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Real world opinions on the new Sony 20mm f/2.8 (SEL20F28) sought

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by Sabre36, Apr 30, 2013.

  1. Sabre36

    Sabre36 TalkEmount Regular

    35
    Dec 1, 2012
    If anyone has the new Sony 20mm 2.8 pancake lens, can you provide the pros/cons of this lens? Because of the size, I want to buy this lens for a upcoming bike trip to take the place of my Sony 10-18mm (somewhat bulky) lens on a Nex-7. From the very scanty information available thus far, I've read really mixed opinions on the lens. When I say, scanty, I also have to include user reviews on B&H, Amazon, and dprreview - since beyond ePhotoZine's (Sony NEX E 20mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens Review) endorsement, there just isn't much out on this lens thus far. Some user reviews say the lens just isn't sharp (akin to the 16mm), and that would be a deal-breaker for me. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    876
    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Jeff
    Looks like ePhotoZine rates the Sigma 19mm significantly higher in performance and the Sigma can be had for only $99. That's the route I went - no regrets whatsoever.

    If the non-pancakeness of the Sigma were to seem like a bummer, I would just remind myself of how I did my big ride through France and Spain back in the day with a Nikon F3 and 3 beefy prime lenses, and go on rides & walks now with the the NEX-7 in a body case and barely even notice it's there.

    If still not consoled, I might investigate the plethora of excellent, fully-pocketable P&S solutions.

    Not trying to be a drag on Sony or anything but I guess this latest pancake doesn't really cry out to me.
     
  3. GuyNC

    GuyNC New to TalkEmount

    3
    Apr 30, 2013
    I got mine on Friday and spent an hour or so with it over the weekend walking around my neighborhood.

    First impressions: A noticeable improvement over the 16. Sharpness seems similar to the 16-50 kit lens in the center of the frame and is more even throughout, even at the wide end. The autofocus seems very quick. So overall a decent lens and if it were $100 less I could enthusiastically endorse it, but at the current price it is a lot of money for what it is. I will probably keep it anyway since I like that focal length and having the most compact option is often handy.
     
  4. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    Thanks for the mini review Guy, and welcome to the forum. :)
     
  5. serhan

    serhan TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2011
    NYC
    Good overview, welcome!

     
  6. GuyNC

    GuyNC New to TalkEmount

    3
    Apr 30, 2013
    Thanks for the welcome! Been lurking around a while and have found this site to be a good resource. I picked up a NEX6 several months ago because I wanted something better than point and shoot for a trip to Nepal and in the process got interested in photography. Not that I needed yet another hobby to help empty my bank account. :)
     
  7. Sabre36

    Sabre36 TalkEmount Regular

    35
    Dec 1, 2012
    You wrote something that I have read somewhere else: that the size & sharpness are comparable to the 16-50 kit lens around 20-30mm & 2/3rds of a f/stop better (maybe a used kit lens is the traveling lens I don't yet have?).

    I absolutely love my Nex-7 and 35mm f/1.8 -- these will be going in the bicycle's handlebar bag, but I continue to be undecided about my 10-18mm because it isn't that small and I worry about damaging it if I decide to sell it (I don't use it that much). I like shooting ~20mm. I used to have a Canon FD 20mm but sold it recently because of the size (a great lens, BTW). I want to like the new lens but it doesn't sound like it is worth the money.

    Thank you for the feedback.
     
  8. Sabre36

    Sabre36 TalkEmount Regular

    35
    Dec 1, 2012
    Out of curiosity, would you pay more for the new 19 Art lens or stay with the cheaper, older style?
     
  9. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    876
    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Jeff
    I would absolutely hop on one of those $99 closeout deals on the older lenses while they are still available. I personally doubt that the new series has any internal differences that I would notice, let alone pay twice as much for.
     
  10. Big G

    Big G TalkEmount Rookie

    13
    Apr 20, 2013
    I've got some samples I can share, I will post them tonight.

    For what it's worth, I returned my 20mm f/2.8 Pancake because it was decentered but the results were otherwise very good.
     
  11. Big G

    Big G TalkEmount Rookie

    13
    Apr 20, 2013
    Hi there,

    My opinions on the pancake are thus:

    - very small, thin and lightweight
    - image quality was good, right from wide open
    - image quality only improved slightly stopping down (not a big deal considering it's good wide open)
    - vignetting is an issue wide open, need to enable the peripheral correction in-camera or correct in RAW
    - focus ring isn't great, manual focussing isn't easy
    - chromatic aberrations are very well controlled and minimal
    - focussing seemed fast enough for me
    - my copy was decentered, I've returned it to get another copy

    There's not much more to say than that, I wouldn't say it's a BRILLIANT lens, it's not blown me away quite like the 35 f/1.8 OSS or 50mm f/1.8 OSS but it is a good wide angle prime that allows you to travel very compact and light in nature. The big question is "is it worth the £200 premium over the Sigma 19mm f/2.8?" - probably not, but you will need to compare like for like images to make a true decision. The obvious benefit is the compact nature of the Sony and I suspect video shooters will be happier with the Sony (something to do with in-video AF?). Kurt Munger is in the process of reviewing this and says "I can say at this point it's much sharper than the 16/2.8 at all apertures, but it is a different focal length, so a direct comparison is not all that helpful."

