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Sony 35mm F/1.4 G and Minolta AF 35mm F/2

 
 
These two fast lenses were initially designed back in the mid-to-late 1980s.  The Sony 35mm F/1.4 G was updated in 2006, and costs about $1370 new.  The Minolta AF 35mm F/2 I'm using here came out in the late 1980s, and typically runs around $600-700 used. 
 
To sum up the differences quickly, the Sony 35mm F/1.4 is sharpest in the extreme corners at F/2 up to around F/5.6, but the Minolta is sharpest in the mid-to-far centers.  Both the centers are close in sharpness, but the Minolta 35mm is sharpest at F/2.  The Minolta 35mm F/2 has more light fall-off wide open, and more noticeable ghosting when bright lights are inside the image, probably due to the fact that it hasn't been updated with new coatings like the Sony 35mm F/1.4 G. 

Jan2010/35mmcompover.jpg
entire scene

 

The entire scene is above.  The center crops and mid-crops are represented in the white outlined boxes, I placed the center area in the corner when shooting the corner crops.  All focusing was done at infinity.

 

Center crops directly below.

 

Sony 35mm F/1.4                                                          Minolta AF 35mm F/2

          F/2

          F/2

Jan2010/s35f20ctr.jpg
Jan2010/m35f20ctr.jpg

          F/2.8

          F/2.8

Jan2010/s35f28ctr.jpg
Jan2010/m35f28ctr.jpg

          F/4

          F/4

Jan2010/s35f40ctr.jpg
Jan2010/m35f40ctr.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

Jan2010/s35f56ctr.jpg
Jan2010/m35f56ctr.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

Jan2010/s35f80ctr.jpg
Jan2010/m35f80ctr.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

Jan2010/s35f11ctr.jpg
Jan2010/m35f11ctr.jpg

F/2  exposure adjusted to match Minolta on right

          F/2  same image as the top

Jan2010/s35f20ctra.jpg
Jan2010/m35f20ctr.jpg

 

Surprisingly, the Minolta has better contrast at F/2, and seems about the same stopped down---super good performance!!  The Sony is probably as sharp as the Minolta past F/2.8 even though it may not look like it.  The exposure values are the same for each lens, but the Sony is taking in more light, about 1/3eV, that's why they look different. 

 

Just in case you think if the exposures were the same for each lens, the images would be the same in sharpness, I've adjusted the Sony F/2 shot to match the Minolta F/2 shot; check out the bottom row to see what I'm talking about.  

 

I'm guessing the subject (Sun City Vistoso sign) distance is about 100' or 30m.

 

 
Now for some corner crops.

 

Sony 35mm F/1.4                                                          Minolta AF 35mm F/2

          F/2

          F/2

Jan2010/s35f20cn.jpg
Jan2010/m35f20cn.jpg

          F/2.8

          F/2.8

Jan2010/s35f28cn.jpg
Jan2010/m35f28cn.jpg

          F/4

          F/4

Jan2010/s35f40cn.jpg
Jan2010/m35f40cn.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

Jan2010/s35f56cn.jpg
Jan2010/m35f56cn.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

Jan2010/s35f80cn.jpg
Jan2010/m35f80cn.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

Jan2010/s35f11cn.jpg
Jan2010/m35f11cn.jpg

 

Noticeable here are the sharper extreme corners of the Sony 35mm at F/2.8-5.6, although not really a surprise.  What is a surprise is the Minolta has better mid-to-outer frame sharpness, illustrated in the crops below and also in the color fringing crops at the bottom.   Light fall-off is noticeable at F/2 on the Minolta, but clears up mostly at F/2.8.  The corner crops were taken from (near) the last 300 pixels of the left lower corner.  

 

Mid-level crops.

