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First Lens for Sony A7III, Best Image Quality


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Hi everyone!

I just acquired a couple of months ago the Sony a6000 to start into serious photography (I used to shoot IPhone and even if I love it, I've always looked for better and true stunning  photos), I paired it with the Sigma 16mm F1.4 and love the versatility and the results especially the image quality. I've used primarily as an all-round, travel, every day photography even environmental portraits in low light.

I'm very excited since just received the A7III in addition to start in the FF world and I'm just trying to decide the first lens should I buy for, after reading and watching a lot of reviews I narrowed my search to the following candidates:

  • Sony 24-105mm F4 G, very useful focal length range and super sharp, F4 aperture may be compensated by increasing ISO in low light situations.
  • Tamron 28-75mm F2.8, standard zoom lens for landscape, portrait and street photography, the F2.8 and apparently good sharpness is something really gets me.
  • Sony Zeiss 50mm F1.4 / 55mm F1.8 standard primes, the overall performance and good perks of the 55mm are great, but the reviews about the stunning pop ("like magic") of the 50mm image quality really wants me to incline for this lens, is that really good?
  • Sony 24mm F1.4 G Master, in pre-order right now but I really expect an excellent performance and to be a go-to for landscape photography and overkill the previous experience with the Sigma 16mm 1.4 (APS-C).

I can just afford 1 lens this year (I won't be buying another lens even after savings) and don't mind to be walking in or out to get the perfect composition, I just want to get the best experience and image quality and start building my lens kit after time.

Thank you for the feedback!

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  • 3 weeks later...

What kind of photography are you interested in? The focal lengths you listed are all over the place so it would help to know a little more information. I'd say since you already have 16mm Prime for your a6000 get the 24-105mm f4...it's a fantastic lens (I own it). It's a little on the heavy side if you carry it around all day in your hands. It's super sharp and the build quality is excellent, you won't go wrong buying it.

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Rogue_odyssey is right that 4/24-105 is a good lens. But to give an alternative perspective, I'll tell a story.

Very excited about the 4/24-105 announcement, I pre-ordered mine around this time last year and got it a bit later. I used it plenty over two or three weeks, and nearly every time I ended up frustrated and putting on a prime instead, or wishing I had brought a prime with me. So I returned it.

It's a matter of personal preference. I guess I'm not big on standard zooms. I like my 1.8/55 and 1.8/85 very much and I like telezooms. I'd have all 4 telezooms if I could.

But, your subject says "Best Image Quality" so, from your list, I suggest the 1.8/55.

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^These are also good points and advice...I just came back from a trip to Uzbekistan where I took the 24-105mm and a few primes with me. Not to back peddle on what I said earlier but for me personally I enjoyed walking around with the 55mm f1.8 the most. It balances well on the camera and the image quality is superb. It also forces you to think about your composition which is something I rather enjoy. Anyways I hope this information helps your decision making process ?

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20 hours ago, Rogue_odyssey said:

What kind of photography are you interested in? The focal lengths you listed are all over the place so it would help to know a little more information. I'd say since you already have 16mm Prime for your a6000 get the 24-105mm f4...it's a fantastic lens (I own it). It's a little on the heavy side if you carry it around all day in your hands. It's super sharp and the build quality is excellent, you won't go wrong buying it.

Hello Rogue_odyssey, I'm mainly interested in landscape, street photography and portraits. I just test the 85mm 1.8 and it really impressed me, so eventually I'll be getting it for portraits shoot. I watched several reviews for the 24-105 and the 55mm and both are highly acclaimed, however, I noticed many people says and I quote "they tried hard to love this lens since they initially didn't feel very comfortable using this particular focal length".

I really appreciate your time explaining both points of view, so to sum up do you think the experience will be more enjoyable using the 55mm instead of the 24-105? Is the 24-105 too restrictive in low light by the way?

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20 hours ago, thefsb said:

Rogue_odyssey is right that 4/24-105 is a good lens. But to give an alternative perspective, I'll tell a story.

Very excited about the 4/24-105 announcement, I pre-ordered mine around this time last year and got it a bit later. I used it plenty over two or three weeks, and nearly every time I ended up frustrated and putting on a prime instead, or wishing I had brought a prime with me. So I returned it.

It's a matter of personal preference. I guess I'm not big on standard zooms. I like my 1.8/55 and 1.8/85 very much and I like telezooms. I'd have all 4 telezooms if I could.

But, your subject says "Best Image Quality" so, from your list, I suggest the 1.8/55.

