I need your knowledge, experience opinion!
I am new to this forum, as I just sold everything and switched from Canon to Sony (A7III) and need advice. I have already read and watched hundreds of reviews, comparaisons and discussions on the best 35mm lens I can get for my needs and I still don’t find any satisfying answer.
I had no issue to find the adequat prime lens for every focal lenght I use but the 35mm. It has been giving me headaches for weeks...
Maybe some of you own some of the lenses I am hesitating on buying (I have specific questions for each of them) or maybe you’ll find some interesting advice and experiences as well in the following discussion.
Anyway, we all know there is no perfect lens. You have to make compromises. The best one is the lens that suits your needs.
I do street and travel photography for my personnal pleasure, and I mainly shoot concerts and music festivals professionally. I also do video for fun but want to start being more professionnal about it.
35 mm being my favourite all-around go-to focal lenght, I really care about this choice.
So here are my personnal needs, by order of importance, followed by the possible choices that I get, and their downsides.
1/ Fast and accurate Auto Focus ( even in low light)
I love vintage lenses. And I will probably end up using Zeiss and Voigtlander MF glass for my personnal stuff, as the quality is incredible. But as I shoot moving subjects in low light, MF does not give me as many keepers. I need AF for more reliability (unless those MF to AF adapters work efficiently?)
2/ Fast aperture (low light, DOF, cinematic shots)
Ideally f1.2 (but only 1 AF third party lens available) or f1.4.
Maybe f1.8 or 2.
F2.8 could already be too slow but I have not tried the low light performances of the A7III. Maybe it would be fine.
3/ Smooth manual focus ring for video.
I don’t need a professional cine lens. But a decently smooth focus ring for video is important.
4/ Good IQ (sharpness wide open, microcontrast, bokeh...)
I don’t need the sharpest lens in the history of mindkind. I prefer good rendering microcontrast and buttery smooth bokeh, but the sharper the better, obviously.
BONUS (less important)
5/ Weather Sealing is a plus.
I shot some pretty hectic and dirty gigs with mud and rain all over the place without Weather Sealing and it was fine, so it would be a big plus, but i can deal without.
I can handle big heavy bodies and lenses, but a small and light equipment is a plus in certain situations (traveling, being invisible, shooting secretly, trying to be intimate with the si ject without intimidating them, shooting all day etc).
7/ A bit of character ?
Again, it is about the photographer, not the gear and I can give my twist to the pics in post, but if there’s some character to the lens, that’s a plus.
8/ The cheaper, the better, obviously.
If I can manage to get it under 1000 us Dollars new or second hand, that would be nice.
9/ Build quality.
Full metal is better, but I don’t mind plastic.
10/ And the least important to me: design/handling/balance/look.
If it is well designed and balanced with the body, and if it is pleasing to the eyes and hands, That’s perfect. But it is not an important requirement at all.
So, here are the possible choices that we have (from what I know) and their apparent downsides:
Sony Zeiss FE Distagon T 35mm f1.4:
- Seems to fit every criteria
- But expensive
- And a lot of reviews say a ton of copies are abnormally soft in some parts of the frame...
Rokinon/Samyang 35 mm AF f1.4:
- Seems to hold up well against the Zeiss in terms of sharpness.
- I don’t have my computer at the moment but from my low res phone screen the bokeh seems pretty equal.
- Cheap in price and good looks/ergonomics.
- But some report a problem with low light autofocus.
- Some say the manual focus ring is not good and precise for good video work.
- Strong CA? (easily fixed in post?)
Sigma Art 35mm 1.4:
- Amazing reviews
- Seems to fit most criterias
- Very sharp
- Some people say the autofocus is bad, especially in low light, which is the most important criteria. I can handle some missed focus, but is it 5-10% or more like 20+% of missed shots?
- Has someone tried the emount version in low light already?
- Flat rendering? Not good in terms of microcontrast and bokeh?
Sony FE 35 mm 2.8:
- The size, weight, look, ergonomics seem perfect.
- The IQ is very pleasing to me (character, bokeh, sharpness, microcontrast).
- But 2.8 may be a bit slow? What is you experience at this aperture in low light environments with tge A7II or III?
Tamron 35mm f1.8 VC:
- This lens seems to be so perfect in theory for a price so cheap
- Every detailed reviews says it is amazing, a steal, a no brainer
- Build quality, macro, weather sealed
- But it is 1.8
- I am afraid of the ergonomics and handling with a metabones or other adapter (+price)
- Huge CA?
- And I don’t remember having seen any picture taken with this lens that I found beautiful (and I don’t know if it is just me, the rendering, or the photographers who used it, or I didn’t search enough, I don’t know)
I didn’t recall another one that seemed to be in the price range and fits those criterias .
For now I still hesitate between the Sony, the Sigma and the Zeiss but everyone of them has huge downsides that I don’t know if I could work with...
Maybe you have some suggestions and answers for me.
I am listening.
Thank you for your time and consideration, it is very much appreciated!
Drove 1600 miles round trip (about 4 hours of it off-road) to visit White Pocket, AZ. A very strange alien planet type landscape. These shots were taken with my Sony A7r, sony 35mm 2.8, ISO 800, f5.6, that I mounted to my S1000 octocopter.
More can be seen on my personal facebook page https://www.facebook.com/steven.snyder.790/posts/10209248471603589?pnref=story
I notice the uploaded versions appear slightly soft on this page, possibly a little better on Face Book.
Thanks for viewing
TL;DR: got any recommendations for a cheap fast manual non-radioactive 50mm prime?
I have an a6500 with the 16-70mm kit lens and also the 30mm f1.4 Sigma lens, which I love by the way. However, I want to use some legacy primes to experiment with different focal lengths, perhaps a tilt adapter later on, etc.
I also don't want to use a radioactive lens, because firstly I don't have a basement in my small apartment to "hide" the lens away when I'm not using it, secondly, I have a dog, thirdly I just don't want to take the risk.
I have shortlisted it to the following:
Minolta rokkor-md 50mm 1.4 - might be radioactive?? but f1.4 is very fast and apparently it's sharp too
Helios 44m 58mm f2 - this is a lens primed for its swirly bokeh but I've heard on crop sensor bodies the bokeh doesn't swirl as well
Auto-Takumar 55mm f2 - this has great "soap-bubble" bokeh, and works well on crop mode. The only thing holding me back from pulling the trigger on this lens is that it may be radioactive (according to the Angry Photographer it's not but others say it is, and Pentax was notorious for radioactive lenses in that era) and also it's very RARE and fairly expensive. I'm in love with the look of the Takumar lenses, by the way.
Konica 50mm Hexanon f1.7 - this lens is very sharp wide open and very inexpensive, don't think it's radioactive (is the bokeh any good?)
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF/AFD - not that vintage but fairly cheap and certified non radioactive (lens-makers stopped using thorium in the mid-80's)
Anyone got any suggestions/tested the radioactivity of these lenses? Also, does the radioactivity vary from lens to lens? Thanks.