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11/29/10

 

Sony 85mm F/2.8 SAM review is up and running!  The Sony 85mm F/2.8 SAM is another stellar performer from Sony's "easy choice" series.  It was almost boring to review because I couldn't elicit anything bad from it, and the sharpness crops are nearly indistinguishable from one aperture to another,including the corner crops.  Other attributes include: very little distortion or light fall-off, even on a full-frame camera, long manual focusing throw, which is more precise than the typical Sony MF ring rotation, and a good macro shot.  The only slight negatives are; color fringing, but that's about average based on the rest of Sony and Minolta lenses, and flare, which is manageable with included hood or a hand-block.  Lastly, the Sony 85mm F/2.8 performs almost as well on a full-frame camera as it does on an APS-C camera, which is another indication of great quality!

 

I decided to include a complete sharpness crop set for the full-frame section, which shows sharpness variations a little better than the APS-C crops, although you have to look carefully to see any differences!

 

The 85mm F/2.8 is a medium telephoto lens, suitable for portrait work, and based on performance, may spoil some of the sales of the super expensive Sony CZ 85mm F/1.4.  If you don't need the extra two stops, or don't have $1370, I'd highly recommend the new 85mm F/2.8 lens; it's currently discounted at B&H Photo for a very low price of $224.99 until the end of the year.

 

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Click for review page

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11/22/10

 

Sony and their mysterious ink.  An astute reader named Joe (from parts unknown) pointed out that I'd missed something in the Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM review.  Apparently, Sony's new "easy choice" lenses are being given the full, high dollar pearlescent ink treatment, which looks great when viewed under a microscope.  Unfortunately, I don't think most people will be doing that, so I'm speculating that Sony is not properly marketing this feature.  Of course, I don't know much about marketing in general, so I could be missing something important. 
 
The top photo (below) shows the sparkly paint/ink that is used on both the 35/18 and 85/28, but only on the lens name, focus distance meters scale, and the Sony name on the side.  The AF/MF is non-sparkly standard white, and the orange numbers are not sparkly either. 
 
I checked the DT 30mm macro, and that lens has no sparkly paint/ink, or whatever is used, so apparently it's new to the "easy choice" lenses for some reason.  Could it be that Sony is using this type of paint/ink as a quick way to try and identify the product authenticity and/or origin?  Does this apply to the global market, or only in the US?  Owner's of these lenses in other markets might want to check your copies out just for fun and let me know if they're different.  Why would Sony change the type of ink used (standard white), when nobody will notice the difference when viewing the lens during normal handling?  The sparkly stuff is only visible when you're trying to look for it with a strong light and a magnifying glass.
 
The photos below of the Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM numbers and letters where taken with the sony 100mm macro lens, with the same light at the same angle.  The black background looks like a deep field image from the Hubble for some reason, and is not dust.
 

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Detail of Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM lens numbers
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Detail of Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM AF/MF lettering

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11/16/10

 

You may have noticed I've been adding a watermark to the product shots going back a couple of reviews.  I'm seeing my images all over the web, without credit, from Google images to camera/lens retail websites to other review sites, including one Sony review site called alphamountworld.com; (shot is the tamron 28-75mm backside mount in their review, thanks for the tip Blake).  They probably just took my product shot from Google images, but come on, if you're going to do a lens review, can't you spend an extra hour and take your own shots?  I guess I'm more conscientious than others.  Here's the original shot in my review; it's the last product shot.  If you want to use an image from this site, or originating from this site, please ask, I may allow it with a link.
 
In other news, I've updated all the camera bodies for the Sony DSLR page to include the translucent and 560/580 series.  I also updated the Sony lens chart and dropped in the new easy choice lenses plus the CZ 24mm.
 
The Sony 85mm F/2.8 review is underway, and is looking good so far.

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11/14/10

 

Check out the full review of the new Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM.  This lens is superb, and based on price vs performance, is easily the best bargain in the Sony lens line-up.  It's also on sale now for $175!! with free shipping (in US), up 'till the end of the year.
 
The Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM is a lens to get excited about.  It's small, light-weight, inexpensive and fast!  It's also sharp in the centers wide open, and stopped down to F/5.6-8 is sharp enough over the entire image to please the fussy, pixel peeping landscape shooter.  In fact, in some ways, it out-performs the Sony 35mm F/1.4 G that sells new for $1369!  See the conclusion for details.
 
Some readers are wondering which lens is better for them, the new Sony 35mm F/1.8, Sigma 30mm F/1.4, or the Minolta 35mm F/2.  I don't know which one is best, it all depends on what's important to you, but here's my quick take; my review copy of the Sigma 30mm was pretty sharp in the centers, but very soft along the sides, even stopped down; It's also 2/3 of a stop faster than F/1.8.  The Minolta 35mm F/2 is sharp all over, but suffers from poor ghosting control, and is much more expensive than the Sony 35/1.8.  If high optical performance with a low price tag is important, the Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM is a no brainer.
 
Although the DT 35mm F/1.8 makes a great walk-around lens, Sony is mistakenly marketing it as a "wide angle."  On a full-frame camera 35mm is wide angle, but the APS-C crop factor makes this lens equivalent to 52.5mm, that's not wide angle, but is much more appropriate for everyday use in my opinion than the recently released Sony DT 50mm F/1.8 SAM, which is being marketed as a "portrait" lens.
 

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Click for review page

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11/10/10

 

So far, the Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM is turning in a very good review.  I should have it ready by the weekend, so check back soon.  Speaking of this lens, it's now available at a discounted price of $175!!  There are also discounted prices on other Sony lenses through the end of the year, such as the: Sony DT 35mm F/1.8 SAM, 174.99Sony 85mm F/2.8 SAM, $224.99, Sony CZ 24-70mm F/2.8 now $150 off, $1449.99, and the new Sony CZ 24mm F/2 is now $1149.99. 

 

More lenses have been discounted, just click this B&H photo link to see the Sony lens page

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11/5/10

 

Fun with the Kodak Duaflex IV!  I burned through a roll of Fuji pro 160C (120) atop Mt Lemmon a couple weeks ago.  The images below show about as much fall color as you'll ever see here in southern Arizona, with mostly Aspen providing the yellow.  The top three shots were taken with the Kodak Duaflex IV with front focusing F/8 kodar 72mm lens, set at F/16.  The last shot was taken with the Sony C905a camera phone.  The photos with the Duaflex are fairly sharp, and look good printed out at 3½ x 3½, or possibly 5 x 7, but that size is pushing it.  The Sony camera phone is much better optically than the Duaflex, and of course cheaper and more convenient.  One thing I'd like to mention; if you get your 120 film scanned, make sure you tell then to take the film out of the clear plastic sleeve before scanning, otherwise you'll wind up with marks along the side where the sleeve flap is.  My local processing lab (Jones photo) seems to think it doesn't matter, and they don't bother to do what I tell them, so I'm not going to use them anymore.  I'm not really big on film at this point in life. 

 

If you want to use 120 film in a 620 camera, such as the one mentioned above, you can simply trim the spool ends, and use sand paper to shave off the amount needed on the ends to make the length the same as a 620 spool.  Google it if you're interested.  I may post a how-to at some point.

 

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Kodak Duaflex IV with kodar F/8 lens, set at F/16.
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Kodak Duaflex IV with kodar F/8 lens, set at F/16.
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Kodak Duaflex IV with kodar F/8 lens, set at F/16.
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Sony C905a camera phone