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Possible Lens Choice

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owenn01 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote owenn01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Possible Lens Choice
    Posted: 15 March 2019 at 14:38
Dear All,

I can't believe I am going to ask this but here goes. I'm toying with the choice of either an 85mm/1.4 or one of the 135/1.8 or 2.8 STF lenses.

Purpose? I'd like to get a better overall background 'look' to flower shots as the Spring and Summer draws near and, whilst I have a Sigma 105/2.8 macro for really close up shots, I'd like to see if I can get better OoF quality from one or either of these lenses if I can. of course, I can apply it to other areas of image taking (and probably will) but flowers/nature would be the principle 'target' at the moment. I think it's time to move on (for a while at least) from Southwestern USA image taking!

I'm interested specifically from those of you out there that have actively used any of these lenses and can give personal 'hands on' experience of using them on a day to day basis, including the bad stuff along with the good.

Current (and for a while yet, only) camera is an a99 MkI - can;t see that changing for a while.

Looking forward to your thoughtful feedback and best regards,

Neil.

My Mantra: "Comment on other's work as you would wish to have yours commented upon". Go on - it's fun!
 



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addy landzaat View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote addy landzaat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2019 at 14:52
What is the reason you're considering the 135/1.8 or 85/1.4? The 135 STF is really nice for flower photography and if that is your main subject... There is a reason it is sometimes referred to as Specially Tailored for Flowers.

I guess you looked at the sample threads.
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pegelli View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2019 at 14:56
Interesting question

My input would be:
- I don't like the STF type bokeh for many shots, to me it feels too sterile/smooth/unnatural but this is very much a personal taste, many people like it

- I had the 135/1.8 CZ and for close up flowers it's a real treat, I liked the rendering of both the sharp parts as well as the bokeh, the latter is smooth but not sterile. However I sold the lens because it was so heavy and big that I hardly bothered taking it along, so it went to someone who was willing to use it more.

- I still have the old Minolta 85/1.4 RS G, again a nice rendering for both close-ups and farther away but not as sharp as the 135/1.8 CZ, it's more dreamy, especially wide open. Also for flowers you will sometimes need tubes to get close enough. I have no experience with the 85/1.4 CZ, but it focusses a lot closer and a lot of people also rave about the rendering of that lens.

I assume you've already looked at the sample images for these lenses and see how you like them for flower close-ups. But maybe browsing the many "Flowers" themed threads will also uncover some examples that swing you one way or the other. In the end bokeh is a matter of personal taste, so the only ones to trust are your own eyes.

Good luck with the hunt.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote darosa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2019 at 15:12
My choice would be the STF.

I don't like the fast 85mms as they all suffer from CA wide open, and some of that, especially the greenish/blueish, can be impossible to remove when your subject is green/blue(ish) too.

The Sonnar is a beautiful lens but big and heavy.

I think you would like the STF a lot. It's a great tool for careful, documenting photography, making the subject stand out and shine. Bokeh of course is super smooth. My bokeh preference has shifted a bit to the wilder side but STF bokeh is always a pleasure.

Another plus of the STF is that it takes the Sony TCs. I have used it with the 2x and was amazed by the results. My experience with the 2x on other lenses has been so so and I never expected it to be any good on the STF but it's excellent!
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pegelli View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2019 at 15:42
Originally posted by darosa darosa wrote:

I don't like the fast 85mms as they all suffer from CA wide open, and some of that, especially the greenish/blueish, can be impossible to remove when your subject is green/blue(ish) too.
Excellent point Leo, I totally forgot to mention that. This dictated that my flower shots with my 85/1.4 were usually f2.8 or even smaller apertures.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote waldo_posth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2019 at 19:24
My choice would be the STF as well. I have the Sonnar F/1.8 135mm and the Planar F/1.4 85mm. I like their OOF rendering very much but I am always taken by Mikey's flower shots which he takes with the STF. Prices for good used copies of the STF have come down (I saw one going on the bay for less than Euro 500) - it's probably the least expensive choice as well.

Another option would be the LAOWA/Venus STF F2 105mm which gives you one stop more. I have checked examples on Flickr and my first impression has been quite positive. A new copy might match the price of a used Sony STF.
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owenn01 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote owenn01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2019 at 22:32
Harald - I fear the LAOWA/Venus STF F2 105mm is E-mount only?

