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  #1  
Old January 5th, 2014, 02:48 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Default Minolta AF and Sony lenses.

With the new A7 and A7r cameras, there is regained interest in adapted lenses. I'd like to point out that Sony has 2 adapters for the Minolta A-mount lenses: the LA-EA-3 and LA-EA4. The older LA-EA1 and LA-EA2 only cover the APS-C format.

Difference between the adapters:
-the LA-EA3 is cheaper and does not really support autofocus (it will AF on lenses with a built-in motor, but very slowly)
-the LA-EA4 is almost double the price and include a semi-transparent mirror, phase AF and motor/screw drive. It will AF reasonably fast with all A-mount lenses.
Both adapters support aperture and electronic contacts, so that the lens behaves like a native lens.

Of interest to people using 42mm screw-in lenses (old Pentax or lens from Russia) or T-mount astronomy gear: there are cheap ring adapters which allows to mount these lenses on the A-mount.

The A-mount lenses dentabases.

A-mount is the name of the bayonet introduced by Minolta in 1985 and used by Sony on their SLR/SLT line (lenses are perfectly compatible). E-mount is the name of the bayonet used on the A7 and NEX cameras. You will find two databases of lenses using these mounts:
one by Michael Hohner lists all technical characteristics of the lenses in a tabular format
one on a Minolta user forum lists lenses on a separate page and also includes third party lenses and user "reviews".

Some terminology.

SSM: this is the equivalent of Canon's USM or Nikon SWM technology a ring motor in the lens allows AF which can be manually corrected at any time. As this was a late addition to the A-mount, relatively few lenses use that technology. Note that SSM lenses also have a relatively wide focussing ring, most older lenses only have a tiny ring at the front which is a disadvantage if you only want to use your lens in manual focus (some recent Sony branded non-SSM lenses also have a large focussing ring).
SAM: a tiny motor is in the lens, instead of a screw drive
DT: lenses that do not cover the 24x36 frame but only the APS-C frame size.
G lenses with a "G" in their name are the luxury line, just as "L" lenses for Canon.
5 or 8 contacts: the number of contacts in the mount was increased from 5 to 8 to allow for distance encoding and SSM. This is not really relevant to the A7, all lenses work.
CZ or Carl Zeiss: when Sony bought the rights to the A-mount and issued their first cameras, they also announced a line of lenses branded "Carl Zeiss". The lenses are AF, expensive and have a rendering similar to the manual Carl Zeiss lenses manufactured by Cosina (see below).

Lens rendering, "Minolta colours", etc.

Minolta was known originally for their particular lens rendering and aficionados speak about "Minolta colours". The contrast and colours were matched between lenses in the complete line, and the characteristics were interesting for portraiture: relatively warm colours and smooth skin tones. This is particularly true for "G" lenses. Minolta had an extensive cooperation with Leica at some points (Leica R zooms and some lenses were rebadged Minolta lenses and Minolta built the CL line of rangefinders) and some people see a similarity between the rendering of classic Minolta and Leica lenses.
When Sony started with their own line of lenses, they kept some Minolta lenses but also introduced "Carl Zeiss" branded lenses which have a very different rendering. Carl Zeiss branded lenses have usually higher centre sharpness and especially contrast, visibly cooler colours and different bokeh than the traditional Minolta line.

If there is more interest in theses lenses, I could write a few words on some of the lenses I have.
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Old January 5th, 2014, 06:03 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Very interesting Jerome and really helpful. Please write more about the lenses you have.
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Old January 5th, 2014, 06:33 AM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Hi Jerome,

Very useful contribution. Thanks for sharing your info.

Cheers,
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Old January 5th, 2014, 09:28 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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I’ll try a short review of the lenses I know with emphasis of their suitability for the A7. “CZ” means “Carl Zeiss”. Note that the lenses may be listed more than one time in the databases when they exist in original, old, new, “RS” (restyled) or "HS" (high focus speed) versions, where the differences are mainly cosmetic.

Primes by focal length.

16mm
(Minolta or Sony 16mm f/2.8 fish-eye. I never saw that lens.)

20mm
Minolta or Sony 20mm f/2.8: a good small an light wide-angle. Some lateral chromatic aberration. Probably one of the best choices for wide angle on the A7. Note that Nikon has something similar as well, but the Canon 20mm AF is much bigger and heavier.