I loved your story thefsb, it gives plenty of perspective. What was the main reason you ended up frustrated using the 24-105? Do you think the OSS really compensates for the f4 in low light or I should go for a f1.8 to have good results in outdoors after sunset? As I told to Rogue_odyssey, after testing the 85mm 1.8 I think is a must buy so will get it eventually.

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4 hours ago, kalforever said:

Hello Rogue_odyssey, I'm mainly interested in landscape, street photography and portraits. I just test the 85mm 1.8 and it really impressed me, so eventually I'll be getting it for portraits shoot. I watched several reviews for the 24-105 and the 55mm and both are highly acclaimed, however, I noticed many people says and I quote "they tried hard to love this lens since they initially didn't feel very comfortable using this particular focal length".

I really appreciate your time explaining both points of view, so to sum up do you think the experience will be more enjoyable using the 55mm instead of the 24-105? Is the 24-105 too restrictive in low light by the way?

A concept I learned in the military and still apply today is the mission drives the gear. If I'm going out to photograph people I'll reach for a portrait lens. If I'm going to go photograph landscapes I'll reach for my wide angle lens. If i have no idea what i might photograph I'll reach for my general purpose 24-105mm lens. I get the most joy out of photography when i have the right tool for the job. I don't think f4 is too restrictive in low light situations given the A7iii's performance. Just have reasonable expectations for that aperture in low light. I believe if you keep the camera profile small and light (hey that's the reason we went to mirrorless, right? ;) then you'll find the experience more enjoyable. 

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When I moved to Sony from Canon, my first camera/lens was the A7 II with Sony 55 f1.8.  This is still an awesome lens and the A7 II is my backup camera.  I have since purchased the Sony 50 f1.4.  This is an even better lens but about 50% more expensive.  It sounds like you are on a budget, so go with the Sony 55.  Look at Ken Rockwell’s review of both.  He says the Sony 50 is a better lens but the Sony 55 is perfect for most people.  If you have unlimited resources, get the Sony 50.  Otherwise, go with the Sony 55.  For your shooting needs it will work until you can add more lenses.  When you need a wide angle for landscape, just use the 55 and stitch several photos together for the wide angle.  I used to do this on a tripod, but now just hand hold.  It works great. 

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Don't you just love Ken Rockwell and his growing family! He knows practically everything and his Mercedes is fabulous.

If you want to be sure to have pictures of the outings you make, get the zoom.
The 55mm is a nice all-purpose lens unless you are inside and there is nowhere to back up to get the distance to fit everything in.
You need something wider.  Then you want to grab a portrait and the wide lens distorts the face...so much better to zoom in.

Yes. The medium zoom is the way to go. With the ISO range of the Sony sensor, the f/4 aperture is not a problem.
I have fast primes (Canon), they are nice in low light.  If I did not have the 24-70mm zoom, I'd go with the 35mm  f/1.4. I have 'always¨shot with a 35mm...well, since 1976 at least.

As I have the zoom, that's my go-to lens.

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On 10/20/2018 at 6:37 AM, steve of stonehenge said:

When I moved to Sony from Canon, my first camera/lens was the A7 II with Sony 55 f1.8.  This is still an awesome lens and the A7 II is my backup camera.  I have since purchased the Sony 50 f1.4.  This is an even better lens but about 50% more expensive.  It sounds like you are on a budget, so go with the Sony 55.  Look at Ken Rockwell’s review of both.  He says the Sony 50 is a better lens but the Sony 55 is perfect for most people.  If you have unlimited resources, get the Sony 50.  Otherwise, go with the Sony 55.  For your shooting needs it will work until you can add more lenses.  When you need a wide angle for landscape, just use the 55 and stitch several photos together for the wide angle.  I used to do this on a tripod, but now just hand hold.  It works great. 

I was a bit afraid the 55mm focal length might be too restrictive but reading your experiences make feel more comfortable with this option. The stitch technique for wide angle shots sounds great! and Ken Rockwell's review rocks, very detailed. 

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On 10/21/2018 at 8:01 AM, martti_s said:

Don't you just love Ken Rockwell and his growing family! He knows practically everything and his Mercedes is fabulous.

If you want to be sure to have pictures of the outings you make, get the zoom.
The 55mm is a nice all-purpose lens unless you are inside and there is nowhere to back up to get the distance to fit everything in.
You need something wider.  Then you want to grab a portrait and the wide lens distorts the face...so much better to zoom in.

