I used my tele lenses for taking portraits of people staying relatively close to me probably 70% of time.

    The only thing stopping me from buying a 55-210 is complaints that it has a slow and unreliable AF. IQ seems to be very good, though.
     
  8. The Sparrow

    The Sparrow TalkEmount Regular

    30
    Apr 13, 2013
    Central Canada
    Just for fun last night, I took come compare shots between the 18-55 kit lense the 30 mm macro.
    I'll post them here and see if folks can determine which is which.
    Both were shot at F11, ISO fixed at 100. There are subtle differences I think, but not a whole lot.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    How do they compare at f2.8 ? ;)

    In good light and stopped down, you really need a stinker to see much difference. It's in more challenging conditions where the differences stand out.
     
  10. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Yeah, at f/11 pretty much every lens is diffraction limited, so there probably wouldn't be any visible resolution difference between the kit lens ans the best lens in the world. Also, the 30mm macro is not famous for it's quality or color rendering, so it's almost impossible to say whoch shot was shot with which lens in such conditions.

    That said, I'd guess the first shot comes from the 30mm lens. It just looks flatter (in terms of field curvature) to me, which is typical for macro lenses. Incluld be wrong though without seeing a higher res version.
     
  11. The Sparrow

    The Sparrow TalkEmount Regular

    30
    Apr 13, 2013
    Central Canada
    As per request(s), both shots at F4
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Don't you want to tell us which f/11 shot was shot with which lens first? As for the f/4 shots, it's pretty clear that the first lens resolves MUCH better. Also, there seem to be a tiny little bit more contrast in the first one. So naturally I'd say the first shot was with the prime.
     
  13. The Sparrow

    The Sparrow TalkEmount Regular

    30
    Apr 13, 2013
    Central Canada
    thanks for the feedback. In BOTH cases the first shot was with the 30 mm SEL-30M35.
    For a lense that was bashed in a few reviews as sorely lacking as a general prime, I found it interesting how close it was in quality to the 18-55 kit lense, in some cases exceeding it apparently.
    Now some may say both lenses aren't particularly good maybe, but I'm pretty pleased. At some point I may opt for a 35mm 1.8, but I'm in no rush. I'd love to see side by side shots of the kit 18-55 against one of the higher end e-mount primes. Just to learn what to look for.
     
  14. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    A prime should exceed a kit lens, especially near wide open. If it doesn't, why even bother getting it ?

    The difference in IQ between 18-55 and, say, SEL50F1.8 is very apparent, especially at wider apertures. The Sigmas are also visibly sharper, especially at the edges.

    Do you own any legacy glass ? A Minolta MD 50/1.7 with an adapter is only going to set you back $40-45, now this lens is soft wide open, but is getting really sharp by f2.8, and by f4 it would blow the kit out of water, especially for portraits. It's a cheap way to get a very sharp lens.
     
  15. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Hey, I'm pretty good at guessing lenses, it seems. :)

    As for what to look - just look at the bottom right corner of the two f/4 shots you posted. It doesn't get much clearer when comparing to higher end lenses.

    The Sony 30mm macro lens is NOT a bad lens. Just as the 16mm pancake never was a bad lens. The thing is it's extremely short for a macro lens (studio? Nope. You can't light it properly when the lens is just 1 cm in front of the subject. Insects? Nope. They will fly away. Flowers? Nope, you probably throw a shadow on them with a lens this close, and so on ...) and it's extremely slow for a standard prime. I bet if they would have made it f/2.8 it would find many more buyers. And with the 35mm f/1.8 in the ring now, for many, there's no reason in buying a two stop slower lens, even if it's cheaper.

    For higher end lenses, there often are other things than resolution and contrast that play a role, too. Lens character and the simple and plain joy in using a precision crafted instrument instead of a metal covered plastic tube are only two examples.
     
  16. The Sparrow

    The Sparrow TalkEmount Regular

    30
    Apr 13, 2013
    Central Canada
    For my corner comparison I had been looking top left at the shingles, but you are right, the right bottom corner makes it more obvious.

    Bottom line I guess is that for overall image sharpness, the macro lens wins out.
    I love the lens personally and am having a great time with it.
     
  17. The Sparrow

    The Sparrow TalkEmount Regular

    30
    Apr 13, 2013
    Central Canada
    I can't resist responding to these comments, with photos

    DSC00652.jpgDSC01106.jpgDSC01404.jpgDSC01476.jpgDSC01480.jpg

    :p
     
  18. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Well, 'macro' starts at 1:1 magnification, where none of these comes close. Even when you call 1:2 magnification images 'macros', I'm afraid these hardly fit the bill. But if it works for your definition of macro, then great. ;)
     
  19. The Sparrow

    The Sparrow TalkEmount Regular

    30
    Apr 13, 2013
    Central Canada
    meh. You stated one couldn't take a picture of flowers with this lense without casting a shadow, and that insects would run away. I'm merely showing that is not the case.
     
  20. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    And in the same sentence I specifically said "... The thing is it's extremely short for a macro lens [...] when the lens is just 1 cm in front of the subject." Yep, the distance from lens to subject is 1 cm for this lens to get to a 1:1 magnification. I thought this was clear because that's the whole point of a macro lens for serious macro work. If I just want to go to a 1:4 or lower magnification, I could just as well use my 24mm Sonnar.

    I really don't want to sound like I want to take the fun out of photography with this lens. It's just not ideal for macro work, as good as it may be.