    Here's a couple of quick test pictures I took before I returned it:

    This is f/2.8, image resized to 1800 pixels to make it manageable - as you can see the bottom left and bottom right are blurred (not soft, actually blurred). When you flip the camera, the problem moves to the top of the frame - it seems the QC issues are present here.

    _DSC1850.

    This is f/8, resized to 1800 pixels.

    _DSC1862_1.

    Here is a 100% crop of the image corner on a NEX-7 showing the difference between the 20mm f/2.8 at f/4 compared to the 16-50 PZ at 20mm, also f/4.

    Untitled-4.
     
  12. Big G

    Big G TalkEmount Rookie

    13
    Apr 20, 2013
    Here's another couple of examples. Apologies - they were taken some time apart, so the lighting conditions have changed so it's not a properly direct comparison. Still it gives you an idea.

    Here is a test shot I took at f/8 when the lens first arrived (overcast conditions make it a boring photo!) - the red boxes indicate the crops below:

    _DSC1792_1500.

    Here's a similar shot (different lighting) at f/2.8:

    _DSC1783_1500.

    Here are the crops:

    Centre frame, f/2.8 on left f/8 on right (please ignore the colour difference, different lighting):

    centre.

    Mid-frame, f/2.8 left f/8 on right:

    midframe.

    Towards the edge, f/2.8 left f/8 right (notice the sharpness is reduced wide open):

    outer.

    As already mentioned in a previous post, I cannot really see any difference in sharpness between f/2.8 and f/8 in the centre to mid-frame. In other conditions, the lens has better contrast when stopped down, but the difference is subtle. However, as you move towards the frame edge at f/2.8, some softness starts to creep in and to be expected for this type of lens. Both images above have enough resolution for a perfectly good print.

    If you pay close attention to the bottom right corner of the f/2.8 image, you can see the blurred nature of my lens which caused me to return it.
     
  13. gio

    gio TalkEmount Veteran

    382
    Sep 12, 2012
    Manchester, uk

    I would say the 16-50 is out of focus in that shot and not due to the unsharpness of the lens, nevertheless, good comparisons other than that
     
  14. Sabre36

    Sabre36 TalkEmount Regular

    35
    Dec 1, 2012
    I originally posted this because I was about to go a bike trip to Italy with extremely limited space (i.e a handlebar bag that housed all my day gear: tools, tubes, pump, food, etc). However, I completed the trip without purchasing the 20mm [or the Sigma 19]. Instead, I used my Sony 35/1.8 90% of the time on my Nex-7. On those days when was not raining and I didn't need to bring along rain gear, I stuck my Sony 10-18mm/f4 in the bike bag.

    Looking at the trip photos through Lightroom, the images taken with the 35mm were, as expected, wonderful. And so were the images taken via the 10-18mm ... when I brought the lens. That's the rub. But, if the best camera is the one you have with you, the same could be said of the lens. What became readily apparent was the need for a bit wider lens (than 35mm) for photographing the narrow streets of the small, medieval Tuscan hill towns. The 35mm was the wrong lens for that application. But, when I did shoot with 10-18mm, most shots were taken around 18mm and not 10mm (I don't like that perspective).

    If I could do the same trip over, I would have definitely purchased the 20mm or Sigma 19 (just barely small enough) because, for me, space was a primary concern. After all, this was my main reason for dumping my Pentax DSLR gear last year. I really like the combination of Nex-7 + 35mm - but I needed something small and a bit wider to compliment the 35mm. For me, the 10-18mm is not it - although, damn, it does take nice pictures. Maybe this will help others in their gear choice.

    -Bob
     
  15. lowbone

    lowbone TalkEmount Regular

    99
    Oct 21, 2012
    Owner reviews from the B&H photo and adorama camera sites are fairly positive. A few people complaining about barrel distortion on the wide end and slow focusing in low light.
     
  16. Hypocaffeinic

    Hypocaffeinic TalkEmount Regular

    53
    Jun 16, 2013
    Qld, Australia
    Massive thanks to all who have posted opinions and comparison shots here, this thread is a big help for me. :thumbup:
     
  17. jcdoss

    jcdoss TalkEmount Regular

    118
    Jul 6, 2013
    Can the NEX7/SEL20 combo fit easily in a pocket?
     
  18. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    How big is your pocket? ;) Coat pocket certainly. Back pocket of your jeans probably not. Side pocket on cargo pants no problem. That combo is probably the most "pocketable" possible for AF on the 7 body. The 16 may be slightly smaller, but you'd never see the difference in use.
     
  19. jcdoss

    jcdoss TalkEmount Regular

    118
    Jul 6, 2013
    I want to fit a camera into that little teeny pocket that they always sew into the front pocket of my jeans, which is actually too small to fit my fingers in.

    No, seriously, I was talking about a jacket or pants pocket, and by pants, I mean the baggy kind. This combo sounds like a winner.
     
  20. Deadbear77

    Deadbear77 TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Sep 14, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    Kevin
    Ok, here you have me. 5'11 165 lbs

    ImageUploadedByTalkNEX1373316391.689547.

    One pocket has the nex 6 with 1650 zoom and the other has a lens pen extra battery and extra sd card...

    I don't see a difference.

    It's pocketable.



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