In an effort to find the best lenses out there for the A7r, I put forth a simple open source Google sheets spreadsheet guide, that has started to take off! Starting with my own collection it’s now close to 80 lens profiles! The “UN-Official A7r Non Native Lens Guide” is public access, anyone can add a lens to it. It is deliberately kept very simple with few headings with only short notes on each entry. Essentially a quick reference guide to see if the lens you’re considering for your A7 series camera is worth investigation! WE ask that people who participate keep it simple…. If two people have different experiences, just add them. It’s not to argue, debate or judge.
Many wonderful legacy & modern options have made it on the list,
Canon FD 50mm 1.2L
Voigtlander 50 F1.1 Nokton
Zeiss Apo Distagon, Otus 55mm 1.4
Minolta Rokkor MC, 58mm f1.2
Mitakon 50mm 0.95 Dark Knight Edition
…. plus many more
The Sony A7 series is such a wonderful system with a litany of glass available, it seemed a natural fit to make this resource guide. Never is it to be used for profit and it’s link is easily accessed in many Sony A7 related Facebook Groups.
I do ask that anyone sharing this guide please copy a link to my blog, webpage or both. I do have ongoing aspirations to be known as a Fine Art landscape photographer and some of my work has caught a bit of recognition. I look forward to additional comments and suggestions!
There are so many soothing lens options for the A7/A7s/A7r until additional FE lenses come out. I do enjoy playing the villain a bit with the FE lineup. Yes, I’ve complained pertinaciously(see definition, fits perfectly), but I do have faith that Sony, Zeiss, perhaps Sigma, or others like Rokinon, Samyangetc. will drop in another hole in one (like the FE 55mm 1.8.), specifically tailored for the FE Mount. I’ve composed a pretty good list, which is always subject to debate and taste, of the lenses I use and other standouts. Most have to take screw in filters. I photo a lot of water and need polarisers. I won’t deal with back filters or Lee systems etc. I’ve seen guys tape tinted glass on their cameras…. not for me. All lenses on the list have a DXO mark rating of 27 or higher. 27 seems to be the cut off from ordinary. Finally, full frame capable. Going to cropped for some extra range is nice at times, but basically want all the picture you can get.
First the wide angles.
The Zeiss Distagon, 15mm 2.8 Cost, $2950… is considered by many, the best wide angle ever made. See Ken Rockwell, the Digital Picture, 3d-Kraft. There is even a M mount version $3900+/-, that’s slightly smaller than the Canon ZE, or Nikon ZF.2. I believe at this time, only the Canon version, with Metabones or RJcamera smart adapters($269-$399), will show all data in the camera and are full frame compatible. The filters, $200-$300 ea. It’s the best, what can you say?
Since the A7’s have come out many people like to throw the 14mm f/2.8 Rokinon/Samyang/Bower, etc into the mix. It’s a low price alternative, around $400. It takes no filters and has high distortion(can be alleviated fairly well in post processing). Image quality and resolution seem very good. It weighs less than the Zeiss and looks like a fun lens. There is a Canon version that will transfer data through the adapter.
If you’re a Leica fan, and I’d love to try this lens, the Leica 21mm f/3.4 Super Elmar M Lens $2995. It does take filters(46mm), it’s the most lightweight of the three. You will need an M to Sony NEX adapter. Manual focus only.
The Sigma, Art 35mm 1.4 DG, So far, in limited use this lens is crisp. In larger landscapes you sacrifice some DOF by topping out at F16, as the Cape Flattery shot illustrates. I’ve seen some incredible shallow DOF shots in the forums. The three following shots at our new restaurant, highlight the lens capabilities wide open.
It’s not a light lens @ 665 grams. Cost $900, takes 67mm filters. It has a very good price to quality value. You can buy any Sigma lens with a Sony A mount, which when coupled with the La-e4 adapter has excellent AF.
Next on the list has to be the Native, Zeiss Sony 35mm, FE Sonnar T*, 2.8 ZA. This lens would have been a slam dunk choice if it had the quality of the Sonnar 55mm. It rates significantly lower than the Sigma, 33 to 43, although it is a very high quality performer. It’s still a moderately fast lens, and weighs next to nothing @ 4.23 ounces. Only…$800
Several manual focus gems are out there and if anyone would like to loan one to me…. the Voigtlander 35mm F1.2 Nokton Leica, Leica Summilux-M 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH or theLeica-Summicron M 35mm f/2 Asph. Read the Gear Patrol review on 35mm lenses for additional info.
I can’t drive 55…mm
Thanks Sammy Hagar. The 55mm, FE Sonnar T* 1.8 ZA pretty much ends this conversation about 55mm lenses for the A7’s. Best auto focus 55mm ever tested according to DXO, SonyAlphaRumors. Shoots outstanding video with all three cameras. The only lens better is the OTUS, 55mm. The Otus is a tank(3 1/2 times the size of the FE), has close to perfect optics and is manual focus. In four Sony Facebook Groups, only 55 talked about… is the FE.
