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Thread: A99 lens options

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    A99 lens options

    Greetings from snow-packed Maine...new to the forum here. My name is Doug and I shoot an A99, primarily with the Sony 24-70 2.8, which I've been pretty happy with, but I've been wondering lately if it would be worth exploring prime options for IQ benefits. I also have a Sony 70-300G, which is okay in good light, but nothing to write home about. The majority of my work is nautical, landscape/seascape, nature details stuff.

    Before I go out and rent some lenses, I'd be very interested in hearing from other A99 shooters on the subject. I'm thinking maybe (5) primes to cover my current/future needs: something in the 20-24 area, 35, 50/55ish, 85 and 135 or 150. Actually, we can take the 135 out of the equation - I recently rented the Sony/Zeiss 135 1.8 and almost fell on the floor...astonishingly great piece of glass.

    Looking forward to any and all comments.

    -Doug

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    Re: A99 lens options

    I have been using my A99/A900 as my main vacation/travel system for the past two years. I normally take three zooms (16-35/2,8, 24-70/2,8, and 70-200/2,8) plus the 50/1.4. The Sony/Minolta 50/1,4 is a bit weak at 1,4.

    For prime lenses, I use the ZA 24/2, 35/1,4 (Sigma), ZA 85/1,5, ZA 135/1,8 and Minolta 200/2,8 APO. All these primes are excellent and ZA 85 and ZA 135 are the main reason I got into Sony in the first place.

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    Re: A99 lens options

    Welcome, Doug!

    I too use the a99 for wildlife shooting and find the 24-70 ZA paired with the 70-400 G cover pretty much all my needs (but I use MF for landscapes) except macro. I strongly recommend the Sigma 70 mm macro if IQ is a top priority.

    The 135 mm is stellar, one of the sharpest I ever owned but I sold it (to one of our hosts on this site!) because I used that focal length so rarely - I found the 70-400 G more useful. I'm told the 85 mm is the other super-sharp lens but again, it's not a focal length I use, so I've never owned it.

    I bought the a7r as back-up to the a99 (with the LE4A adapter for A mount lenses) but like it so much that I've been sucked into buying EF lenses for it too.

    As you may have observed, there are a lot of gear sluts, even outright w****s, on the site!

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    Re: A99 lens options

    Ocean, thanks for that list. Those are the primes I've been thinking about a bit as well. I'm unfamiliar with the Minolta 200 2.8/APO, but will now go off to learn about that.

    Bill, thanks for your thoughts on the subject. I'll def. look into the Sigma 70. In your experience, has the IQ of that one been consistently superior to the Sony/Zeiss 24-70 at that focal length?

    The A7R: yes, I've been pondering that too but I typically don't print larger than 20x30, so have been telling myself I don't need the extra resolution. Weight/size isn't a biggie for me, however, the fact that you can mount all kinds of glass on this camera is pretty compelling. Looks like the initial Sony/Zeiss FE lenses are getting high marks too. Ugh.

    Thanks for your suggestions folks. I appreciate it!

    -Doug

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    Re: A99 lens options

    The Minolta 200/2.8 APO is an old design but it still maintains its reputation. Here are some reviews of the lens:
    Minolta AF 200mm f/2.8 APO G HS - Review / Lab Test
    Review: Minolta 200mm f/2.8 Apo G

    Another Minolta lens that I really like is the Minolta 100mm f2.0.
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: A99 lens options

    Quote Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
    The Minolta 200/2.8 APO is an old design but it still maintains its reputation. Here are some reviews of the lens:
    Minolta AF 200mm f/2.8 APO G HS - Review / Lab Test
    Review: Minolta 200mm f/2.8 Apo G

    Another Minolta lens that I really like is the Minolta 100mm f2.0.
    Thanks for this!

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    Re: A99 lens options

    If your looking at the 35, be sure to check out the Sigma 35 1.4 as it is a stellar performer. Much better than the Sony or Minolta version.

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    Re: A99 lens options

    Hi esch - the Sigma 35 1.4 is on the list. Seems to be a lens that is universally praised. Thanks!

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    Re: A99 lens options

    Hi Doug also a Sony A900 and A99 shooter. It is my prime system for wedding and portrait photography. Also use it for other personal photography from time-to-time.

    This is my list of current A mount lenses, all ZAs: 16-35/2.8, 24/2, 24-70/2.8, 50/1.4 (most recent addition to the ZA line-up), 85/1.4, 135/1.8 and the odd-duck Sony 500mm mirror that is uniquely AF and benefits from In Body Stabilization.

