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.
Manual Lenses on the Sony a7/a7II/a7III
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.
You can easily spend a fortune on lenses for your Sony E-mount camera but you don’t have to. These lenses all cost less than $499 and give you great image quality on your a7/a7II/a7III/a7rII-series camera.
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.
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.
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.
The Tamron 2.8/28-75 Di III RXD is the first third party E-Mount autofocus zoom lens. I am excited about this lens because it defines a milestone for the E-Mount system: until now, we only had a choice between Sony’s budget line, Samyang and the other (super-)expensive Sony/Zeiss options. The three classic third party manufacturers (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina) have been very tentative in their commitment to the E-mount system, and this lens is the first one that really changes this situation. The specs of the lens look spectacular on the paper, so let’s find out about its performance in the field.
In this review I will check the performance of my own copy that I used for several months now.