Yes. The medium zoom is the way to go. With the ISO range of the Sony sensor, the f/4 aperture is not a problem.
I have fast primes (Canon), they are nice in low light.  If I did not have the 24-70mm zoom, I'd go with the 35mm  f/1.4. I have 'always¨shot with a 35mm...well, since 1976 at least.

As I have the zoom, that's my go-to lens.

Well after reading you I firmly believe my medium-term base gear would be the 24-105, the 55 and the 85 1.8!

Ken Rockwell's review of the 24-105 f4 is the main reason I started considering this lens as one of my prospects. 

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On 10/19/2018 at 1:54 PM, Rogue_odyssey said:

A concept I learned in the military and still apply today is the mission drives the gear. If I'm going out to photograph people I'll reach for a portrait lens. If I'm going to go photograph landscapes I'll reach for my wide angle lens. If i have no idea what i might photograph I'll reach for my general purpose 24-105mm lens. I get the most joy out of photography when i have the right tool for the job. I don't think f4 is too restrictive in low light situations given the A7iii's performance. Just have reasonable expectations for that aperture in low light. I believe if you keep the camera profile small and light (hey that's the reason we went to mirrorless, right? ;) then you'll find the experience more enjoyable. 

Well let me tell your concept is very enlightening and straightforward, it shrinks the list a lot and I think I just have to decide between the 55mm and the 24-105 as first option, both of them seem great! And yes the pleasure of the mirrorless trip is on keeping the experience as lean as possible.

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On 10/19/2018 at 10:53 AM, kalforever said:

I loved your story thefsb, it gives plenty of perspective. What was the main reason you ended up frustrated using the 24-105? Do you think the OSS really compensates for the f4 in low light or I should go for a f1.8 to have good results in outdoors after sunset? As I told to Rogue_odyssey, after testing the 85mm 1.8 I think is a must buy so will get it eventually.

When considering the 55mm, camera IBIS is enough so lens OSS is not a factor in comparison.

IBIS and OSS cannot make a lens fast. They can only compensate for camera shake, generally speaking hand-held camera shake. If the subject is moving you're minimum shutter speed depends on that. People, animals, plants, flags, vehicles and all sorts of other things move. My pictures very often include those things. In such scenes, opening to f2.8 or 1.8 allows lower ISO.

And there's figure/background separation that I find useful for candids, which often coincide with the above issue and call for 1/160 or faster.

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On 10/19/2018 at 3:54 PM, Rogue_odyssey said:

A concept I learned in the military and still apply today is the mission drives the gear.

It's a good concept.

Another good concept is to let the instrument guide your art. If you have a violin and a cello but you don't know what to play, choose one and start playing something—you might figure out where to go along the way.

I'm not trying to be contrarian. I just like to bring a dialectical attitude to life.

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On 10/22/2018 at 12:10 PM, kalforever said:

Well after reading you I firmly believe my medium-term base gear would be the 24-105, the 55 and the 85 1.8!

You can cover a lot of ground with that set.

Do you have any experience with a telezoom? If not, don't try. It could become your next favorite thing ever and blow the whole plan.

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31 minutes ago, thefsb said:

It's a good concept.

Another good concept is to let the instrument guide your art. If you have a violin and a cello but you don't know what to play, choose one and start playing something—you might figure out where to go along the way.

I'm not trying to be contrarian. I just like to bring a dialectical attitude to life.

Touché Sir...the beautiful thing with photography is that there are no rules to follow. I appreciate your feedback and contribution.

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Thank you all for the advice. I took advantage of the 10% off on Ebay yesterday and decided to go for the 55mm! I'm so excited and eager to go outside and test this lens.

The deal was so good that there's some cash left. I don't know if go for the 85mm 1.8 or wait some time to use the 55mm broadly and see if this accommodates to my portraits needs. 

What do you guys say? to invest in the 85mm this Black Friday or keep saving for a general purpose zoom lens like the 24-105mm f4 or even the Tamron 28-75 f2.8?

 

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On 10/23/2018 at 11:05 AM, thefsb said:

You can cover a lot of ground with that set.

Do you have any experience with a telezoom? If not, don't try. It could become your next favorite thing ever and blow the whole plan.

Just zoom lenses and I must say I really enjoy the experience even if they don't deliver the quality of a prime. Never considered the telezoom lenses before since I used to think "man those are really enormous, expensive and they lack practicality". But right now, the experience appeals so fun to me, however, I'll have to wait a while before investing that amount of money for this specific purpose.  

