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Reducing my gear


rccasgar
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Hi all,

 

I currently have the following set of lenses for my A6500:

 

  • Sony E Zeiss 16-70mm f4
  • Sony E 35mm f1.8
  • Sony E 50mm f1.8
  • Sony FE 85mm f1.8 (recently bought, on its way home)

 

I want to get rid of one lens (will sell it), and I'm doubting betwen the 35mm and the 50mm. As I'm having an allround lens (Zeiss) for general purposes, I think I prefer to keep the 50mm for portraits (whenever I cannot use the 85mm). But in the other hand, I think that the 35mm could help me indoors whenever the Zeiss maximum f4 is not sufficient (yes, I know 35mm is a little bit too much for indoors).

 

My main reason for buying primes was to be able to do really good pictures of my family, so portrait use should be the most common one (action pictures will be done with the Zeiss).

 

Can I get your expert (as I'm quite an amateur) opinion on this?

 

Thanks a lot in advance,

Roberto

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Guest Jaf-Photo

The 16-70/4 needs stopping down, so essentially you'll be shooting at f5.6-8 to get nice photos. In other words, it's an outdoor lens for depth of field shots. The strength of the 35/1.8 and the 50/1.8 is that they perform well wide open. In other words they are good for Indoor photography, low light situations shallow depth of field. Therefore, the focal length overlaps with the 16-70/4 do not make them redundant. Both the 30 and 50 have attractive IQ in terms of colour, contrast and bokeh. They also have good AF performance. So they are very attractive lenses to have for a APS-C E-Mount system. I wouldn't sell any of them.

 

If you were to sell any of the lenses, You should sell the 50/1.8. That is because the 85/1.8 will cover you for portraits. The 35/1.8 on the other hand is a very good normal lens with an equivalent field of view of a 52mm lens on FF. That means you can use it as a walkaround prime, both for close-ups and wider shots. In any case, these primes are affordable, which means that the resale price will be low, maybe $150. I Think you'll miss the lens a lot more than you'll enjoy that money.

 

Some additional thoughts. As the 50/1.8 already covers your protrait needs, an alternative to the 85/1.8 would have been the 24/1.8. That lens is an absolute gem. I and many with me, consider it the finest lens for Sony APS-C E-Mount. The focal length and short near limit also makes it a very versatile allround lens. So the bottom line is that you should consider returning the 85/1.8 and getting the 24/1.8 instead. Then you could also sell the 35/1.8, because it may be redundant.

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I second Jaf-Photo's suggestion. I have both the 24/1.8 and 50/1.8. The 24 really is a gem with a convenient focal length (expensive though). Wide enough for group shots, even indoors at times, and also great for environmental portraiture. The 35 is too narrow for group shots indoor and also quite close to the 50. The 85 on APS-C is probably too narrow even for portraits indoor, unless your family gettogethers are in a big mansion.

 

I'm actually considering the 85/1.8 for outdoor portraits, but I fear the options with that lens are much more limited than with the 50.

 

Seems a pity since you just bought it, but if you really want to reduce your gear, I'd sell the 35 and 85 and get the 24. If you really like the 85 and don't mind the narrow field of view, sell the 50 instead as it's quite close to both your other primes. Personally I like that lens too much to part with it.

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Thanks both Jaf/Pieter for your suggestions, highly appreciated.

 

I was very tempted in the past about the Zeiss 24mm, as I was in the thought that my 35mm was too narrow for general purpose pictures. In that moment I decided to go for the 16-70 because my wife is not so passionate about photografy, so I was in the need of having a polivalent lens which we can use without havint to switch lenses continuously.

 

I'm pretty sure that whenever I go out with my wife and my son (+second son arriving in September), the 16-70 will be there attached to the camera, not the 35mm. So the other lenses I want to have are really for portrait use.

