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Why speed matters and why Sony should make some crazy fast f/1.2 (or f/1.0) FE lenses


I do own the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 FE lens. I love its size and it’s the lens I used most in the past three years. But just today I decided to test my old Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4 M-mount lens on the new A7rIII. And it was instant and deep love.
From a purely technical point of view this is a step backward: The Zeiss is sharper, has less Vignetting and no smearing in the corner. But there is a kind of “character” in the Voigtlander that I miss from most current modern lenses. I love the compact size (just marginally bigger than the Zeiss), I love the manual focusing ring, I love the looks of the lens and I love the speed it has that gives me so much more creative choice.

Yes, I now want speed…as much as I can get! I surfed on sites to check on all available options and I stumbled upon a great article from Thorsten Overgaard that explains in easy word why speed matters (he tested the insane Leica Noctilux 50mm f/0,95). He writes:

Photography has always been about photographing at the highest shutter speeds, at the fastest film speeds, with the fastest lenses and in as little light as possible.
For precision work that require straight lines, sharpness, ease of use and defined details, Noctilux is not the answer. Most Leica photographers will have other lenses that does that well and better. But when we need some witchcraft and fascination in our photography, som artistic bokeh, some challenge of our ability to focus we take out the Noctilux.

To “see” what he means with that check out that image he shot with the Noctilux:

Some will hate the fact that they can’t clearly determine where the focus is … and if it’s really sharp. That is not the point; look at the atmosphere and consider if there would be a photo if it had been with another lens.

I know there are plenty of fast lenses out there to be used with adapter. But I would prefer Sony (or Zeiss or Sigma) to give me some native options optimized for the use on Sony cameras.

I hope Sony will consider to make super fast lens range for the FE system. Voigtlander recently tried to do this with the 40mm f/1.2 FE lens. But the focal length is odd and I hope they will make an improved FE version of their 50mm f/1.1 M-mount lens soon.

Noctilux 50mm f/0,95 vs Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 FE vs Canon 50mm f/1.2 via CameraSize.

My personal opinion is that having manual focusing lenses would be better: To keep the size down (see Noctilux vs 55mm FE image above) and allow us a creative use via proper mechanical focus ring. But I bet Sony would go for big and autofocus lenses only: With the blogosphere and reviewers world being so focused on MTF, focus speed and tech specs there is little space for the “creative value” of a lens. Dear Sony engineers listen to me and not to your managers (LOL), gives us a WOW lens and make a Noctilux alike manual lens for half the price!

Now let’s put my idea under vote and see how many SAR readers consider my proposal as valuable:

Should Sony launch a series of f/1.2 (or faster) FE lenses for creative use?

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