The STF is starting to look a possibility if I head in this direction but more feedback would be welcome!

best regards, Neil.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote whiteheat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2019 at 22:45
Well, here's an out of the park idea. Is AF a must? Could you live with an MF only lens? If so, as a cheap option I can recommend the Carl Zeiss Jena MC 135mm F3.5 Sonnar in M42 mount. Get a reasonable quality M42 to A mount adaptor and away you go. A good condition lens can be had for $200 to $300. The results I found to be excellent, especially in the colours department. Great for static and slow moving stuff. Not recommended for anything moving with some alacrity, but otherwise I found it to be a good alternative for when I want to exercise my MF skills.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote QuietOC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 March 2019 at 23:28
I am not sure about old Jenas, but there is a nice Minolta AF 135mm F2.8 that is quite inexpensive. It needs extension tubes for close focusing.

The Samyang 135 F2 and Laowa 105 F2 STF sound like decent candidates. Phillip Reeve has a comparison of the Laowa with the Minolta/Sony 135 STF. The Laowa is available in A-mount.

Edited by QuietOC - 15 March 2019 at 23:34
Sony A7II A6000 A77II LA-EA3 LA-EA4 MC-11 MD-NEX KR-NEX DA-NEX
Minolta Maxxum 600si
Pentax Q7 5-15 15-45/2.8 8.5/1.9
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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 March 2019 at 15:15
I do quite a lot of flower photography and I find that an aperture of even f2.8 is unusable due to the limited depth of field. Maybe we want different things from the images ...

Of the lenses I've tried (not the STF, unfortunately!), the best background OOF behaviour is the little plastic 35-105mm Minolta. That gives a lovely dreamy quality that you will either love or hate! I find that cheap lenses with uncorrected SA tend to give smoother bokeh than the better and more expensive ones, and for some reason some lenses which give lovely bokeh near infinity can be horrid close-up.

Also, the aperture you want seems to be very heavily dependant on focal length. f1.8 may be fine at 50mm, but f4 at 100mm and f6 at 200mm can push the background out well.
Miranda F & Sensorex, Sony A58, Nex-6, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras . . .
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JST1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 March 2019 at 20:07
I have the ZA 85mm 1.4 and the 135mm 1.8. I also have the Minolta 100mm Macro. Went back through my flower shots and could not find one image taken with the 85mm. I know I have used it but didn't save any.
The Minolta 100mm:


The 135mm:


The 135 is the best lens I own. I love it for all it's capabilities and it's flaws. It will be the last lens I sell if I give up this hobby.

Honorable mention, the Sony 70-200mm G is great and you don't get the CA's.
JST- a99, a77II, a900, a700, RX1, 14 mm 2.8 tamron, 85 mm 1.4 ZA, 100 2.8 Minolta Macro, 135 mm 1.8 ZA, 70-200 2.8 G SSM, Minolta 300 2.8 G, Teleconverter 2X Minolta, 150mm-600mm Tamron.
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owenn01 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote owenn01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2019 at 16:52
Hi Folks,

Time for an update. I took the decision to go with the 135/1.8 ZA; there was a great copy for sale here on the Forum and after a little 'toing and froing' between us I am now a very proud and pleased owner.

it's been for it's first outing this weekend and, just looking at the raw files, I don't think I am going toe disappointed. It's baptism of fire was at a local country house with a large bluebell wood so nothing like a baptism of fire so to speak!

BTW - the choice was quite hard; I'd looked really hard at the STF (there's even a brand new one at Park Cameras discounted to £699 which was exceptionally tempting!) but - to be honest - it was the last image posted above by JST1 that did it for me - that was exactly the sort of rendering and shot I'm looking to try and move more into with practice and therefore it (hopefully) fits the bill perfectly.

Images to come soon once I get round to some processing!

Thanks again to everyone for their input and suggestions - it really made a difference.

best regards Neil.,
My Mantra: "Comment on other's work as you would wish to have yours commented upon". Go on - it's fun!
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JST1 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JST1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 April 2019 at 17:44
Congratulations. You will love it.
In case you are prone to buyer's remorse, I offer the following:







JST- a99, a77II, a900, a700, RX1, 14 mm 2.8 tamron, 85 mm 1.4 ZA, 100 2.8 Minolta Macro, 135 mm 1.8 ZA, 70-200 2.8 G SSM, Minolta 300 2.8 G, Teleconverter 2X Minolta, 150mm-600mm Tamron.
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