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Is 50mm Long Enough for the NEX Portrait Lens?

Amin Sabet

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According to the Sony roadmap, we will see a 50mm portrait lens by year's end. A number of rumor sites are stating that this E-mount (NEX) lens will be 50mm f/1.8 and announced on August 24th. In 35mm format terms, such a lens would match the angle of view given by a 75mm lens.

I've seen a lot of great portraits made with 75mm Leica lenses on 35mm bodies, and I have to admit to being influenced by a statement from Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer to the effect that the shorter your short telephoto, the cooler you are (paraphasing here since I can't find the link). However, having used the equivalent of 75-135mm portrait lenses from many, many systems, I've come to realize that I'm simply not that cool. I like a longish short telephoto, somewhere in the 90-105mm equivalent range. It gives me the framing I want for head/neck shots with a bit more compressed perspective without excessive working distance.

I'd therefore ideally like to see a nice portrait lens option in the 60-70mm range for Sony NEX. Maybe I'm just being too picky. How do others feel about a 50mm f/1.8 portrait lens for Sony NEX?
 

Travisennis

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To be honest, I've have found Sony's initial choices for prime focal lengths to be a bit odd starting with the 16mm. There is nothing wrong with a 24mm equivalent lens, but it is a bit wide and I would rather have seen a 28mm equivalent. In my opinion the core focal lengths are 28, 35, 50 and 85/90. Sony hasn't done much to address those focal lengths yet. After the 16mm, we got a 30mm (45mm equivalent) macro and now a rumored 50mm (75mm) portrait. The only rumored lens that to seems to fit what I think are core focal lengths is the rumored Zeiss 24mm and as you've said before it's going to be expensive. That being said when I used a 50mm lens on my GF-1 I found it a bit too long. Now that I use the same lens on my NEX, it's 75mm equivalent FOV is actually quite useful as it doubles up as a portrait lens, but is still short enough that it is a good walking-around lens when I know I'm going to have some distance between me and my subject. Plus, it's still long enough that it gives a nice compression effect. So, I think it's okay. I just don't know where it's going to fit into their system in the long-haul.

Micro 4/3s really is the leader when it comes to offering good choices in focal-lengths. Their 14mm, 20mm, and 45mm really does present a nice three prime lens set. Sony's offering of a 16mm, 24mm, and 50mm set is comparable, if a bit strange.
 

Travisennis

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I think it does make sense that Sony was trying to complement the 18-55 kit zoom. It is obvious, to me anyway, that Sony never thought there would be a market with enthusiasts with this camera. I think the 16mm along with the UWA and Fisheye adapter were intended to appeal more for their fun factor rather than anything else. The same is true with the Pentax Q and the early introduction of toy lenses for that system. That camera and the NEX were never meant as serious photographic tools. They were cameras meant for fun and, in the NEX's case especially, for video, hence why we see an expensive 18-200mm zoom.

Of course, enthusiasts discovered the camera and its amazing sensor and now Sony is trying to keep them as customers with firmware updates that gave us peaking, the NEX-7, and the Zeiss 24mm. Unfortunately, I fear they may miss yet again on an enthusiast market that wants a capable camera, but can't afford the rumored price tag of the NEX-7 and the Zeiss.

For myself, I'm happy with the NEX system, because outside of the Zeiss lens, I'm not interested in their AF lens, current or rumored. I like to adapt MF lenses to my camera. It's how I enjoy shooting and the NEX system has proven to me that it is quite capable of satisfying that need.
 

WT21

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I like the 16, and thought the lens was "good enough" for daily/family use. The choice of 30 and 50 seems odd to me. The 50 is too short, IMO, for portrait. I never liked a 50mm prime on my Canon DSLR crops. My main shooter then was a 35mm/2.0 lens, which was close to "normal" on a crop.

I'd prefer to see Sony release a fast 30 or 35 (like f/1.4 fast) and at least a 60 or maybe even 75 for macro, and at least that for portrait. The CZ24 will be nice, though they need a downmarket equivalent of that at some point, too.
 

olli

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Not being that into portraits it doesn't really bother me. I do recall that the E-mount road map mentioned a mid-tele lens for 2012. Asuming this is an 85 that would give something close to a 135.
 

Yves Gajardo

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To reply to Amin about the 50mm being long enough for the NEX IMO I think it's about perfect. When I had my Nikon D300s with the 50mm 1.4 mounted that was pretty much my set up for street shooting. It's long enough where I'm not right in someones face and it gives awesome separation between subject and background. It may be tight in smaller spaces but out in the street I don't have a problem with that. I don't have a NEX body myself but seeing that it is an APS-C sized sensor same as the D300s I really think it'd be a perfect portrait lens.
 

olli

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Info on 30mm macro here on the UK site. Not sure why they have left it out on the US site - except that the US site is well known for being riddled with errors so probably just a mistake.
 

Travisennis

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Ross said:
I'm new to the NEX. Are NEX lenses can also be used in Alpha DSLR?

No, the NEX system uses the E-mount which is different than the A-mount that is found on Sony's SLR line of cameras. A-mount lenses can be adapted to the NEX but not vice versa.
 

jlabate

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Thanks Olli

Info on 30mm macro here on the UK site. Not sure why they have left it out on the US site - except that the US site is well known for being riddled with errors so probably just a mistake.
 

ianinbc

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Aug 30, 2011
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I used to love using a 50mm lens on my Pentax DSLR (and others but the Pentax-F 50mm f1.7 was always one of my favorites), but after using my E-P1 with the 17mm (34mm-e) so much lately I find the 50mm on APS-C (75mm-e) to be too narrow and constricting, and a bit frustrating to use. I guess that is also why the new Zeiss 24mm looks so tempting and the 50mm f1.8 didn't catch my eye at all. So for me (as with the original poster) the 50mm is a bit short for portraits, and to long to be my everyday lens.
 

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