 

I love what I've seen in reviews/samples about the 85mm. As an amateur, I had to do some investigation about the best focal lenght for portraits, which seems goes from 85 to 135 in FF eq. I saw best results where from 105 to 135mm, so hence my decision to purchase the 85mm (around 130mm in FF eq). As this is really narrow, I wanted to keep the 50mm (75mm in FF eq) which is close to that good range for Portraits. I don't have the feeling they are so close in terms of focal length.

 

Now your expert comments make me think again if I took a good decision when buying it. I will give it a try, and if not very happy with its very narrow focal length, I will seriously consider to return it and buy the 24mm. In any case (being the 85mm or the 24mm my new lens) and as I really want to sell one lense (not because I need the money, it is a matter ok staying with a reduced number of lenses), seems that the 35mm will be the one to sell due to my personal situation.

 

Thanks a lot for your advice, as said, really appreciated. I've also bought the Godox TT350S to learn more on lightning, which is something I really need for improving the quality of my pictures. Maybe the Godix will also help me to get goid indoor group pictures with the 16-70.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

A 135mm equivalent lens is good for formal portraiture. That means a subject that sits still and the ability to keep a certain working distance. For fluid.situations, a wider lens works much better. Even an 85mm equivalent may be too narrow for everyday photography. I find that a 50mm equivalent is the most useful for taking portraits in social situations, simply bacause you don't have to move away from people to take their photo. That means the 35/1.8 in your case. I find that even the 50/1.8 is too narrow for social portraiture. In effect you have to break off from the group, move a few steps back to take a picture. That means people usually stop what they're doing and look at what you're doing. I don't like that because it interrupts the natural flow of social situations.

 

For instance, if you're sitting at a table and have the 50mm or 85mm on, you'll probably have to get up and leave the table to get a good shot. With the 35mm, you'll only have to lean a bit to frame the shot. If you use the zoom instead, you won't be able to blow out the background like you can with the f1.8 lenses.

 

When I do street portraits, I mostly use a 50/1.4 on FF because it makes for a better dynamic. You approach a stranger, talk to them to establish a connection, then maintain that connection by staying close while you're taking the pictures. With a narrower lens you have to move away and break the connection while you're shooting. If you need to give instructions, you'll have to shout them, which is never nice. The technical specifications of your lens is one thing but the key to good portraiture is always the connection between the photographer and the subject.

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Fully understand your point, but I'm more interested in portraits of single person (my wife, my son) or small groups (my wife and my son, or two sons very soon). For social pictures I think I can live with the quality of the 16-70. I look for the swallow depth of field and razor sharpness when taking pictures of my wife and or son/s. And for these situations, I think the 35mm still gives not the best perspective of faces, etc.

 

You make me think again and again... :) Will give it another thought.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

I absolutely understand and I'm just providing a different perspective. Another thing about the 85/1.8 is that it shoots nice photos on a FF camera, but it doesn't look the same on a crop camera. The bokeh is different.  We'll see how you feel about it. That said, I think you have a sensible collection of lenses so I am sure you'll find a combo that suits you.

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Guest Jaf-Photo

Yeah, they're good shots. They look like they've been post-processed with typical improvements for portraits, like you would do in Photoshop. Another thing is that the model is lit by a softbox and the background is very far off. That will result in a soft and dark background that you would not get under normal shooting conditions.

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Right again... as said, I will give a try to the 85mm and then decide if I keep it or if I follow your advice and get a Zeiss 24mm.

 

- If I go for the 24mm, then for sure I keep the 50mm and sell the 35mm (as 24 and 35 too close and I want to have a portrait lense)

- If I keep the 85mm, depending on how narrow I feel it is, I will decide on keeping the 50 or the 35. If too narrow (which I guess it is), then I will keep the 50mm for being able to shoot portraits when there's no option to shoot them with the 85. If not, I will consider to keep the 35mm for social and sell the 50.

 

Thanks again for all the useful insights you've given to me (and for yout quick replies). It was a pleasure and be sure I will use this forum again for any other doubt I have during my learning process on photography (you can bet your money that I will have hundreds of them).

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