Macro lenses…. oh soo close…up
There’s too much territory to cover in great detail in this class, but here are some awesome choices!
I’m lucky enough to own three of these lenses. My backup camera is a 5D mk III and two of them fit that camera too. Today on a budget I’d track down a Minolta. It was produced in a Sony E mount and should be a rock star on the A7r with a Le-a4 adapter.
Can we get some Zoomage please!
This is by far the hardest category and the most controversial. Forum wars with comments near a 100 per thread, are common. This series started out over disappointment in the Native 28-70 FE kit lens, and the Zeiss Sony 24-70 Vario Tessar T* FE F4. The 24-70 Tessar is damn good in the center, comparable with any of the lenses. It just loses clarity on the edges, which is really bad for a landscape photographer!
Hope springs eternal on the about to be released FE 16-35mm F4. Sony did well in their “G” 70-200 FE lens(see DXO comparison of these native FE lenses). It’s good edge to edge, has excellent resolution, and AF on the A7s & A7 is fast. It’s certainly worthy of leaving the other macro lenses at home and getting great shots if you want to go light. For now I’ve put my money into a Sony Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm F2.8 ZA SSM, $1600, plus the La-e4 adapter. The Sonnar T* design really shines edge to edge. It will arrive Thursday and hopefully I will report nothing but rave reviews!
Several other zooms have to be considered. The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM $1400 which I’ve used extensively on the 5D Mk III, is a wonderful lens. It looks like the most popular lens in the Sony Forums as well. Price to value is very good.
Another choice that is more budget friendly is the Sigma 17-35mm F2.8-4 EX DG Aspherical HSM, $350
Conclusions and final thoughts!
There are many other lens options that work very well on this system. One forum going pointed out that the old Canon FD lens with adapter are another wonderful choice. They are expensive in the open market, but if you run into one, grab it and get the Canon FD to Nex adapter(there are several inexpensive alternatives). The optics from what I’ve researched are outstanding and there is a variety of focal lengths.
I don’t talk much about Nikon glass. Until someone puts out a Nikon “smart” adapter, they remain manual focus with no information transferred to the camera. Nikon’s best lenses are well known, ez to research and are great choices in many cases.
At the top end of the full frame camera market, two distinguish themselves. Both employ the same Sony 35.9 x 24.0mm sensor. I’ve been fortunate to shoot each, the D800e & most recently the Sony A7r. Is there an everyday lens for the Sony A7r? (Is there really a non prime lens that is worth shooting at all? I wonder sometimes…)
There are many zooms, (15-35mm range, 24-70mm +/-) that perform well on the D800e. Ratings from 28-33 on DXOmark). It’s been my experience that any lens around 30 and higher is extremely good. Over 40 is crazy good and is generally limited to primes.
When we get to the 18-24 megapixel market, it gets overwhelming. Canon 5D mk III, Sony A7, Nikon D600, Sony A99 are some of the leaders in that arena. There are many others. The type of photography you do usually defines which camera is best. There are plenty of the same lenses that perform well for these cameras, (high 20’s on DXOmark.) Primes again are remarkable, some in the high 30’s.
Lens decisions are based largely on budget and needs. Most people don’t utilize the kind of information the larger sensors produce.
There are a few snapshot aficionados who strive for exceptional reproductions that not only capture a moment, a mood, they invoke memories and fill us with exuberance. Beauty is paramount and we want every detail as insanely good as possible!
Is the new Zeiss-Sony FE 24-70mm acceptable for an everyday lens on A7r…. sadly no. I don’t know if it even cuts it on the A7.
This little lens is lightweight and feels wonderful mounted on the 14.23oz camera. AF is as good as it’s gonna get on the mirrorless camera(people have said that Sony lenses designed for other models, with the Lae4 adapter, compare). Dead center this lens performs well, nice image quality. Quickly though, moving towards the edges it gets worse. The 100mm keeps crispness throughout, as does the Sigma 85mm 1.4 (on the Canon), which you’d expect. A bit surprisingly, the Sony 70-200m in the last shot keeps outstanding corners.
The Sony 28-70mm, which I’ve never shot, gets even lower ratings than the Zeiss/Sony cousin. Only one of the FE lenses, the Zeiss 55mm Sonnar T* is a superstar. The 35mm FE & 70-200mm FE are suitable for the large sensor. A7r owners have purchased the best sensor made, short of a medium or large format camera. I don’t know if a lightweight zoom lens with a rating of close to 30 is even possible? To take advantage of all those megapixels it’s going to take a heavier lens. Canon’s 24-70 2.8 USM II weighs double the Zeiss/Sony. The Nikon 24-70 even more. I’m saving considerable weight on the camera. I hope the rumored 16-35 FE weighs about 2 lbs…