 

          F/2

          F/2

Jan2010/sf20xx.jpg
Jan2010/mf20xx.jpg

          F/2.8

          F/2.8

Jan2010/sf28xx.jpg
Jan2010/mf28xx.jpg

          F/4

          F/4

Jan2010/sf40xx.jpg
Jan2010/mf40xx.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

Jan2010/sf56xx.jpg
Jan2010/mf56xx.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

Jan2010/sf80xx.jpg
Jan2010/mf80xx.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

Jan2010/sf11xx.jpg
Jan2010/mf11xx.jpg

 

Check out the differences in the mid-to outer frame crops here.  The Minolta is clearly sharpest at larger apertures, and seems slightly better to F/11.  Again, the exposure settings are all the same, but the Sony is brighter and subsequently may fool you into thinking there isn't much difference if you darkened up the Sony shot to match the Minolta, that's why I put in the adjusted crop in the center crop section at F/2.  Both lenses were sharpest at the infinity hard stop, and trying to short focus didn't seem to sharpen them up any more when using small apertures, like F/5.6-11 etc.

 

Distortion below.

 

Jan2010/m35mmdis.jpg
Minolta AF 35mm F/2
Jan2010/s35disg.jpg
Sony 35mm F/1.4

 

Both lenses seem to have about the same level of barrel distortion, although I don't have the crops lined up exactly the same, which makes the Minolta look a bit flatter.

 

Ghosting samples below.

 

Sony 35mm at F/5.6

Minolta AF 35mm at F/5.6

Jan2010/s35gst1a.jpg
Jan2010/m35gst1.jpg

Sony 35mm at F/11

Minolta AF 35mm at F/11

Jan2010/s35f11gst.jpg
Jan2010/m35f11gst.jpg

 

Both lenses have their fair share of ghosting, but the Sony 35mm seems to produce a little less, most likely due to having updated coatings.  The Sony has a green/purple look on the front element, the Minolta has a bluish cast, which is a typical color of the 1980s.

 

Color fringing below.

 

Jan2010/s35cf1.jpg
Sony 35mm @F/5.6
Jan2010/m35cf1.jpg
Minolta AF 35mm @F/5.6

 

These color fringing crops were taken from the last 700 pixels at the middle left side.  The Sony 35mm has slightly more color fringing, (I would have guessed just the opposite), seen mostly at the edges around the car window, but what's more noticeable is the sharper details at this area of the image (left side middle this time) from the Minolta 35mm, (both taken at F/5.6), which backs up the results of the mid-area crops above. 

 

That's all for this comparison, hope you enjoyed it.

 

 

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Sony 28mm F/2.8 and Minolta AF 28mm F/2

 
 
This time I'm comparing the Sony 28mm F/2.8 to the faster, and more expensive Minolta AF 28mm F/2 lens, both reviewed in full also.
 
To sum up the differences quickly, the center sharpness crops look almost identical, a surprise to me as I originally thought the Minolta was sharper based on memory alone--bad idea!  The biggest difference is in the corners, where the Minolta is much sharper, especially stopped down.  As far as ghosting is concerned, the Sony (with the updated coatings) is the clear winner, and that's no surprise based on past comparisons with updated primes.  Color fringing control (lateral) is best with the Minolta.  Distortion is nearly identical.  The Sony A900 was used in this comparison.

Check out the center crops below.
 
 
Sony 28mm F/2.8                                                          Minolta AF 28mm F/2

          F/2

          F/2

Intentionally left blank

Jan2010/m28ctr20cr.jpg

          F/2.8

          F/2.8

Jan2010/s28ctr28cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28ctr28cr.jpg

          F/4

          F/4

Jan2010/s28ctr40cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28ctr40cr.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

Jan2010/s28ctr56cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28ctr56cr.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

Jan2010/s28ctr80cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28ctr80cr.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

Jan2010/s28ctr11cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28ctr11cr.jpg

 

I see the same center sharpness for both lenses, and the F/2 crop for the Minolta is pretty sharp, but has some veiling haze.  There is no axial color fringing visible at all with either lens from F/2.8 on.

 
Now for some corner crops.

 

Sony 28mm F/2.8                                                           Minolta AF 28mm F/2

          F/2

          F/2

Intentionally left blank

Jan2010/m28cn20cr.jpg

          F/2.8

          F/2.8

Jan2010/s28cn28cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28cn28cr.jpg

          F/4

          F/4

Jan2010/s28cn40cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28cn40cr.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

Jan2010/s28cn56cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28cn56cr.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

Jan2010/s28cn80cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28cn80cr.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

Jan2010/s28cn11cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28cn11cr.jpg

 

Noticeable here are the sharper corners of the Minolta, no surprise though as I was impressed by the corner performance way back when I originally reviewed this lens.  Check out the color fringing on the corner crops of the Sony 28mm, (noticeable in the wood trailer components and white rim), the Minolta has much less, which is a bit unusual as it is a mid-80s design. 

