If you can have only one. SEL55F18z or SEL35F28z?

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by WestOkid, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    So I splurged and bought an A7 with the kit lens. I also bought a few FD lenses that are said to do well on the A7 series. (FDN 20mm, FD 24mm SSC, FDN 50 1.4). I thought I would be fine with that set-up but I really miss having a fast AF prime. So there are not many options. Should I get the FE 55 or FE 35?


    My dilemma is neither is as versatile as I would like.

    I want the Zeiss 55 because I feel it is the one and only indisputably great FE lens. There is zero chance I would regret owning it. The issue is the 55mm focal length. Will it prove to be too long for my only AF prime?

    The 35mm is a nice versatile focal length, it's tiny, and it has good IQ. However, it is too slow for indoors, and from what I hear its IQ and build doesn't match it's price. Those shortcomings make me leery.

    I know this is something many of you thought about. What did you go with and why?

    Thanks
     
  2. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    There is no solution to this dilemma. Whichever one you choose, you will want to buy the other as well. It took me a year to save enough to acquire both. But both serve me well, and I can't see parting with either.

    Good luck choosing which one to buy first. ;)
     
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  3. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    Boy David, if that answer doesn't deserve a "thanks for nothing", I don't know what does. :confused::doh::frown:

    On top of it, you were the one that got me to splurge on the A7, now I need 2 lenses too.
     
  4. Hawkman

    Hawkman TalkEmount Top Veteran

    943
    Sep 10, 2013
    Virginia, USA
    Steve
    Uh, while I have neither, nor an A7, I thought I'd point out the new FE lenses that have been announced and ought to be coming out in the next few months. These include a 28mm f/2.0, and a Sony/Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 with an aperture ring. While the latter will undoubtedly be north of US$1000, it might be a better choice than the 35/2.8 if you're looking for a fast prime.

    So perhaps a good plan would be to simply go with the "proven" Sony/Zeiss FE 55/1.8 now and then wait to see how the options in the wider angles pan out over the next few months. It shouldn't be a long wait now.
     
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  5. southy

    southy TalkEmount Veteran

    370
    Feb 5, 2014
    Australia
    This is a dilemma I'm facing myself. I'm not sure if you have any legacy lenses, if so I know they helped with my decision. I have both an Minolta MD 35 f2.8 and 50 f1.4 lenses. I find I have been using the 50 much more than the 35 so for me the obvious decision is the 55mm. Both would be nice but I've still got the MD 35 if needed and will also be adding the 16-35 when budget permits,
     
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  6. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Veteran

    489
    Nov 21, 2014
    I have both but if I had to stick with one it would be the 55 1.8. This is absolutely an exceptional lens in terms of quality. While you might find the 35 a slightly better all round focus length, the 55 is a better low light prime and gives a much more pronounced OOF rendering which adds to its versatility.
     
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  7. WalkaboutSean

    WalkaboutSean TalkEmount Rookie

    12
    Sep 13, 2014
    I recently faced this decision (as a new A7ii owner) and will offer a creative solution to your dilemma.

    First of all, I got the FE 55. I chose the 55 because it is well documented to be a fantastic lens, and it opens to f1.8. I've had it less than a week, and so far I am enjoying it, though I wish it was smaller/lighter and share your reservations about the focal length. At times I find myself wishing it had the FE 35 form factor.

    Now for the creative solution. For a wider focal length I've been using my Sigma 30mm f2.8 (in full frame mode) with the rear baffle removed. The lens is sharp, and although there is vignetting it is minimized when wide open. (Stopped down, the vignetting is more severe.) It's not a Zeiss, but it's a great little lens, and I've already taken a couple of photos with it that are hanging on my wall. You can pick up a Sigma 30 for cheap (less than $200 on eBay) and that can work for you until you get the Zeiss.

    And by the way, before I had the FE 55, I was using my Sigma 60 f2.8 in a similar fashion. The 60 is incredibly sharp and a tremendous value too. I wish the FE 55 was as small and light as the 60.

    I suspect that I will eventually get the Zeiss 35 f2.8, but for now the Sigma 30 is getting the job done. I'll use it at least until the new the Sony 28mm f2 is released and we can see how it compares to the FE 35.
     
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  8. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    916
    Aug 22, 2012
    I only have the 55/1.8. The 35/2.8 never appealed to me as I'm pretty well covered in that area - CV 35/1.4 (manual focus is easy at 35mm), kit lens, and lately, the 16-35/4 (though it is not strong at 35mm). But nothing even comes close to the 55/1.8, whether in legacy lenses or otherwise. Easy decision for me.
     
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  9. chrid

    chrid Super Noob

    807
    May 5, 2014
    australia
    Chris
    I have a similar decision to make myself in the coming weeks. I only recently purchased my a7s and it came with the kit zoom and a metabones ef 4 adapter. Im going to sell the kit zoom and the adapter to fund either the 55 or the 35, Im pretty sure ill go the 55 but I really do like the 35 form factor, and while focal length is still the decider I wish it was a 50 but oh well.
     