    I sold my 70-200/2.8G due to lack of use compared 135/1.8 usage.

    The ZA24/2, is better than the 24mm end of the 24-70 and has a closer minimum focus; The new ZA50/1.4 is optically a bit better and has that Zeiss signature color/contrast compared to the much cheaper screw drive Sony (Minolta) 50/1.4, but the ZA version also features much faster AF due to use of a SSM AF drive, has a metal body, and is weather sealed; the ZA85/1.4 is a very good lens but not great it exhibits more CA than I'd like to see, and it is a screw drive lens rather than SSM focusing; The ZA135/1.8 is one main reason I got into the Alpha system simply a wonderful lens, IMO, the flag ship of the whole A mount system followed by the ZA24/2 and new ZA50/1.4.

    I do not have a macro because I use a Leica S for that type work if I did want a 35mm macro it probably would be a Zeiss 100/2 Makro-Planar adapted to my Sony A7R where more resolution may be of benefit for large prints of small things.

    - Marc

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    Re: A99 lens options

    Hi fotografz - thanks for your thoughts on these lenses...very much appreciated. If the 24 and 50 are even close in performance to the 135, then that's pretty exciting. Think I have some glass to go rent.

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    Re: A99 lens options

    I can second an oddball choice: the Minolta 500 mm mirror. Dirt cheap, auto focus, and in body stabilization. For a mirror, pretty sharp. Here is a sample made with the A900.
    Dave in NJ
    http://www.modernpictorials.com/wild...LIFE/D387A.jpg

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    Re: A99 lens options

    I have an a900 and a99. I'm using mostly older Minolta lenses (many of which are the same optically as the Sony lenses), but do have a few newer lenses. I have the Minolta 20/2.8, 28/2, 35/2, 35/1.4, 50/1.4, 85/1.4, 135/2.8 and the 28-75/2.8. I also have the 70mm Sigma macro mentioned by several others, the Sony 50/2.8 macro, the Sony 85/2.8 SAM lens, and the Sony 70-300 G. I also have an old Minolta 75-300 that I should get rid of and have used a few others. Having written all that down, I didn't realize I had that many.

    Although the 70mm Sigma has a great reputation, I don't really like it. Maybe it's the focal length or the colors, but I much prefer the Sony 50mm Macro. I think the Sony is just as sharp if not sharper and prefer working with a 50mm more than 70mm (I don't really do macro, but like to get closer than non-macros usually allow).

    I don't like the 50/1.4 unless it's stopped down to at least 2.8. It's not very sharp wider open than that and the bokeh is ugly to me. The 50 Macro is better all around, especially since I won't use the 50/1.4 wider open anyway.

    I know it doesn't have a great reputation, but I really like the 35/1.4. Wide open, it is really funky in a way the sometimes works very well and stopped down it is sharp enough for me even to the corners. It's not as sharp as something like the 50 Macro, but even the largest prints I can make (17x25) look sharp enough for me. It's my most used lens. I got the 35/2 more recently hoping for similar performance stopped down in a lighter weight package for travel, but the corners aren't as good stopped down and really bad wide open. About 2/3 of the frame is very sharp wide open, but the corners just look bad. The 35/1.4 is more consistent across the frame. It's probably not as sharp until about f/4, but you don't have the sudden transition from very sharp to very blurry like the 35/2.

    I'm not much of a super wide person, but the 20mm works great for me when I need something wide. The 28/2 is a very nice lens too, much better than the 35/2.

    The 85/1.4 is very nice although I wish it focused closer (it's the same as the Zeiss for close focus). Most comparisons I've seen show little difference from the Zeiss. I got the 85/2.8 for travel. I really like the size and weight (I don't use 85mm all that much) and find it sharp enough. The closer focus is very appreciated. Beware, the SAM motor doesn't allow the camera body to control AF vs MF (I usually have my cameras set to MF with AF controlled by the AF/MF button on the back, but this doesn't work for the SAM lenses).

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    Re: A99 lens options

    Quote Originally Posted by jsparks View Post
    I have an a900 and a99. I'm using mostly older Minolta lenses (many of which are the same optically as the Sony lenses), but do have a few newer lenses. I have the Minolta 20/2.8, 28/2, 35/2, 35/1.4, 50/1.4, 85/1.4, 135/2.8 and the 28-75/2.8. I also have the 70mm Sigma macro mentioned by several others, the Sony 50/2.8 macro, the Sony 85/2.8 SAM lens, and the Sony 70-300 G. I also have an old Minolta 75-300 that I should get rid of and have used a few others. Having written all that down, I didn't realize I had that many.

