Sony Alpha Mirrorless Buyers Guide
The Sony E-Mount eco-system is growing rapidly as the months go by and while we have Sigma and Tamron about to enter the Sony E-Mount market lets take a look at which lenses deserve consideration for your kitbag expansion.
There are not many choices for the Sony E Mount right now for anything longer than 200mm.
For the professional you would need the f2.8 for anything else including some light traveling then the f4 is all you need. Price difference is around $800-$1000 between the two.
If you’re looking for something a little cheaper then the Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 can be had for less than $500 but its designed for APS-C. Perfect for the A6000 series of cameras.
Sony FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G its a great option for those who want to travel with less glass, this versatile lens is just over $1000 right now.
The FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens is the last pick, its super sized and super expensive. However its a sports and wildlife shooters dream
There are a wide range of lenses to choose from when selecting a general purpose prime or mid zoom length; of course the FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens would have to get a mention. There is a f4 version available but I would avoid that and just get the f/2.8 lens instead.
As for 50mm and 35mm you have a bundle of options. If you can only buy one lens, get the Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA. The 55mm Zeiss is one of the sharpest lenses I have owned. Period. Without a doubt it’s cut your hands sharp all the way through from edge to edge. It’s rarely off my A7II. Price is around $1000.
For 35mm I would choose either the manual focusing Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 or the soon to be released Sigma 35mm ART lens. If you really need AF then get the Sigma. Sigma pricing isn’t available at time of going to press but the Voigtlander is under $900 which is a sweet deal. The Sigma 35mm ART lens will be around the same price at $900 from B&H
Without a doubt the only macro lens you should consider buying is the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens which is around $1000. Not only is it insatiably sharp but the price is crazy good for a lens of that quality. Bokeh is buttery smooth too.
Wide is there the heart is, well mine anyway. On A-Mount I have the Tamron 15-30mm which is the king of all wide lenses, on E-Mount that lens doesn’t exist however you can use it on an A-E Mount converter. For native you have some fantastic alternative options.
Sony make their own version of the classic 16-35mm which is the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM, there is an f/4 version too but I would skip that and get the GM version. It’s a beast of the lens and close to the Tamron equivalent in terms of IQ and sharpness when shooting wide open.
Zeiss make some superb glass and the Zeiss Batis f/2.8 18mm Wide-Angle lens is no exception. The 18mm focal length is perfect for Real Estate, Architecture and celestial shooting. It’s my go-to lens for wide angle work on E-Mount.
The choice of super wide lenses on E-Mount is fantastic and brands like Sigma, Tamron and non-brand glass are bringing their offerings to the market in 2018 to add to the large selection already available. For me the best lens at super wide right now is Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D Lens yes there are some cheap Rokinons kicking around but I’ve had issues with lens flare on them so I’d avoid.
Tripods, Power and Smarts
Lots of accessories to not only save your back but also keep you shooting and being creative. ALL of these items are in my backpack and only leave to charge or be cleaned.
Sirui T-2205X 5-Section Carbon Fiber Tripod is super light weight, tall and sturdy. For travel nothing comes close as it folds up extremely small for a tripod of its size and so light you hardly know its on your backpack. It’s not cheap at a shade under $300 but worth every penny.
Buy with the Manfrotto MHXPRO-BHQ2 XPRO Ball Head as well.
GRIP & BATTERIES
A battery grip for the A7 series is a must, not only can you store more of those small batteries but it also helps with camera / lens balance. Vello BG-S3 Grip for Sony is a great alternative to the branded one and gives you all the same functionality.
You will need batteries to put into that grip, for the A7 series the NP-FW50 will see you right. Whatever you do don’t buy cheaper brand batteries, I have heard all sorts of horror stories.
For the A9 and A7III you will need the newer longer life battery NP-FZ100
Now two of the most important items you should be buying for the great outdoors and creative shooting, must haves for your camera bag.
The MIOPS Smart Trigger is an amazing bit of kit, there are many like it so you don’t have to buy this exact one but it did wonderfully well on Kickstarter a few years back and continues to perform. While the first early bird kickstarter units had some questionable build quality the functions certainly work great.
The sensor packed unit can trigger your shutter and flash to a wide range of things. It can trigger to lightning, other flash or light or sound to a sensitivity you specify. It can also make HDR image using its exposure meter and time lapse as well. Plus it can be controlled by your smart phone using the Bluetooth dongle. It’s currently for sale around $250 and less.
Tether Tools have been around forever making super duper tethering cables, however they released a couple of years back (in my opinion quietly) the Case Relay Power System which is basically a way of powering your camera with an external USB power pack greatly improving lengthy shoot times.
It comes in two parts, the Case Relay itself and a “coupler” which is the bit that goes into your camera battery compartment and connects to the Case Relay. There is no coupler for the A9 or A7III yet but the other A7 mirrorless cameras you can use the Relay Camera Coupler CRSFW50
Its also worth getting the USB Anker PowerCore 10,000 which should keep you going for 2/3 days without a recharge when in the field.
flash and lighting
The Godox AD200 flash head is a fantastic bit of kit, its extremely powerful and comes with two flash heads. One omni-directional and the other a fixed 50mm flash head which you can swap out.
It also supports TTL and HSS (although HSS has a notable battery drain) and works with other triggers via the PC Sync port built into the flash head.
Very versatile and works with the MagMod Flash Modifier System system as well.
If you’re going to invest in Godox then you will need the high spec trigger called the Xpro-S XPros TTL Wireless Flash Trigger which is available for the bargain price of less than $70.
It works with all Godox monoheads and flash units and can trigger 5 of them in one go, all controllable from your camera.
The small and compact Metz mecablitz 26 AF-1 digital Flash is quite brilliant.
For Sony cameras which don’t have a native built-in flash unit this does the trick when your using your A7 series, A9 or A99II for casual usage. It really comes into its own on the A6000 series of cameras where the pop up flash can be hidden behind big lenses.
It’s by no means a set the world alight kinda accessory but it does to a great job for anything other than professional work and at less than $140 its a steal.
Magmod or MagnetMod came to the photography market by storming kickstarter a few years back with their fast and easy flash modification system.
MagMod enables you to swap modifiers onto the rubber “MagGrip” which is wrapped onto your flash at a moments notice.
The system ease of use really caught on and MagMod added in creative gels, zoom flash heads called MagBeam and much more.
However the basic stuff like defusing light is where I think the MagMod system really separates itself from others. The MagSphere is a delight to use and can turn any strong harsh flash unit into a softbox style light source.
Prices start at $99