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Tele zoom recommendation for A7RII (not sports or birds)

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Hi all! New Sony A7RII owner here.

 

I am looking for recommendations for a tele zoom to be used only on the A7RII. I am pretty flexible in terms of focal length and speed, and mostly interested in optical performance as well as price. Size matters, but it is not the most crucial factor.

 

Basically, I wish to find a fairly affordable lens which gives a flat field and good, even sharpness across the frame, at least at f/8-11, preferably at f/4-5.6, too. The focal length range should cover at least 100-200mm, over 400mm is definitely not needed, and down to even 28mm range is a nice option (as long as the 100-200mm performance is strong). As the mirrorless Alpha system opens so many possibilities and my requirements are not dictated by the numbers on the lens barrel, I am quite at lost. In this focal length range, I have previously used pretty much all the Canon L zooms and many of the 70-300 type consumer lenses in EF mount. I have no experience on their performance on this new body, and I no longer even have access to any of those lenses. For adapted lenses, I anyway prefer a solution that is usable with a dumb adapter ring (Canon EF isn't).

 

The intended use for the lens is mainly tight landscapes and cityscapes. I therefore require the 100-200mm focal length range, and sharpness across frame is very important. May print really big sometimes, and will definitely view big at 4k resolution (and higher as soon as available) including crops. I will certainly use the lens also for detail shots, portraits, and some wildlife and sports. However, sports and birds in flight etc. are no priority, and this need not be the most flattering portrait lens either. Manual focus is just fine, and I currently mostly use MF lenses. Lens speed is secondary, but an f/2.8 lens is interesting. I prefer constant aperture, but it's not a major consideration (and does not rule out the 28-200 type zooms, if there are good alternatives out there). Tripod ring on the lens is good to have, but not a requirement.

 

I travel a lot, walk around and do plenty of hikes, so small size is nice. My initial thought therefore is buying two lenses for this tele-zoom-for-landscapes purpose: one good smaller lens, and one bigger lens with higher performance. If a single lens gets the job done, this allows spending more on it. The short-term budget is perhaps about 1000 EUR/USD (for one lens), but I really don't mind going cheap. I don't think I will spend more than 2500 EUR/USD for the one or two lenses combined, and I may not have that much right away. Good adapter should be included in the price, if it isn't a native lens. I have some adapters, but they may be too flimsy for large and heavy lenses, and I have not tested them on the full-frame body so far.

 

In summary, what's your recommendation for:

- Tele zoom covering at least 100-200mm

- Sharp across the frame

- May be native or adapted

- May be AF or MF

- As small and light as possible (optical performance more important)

- Should not cost much more than 1000 EUR/USD (with high-quality adapter)

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I think the Sony FE 24-240mm might fit your needs. All in one, decent quality. No constant aperture though. If you need the top in its class, the SONY GM 70-200 f/2.8 sounds like it - albeit with a much loftier price tag.

 

A couple of images that I took with the 24-240mm that made me happy.

 

Sunrise over Venice by Artem, on Flickr

 

Venice from above by Artem, on Flickr

 

I think that if you shoot in RAW (as well you should) you can pull out a lot more out of the image in post than the supposed weaknesses of the lens would have you believe.

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In summary, what's your recommendation for:

- Tele zoom covering at least 100-200mm

- Sharp across the frame

- May be native or adapted

- May be AF or MF

- As small and light as possible (optical performance more important)

- Should not cost much more than 1000 EUR/USD (with high-quality adapter)

 

First things first: welcome!

 

And now let's try answering your question. I am going to talk only about lenses I've actually used / use on the Sony A7r. 

 

My 1st choice would be the:

 

- Contax Zeiss 100-300mm f/4-5,6 Vario-Sonnar

 

It's a terrific lens, and it ticks all your boxes: super sharp across the frame straight from wide open, fairly compact, and quite possibly beats hands down even Canon L glass ("possibly" because I sold my L glass before switching to Sony, so I didn't have the chance to test lenses on the same hi-res body. I can tell you though that when I first saw the results on the Canon 5D mk II I was seriously impressed). Lastly, you can generally find one between 600 and 800€. You will need an adapter with good flocking (Rayqual, Novoflex etc., or flock one yourself) otherwise you risk weird reflections.

 

You could also pair it with a:

 

- Contax Zeiss 28-85mm f/3,3-4 Vario-Sonnar

 

From Zeiss own MTFs, it is a lens as sharp or sharper as the corresponding Contax fixed focal lengths (28/2.8, 35/2.8 and 85/2.8). Additionally it renders beautifully at 85mm, and you can find one for 350/400€. Its only fault is a tad of chromatic aberration shooting things like branches against a gleaming white sky. And don't be scared, it is not as big as it looks reading the specs.