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  10. shnitz

    shnitz TalkEmount Regular

    26
    Jun 15, 2014
    There's a reason that fixed-lens cameras like the Sony RX1 series, Fuji X100, etc. cameras that come with a fixed lens usually come with a 35mm-equivalent FOV, and why smartphones also have essentially this FOV. It's the most "correct" answer to "If you could have only one?" for the greatest number of people, for the greatest number of situations.

    However, there is no actual "correct" answer. Do you find that you love your 50mm and would use it for 99% of your shots if it were only autofocus? If so, obviously go for the 35mm. For YOU, do you feel that you could live with your 50mm if it were only autofocus? That is what many photographers did many years ago! In the early 35mm days of film rangefinders and SLRs, before zoom lenses were even a consideration, camera bodies usually came with a 50mm lens for you to shoot with and to create a base for your beginning kit.

    I'll offer my solution, but it might just muddy the waters. I have a NEX-6 with various film lenses that I'd picked up before mirrorless digital cameras were ever really a market. What solidified my jump in was when the Zeiss Touit 32mm and 12mm lenses went on sale; I picked up both. The 32mm focuses slowly enough in bright light, and incorrectly enough in low light, that it's essentially a manual focus lens. So, on Craigslist I saw an ad one day for the 18-55mm lens and jumped on it, and couldn't be happier! It's a great lens to have, sharpness is very good, and it's versatile being a zoom. Consider the FE 28-70mm on the used market, and don't worry about the limitations in image quality that you can discern on image review sites.
     
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  11. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    Thanks for all the replies. The general consensus seems to be they both have a time and a place for being on the camera. I'll have to think it for a week or so. Unfortunately, I may end up doing what David said in the first response and buy 1 and save for the second. I'll let you all know which one I choose, but I'm pretty sure it's the 55. Even if I don't use it as much, when I do, it will be like bringing out the good Scotch. ;)

    This hobby cost way too much... :'(
     
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  12. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Oh sure, like I came over there and pried that credit card from your vise-like grip! ;)

    But let me try to be a little less unhelpful. I agree with shnitz: there's a good reason why the RX-1 et al. come with fixed 35mm lenses. And from what I've seen, that focal length is right in your wheelhouse. It fits my preference too, which is why I bought it with the A7 body a year ago. Well, that and the cost of the 55. :rolleyes:

    The f/2.8 aperture on the 35 is a non-issue for me because A) I don't generally desire a razor-thin DOF with that focal length, and 2) the A7's high-ISO capability makes it much less of an impediment to low light, indoor shooting than it would on an APS-C camera. Plus, it's small, light, and focuses quickly and accurately, making the combo a street-shooter's dream team.

    So yes, I'd say get the 35 first.

    But I also agree with all the others here who advise getting the 55. I've only had it for a few weeks now. But I have never used a better lens. Period. And though you may not find it the ideal focal length for your style of shooting, that lens is so delicious that you'll find ways to use it almost anywhere.

    It's great to go wandering around with the A7 and the 35 and 55 in a little shoulder bag. Small, light, and ready for almost anything.
     
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  13. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    358
    Nov 24, 2014
    Portugal
    You should get the lens that will take the images that you can not take with the zoom. Having bought the camera and zoom quite recently, you should use them for at least one year, to evaluate their limitations.

    You need to learn, before throwing money out the window.
     
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  14. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    547
    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Eric
    Gary,
    I often ponder upgrading to an A7/A7ii, and for me I would get the FE55 no doubt. For me that lens has 'it' --there is something about that lens that fires my synapses. The FE35 is sharp, compact and a very useful FL...but a little lacking in the 'wow' department.

    You do some great landscape/cityscape stuff. I would be tempted to go with the FE55 as a walkabout lens and the 16-35 for those wide-angle shots.

    Excited to see some of your A7 shots!
     
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  15. mattia

    mattia TalkEmount Regular

    143
    Dec 13, 2013
    I 'see' in both 35 and 50-ish mm quite naturally, with a slight preference for 35 a lot of the time. But the FE 55/1.8 is my favorite lens, and something really special. For me, the reason to own an A7r. The 35/2.8 is lovely and compact and very sharp but simply a lot less exiting. I prefer the voigtlander 35/1.2 for 35, but may swap it for the Zeiss FE 35/1.4 if it lives up to expectations...


    Sent from my iPhone using TalkEmount
     
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  16. Bill

    Bill TalkEmount Veteran

    339
    Oct 22, 2012
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill
    I'm more comfortable with the 55mm f/1.8, so it's my choice.

    I don't have any problem with the 35mm f/2.8, it's just not my favourite focal length.
     
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  17. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    I have been leaving my fd 50mm on the a7 to get used to the focal length. It is surprisingly flexible to my eye. So it looks like I am going with the FE 55/1.8. It's the one lens that no one seems to regret purchasing. I just have to wait for the PayPal funds to clear on my sel16-70z and sel50f18.

    Thanks again for all the replies.
     
  18. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    The 55 is just going to take a lot more photos that you will think are amazing.

    Also, if you are going for one AF lens and multiple MF lenses, better to have the thinner depth of field in the one with AF.
     
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  19. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    Agreed on both points
     
  20. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Fine! Don't take my advice! :drama:

    No seriously, I've bought and sold many a lens now. But as long as I'm shooting with an FE mount camera, I can't see me ever parting with that 55.
     
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