24mm
CZ 24mm f/2.0 SSM: a very good lens, nice bokeh at 2.0, but maybe a bit too big for the A7 (as is the similar manual focus 25mm f/2.0 from Carl Zeiss - Cosina)
(I never tried the Minolta 24mm f/2.8 (discontinued). It is much smaller than the CZ f/2.0. Nikon also has one with similar size and weight.)

28mm
Minolta 28mm f/2.0 (discontinued): still small and light, a lens with lots of character. Wide open you get a “Leica glow” but also disastrous coma in the corner. Will give a vintage look to your pictures. Hard to find.
(The Minolta 28 f/2.8, still available under the Sony brand, has not a good reputation. The manual Nikon 28mm AIS is supposed to be one of the best and may be a better choice on the A7.)

~35mm
Minolta or Sony 35mm f/1.4: one of the best 35mm f/1.4 on the market (despite the bad reviews due to low contrast wide open), but is a bit too long and heavy for the A7.
(I don’t have the Minolta 35mm f/2.0 which has a very good reputation and is smaller. It is hard to find.)
(For this kind of focal length, maybe the best choice is the Canon 40mm f/2.8 on the A7, since it is good and very small)

50mm
Minolta or Sony 50mm f/1.4 and Minolta f/1.8 (the 1.8 is discontinued, the present 1.8 is APS-C only): your typical 50mm lens. Nice bokeh. The 1.8 is just as good from 2.0 onwards. Cheaper and smaller than the native 55mm f/1.8, even including the adapter.
(There is also a CZ 50mm f/1.4 SSM which I have not tried but it makes little sense when a native lens is available in E-mount)
Minolta or Sony 50mm macro f/2.8: a practically perfect macro lens (but most of them are). Direct 1:1. But Sigma has something similar for less money.

85mm
Minolta 85mm f/1.4 (discontinued) and CZ 85mm f/1.4: very nice portrait lenses, but a bit heavy for the A7. Colours and contrast in Minolta or Zeiss style…
(I never tried the Sony 85mm f/2.8 which may be a real alternative on the A7 or use one of the Nikon or Canon f/1.8 or if you are prepared to focus manually, Samyang has something almost as good for less money.)

100mm
Minolta 100mm Soft Focus f/2.8 (discontinued): a rare lens, but would probably be nice on the A7. It is a good small 100mm, and the soft focus function allows it to collapse together. Cheesy but amusing soft focus function. (There is also a Minolta 100mm f/2.0 with rave reviews which I have never seen and is even more difficult to find. Not much bigger or heavier.)
Minolta or Sony 100mm macro f/2.8: a practically perfect macro lens (but most of them are). Direct 1:1. Not as big as the recent ones from Canon and Nikon. Tamron and Sigma have something similar for less money.

135mm
Minolta 135mm f/2.8 (discontinued): a somewhat rare lens, but a small and good 135mm. Hard to tell apart from the f/1.8 from Zeiss from f/4 onwards. Only drawback: lots of longitudinal chromatic aberration. Built-in hood (why don't they do that any more?)
CZ 135mm f/1.8: a practically perfect lens, similar to the MF 135mm f/2.0 available from Carl Zeiss - Cosina which gets rave reviews. Only drawback: some longitudinal chromatic aberration full open. Would be huge on the A7.
Minolta or Sony 135mm STF: a legendary lens designed for perfect bokeh. Look for a review on the net, there is not way I can summarise this lens in two lines. Manual focus only and slow. Would be huge on the A7.

200mm and above
Minolta 200mm f/2.8 (discontinued): one of the best 200mm around, but hard to find. Note that the Canon 200mm f/2.8 is also excellent and can be bought new.
(I’ll spare you the 300mm and above apo lenses, which make no sense on the A7)
Minolta or Sony 500mm f/8 reflex (discontinued): don’t use these on the A7, they were much more useful on the A900/A99 which stabilised them. Get a Russian equivalent or a telescope instead if you must.


Some zoom lenses (there is no way I can cite them all).

CZ 16-35 f/2.8 SSM: too big for the A7, but almost your only choice if you need a good wide-angle zoom. Better than the Canon and Nikon equivalents at time of issue. There is also a discontinued Minolta 17-35 f/2.8-4, which is a rebadged Tamron. If money is short, try to find a Cosina 19-35mm f/3.5-4.5 instead.

CZ 24-70 f/2.8 SSM: too big for the A7, use the kit lens instead. Better than the Canon and Nikon equivalents at time of issue.

