Which 35mm lens is the best? Battle of 35mm lenses on Sony NEX 7. Part I Bokeh.

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19 Responses

  1. Yeah, as a general rule while looking through your test, the aperture really makes a difference. Sure, there are some that surprise, but the wider aperture plays a significant role. And the Canon 50/1.2 at f/0.85 is just sick. I was thinking of buying a 5DIII just to get the 50/1.2 as my main lens since I like shooting wide open, but you make me think about just adding the lens and speed booster to my 5N. Hmmm. Thanks for the test.

  2. radissimo says:

    Thanks for the nice test and effort. I am still drooling to see what selection of lenses you acquired…wow
    Any hint where to get Speedbooster in the Europe?

    • I believe the eBay seller “Lensadapter4U” has some deal with Metabones, but you won’t gain anything, as their offer is more expensive. I bought my adapters from eBay seller Lasjashk, the official Metabones seller. You can also write directly to them, and they will send you invoice.
      If that is too expensive, did you consider cheaper – Techart or RJ adapter?
      Kipon is also supposed to join the club shortly.

  3. Zafar Anjum says:

    I bought RJ adapter and tested Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 3,5/18 ZE With my Sony NEX-FS100.
    This didnt worked at all. Please dont buy this adapter.

    Zafar Anjum

  4. Unknown says:

    I love your site! Thank you so much for doing so many amazing tests and sharing the results. Quick question – did you have any clearance issues with the Speed Booster and the Zuiko Macro 50 F2? Some Zuiko’s have lens protrusions that cause problems and the 50 f2 looked questionable.

    • Thanks. Zuiko 50/2 is on the edge, but it can be mounted as you can see from enclosed images. Just be careful, because it might fit just so,so. After taking it off, I haven’t seen any marks on the SB glass, neither on the Zuikos. Therefore, if it does get in contact, it’s probably at the mechanical part.

    • Unknown says:

      Thanks! Lots of my Zuikos look really close but the 24 2.8 and 50 1.8 are the only ones that don’t fit so far. 50 1.2, 1.4 85 f2 and 35 f2 are all good.

  5. Camera Droid says:

    Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.sharp lenses
    thank you 🙂

  6. Mario says:

    I dont get it. why the 50mm 1.2 on APS-C sensor with speedbooster is equivalent with a 35.5mm? Since it is cropped sensor the 50mm with out speedbooster is equivalent with 64.5mm. so once you add the speedbooster it brings you back to 50mm. not 35.5 ??

    • Hi Mario,

      35mm lens is 35mm on both Full Frame and APS-C. What differs is field of view between the two formats.

      This comparisson was done when majority of users still had APS-C sensors (Full Frame mirrorless wasn’t available). From the perspective of the users of APS-C cameras, adding speed booster to lens such as Canon 50/1.2 meant that they got equivalent of approx. 35.5mm lens (f/0.85) in comparison to other lenses that they are using on the system. Such a lens has similar FOV as Sony SEL 35/1.8 OSS e.g. Both of those lenses (and all other 35mm lenses in this article) would have similar FOV of approx. 50+mm on FF cameras (but those that were made for APS-C will not cover larger format).
      For the user of APS-C camera, Canon 50/1.2 with Speed Booster will get close to viewing experience of any other 35mm lens on the market mounted on their camera. Thus, this combination represents another 35mm lens for their consideration. That’s the reason for the description.

      Cheers,
      Viktor

  7. Rafael says:

    Hi Viktor,

    are you still into this specific topic? I’m currently searching for an inexpensive 35mm lens for my NEX6 because I’m somewhat dissatisfied with my 18-55 kit lens. Can you maybe recommend the Canon FD 2.8 35mm? Firstly, I was also interested in the Sigma 30mm f2.8 EX DN lens but then I realised that the quality only slightly differs to my current kit lens except the bokeh. I’ll use it for street photography, especially for black and white so sharpness is crucial for me. I think it’s pretty hard to find something that ideally costs me about 50€ or maximum 100€.

    BTW, thanks for your great effort!

    Cheers,
    Rafael

    • Hi Rafael,
      I am recently looking for investors in order to keep lens testing on Verybiglobo running, but meanwhile I also designed the comparison tool with up to 4 comparison windows which I’d like to put in work. However it all costs lot of time and money and it is hard to collect at least a partial refund, so who knows what the future brings…
      For your particular question, I would recommend Canon FDn 35/2.8, but even more Canon FDn 35/2, which you should be able to find for approx. 100 USD in good condition. I also like Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.4 MC but that one runs for more. Problem with most of those legacy lenses are all sort of aberrations at wide open apertures, so if the “sharpness” is what you are after, I am surprised that you didn’t find Sigma E 30/2.8 appealing. Modern lenses such as Sigma might be little “clinical” but you will hardly beat it with any legacy counterpart when it comes to “sharpness”.
      If you don’t need more speed or subject isolation with the “faster” lens, I honestly believe that you will benefit more from a good BW software processing than from the lens upgrade, if the “sharpness” is your main concern. Try e.g. piccure+ (30 days free trial I believe) and see if it works for you.
      Cheers,
      Viktor

  8. Rafael says:

    Viktor, thanks for your fast and very helpful answer. I wish you all the best with your website.

