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. Last Update: November 2019
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
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.
Usually we try to give you good advice. In this article we do our best to give you bad advice. So here are 9 golden rules to make sure that you buy the wrong lens.
1. Sharpness is all that matters
You should discard any but the very sharpest lenses and put the sharpness high above any other aspects. Only inspecting your über-large prints with a loupe will impress your neighbor more than the super heavy $5000 lens you took that picture with.
Those of you who read my Sony A7II vs. Sony A6500 comparison know that I have been curious about the Fujifilm X-T2 for quite some time, I am still looking for a reliable, handy and fast camera to take pictures of people, especially children. Neither of the cameras that I have used so far could satisfy me completely, therefore I decided to take a look over the fence.
The Fujifilm X system is to me the most obvious alternatives to the Sony FE system. The approach to offer as many manual controls as possible as well as the broad but reasonable lens lineup and fast AF are very appealing to me. So when I got the chance to give the system a try I jumped on it. I will use a Fujifilm X-T2 with four lenses for a month. Will it suit my needs?
I have used the Batis 2.8/18 for a while but something just didn’t feel right about it for me. Therefore, I have exchanged it in favor of the Loxia 2.8/21. It is still my all time favorite lens and I prefer it for it’s handling, the beautiful and contrasty rendering and it’s sun stars.
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