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1 hour ago, kalforever said:

Thank you all for the advice. I took advantage of the 10% off on Ebay yesterday and decided to go for the 55mm! I'm so excited and eager to go outside and test this lens.

The deal was so good that there's some cash left. I don't know if go for the 85mm 1.8 or wait some time to use the 55mm broadly and see if this accommodates to my portraits needs. 

What do you guys say? to invest in the 85mm this Black Friday or keep saving for a general purpose zoom lens like the 24-105mm f4 or even the Tamron 28-75 f2.8?

Honestly, I say keep the money for now and go shoot with nothing but the 55 for at least a month before buying anything else.

It's a very good lens and it will make you feel bad if you don't get good at using it. You need skills and a good sense of what it can do, technically and aesthetically, which comes with practice, patience and sensitivity. Having another lens in your bag or pocket makes the learning harder.

Besides, you've enough on your plate learning to use the camera, which is complex, powerful and demanding.

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On 10/3/2018 at 11:41 AM, kalforever said:
  • Sony 24-105mm F4 G, very useful focal length range and super sharp, F4 aperture may be compensated by increasing ISO in low light situations.
  • Tamron 28-75mm F2.8, standard zoom lens for landscape, portrait and street photography, the F2.8 and apparently good sharpness is something really gets me.
  • Sony Zeiss 50mm F1.4 / 55mm F1.8 standard primes, the overall performance and good perks of the 55mm are great, but the reviews about the stunning pop ("like magic") of the 50mm image quality really wants me to incline for this lens, is that really good?
  • Sony 24mm F1.4 G Master, in pre-order right now but I really expect an excellent performance and to be a go-to for landscape photography and overkill the previous experience with the Sigma 16mm 1.4 (APS-C).

 

All these lens you mentioned are great glasses. But as some have already expressed their thoughts, you can narrow down them into the following:

1. What kind of photographer are you;

2. How much budget will you spend;

3. Will this be only your lens (which I doubt);

4. Are you a prime lens user or otherwise?

I have the 24-105 and very happy with it, the only thing is that it becomes heavy for quite some time. Great for events and walk around lens. IQ is sharp, color is great.

The 50 & 55, great lens for street. In fact I was impressed with the 55's bokeh. The only thing for me, sometimes I need a wider shot and this is where these lens fail me.

The 24mm, what can I say, its a prime and oh, really sharp. But then again, are you a wide shooter most of the time?

The 28-75 Tamron, this came out after I bought the 24-105. Honestly, had this came out ahead of time, I would've have opted for this lens than the 24-105. Price point wise, I would have saved some $$$ for my next lens. IQ and color is quite comparable with the 24-105 and the 28-75 at f/2.8 is great for events and walk around shooting. This is all you need.

One thing though, from your lens choices, I did not see a 35mm.  The 35mm for me is my preferred lens for street than the 50 or 55, and there is one phenomenal 35 lens  out there....the Samyang AF (autofocus) 35mm f/2.8. Yes it is auto focus. It is not weather resistant though is "plasticky", feels like and looks like a toy, but the IQ is a wow for me. More so, for less than $500 CND, I got it on sale for CND$402 why would I complain. 

I would have bought the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8, instead of the 24-105mm to complete my lens collection with the Samyang AF 35mm F/2.8 and my 85mm f/1.8.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/27/2018 at 1:50 AM, kalforever said:

Thank you all for the advice. I took advantage of the 10% off on Ebay yesterday and decided to go for the 55mm! I'm so excited and eager to go outside and test this lens.

The deal was so good that there's some cash left. I don't know if go for the 85mm 1.8 or wait some time to use the 55mm broadly and see if this accommodates to my portraits needs. 

What do you guys say? to invest in the 85mm this Black Friday or keep saving for a general purpose zoom lens like the 24-105mm f4 or even the Tamron 28-75 f2.8?

 

Stick to the 55mm. Just keep shooting, and don’t be knackered by gears. 

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I have several excellent primes, mostly Zeiss, but what I use most is the FE 3.5-5.6/28-70 OSS. It is lightweight and was quite affordable. My primes sleep on a shelf. Your post makes me want to try again walking with the Zeiss Distagon 2.8/25 and 4/18, both in Rollei mount with adapter: excellent performance and very affordable. DOF is enough to focus them manually.

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A word of advice about manual focus from the distant past (1960s):  always focus with the lens wide open.  If you don't believe me, try it, you'll like it.  The odd thing is Sony A7 cameras don't support this for manual focus, but do for auto focus, for no known reason I can think of.  I shoot mostly with the 55 f1.8 and an a7rm3.

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