Category Archives: camera

Guide to the best 50mm Lenses for full frame Sony E-mount cameras: a7III/a7II/a7rIV/a7RIII/a9/A9II

The 50mm lens is what used to be called a “standard” lens, though perhaps a very slightly shorter focal length gives the absolutely most natural perspective. For some of us here at Phillipreeve.net it’s a length we adore, and have more 50s than any other focal length. Others of us are less keen, finding it usually too short or too long. Obviously there is no right answer here, it depends on how each photographer sees the world.

But it is a very versatile focal length with a wide range of applications. It can be used for slightly formal portraits, moderately environmental portraits, landscape, architecture – most things except wildlife or sport. You can also, with a little quality loss, crop down to a more formal portrait angle of view, and you can – with a gain in both quality and hassle – stitch frames to get wider angles of view for certain kinds of landscape.

In this article we summarize our experience with all the native E-mount 50mm lenses to give you a independent resource in one place for choosing the best 50 mm lens for your needs.We will cover AF E mount, MF E mount with electronic contacts, and lenses with the E bayonet but no contacts. There will a separate article about lenses from other mounts you might adapt to E mount.

Unlike most other review sites we have no association with any lens manufacturer apart from occasionally borrowing a lens for a review. We prefer independence over fancy trips and nice meals.

Before discussing each lens, we tell you which of us had or has the lens, and whether it was purchased or borrowed for review. In most cases we have bought the lenses new from retail stores or on the used market. 

If we have left any question unanswered please leave a comment and we will do our best to answer it.

If you purchase the lens through one of the affiliate-links in this article we get a small compensation with no additional cost to you.

Continue reading Guide to the best 50mm Lenses for full frame Sony E-mount cameras: a7III/a7II/a7rIV/a7RIII/a9/A9II

Guide to best Sony E-Mount 35mm Lenses for a7III/a7II/a7rIV/a7RIII

review sharpness 42mp high resolution sample test vergleich comparison bokeh handling build quality a7riii autofocus af close macro

35mm is a very popular focal length with a wide range of applications ranging from landscape over astrophotography to environmental portraiture and many consider it the best choice when only using one prime lens. We decided to summarize our experience with all the native E-mount and a few legacy 35mm lenses for the Sony A7 series to give you a compact and independent resource for choosing the best 35mm lens for your needs.

Unlike most other review sites we have no association with any lens manufacturer apart from occasionally loaning a lens for a review. We prefer independence over fancy trips and nice meals.

Before any short introduction we tell you how long we have used a lens and if we have borrowed it from a manufacturer. But in most cases we have bought the lenses new from retail stores or on the used market. If you want to support our independent reviews please consider using one of the affiliate links. It doesn’t cost you anything and helps us a lot.

If we have left any question unanswered please leave a comment and we will do our best to answer it.

Last update: November 2020

Continue reading Guide to best Sony E-Mount 35mm Lenses for a7III/a7II/a7rIV/a7RIII

An Upgrader’s Guide to the Sony A7rIV

This isn’t a full review: if you want to check out the SNR then Bill Claff’s site Photonstophotos is where you want to go, and for technical analysis of many features of the rIV the Jim Kasson’s series is by far the best resource. Both of these sites are much to be preferred to any of the camera review sites if you have a modicum of technical knowledge.

This article, though, is more of a personal discussion of how much the differences between the A7r4 and A7rIII matter to me: and a spoiler is that while there are lots of technical differences which you can read about in the sites I mentioned, they aren’t the most important ones.

So as you can tell already, I made the plunge. Was it a good idea? that’s what this article may help you decide!

If you end up finding this useful and decide to buy one, using one of the links below will cost you nothing, and will make a small contribution to the cost of this site. None of us does this for a living, we don’t run advertising, and the small commissions just help make it possible to keep the site going.

You can buy it from B&H here

You can buy it from Amazon here

You can buy it from eBay here

Biggest Benefits

The biggest two benefits for me are the upgraded viewfinder, and the ability to make the AF/MF indicator red.

The upgraded viewfinder is great. It’s now about 5mp, and is noticeably crisper than the A7rIII. I find myself rarely or never using focus peaking, and often magnifying a little less in manual focus. This is really nice: it’s much less distracting not having focus peaking. Make sure you have the viewfinder refresh rate set on standard: the resolution drops at the high setting (the high setting is useful though – for example you might use it in  a  memory setting which uses high burst rates to follow action with autofocus. In this situation refresh rate would be more important than resolution).

The second improvement is the new, red colour available for the AF/MF target. This is wonderful! As someone who uses manual lenses maybe 2/3 of the time, my practice has been to move the focus target over what I want to focus on, then use a press of the joystick to magnify (setting initial mag to 5.9x eliminates an extra press you might otherwise need). But so often I would lose the target – it would be quite invisible. So I would have to reset it to the centre, and move it again, in the process losing the shot I wanted. The red target is really easy to see and I would personally pay big money for it. I’d also resent it big time as well, though, because it’s the kind of thing that could easily be made available on the rIII by firmware.

I think the enhanced sealing is also a big benefit. I have hated the way that I have babied the previous bodies in drizzle. Reports on the sealing of the rIV really do seem to indicate improvement – not just on the achilles heel of the riii which was the baseplate (never set an r3 down on a damp surface). The larger buttons which some people love for their ergonomics also are easier to make seals for apparently.

Image Quality

Continue reading An Upgrader’s Guide to the Sony A7rIV

Beginner’s Guide to Manual Lenses on the Sony a7

Okay, everybody is talking about how manual lenses work so well on the Sony a7 series but how does it actually work? And which results can you expect? Read on if you want to know.DSC00720

Manual Lenses on the Sony a7/a7II/a7III

Zeiss Distagon 2.8/28  ~ $250
Olympus OM 2.8/100 ~ $100
 Minolta MC 1.4/50 ~ $60

Why should I use manual lenses?

    • They can be very cheap, you can get a great 1.4/50 lens for $50. For most applications such a lens will give you 90% of the performance of a $1000 Zeiss 1.8/55 FE. For the $1000 you would have to pay for that Zeiss you can buy an excellent set of five lenses from 20 to 300mm.
    • You have a huge choice between thousands of lenses ranging from exotic ones with lots of “character” to some of the very best lenses available.
    • There are 30-year-old primes with better image quality than many modern lenses. Of course progress has happened in recent years but still affordable primes are often sharper than very expensive modern zooms.
    • Old lenses are usually beautifully built from nothing but metal and glass which makes it a joy to handle them. They can last a lot longer than modern lenses which are full of electronics and very complex designs, both of which make them more likely to fail.
    • They also hold their value much better than modern lenses. With some patience you can sell most manual lenses without a loss but with new lenses you can expect to lose 30% in the first year.
    • Manual focusing can be very enjoyable. This certainly depends on application but personally I enjoy working with fully manual lenses a lot more than with any AF lens and I would choose a good manual focus lens over an AF lens (almost) any time. Check out our manual photographers series to read other photographers stories who feel similar about this.
Minolta MD 2/50 ~$25

Why shouldn’t I use manual lenses?

Continue reading Beginner’s Guide to Manual Lenses on the Sony a7