Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sony: Where Are You Going With E-Mount?

Dale Matson

Sony made a real breakthrough in camera design with the mirrorless full frame camera. They achieved their goal of a high quality, lightweight full frame camera. I have owned the 24mp A7, the 36mp A7R and the 42mp A7R2.

Much of the criticism has been that there have not been enough native lenses to select from but adapters have helped fill the initial gap with Canon and Sony a mount lenses. It seems to me that the lens roadmap would run from ultra wide to super telephoto. My question to Sony would be, “Are you trying to compete head to head with Nikon and Canon or are you looking at a narrower niche where a smaller lighter camera is more well suited?

Let me now focus on an area of interest for me with the full frame mirrorless camera where Sony is more competitive. I am a mountain backpacker and began with point and shoot cameras. I bought the Sony A7 with the Sony Zeiss 35mm f2.8 lens and used it in the mountains along with a point and shoot superzoom for a year. Two years ago I bought the A7R because it would give me better photographs and traded my 35mm for the Sony Zeiss 55mm 1.8. Each decision meant more weight but photography was becoming as important as backpacking in the mountains.

Both lenses are light and small and consistent with the size and weight of the A7 series of cameras. I bought the A7R2 when it became available mainly because of the IBIS. I also decided to go with more variability at the cost of even more weight. The Sony Zeiss 16-35 f4 and 24-70 f4 are great lenses, made even better by the A7R2. Neither lens goes much over a pound however.

Sony recently came out with e-mount teleconverters (1.4x and 2.0x). This will help those who want a longer reach wildlife lens. They also came out with a 24-70 f2.8 (1.95 lbs.) and a 70-200 f2.8 (3.26 lbs.). What market is being addressed with these bulky and heavy lenses? Both Canon and Sony a mount make excellent 70-200mm lenses that are lighter.

The new Sony G 85mm 1.4 weighs 1.8 pounds and costs nearly $1,800.00 while the existing Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8 weighs about a pound and costs $1,200.00. Guess which lens I will buy for my short telephoto?

Why can’t Sony make a compact G lens for the e mount like the a mount 70-300mm which weighs less than half of the new 70-200 f2.8

Here is my hope. I believe Zeiss better understands where Sony should be going with the e mount lenses. That is why Zeiss has the Loxia and Batis lens series for Sony. They are good prime lenses in the Zeiss tradition and help make Sony competitive with Canon and Nikon. Sony, stop making heavy lenses for a lightweight camera!     

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