December 15 2011 - Photo Jottings

December 15 2011


Sony makes mistake and designs the 85/2.8 SAM to perform better than the Carl Zeiss 85mm F/1.4!

It’s been cloudy and rainy the last few days here in Tucson, so with no real work taking place, I decided to do a stamp shot comparison using the fabulous Sony 85mm F/2.8 SAM against the Sigma 85/1.4 HSM (just reviewed) and the Sony Carl Zeiss 85/1.4.  Obviously, there’s a two stop difference in light gathering ability, but I know the little Sony 85/2.8 is super good wide open, so I wondered how it would fare against the faster, and much more expensive F/1.4 lenses.

Astonishingly, the Sony 85/2.8 is optically superior to both the fast lenses at F/2.8-4; at smaller apertures the results vary depending on location within the image, like corners, centers etc.

Since the diminutive and inexpensive Sony performs very well wide open, it makes a great walk around lens for hand-held low-light shooting.  You might think a larger aperture is always better for dark conditions because it allows you use lower ISOs right?  Have you every tried photographing subjects (or worse, moving subjects) in low-light at 85mm, F/1.4?  It’s mostly a game of luck, the depth of field is very slim; it’s hard enough to focus properly in daylight!  I normally use F/2-2.8 for hand-held low-light shots using a focal length around 50-85mm, it gives me a little more DOF to play with.

You’ll spend $800-1200 extra for the larger, heavier and faster F/1.4 versions.  Although two stops of light is huge, there are also huge compromises in designing those lenses, that’s why you pay big bucks and get only marginal (if any) performance gains.

Click for comparison page
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