Hands-On Preview of Sony’s Latest Professional Lenses: Sweet New Glass for the Sony Alpha 7 and 7R Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras

November 1, 2013

By Theano Nikitas

John Rettie from Rangefinder magazine (our sister publication), has written a hands-on preview of the new Sony Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R cameras in more detail, but I was able to test out the two full-frame mirrorless cameras with several intriguing new lenses from Sony. The lenses I tried out included Sony’s two new, Zeiss E-mount, FE 55mm f/1.8 and 35mm f/2.8 primes, as well as the so-new-it’s-still-a-prototype Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 (via a Metabones adapter).

Both primes are small and light, so they fit well on the A7 and A7R. I really liked both lenses, although the 35mm seems to be a little sharper than the 55mm. However, that 55mm is no slouch when it comes to sharpness, even with images examined on the computer at 100%. Both lenses are capable of capturing fine details that are crisply rendered. But, with all fast lenses, you give up depth-of-field when you take advantage of the lenses great f-stop capabilities. If I had to choose one of the two primes, I’d go with the 35mm only because it seems sharper from edge-to-edge than the 55mm. I captured the below image with the Sony 35mm f/2.8 prime. (Click here to see high-res version of the image.)

I was also lucky enough to get my hands on the new Zeiss Otus 55mm, f/1.4 lens to use on the A7. This lens dwarfs the FE 55mm, by a long shot, so it’s difficult to handhold. And, it’s manual focus only so Sony’s focus peaking (available on the Sony Alpha 7/7R and the RX10, which I tested during my trip as well) comes in really handy.

If none of these focal lengths appeal to you, Sony is adding more full-frame E-mount lenses, with a 24-70mm, f/4 due in January, along with a G 70-200mm, f/4 lens sometime next year. We don’t know what else is in the works, but Sony promises to have 15 full-frame lenses for the A7/A7R by 2015.

Adapters (from Sony and third-party vendors) are available if you want to shoot with non E-mount lens models.

Lens and Adapter Prices:
24-70mm, f/4: $1200 (January);

35mm, f/2.8: $800 (December);

55mm, f/1.8: $1000 (January);

LA-EA4 adapter with TMT: $350 (December)

LA-EA3 adapter: $200 (December)

Zeiss Otus 55mm, f/1.4 lens: $4,000

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