Note that the 16-35 and 24-70 had poor reviews because of fuzzy corners. Actually, the competition at the time had corners just as fuzzy (the Canon 24-70 II was issued afterwards), but the sides transition from a sharp centre to a fuzzy corner was more progressive. The CZs stay sharp up to the sides of the picture and brutally drop. The competition was only so-so at the sides, so the fuzziness was less obvious… ;)

Minolta or Sony 70-200 f/2.8 SSM G: probably the best 70-200 f/2.8 at time of issue (but slow AF), but far too big for the A7.

Minolta or Sony 24-105 f/3.5-4.5 (discontinued): a very small zoom (not much bigger than your typical prime) and good at f/5.6-f/8. Lacks contrast at 105mm. Interesting because of its size. Aperture similar in practice to the more expensive and much bigger “constant f/4.0” lenses from the competition. May be an alternative to the kit zoom if you need 105mm and not stabilisation. Very nice on the A900 or A99 cameras.

Sony 70-300 4.5-5.6 SSM G: a lens I don’t like. It is reasonably sharp even at 300mm, but is slow (f/5.6 on most of its range)and rendering is dull. Light enough to make sense on the A7 (lighter and smaller than the native 70-200 f/4.0 but no stabilisation and slower). Cheapest 70-300mm lenses are much worse (e.g. the one under the Sony brand, which is a rebadged Tamron), so one does not have much choice although there are high grade lenses from Tamron and Sigma which are rumoured to be just as good (just don’t take the cheapest version). The Tamron has no stabilisation in Sony mount, the Sigma may have it (I am not sure). If yes, the Sigma may be the best choice.
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Old January 5th, 2014, 12:45 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Jerome,

So it must be a bit of a shock for a portrait photographer to suddenly find his colors changing when moving from Minolta to a new fine Zeiss lens! (Well, at least someone aspiring to do better, as experienced photographers might already be familiar with the looks from the various lenses.) What happens if one uses a Gretag McBeth color card and profiles the camera with the tool that recognizes all the color swatches. Theoretically, that can't be as good as having many more patches, but it should be excellent. But is there any difference left do you think? Would one still find such differences that can persist in the character of the color representation?

Thanks for your insights.

Asher
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Old January 5th, 2014, 12:51 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
What happens if one uses a Gretag McBeth color card and profiles the camera with the tool that recognizes all the color swatches.
I have not tried that. The way lenses have a different colour rendition is peculiar, BTW. If it were a single tint change overall, the automatic white balance of digital cameras would correct it.
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Old January 6th, 2014, 10:29 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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Thank you for this Jerome. I have been interested in the early 50mm 1.4 since you mentioned it a long while back and showed pictures. You mention that it is smaller than the 55mm 1.8 (a lens rather too perfect and sterile for my liking) is this even with the LA-EA4? How is the AF with the sony adaptor on this lens? Many thanks!
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Old January 6th, 2014, 12:18 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
Thank you for this Jerome. I have been interested in the early 50mm 1.4 since you mentioned it a long while back and showed pictures. You mention that it is smaller than the 55mm 1.8 (a lens rather too perfect and sterile for my liking) is this even with the LA-EA4? How is the AF with the sony adaptor on this lens? Many thanks!
The adaptor adds 25mm length, this is the register distance between the two mounts.

The various 50mm f/1.4 are about 40mm long depending on version, mounted on the adapter they will be about 65mm long.

The CZ 55mm f/1.8 is 70mm long and has roughly the same diameter as the 50m f/1.4. The 50mm on the adapter should therefore be a bit more compact. However the LA-EA4 adapter has extensions on the underside for the electronics.

I have not tried the AF with this combination for the simple reason that I have neither the A7 nor the adapters but if you chose the LA-EA4 adapter (the one with the semi-transparent mirror and phase detection AF), AF should be at least as fast as with the native lens. It is phase AF…

If you use the LA-EA3 adapter, the lens will not autofocus at all. The LA-EA3 does not have an AF motor and neither does the 50mm f/1.4.
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Old January 6th, 2014, 02:22 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Again, Jerome, very helpful. Thanks a lot.

Do you think that the Minolta 24mm f2.8 is worthwhile considering at all? The same for the 135mm f2.8? Can the longitudinal chromatic aberration be dealt with in the post do you reckon? The reason I am asking is because I found these lenses for sale in very good condition. I am then planning on using the LA-EA3 adapter (not the EA4).
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Old January 6th, 2014, 10:02 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Longitudinal chromatic aberration cannot be dealt with in post and is a problem with the 135mm f/2.8 wide open (it disappear when one stops down), but I would get the lens anyway. It is still a very nice small tele.

