Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Sony G-Master 85mm f/1.4 & 24-70mm f/2.8 FE Lens Quick Review


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as with most things in life, photography gear is about compromises, tradeoffs and what matters to you most as a photographer. so there's no one ultimate camera and/or lens that does it for everybody, it's a personal decision. factors like image quality, size, weight, autofocus speed or manual focus (if that's your thing, it is mine) and cost are key considerations for lenses and as we all know, fast lenses nearly always equal BIG $$$. 

trying out lenses for yourself is a great way to determine what's the one that checks the boxes that matter to you and to that end, i would recommend you loan what u are considering to get and give it a go before plonking hard earned cash for it. reviews from trusted sources can help as well but trying it out for yourself beats that flat. furthermore we all have to figure out which sites can be trusted when it comes to reviews.

In Singapore, I have rented from a few companies but the camera rental center LINK has most of the time gotten it right. some little misses but overall I have been happy with their offers and services. [Note: i get absolutely nothing for the thumbs up here, it's just me recommending them from my positive experiences with them] 

To note: Sony is having a promotion of loaning these and some other G lenses out for FREE but as I type this many of the lenses may be loaned out. go here to see if you still can get some LINK

first up, we have the 85mm G-master f/1.4 and it's a whopper of a lens. if i were an autofocus guy and didn't mind carrying big and heavy gear, this lens would do it for me and i would pay the price for it. 

pros
- wonderful creamy bokeh and lovely out of focus quality
- sharp sharp sharp for what you want sharp 

cons (general)
- It's HUGE!
- it's tremendously heavy (sorry i'm not sure how these Trump oft used terms came in ;) 
- It costs a little... but u knew that when looking at a fast AF prime

cons (specific to it on my A7S which may not apply to A7II and A7R Mark II) 
- AF can miss at times with flexible spot (medium) and me selecting the specific focus point. it sometimes it decides what it wants to focus on... in a series of shots suddenly the focus goes someplace else. 
- not sure if it's coz of my A7S metering but i got some situations when the same scene when shot, would have some pics ok and some blowing out, showing strong highlights and overexposure. 

Straight out of camera jpg crop resized, standard settings. f/1.4 ISO100 Shutter 1/1000 
+0.3exp Sony A7S & Bodies: Sony A7S and lovely Russian babe
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Straight out of camera jpg crop resized, standard settings. 
f/1.4 ISO100 Shutter 1/1600 +0.3exp 
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Jpg crop resized, standard settings. converted to black and white and 
some touchup around the eyes. f/1.4 ISO100 Shutter 1/2000 +0.7exp
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Straight out of camera jpg grayscaled crop resized, standard settings. f/1.4 
ISO100 Shutter 1/8000 -1exp 
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conclusion 
it's a great lens impo and right for the Sony A7 series owner who doesn't care about it's size and weight, loves AF and is fine with the price.  

street portrait on orchard road [Straight out of camera jpg crop resized, 
standard settings. f/1.4 ISO100 Shutter 1/200]
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did I say it was sharp?
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subway shot. out and abouts... [some light color editing, ISO160 f/1.4, 
1/100 shutter. cropped and resized]
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NEXT UP: 24-70mm f/2.8 [this is a work in progress... don't have time to process the images i want to share for this but will do so probably by end of the week]

Sony is late to coming out with f/2.8 zooms so this and the 70-200mm were highly anticipated. [still waiting for the 70-200mm f/2.8]

while i loved the 85mm, the 24-70mm f/2.8 didn't wow me enough to replace my primes. My primes focal lengths are 15mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm currently.  i am not a paid reviewer and not sponsored by any brand so I don't have canon and nikon f/2.8 zooms lying around to do a test against this but i do recognise that you would be better served knowing how it fares against the same competitors' lenses. i can't offer that but will just be sharing my experience shooting with it for about 1.5 days. 


yes it's pretty sharp
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pros
- versatility of the zoom with key focal lengths (35mm and 50mm) covered and u can go a little wide with 24mm and a bit tight with 70mm. don't have to switch lenses around which can get pretty tired, pretty fast. 
- better light gathering than slower kit zoom. reasonable speed

cons
- not enough bokeh! too much depth of field at f/2.8 for my purposes (this is for me personally)
- not conclusive but my bokeh balls weren't round wide open... there were some edges to them :( i saw this in several differently shot scenes and though i'm no expert on testing these, based on what i've seen, it's just not good enough
- the big, heavy, pricey thing also applies here 
- the missed AF also applies for this on the A7S. i found more challenges nailing focus with this than with the 85mm G-master

some lines and edges for the bokeh balls of the 24-70mm at f/2.8
pic is just cropped and resized. straight from camera, no additional processing
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zeiss planar f/2.0 at f2... round bokeh balls
pic is just cropped and resized. straight from camera, no additional processing
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conclusion
the zoom lens was good but not great impo and not for me as i wouldn't trade the convenience of the autofocus zoom for the bokeh and image quality of my manual focus primes right now. but it is the versatile option for the sony shooter who wants to replace their kit lens with something better and who shoots primarily with AF zooms. I have never used the f4 version so no comments on that. 

ending off for now... more pix to come. cheers, raph 

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