    Although the 70mm Sigma has a great reputation, I don't really like it. Maybe it's the focal length or the colors, but I much prefer the Sony 50mm Macro. I think the Sony is just as sharp if not sharper and prefer working with a 50mm more than 70mm (I don't really do macro, but like to get closer than non-macros usually allow).

    I don't like the 50/1.4 unless it's stopped down to at least 2.8. It's not very sharp wider open than that and the bokeh is ugly to me. The 50 Macro is better all around, especially since I won't use the 50/1.4 wider open anyway.

    I know it doesn't have a great reputation, but I really like the 35/1.4. Wide open, it is really funky in a way the sometimes works very well and stopped down it is sharp enough for me even to the corners. It's not as sharp as something like the 50 Macro, but even the largest prints I can make (17x25) look sharp enough for me. It's my most used lens. I got the 35/2 more recently hoping for similar performance stopped down in a lighter weight package for travel, but the corners aren't as good stopped down and really bad wide open. About 2/3 of the frame is very sharp wide open, but the corners just look bad. The 35/1.4 is more consistent across the frame. It's probably not as sharp until about f/4, but you don't have the sudden transition from very sharp to very blurry like the 35/2.

    I'm not much of a super wide person, but the 20mm works great for me when I need something wide. The 28/2 is a very nice lens too, much better than the 35/2.

    The 85/1.4 is very nice although I wish it focused closer (it's the same as the Zeiss for close focus). Most comparisons I've seen show little difference from the Zeiss. I got the 85/2.8 for travel. I really like the size and weight (I don't use 85mm all that much) and find it sharp enough. The closer focus is very appreciated. Beware, the SAM motor doesn't allow the camera body to control AF vs MF (I usually have my cameras set to MF with AF controlled by the AF/MF button on the back, but this doesn't work for the SAM lenses).
    Thanks for sharing this...very helpful Yeah, you have a lot of glass!

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    Re: A99 lens options

    a900 shooter here. I have the Minolta 24/2.8 (used very infrequently), the 35/2.0 (stellar), 50/1.4 great color rendition), Leica R 50/1.4 Leitax adapted (great lens), 135/1.8 (one of the best lenses I have ever ever ever used and amazing at 1.8 and 2.0), the 70-200/2.8 G APO with 1.4x extender (great lens for sports but not as good as the 135/1.8), and the Leica R 180/4 Leitax adapted (sharper than I thought, and very light weight). If I could shoot everything with the R 50 and ZA 135/1.8 I would, but I cannot.

    I had the ZA 85/1.4 but it decoupled from the body and bounced twice on a concrete sidewalk outside of a Krystal burgers in Starke, FL. If I get another 85, I will bypass the ZA and get the Minolta 85/1.4G because I really like the color rendering of the older Minolta lenses (A mount).

    I won't get the ZA 35 or 50 because of the expense and because my other 35 and 50 are perfectly fine.

    Yes, you have a lot of choices to think about. Good luck.

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    Re: A99 lens options

    Quote Originally Posted by MikalWGrass View Post
    a900 shooter here. I have the Minolta 24/2.8 (used very infrequently), the 35/2.0 (stellar), 50/1.4 great color rendition), Leica R 50/1.4 Leitax adapted (great lens), 135/1.8 (one of the best lenses I have ever ever ever used and amazing at 1.8 and 2.0), the 70-200/2.8 G APO with 1.4x extender (great lens for sports but not as good as the 135/1.8), and the Leica R 180/4 Leitax adapted (sharper than I thought, and very light weight). If I could shoot everything with the R 50 and ZA 135/1.8 I would, but I cannot.

    I had the ZA 85/1.4 but it decoupled from the body and bounced twice on a concrete sidewalk outside of a Krystal burgers in Starke, FL. If I get another 85, I will bypass the ZA and get the Minolta 85/1.4G because I really like the color rendering of the older Minolta lenses (A mount).

    I won't get the ZA 35 or 50 because of the expense and because my other 35 and 50 are perfectly fine.

    Yes, you have a lot of choices to think about. Good luck.
    Completely agree about the ZA 135/1.8. I rented that recently, and was just floored by its performance. Magical lens. Think I may need to track down some of these Minolta goodies. Thanks for the info. on those. BTW, sorry to hear about your ZA 85 mishap. That sucks.

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