Recommended Cameras and Lenses - Photo Jottings

Recommended Cameras and Lenses

You probably clicked on this page because you’re trying to find the right Sony camera and related equipment to help you take better pictures, but may not really know what to choose.  Below is a list of items that I find particularly useful, and personally recommend, because I own most of them.  This isn’t my personal wish list, it’s stuff I use on a daily or weekly basis. I also find the products below offer a high degree of value—price vs performance, both for the novice, and photographers at the intermediate and pro levels.  




The Sony Zeiss ‘FE’ mount 55mm F/1.8 performs great, even wide open.  Right now, easily the best prime for FE cameras.  For full frame cameras, but works very well on aps-c cameras like the A6000 etc.


Review                    More info



I bought this model (with kit lens) for back-up use to the A7 series I currently have, and it’s hard to tell the difference between the two unless you look closely!  It’s basically an NEX-7 but better.  If you don’t need all the bells and whistles of the A6000, get the A5100.


Body only    with kit lens



The little Sony CZ NEX 24mm F/1.8 is a top notch lens, one of the best performing Sony lenses I’ve ever reviewed.  This one is a must for your NEX-7, with an equivalent focal length of 36mm (in 135 film format), it makes a great landscape or  low-light walk around lens.

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The Canon G1X is the best pocket zoom camera period.  I bought my review copy, and use it for everything except professional work, well actually I have used it for paying photography, such as Real Estate, and find it really works well, as good as a DSLR, although the 28mm equivalent starting length is a little long sometimes.  This camera would be perfect for people wanting to learn the finer points of photography as it works great in ‘auto’ mode, and has a sharp lens, low noise, and beautiful colors.  No need to shoot RAW and waste time fiddling with settings that won’t make the picture any better.  Spend your time on composition and lighting, and let the camera make the other decisions.  Get the newer G1X MII version for a wider and faster lens.


Check price      Review 



The Sony NEX 16mm F/2.8 is a super small lens, and allows you to put the camera in your pants pocket.  It’s not tack sharp at any aperture, but it does a good job considering the size.  There are a couple of neat accessories for this lens too, like the fisheye adapter, and wide-angle converter, which covers 12mm, or the equivalent of 18mm.


If you just want a pancake wide angle lens, get the much sharper20mm F2.8.


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The Sony NEX 50mm F/1.8 OSS is another top quality lens for your NEX camera, it will handle 24mp better than Sony’s full frame 50/1.4.  The CZ 24/1.8 and 50/1.8 OSS are currently the only two Sony NEX lenses that are optically good enough for the NEX-7.  Hopefully, more will come soon.


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This NEX fisheye lens is the best I’ve ever tested period!  The mid-sections and corners are quite sharp even when used wide open, which is great—most fisheye lenses are mushy outside the centers unless stopped down hard!  It’s a manual use lens, but read the review to find out how easy it is to use.  For ‘E’ mount system only.


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The Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 is my favorite prime lens period.  If you only have enough money to get one good lens for your APS-C camera, this is it.  This lens is so good it would be a bargain at twice the price.


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The Sony DT 16-50mm F/2.8 is my number one pick for a medium zoom, and may be the only lens you’ll need if you’re not a big zoom person.  Excellent image quality, and fast F/2.8 all the way.  A great alternative to the more expensive (and slower) CZ 16-80mm F/3.5-4.5.


The differences between the CZ 16-80mm and the 16-50mm are very small, the only real thing is the longer focal length for the CZ.  For me it’s a toss-up as to which one a person should get.  If you do some low-light shooting, and like wide to medium focal lengths, I’d recommend the 16-50mm.  If you mostly shoot in daylight, and like the longer end, get the CZ 16-80mm.


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The Sony DT 50mm F/1.8 provides very good image quality, is small and light, and most importantly, inexpensive.  If you look at your images all day on the computer blown up to 100%, go with the more expensive Sony 50mm F/1.4, as seen farther down the page.


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Here’s a lens that performs (optically) as good as the Sony version, for half the cost!  You don’t get the focus hold and limiter switches, but it does have a quiet ultra-sonic (SSM) type focusing motor. If you’re on a budget, this lens is far more economical than Sony’s 70-300mm G SSM, a result of Sony pushing the lens price envelope a bit too much in my opinion.  Also, I’ve been hearing from readers that the SSM system on the Sony 70-300mm may cease to function for no reason at all.  I can confirm that as my brand new review copy worked all of five minutes before it broke!  Buy this lens from a reputable dealer (allows returns) and I’d recommend it over the Sony with no reservations.


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The Sony 70-400mm F/4-5.6 “G” is my favorite super telephoto zoom lens period, and is far superior in image and build quality to any other Sony zoom lens, bar the Sony 70-200mm F/2.8.  It is expensive, but worth every penny in my opinion.


Review                    Original version   Version II



The Tamron 70-200mm F/2.8 is a super alternative to the more expensive Sony 70-200mm F/2.8.  Image quality is about the same on each lens, although the Sony has a better build quality and faster focusing.  If you’re interested in optical performance only, the Tamron is a great buy, and will save you a bunch of money.


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The Sony 50mm F/1.4 makes a great landscape or walk around lens, and is the least expensive full-frame fast lens in the Sony line-up.  A classic that should be in every photographer’s bag.


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The Sigma 50mm F/1.4 is much bigger and heavier than the Sony above, but much sharper at large apertures.  If you require very sharp centers at F/1.4-2.8, the Sigma is your lens, it’s stunningly sharp in the centers at F/1.4.  If you’re a landscape shooter, and will be using smaller apertures, there isn’t much difference between the Sigma and Sony.


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The Sony 85mm F/2.8  is small, light-weight, and easy on the pocket book.  Don’t be fooled, this cheap lens provides excellent image quality, and would be a welcome addition to your bag of goodies, either full-frame or APS-C.


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