 

Distortion control

 

Jan2010/s28discr.jpg
Sony 28mm moderate barrel distortion
Jan2010/m28discr.jpg
Minolta AF 28mm F/2, moderate barrel distortion

 

Both lenses show moderate barrel distortion, but the Minolta may be just a bit flatter, depending on how picky you want to be.

 

Ghosting samples below.

 

Sony 28mm, F/5.6 sun fully in shot

Minolta AF 28mm F/5.6 sun fully in shot

Jan2010/s28gstcr.jpg
Jan2010/m28gstcr.jpg

Sony 28mm F/5.6 sun just at edge

Minolta AF 28mm F/5.6 sun just at edge

Jan2010/s28gst2cr.jpg
Jan2010/m28gst2cr.jpg

 

Ghosting control is clearly best with the updated Sony lens when the sun is in the frame, so if shooting into the sun is something you like to do, you may want to stick with the Sony, although sometimes I like the look and feel you get with ghosts.  When the sun is at the edge, or just out of the image, there isn't much difference between the two, (bottom row). 

 

That's it for this comparison!

 

 

 

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Sony DT 30mm F/2.8 and Sony 28mm F/2.8

 
 
A few people wondered aloud about using the new Sony DT 30mm F/2.8 macro lens as a prime, and comparing it to something similar, like the Sony 28mm F/2.8 lens.  I did just that, and came to a few conclusions.  I think the 30mm is about the same in center sharpness as the 28mm, but the 30mm has sharper corners, well illustrated below.  Both lenses has some ghosting, neither one better than the other.  The distortion is about the same for both.  Color fringing in the corners is not at all noticeable on the 30mm, but is noticeable on the 28mm, see the corner crops below.  One other item of interest; the 30mm must be focused very precisely at infinity for maximum sharpness, the 28mm is best at the hard stop, this might be an issue if you're a pixel peeper.  I would get the 30mm and check my focus, as opposed to buying the 28mm as a prime, but that's just me.  With the 30mm, you get a macro and wide angle lens all in one. 

Check out the center crops below.
 
 
Sony DT 30mm F/2.8                                                    Sony 28mm F/2.8

          F/2.8

          F/2.8

November09/s3028x.jpg
November09/s2828x.jpg

          F/4

          F/4

November09/s3040x.jpg
November09/s2840x.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

November09/s3056x.jpg
November09/s2856x.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

November09/s3080x.jpg
November09/s2880x.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

November09/s3011x.jpg
November09/s2811x.jpg

 

Even when factoring in the slightly shorter focal length of the 28mm, there is very little if any difference in sharpness in the centers between the two lenses, but the 28mm seems to have a little more contrast in my opinion.  All shots taken at infinity focus.

 
Now for some corner crops.

 

Sony DT 30mm F/2.8                                                    Sony 28mm F/2.8 

          F/2.8

          F/2.8

November09/s3028cnx.jpg
November09/s2828cnx.jpg

          F/4

          F/4

November09/s3040cnx.jpg
November09/s2840cnx.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

November09/s3056cnx.jpg
November09/s2856cnx.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

November09/s3080cnx.jpg
November09/s2880cnx.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

November09/s3011cnx.jpg
November09/s2811cnx.jpg

 

The 30mm is obviously sharper in the extreme corners at all apertures, which is somewhat of a surprise.  I see some moderate color fringing in the 28mm corners, and none in the 30mm.  All shots taken at infinity focus.

 

Distortion control

 

November09/30discp.jpg
Sony DT 30mm
November09/20discp.jpg
Sony 28mm

 

Both lenses exhibit the same basic distortion pattern, and same control. 

 

Ghosting samples below.

 

Sony DT 30mm F/5.6

Sony 28mm F/5.6

November09/30cpfl.jpg
November09/28cpfl.jpg

 

The 30mm suffers from a pesky multi-colored arc in the corners, the 28mm has some diffused ghosts in the same area.  I'd say the flare and ghosting are different on both lenses, but neither one comes out on top in my opinion. 