 

Specs for both lenses: 

http://www.contaxcameras.co.uk/slr/slrmanlenses/variosonnar2885.html

http://www.contaxcameras.co.uk/slr/slrmanlenses/variosonnar100300.html

 

 

That said, if you're more interested in the performance at f/8 and f/11, like you mentioned, you might be interested also in the:

 

- Minolta AF 100-300/4.5-5.6 Apo

 

Much more compact and way lighter than the Contax, it is actually a great performer between f/8 and f/11 (or at least my sample was, before hitting the floor and breaking...). And paired with an LA-EA4 you will get AF. You can find one for more or less 100€.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

It's an open brief, to say the least. I would still suggest going with native Sony FE lenses. When you adapt lenses on A7RII, it loses some of its strengths in terms of performance and functionality. With your budget that leaves the Sony FE 70-200 f4. Check out some tests and decide if the IQ is good enough for you.

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It's an open brief, to say the least. I would still suggest going with native Sony FE lenses. When you adapt lenses on A7RII, it loses some of its strengths in terms of performance and functionality. With your budget that leaves the Sony FE 70-200 f4. Check out some tests and decide if the IQ is good enough for you.

I agree with Jaf-Photo's choice I assume he meant the Sony FE 70-200 f4 G OSS. You don't need the 70-200 f2.8 GM as it would be overkill and heavy and expensive. I had this f4 lens for about 4 months and it is very light, continuous f4 when zoomed and is an all round excellent lens - it's native so no adaptors and of course in APS-C mode on the A7R2 goes out to 300mm.

 

Why did I sell it on I hear you ask? I realised I'd had enough "conspicuous" white lenses [Canon 70-200 L f4 then Canon 70-200 IS f2.8 lI L, Canon 100-400mm L Mk1, Canon 300 f2.8 IS).

 

With the Sony A7R2 I've gone with more compact gear and on selling the excellent Sony FE 70-200 f4 G OSS I used the money to go in the completely opposite direction with a manual tiny 21mm Loxia.

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Thanks for all the suggestions. Apart from the Minolta lens, all the teles suggested so far were already on my radar. I hope this confirms I am looking at pretty much the right options. While I was going to make purchase decisions quickly, I will probably need to wait until mid-July or later due to some changes in my travel schedule. Unfortunately, this means going without any long lens I could use in the meantime.

 

I already had a chance to try the Sony 24-240 zoom, and it handled better than I expected. I also made a couple of test shots that still need to be studied in detail.

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..................................  

............................................   

 

- Minolta AF 100-300/4.5-5.6 Apo

 

Much more compact and way lighter than the Contax, it is actually a great performer

between f/8 and f/11 (or at least my sample was, before hitting the floor and breaking...).

And paired with an LA-EA4 you will get AF. You can find one for more or less 100€.

   

And since you don't need AF, you can use the LAEA3 [150USD] and gain 

a 1/2 stop speed. Also the old Maxxum/Dynax 70-210/4.0 is a fine lens 

if a bit large ... f/4.0 available at all FL. This lens is about 85USD. 

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+1 for addicted2light's suggestion on the Contax 100-300, a fantastic lens which is a perfect fit for the needs you have described. If you have any secondary use for which autofocus would be a plus, and can get over the weight and price, the native 70-200 f/2.8 G Master is also spectacular (the FE 70-200 f/4 is a very respectable lens, but I have owned both this lens and the G Master and the latter is without question sharper across the frame).

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I personally favor the Sony 70-200 F4.  It can be had used for a very reasonable price.  Optically it is far superior to the 24-240 which I had and sold.  The 70-200 focuses immediately, has OS, and constant aperture.  Most compelling to me was it's relatively light weight.  I have not had good luck with adapted tele lenses, however would be very interested to hear from someone with experience with the $500 Canon 70-300 II just recently released.

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I would recommend that you try the Sony 70-300 lens. The weight is about the same as the 70-200 and the extra reach is very handy. I used the lens on my latest trip to Germany and the results were excellent

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Some tests and reviews are out there now on the new 100-400 GM which suggest it is the best. I ordered mine today. DXOMark (which is not the be all end all, but at least they are consistent) tests say that this is the sharpest telezoom out there--sharper than the new Canon 100-400 II and all others.

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Some tests and reviews are out there now on the new 100-400 GM which suggest it is the best. I ordered mine today. DXOMark (which is not the be all end all, but at least they are consistent) tests say that this is the sharpest telezoom out there--sharper than the new Canon 100-400 II and all others.

Is that less than $1000 Euro?  (as stated by original poster).  I think not.  It better be the best.

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No doubt the Sony 100-400 is an excellent lens, but it does not really fit my needs. It is too large for a reasonably compact travel kit and too pricey. If I end up spending that much down the road, I am much more likely to get the 70-200 2.8.

 

In the meantime, I tried to get the Contax Zeiss from a local seller but the guy never showed up. I will be leaving for a trip in a few days, and it now looks like I will be going without a long lens. If this happens, I may very well postpone the purchase until next spring.

 

As far as the native lenses go, I will seriously look into the 70-300, too.

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I use the canon 70-300L lens on a metabones. I briefly considered switching it out for the sony 70-300 but the is no tripod collar for it. I found this to make a pretty big difference in getting sharp tele landscapes/cityscapes.

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