Lateral chromatic aberration can be dealt with in post (and does not change when stopped down).

I have no idea whether the Minolta 24mm is any good, but it should be pretty cheap (150-200€ max) and is quite small. If you don't want it and get it under 150€, sell it to me. Check for moulds and oily diaphragm.

Neither one of these lenses will AF with the LA-EA3 adapter.
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Old January 7th, 2014, 02:12 AM
Ben Rubinstein Ben Rubinstein is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
The adaptor adds 25mm length, this is the register distance between the two mounts.

The various 50mm f/1.4 are about 40mm long depending on version, mounted on the adapter they will be about 65mm long.

The CZ 55mm f/1.8 is 70mm long and has roughly the same diameter as the 50m f/1.4. The 50mm on the adapter should therefore be a bit more compact. However the LA-EA4 adapter has extensions on the underside for the electronics.

I have not tried the AF with this combination for the simple reason that I have neither the A7 nor the adapters but if you chose the LA-EA4 adapter (the one with the semi-transparent mirror and phase detection AF), AF should be at least as fast as with the native lens. It is phase AF…

If you use the LA-EA3 adapter, the lens will not autofocus at all. The LA-EA3 does not have an AF motor and neither does the 50mm f/1.4.
Thanks Jerome!
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Old January 7th, 2014, 02:53 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Thanks again Jerome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Longitudinal chromatic aberration cannot be dealt with in post and is a problem with the 135mm f/2.8 wide open (it disappear when one stops down), but I would get the lens anyway. It is still a very nice small tele.

Lateral chromatic aberration can be dealt with in post (and does not change when stopped down).

I have no idea whether the Minolta 24mm is any good, but it should be pretty cheap (150-200€ max) and is quite small. If you don't want it and get it under 150€, sell it to me. Check for moulds and oily diaphragm.

Neither one of these lenses will AF with the LA-EA3 adapter.
Re. the LongCA of the 135mm, does it disappear at f/4 and smaller completely or is there always some residual LongCA? Stupid question: do I use a manual aperture ring on these lenses or does it get set by the camera via the la-ea3 adapter?

Anyway, I've made an offer on the lenses and I'm waiting for an answer from the seller.
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Old January 7th, 2014, 03:07 AM
Bart_van_der_Wolf Bart_van_der_Wolf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
Longitudinal chromatic aberration cannot be dealt with in post and is a problem with the 135mm f/2.8 wide open (it disappear when one stops down), but I would get the lens anyway. It is still a very nice small tele.

Lateral chromatic aberration can be dealt with in post (and does not change when stopped down).
Hi Jerome,

While essentially correct, Longitudinal CA is not really fixable after the fact, where Lateral CA is, the newer incarnations of Photoshop ACR and Lightroom do offer some control over the visibility of (or distraction caused by) the OOF colored edges with some contrast.

They essentially use a kind of desaturation or color defringe control near edges, targeted at the specific offending colors. It's quite effective, and much more efficient than manual intervention at a later stage during postprocessing.

Cheers,
Bart
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Old January 7th, 2014, 04:46 AM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
Thanks again Jerome.


Re. the LongCA of the 135mm, does it disappear at f/4 and smaller completely or is there always some residual LongCA? Stupid question: do I use a manual aperture ring on these lenses or does it get set by the camera via the la-ea3 adapter?
CA are not really a problem on the 135mm once stopped down. The aperture is controlled by the camera, as with a native lens.
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Old September 27th, 2015, 07:55 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Now that the Metabones IV as been shown to deliver pretty good AF with recent Canon L lenses, is there any advantage today in using Monolta or Sony DSLR lenses instead with the Sony adapter

Asher
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Old September 29th, 2015, 01:07 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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I don't know. I have neither a Sony A7, not Canon lenses.
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Old September 29th, 2015, 01:41 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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For Canon L lens owners, where the lenses are newer versions, the focus seems almost instantaneous on a Sony A7 R. I was blown away! It certainly looks like the Sony APS C and full frame mirrorless cameras are excellent sensors for a lot of lenses we already own. This cross brand versatility is pretty amazing!