 

Check out the difference in area covered.

 

November09/2830comp.jpg
Coverage difference between 28mm, 30mm.

 

The sample shot above shows the coverage differences between the 30mm macro lens, and 28mm, with the 30mm coverage defined by the red lines.  The coverage differences are not really something to worry about.  I didn't merely extrapolate the differences above from the specs sheet, I shot both lenses at the same center point, and outlined the exact coverage on the 30mm. 

 

 

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Sony CZ 16-80mm F/3.5-4.5 and the Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II

 
 
This is a quick comparison of the Sony CZ 16-80mm and Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 at their widest focal length, and at 50mm.  I'm using 16mm at the wide end for the Sony as there is no 17mm in the EXIF data, and it's real hard to adjust the Sony to match the Tamron exactly, you'll also see there is a difference in coverage at 50mm, even when set to that exact length.  I'm using the largest apertures available for the Sony, which starts at F/3.5 at 16mm, and F/4.5 at 50mm.  The Tamron starts off at F/2.8, but that's not what we're concerned with in this quick, limited review.
 
You'll notice both lenses are pretty sharp in the centers at both focal lengths used, (and all apertures) with the Sony having a disadvantage here because of the extra coverage between 16mm-17mm.  At 50mm, the Sony has a slight advantage as the coverage is less, you'll see what I mean when you examine the crops below.  Distortion is nearly the same at wide angle on both lenses, meaning moderate barrel distortion, and at 50mm (not shown) there is mild pincushion on both.  Color fringing control is best on the Tamron, which is a surprise.  The Sony and Tamron have small amounts of lateral CA near the wide end, and almost zero at 50mm.
 
In a nut-shell, I'd recommend the Tamron if you need the extra stop of light, or don't have the money for the Sony.  Buy the Sony if you're going to use the lens in good light, and want a little more range at the long end.  
 
 
Check out the center crops below.
 
Sony CZ 16-80mm @16mm                                          Tamron 17-50mm @17mm

          F/3.5

          F/3.5

November09/czc35.jpg
November09/tc35.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

November09/czc56.jpg
November09/tc56.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

November09/czc80.jpg
November09/tc80.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

November09/czc11.jpg
November09/tc11.jpg

 

The Sony has a disadvantage by starting at 16mm, you can see this in the crops above.  I'd say the sharpness would be about the same if the coverage was identical.  They're both very sharp at F/3.5, and the crops don't seem much sharper by stopping down.

 
Now for some corner crops.

 
Sony CZ 16-80mm @16mm                                         Tamron 17-50mm @17mm

          F/3.5

          F/3.5

November09/czc35cn.jpg
November09/tc35cn.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

November09/czc56cn.jpg
November09/tc56cn.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

November09/czc80cn.jpg
November09/tc80cn.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

November09/czc11cn.jpg
November09/tc11cn.jpg

 

It looks like the corners perform about the same as the centers.  I'd say at F/3.5 they're a little soft, but look fine at F/5.6.  The Tamron looks like it may have slightly sharper corners at F/3.5.  All shots taken at infinity focus, and about 200-300 pixels away from the right lower corner.

 
Now for some center crops at 50mm.

 
Sony CZ 16-80mm @50mm                                          Tamron 17-50mm @50mm

          F/4.5

          F/4.5

November09/czc5045.jpg
November09/tc5045.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

November09/czc5056.jpg
November09/tc5056.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

November09/czc5080.jpg
November09/tc5080.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

November09/czc5011.jpg
November09/tc5011.jpg

 

The crops above are not the greatest, I didn't have enough time to experiment with the best distance to detail requirements, plus the Tamron crops were taken about 10 minutes later than the Sony, and the light was changing fast.  The center crops look about the same in sharpness, despite the light differences. 

 
Now for some corner crops.

