A $400 lens kit for your Sony a7 series camera

Five years ago I was a broke student and manual lenses were a way for me to get much more creative freedom and image quality for my very limited money. This post is aimed at people just like my 5-years-younger self who have a very limited budget but want to get the most out of it. I think that manual lenses are a smart way to deal with a limited budget since I wouldn’t know another way to get image quality on that level for a similar budget. Sure, manual focus can be a limiting factor for some applications but most people are surprised how far they can get with manual focus.

When I started with manual lenses there was very little reliable information about manual lenses available so I had to spend a lot of time to tell apart the good from the bad lenses. Now 5 years later I have reviewed several dozen lenses and gained a good oversight which I would like to share with you in this artice.

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The best lenses below $499 for the Sony a7 series v1.1

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You can easily spend a fortune on lenses for your Sony a7 but you don’t have to. These 34 lenses all cost less than $499 and give you great image quality on your Alpha.

There are certainly other lenses which would deserve a spot in this list but we only include lenses we have used ourselves, so please don’t take it personal if we haven’t included your favorite lens.

We changed the format a bit from our other guides: For each lens we have summarized the defining strengths and weaknesses. We hope this will make it easier to decide for yourself, if the lens could fit your needs.  Please make sure to check out our in-depth reviews for a much more detailed discussion of each lens.

Voigtlander 5.6/12 M39

Compared to the DSLR lenses (like the Samyang 14mm 2.8) this lens is ridiculously small. This is a lens that will always easily fit into your bag, which is great if you not intend to shoot this wide on a regular basis. With the filter adapter it is even possible to use standard 77mm filters.

You should be aware of: The corners never reach excellent levels, huge vignetting, slow, not a good match for A7r.

175g + adapter | ~$450 | full Review | aperture seriessample images

buy from ebay | Sony E-mount adapters (affiliate links)

dancing houses prag prague praha gehry sony a7s voigtlander 12mm 5.6

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Voigtländer 40mm f1.2 Nokton Aspherical: An In Depth Review

Introduction

40mm. One of my favourite focal lengths. Long ago the Voigtländer 2/40mm Ultron was glued to my Canon. Even longer ago, the Zuiko 2/40 was a favourite on my Olmpus OM film gear. The 40mm equivalent 20mm Lumix was my favourite lens on the M43 gear I used to use for travel and hiking. So naturally a native 40mm full frame lens for E mount has me very excited.
That slightly wider than standard lens look (close to the theoretical ‘normal’ focal length of 43mm) gives a lovely, natural perspective that leaves the photographer, rather than the angle of view, in charge of the image. But of course the cost of the slightly wider angle of view is less potential for bokeh; the nice, isolating, out-of-focus blur that people prize in people photography. That’s why the speed on this lens is potentially so great. Perhaps f1.2 sounds extreme, but the actual blur potential is about the same as f1.4 on a 50mm lens. So in order to keep up with a 50mm lens in terms of blur, you really do want a bit of extra speed on moderate wides. 40mm is a great length for portraits which place people in a context: but you don’t want that context to dominate, so being able to see the context but have it nicely blurred is a fantastic combination. But what price do we pay for that? Is the IQ on this surprisingly small and fast lens good enough? Thanks to Mainline Photographics  who are the Cosina Voigtländer distributors in Australia, for the loan of a review copy.

A Few Samples

 

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Canon FD 300mm 1:2.8 L Review: Exceptional performance for $750

The Canon FD 2.8/300 L was one of the most highly regarded manual super tele lenses in the 80s. Today it can be had for much less money and in this review I evaluate how it performs today on a modern mirrorless camera.

Image Samples

You can find all images shown in this image in full resolution in my Canon FD 300mm f/2.8 L flickr album.

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Review: Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L on Sony a7rii

Introduction

canon ef 200mm 1.8 l usm review sigma mc 11 mc-11 sony a7r2 a7rii a7rm2 mark2 markII
Sony A7rII with Sigma MC-11 and Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L USM

The Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L is one of the most extreme tele lens designs and while almost 30 years old it hasn’t been surpassed in terms of speed since. Also known as the “Eye of Sauron” it has already become a legend, so let us find out what is so special about this lens…

Sample Images

canon ef 200mm 1.8 l usm review sigma mc 11 mc-11 sony a7r2 a7rii a7rm2 mark2 markII
Sony A7rII | Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L | f/1.8
canon ef 200mm 1.8 l usm review sigma mc 11 mc-11 sony a7r2 a7rii a7rm2 mark2 markII
Sony A7rII | Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L | f/1.8
canon ef 200mm 1.8 l usm review sigma mc 11 mc-11 sony a7r2 a7rii a7rm2 mark2 markII
Sony A7rII | Canon EF 200mm 1.8 L | f/1.8

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