I have yet to try a lens from Sony's excellent line of professional lenses from the DSLRs and their Minolta forbears. The Minolta versions available used, for example from KEH, would seem a good bet for those who don't already own Canon, Leica, Pentax or Nikon lenses and should have the added advantage of autofocus with the Sony adapter.

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Old September 29th, 2015, 01:54 PM
Jerome Marot Jerome Marot is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asher Kelman View Post
For Canon L lens owners, where the lenses are newer versions, the focus seems almost instantaneous on a Sony A7 R. I was blown away! It certainly looks like the Sony APS C and full frame mirrorless cameras are excellent sensors for a lot of lenses we already own. This cross brand versatility is pretty amazing!
But do you need fast AF? And if you do, why not directly use a Canon camera and avoid the perils of the electronic viewfinder? Horses for courses, as they say...

Quote:
I have yet to try a lens from Sony's excellent line of professional lenses from the DSLRs and their Minolta forbears. The Minolta versions available used, for example from KEH, would seem a good bet for those who don't already own Canon, Leica, Pentax or Nikon lenses and should have the added advantage of autofocus with the Sony adapter.
I am pretty sure that lenses for the Minolta/Sony A-mount can be had for little money nowadays as it is clear that the action has moved to the E-mount. Still, the question remains: what kind of picture do you want to take? The real promise of a camera like the A7-II is to be able to take great pictures, even in relatively low light, within a small package.
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Old September 29th, 2015, 02:38 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
But do you need fast AF? And if you do, why not directly use a Canon camera and avoid the perils of the electronic viewfinder? Horses for courses, as they say...
Hi Jerome,

The native lenses for the A7 FE mount are include some stellar performers, namely the 55mm 1.8 which is about the best DXO has tested and several 35mm and 24 mm choices as well as excellent zooms. However, their 70-200mm lens is f4.0, seemingly to keep the bulk down. At f 4.0 one has some nice booked and isolation, but the Canon 70-200 2.8L II is already in the ownership of most professional and enthusiasts who have been Canon users. The A7R body gives superior resolution and the A&R II goes further and in addition gets to approach AF speed of a Canon L lens mounted on a 5D III.

Unless one is doing sports or fast bird photography where the Native Canon AF on a Canon 1Dx is likely to be superior, for most other uses, the Soy sensors have superior dynamic range and so much more versatility.

I switch in seconds from a Canon EF 70-200 2.8L to a Canon FD 21mm without the slightest slowdown in my shooting. I have the adapters already fitted on carefully selected Pentax, Canon FD, Leica M and Contax MM lenses.

Gradually I am refining my choices based on weight, ease of focusing and quality. But the place of Canon L lenses, because of the great AF with the A7RII and the Metabones IV or Fotodiox adapters, are without question the most favored of all third part lenses used on the Sony full frame bodies.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerome Marot View Post
I am pretty sure that lenses for the Minolta/Sony A-mount can be had for little money nowadays as it is clear that the action has moved to the E-mount. Still, the question remains: what kind of picture do you want to take? The real promise of a camera like the A7-II is to be able to take great pictures, even in relatively low light, within a small package.
One can have the best of both worlds. I use a Leica Summilux 1.4 MF lens, with a Voigtlander adapter equipped with a helical focus. That allows one to either do macro photography, (using the helical focus to lengthen the lens to camera distance) or with the helical focus flush to the body, I have a regular 50mm lens, that is the most compact one could wish for, smaller than my wonderful 55mm Sony, (Zeiss", 1.8. That lens is on my camera most of the time and MF with 10X magnification and peak focussing is very easy.

An even more compact solution is to use the native Sony 35mm 2.8 a tiny and amazing AF lens.

Either way, the camera is compact for street and event photography, yet one can add a special lens for special circumstances and that's where the Canon TSE 24MM II tilt-shift lens, the 70-200 2.8L II with a 2X converter or say the Pentax 135mm Super Multi Takamur 2.5 or the Contax MM 28mm 2.0 lenses come to play.

But for 95% of all work the 50mm 1.4, or occasionally, the Sony 55mm 1.8 or the Sony 35mm 2.0 will be the much small lenses of choice. With good feet to allow for zooming, the higher pixels count and wider dynamic range of the camera means that one can almost forget other lenses except for specific and unusual project-related tasks.

Asher


CAVEAT: One needs to make a color profile for each lens-camera-light condition combination one generally uses or else one can get some hard to correct surprises in color, even after WB correction with a grey card such as WhiBal™
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