Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sony launches trio of prime lenses

After wading painfully through Sony's terrible press release (which looks like it was written for amateurs by amateurs), it dawned on me that Sony has launched three prime lenses for its Alpha DSLR system, taking the total to more than 30 lenses in the entire range. The jewel in the trio must be the full-frame Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2 SSM, a relatively fast wide-angle prime made by the esteemed German optics manufacturer. Photographers should love the 0.19m minimum focus distance (great for dramatic effects) and a nine-blade circular aperture designed for smooth bokeh (out-of-focus areas). Focus should be fast and quiet, thanks to its built-in SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor).

The Sony 85mm F2.8 SAM represents the first full frame lens in the "Easy Choice" lens range, which are designated to be more affordable. "Easy Choice" is such a tacky and terrible marketing name, but thank goodness it does not appear anywhere on the lens! The full-frame 85mm is a traditional choice for portrait photography, and so the 0.6m minimum focusing distance (which Sony claims is the shortest in its class) should come in useful. At 175 grams, the Sony 85mm F2.8 SAM is extremely compact and light, although f/2.8 seems a tad slow for a portrait lens (compared to Canon and Nikon's offering of 85mm f/1.8 lenses).

The Sony DT 35mm F1.8 SAM is designed as a fast wide-angle lens for APS-C sensor DSLR only. At 170 grams, it's a compact and light addition to the camera bag, and it features the shortest minimum focus distance of just 23 cm, which Sony claims as shortest in its class. All of these lenses can be used on the NEX mirrorless cameras via the LA-EA1 adapter (manual focus mode only).  The 24mm and 85mm lenses will start shipping from late September at retail prices of €1,250 and €250 respectively, followed by the 35mm which will be available from mid-October at a retail price of €200.

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