    Since I’m more or less a beginner when it comes to photography, I sometimes don’t really know what I actually want 😀 I’m on the search for a prime lens because a friend of mine recommended it to me (he’s a decent photographer) to get to know composition and stuff and not simply adjusting the zoom on my current lens when the motif doesn’t fit into my viewfinder.
    That’s what I also thought, the Sigma’s results are very clinical compared to older lenses and I don’t know if it’s worth the 100 bucks to have a slightly more bokeh. Correct me if I’m wrong but when I compare the Sony kit lens and the Sigma I see almost no difference, except for the bokeh.
    I’ll definitely give the software a try before getting a new lens, thanks for that.

    Cheers,
    Rafael

  9. Hi Rafael,
    your friend has good point in using primes over zooms, but you might tape your zoom at certain position just trying to simulate fixed FL. Great lens is Sony SEL 24/1.8Z and 35/1.8 as well as Touit, but they are all way more expensive, In the legacy world, fast wider lenses were usually very pricey and 35mm was considered as a rather wide angle. There is nice Konica AR 40/1.8 which can be found for cheap, Minolta also had 35/1.8 I believe for not much more, some TV C-mount lenses are valid APS-C option, such as Tevidon 35/1.9, and even 15 USD Fujian 35/1.7 can be nice and creative tool. I loved Tevidon but it cost more. I am using often Sony FE 35/2.8 ZA for BW street photo, and I prefer CV Nokton 35/1.2 when I want more specific look. You might also consider Lens turbo II and than cheap Canon EF 50/1.8 or FD focal reducer. This solution might cost more initially, but you can use adapter for more lenses later. If you like Canon FD 35/2.8, just go for it, though f/2 will give more sense imho, allowing for better subject separation.
    There are also Takumar 35/2 and mighty Konica AR 35/2 (or very rare 28/1.8), most of them being more expensive though. With those older lenses just make sure that you can return bad sample, because condition of the glass may vary quite a lot.
    All that being said, good knowledge of post processing techniques and routines will improve your final images more significantly, than optical differences between Canon, Takumar Oly, Pentax, Nikon , Zeiss and other comparable (same FL and speed) legacy lenses.
    Try the taped zoom method and send me one RAW image if you want, that you are not technically happy with (but you like it otherwise) and I will try to process it differently ,so that you can compare results.

    Cheers,
    Viktor

  10. Rafael says:

    Hi Viktor,

    I already marked the points (35mm and 50mm) on my zoom lens to simulate a prime lense. I’ll check out the Konica AR 40/1.8 , seems like a pretty compact lens – compared to the Canon FD 2.0 35. All these other lenses are surely great but some of them cost twice as much as my current setup 😀

    I’ll contact you later personally when I’m at home and send you a picture.
    Thank you very much for everything so far, it’s hard to find good support when it comes to photography. I really appreciate it.

    Cheers,
    Rafael

  11. Toni Puma says:

    Hi Victor,
    first of all thank you very much to share your excellent reviews…
    I’m very attracted by the CZJ Tevidon 35 1.9 that you reviewed…I already own the 16/1.8 (for Nikon 1 system) and it shows an incredible center resolution and an unbelievable lack of CA. I suppose that in this regard the 35/1.9 is even better. My only doubt is about bokeh at closer apertures…Tevidon diaphragms are usually triangle-shaped and I suspect that this affects the bokeh quality at middle apertures (f/4-5.6…optimal diaphragms for this lens)…can you reassure me about this suspect?
    Cheers.
    Toni

    • Hi Toni,
      native “bokeh” of Tevidon 35/1.9 is certainly not the smoothest and most of all, it is usually hard to make significant subject separation. This is due to a rather limited magnification and f/1.9 is not great for super shallow DOF either. But I have one Tevidon 35/1.9 with removed aperture (normally they create triangle shape as other Tevidons), and I made my own fully circullar ones (using lens baby creative aperture set). It is easy to place the aperture by simply twisting the whole front element by hand. If I find time, I will post a short tutorial.
      Cheers,
      Viktor

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