 
Sony CZ 16-80mm @50mm                                           Tamron 17-50mm @50mm 

          F/4.5

          F/4.5

November09/czc5045cn.jpg
November09/tc5045cn.jpg

          F/5.6

          F/5.6

November09/czc5056cn.jpg
November09/tc5056cn.jpg

          F/8

          F/8

November09/czc5080cn.jpg
November09/tc5080cn.jpg

          F/11

          F/11

November09/czc5011cn.jpg
November09/tc5011cn.jpg

 

What's surprising here is the Sony is sharper in the corners than the Tamron at 50mm.  I was bragging about the Tamron corner sharpness at this focal length not too long ago, but the Sony is clearly sharper up to about F/8, at which point they even out.  All shots taken at infinity focus, and about 200-300 pixels away from the lower right corner. The most accurate focusing for the Tamron at 50mm was right on the infinity mark, the Sony needed to be short focused just a hair off the infinity mark for best sharpness.  

 

Distortion at 16-17mm.

 

November09/cz16dis16.jpg
Sony 16-80mm at 16mm
November09/tdis17.jpg
Tamron 17-50mm @ 17mm

 

The Sony shows a little more barrel distortion, but it's also a bit wider.  At 50mm, there's a small amount of pincushion on both lenses, not shown.

 

Ghosting samples below.

 

Sony 16-80mm @16mm F/5.6

Tamron 17-50mm @17mm F/5.6

November09/czgst16.jpg
November09/tgst17.jpg

 

Both lenses show some ghosting.  Though the Tamron has less ghosts, it shows a little more veiling glare through the middle in this shot.

 

 

Color fringing at the widest focal length.

 

November09/scz16cf2.jpg
Sony CZ 16-80mm @16mm F/5.6
November09/tamcf2.jpg
Tamron 17-50mm @17mm F/5.6

 

The Sony has a little more lateral color fringing at wide angle, you can see magenta and cyan along the big tree branch on both lenses.  I cropped both images at the last 700 pixels from the middle left side.  The crop differences are from the 16-17mm focal lengths, and shows the coverage differences between the two.  At 50mm both exhibit excellent control of lateral color fringing. 

 

That's it for this quick comparison, see the main reviews for each lens for additional information.  Sony Carl Zeiss 16-80mm F/3.5-4.5, Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II.

 

 

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Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II and Sony 50mm F/1.4
 
 
I've been playing with the Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II for the last week or two, (thanks to Richard in CA), and noticed it was pretty sharp across the entire frame when stopped down at 50mm, so I decided to do some quick comparisons with the Sony 50mm F/1.4 lens using apertures of F/2.8-8.0.
 
Now then, when you look at the comparison crops below, you may just notice the Sony is sharper than the Tamron, so big deal.  If this is your reaction, then you're missing something important.  If you really look at the F/8 crops, you'll see they're almost the same in the centers, with the Sony just a bit sharper when comparing the corners.  If you're still saying to yourself "big deal," then consider this; the Sony is a full frame compatible lens, (meant for 36x24mm sensor or film) consequently, when used on an half size sensor APS-C camera, you're only using the middle portion of the lens, which is the best part.  The Sony is also a fast prime lens, meaning it is designed around that specific focal length only, and to give fairly good results at very large apertures, like F/1.4, and really good results stopped down to F/5.6-8.  There are few sacrifices involved since there is no zoom capability.
 
The Tamron lens is designed for APS-C cameras, meaning the entire imaging circle is used, which includes normal contrast problems around the image periphery.  The designers must also contend with making a zoom lens perform good at all focal lengths, and make appropriate compromises.  The crops below are part of an image that would print out about 45" (1.14m) wide as you see it on your computer screen, and the actual crops come from about 200-300 pixels from the corner! 
  
 
Check out the center crops below.
 
 

 

Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 @50mm

Sony 50mm F/1.4

F/2.8

September2009/tm28ctrz.jpg
September2009/sony28ctrz.jpg

F/4

September2009/tm40ctrz.jpg
September2009/sony40ctrz.jpg

F/5.6

September2009/tm56ctrz.jpg
September2009/sony56ctrz.jpg

F/8

September2009/tm80ctrz.jpg
September2009/sony80ctrz.jpg

 

Now for some corner crops.

 

 

Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 @50mm

Sony 50mm F/1.4

F/2.8

September2009/tm28corz.jpg
September2009/sony28corz.jpg

F/4

September2009/tm40corz.jpg
September2009/sony40corz.jpg

F/5.6

September2009/tm56corz.jpg
September2009/sony56corz.jpg

F/8

September2009/tm80corz.jpg
September2009/sony80corz.jpg

 

That's it, no ghosting or distortion crops.