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Gear & Apps

5 Things The Sony E Mount System is Still Missing

By Bing Putney on January 5th 2017

While it has certainly matured quickly in the short time it’s been in existence, the Sony E-mount system is still the new kid on the block compared to the likes of Canon and Nikon. The sensor technology and performance of the A7 series is impressive to say the least, but many pros were hesitant to switch from their DSLRs due to the relative lack of lenses, accessories, and lighting gear. Over the last year-plus, Sony (and Zeiss) have filled many of the gaps in their lineup, but a few holes still remain.

1. Fast Wide Zoom

Specifically, a 16-35 f/2.8, or somewhere in that general range. Sony currently offers an f/4 lens in this focal range, which is a solid piece of glass, but many professionals would welcome a faster, sharper option. I understand that f/4 is adequate in many situations, especially with the in-body stabilization offered by their cameras, but the IBIS only works on stationary subjects. With any movement in the frame you’re forced to crank the ISO.

Sony has already aced the holy trinity of prime lenses; their 35mm F/1.4,  50mm f/1.4, and 85mm f/1.4 GM are outstanding. Their f/2.8 G Master series zooms, the 24-70mm and 70-200mm, are excellent as well. It’s time that they complete the wide end of the set.

2. Native Tilt Shift

Tilt shift lenses can be thought of as a niche piece of equipment, but they also have a variety of creative uses. Architectural photographers swear by them, they can be used to effectively miniaturize landscape and cityscape shots, and even portrait and wedding photographers can use them to isolate their subject.

Sony has addressed macro lenses, which is also a somewhat specialized category, with two solid performers, and tilt shift offerings should be added to the list.

3. Long Telephoto

To this point, the A7 series is considered a no-go for wildlife photographers, simply because of the lack of long telephoto lenses. The sensors in the cameras are certainly up to the task. Bird photographers could make excellent use of the resolution, color depth and dynamic range of the A7Rii, and night photographers could get extraordinary results with the A7Sii  if only they had access to lenses with the necessary reach.

At this point the longest prime lens available for the E mount is 90mm.  A variable aperture 70-300mm is available, and the new 70-200mm G Master  will be compatible with two teleconverters, 1.4x and 2x, which will get shooters to 400mm at f/5.6, but a dedicated native E-mount long telephoto would open up the system to a new world of photographers.

4. Native 135mm prime

Again, Sony has already filled the major gaps in its system, and it’s possible to get a similar look with a 70-200, but a good, fast 135mm prime is a favorite of fashion and beauty photographers everywhere, and would be a showstopper paired with an A7 series body. Canon’s 135mm f/2 is a legend in some circles, but it’s also old enough that the AF system doesn’t work well when adapted to E-mount. Also, Sony already has an excellent 135mm f/1.8 in their A mount lineup, which can be adapted to E-mount, but it would be so much more tempting if it were just available in E-mount natively.

5. Dual Card Slots

This is a major sticking point for professionals. As rare as a card failure is, pros aren’t keen to take any risks with a day’s worth of photos. The slightest chance of losing key moments from the ceremony is likely scaring multitudes of wedding photographers away from the system entirely. There continue to be rumors of a mythical A9 camera in the Sony pipeline, acting as a bigger mirrorless brother to the A7 series. When this camera, or something similar, arrives, I would be shocked if it doesn’t have dual card slots. With the release of the A99ii in their A-mount SLT line, I believe it’s only a matter of time before such a camera arrives, sporting an E-mount, larger form factor, and an uncompromising collection of the new technology found in the A99ii.

[REWIND: Sony A99II Hands On | The A99II AF Could Be In The Same League As The Nikon D5 & Canon 1DX Mark II]

If anyone from Sony is reading, my A9 wish list would also include a much larger buffer, faster burst shooting, in-camera raw processing, wireless tethering support, and a joystick for AF point selection. And, I suppose, a touchscreen.

Is there anything missing from this list? Anything you’d like to see from Sony in 2017? Let us know in the comments.

About

Bing is a professional portrait and on-set still photographer who lives in Los Angeles, and frequently travels the world to explore new and interesting cultures and pastries.

Website: bingputneyphotography.com
Instagram: @bingputney

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Patrick Mayer

    Well, things jave changed in 2018.

    The Sony E-mount system does have the 16-35 f2.8,  a long telephoto (100-400), at least one third party title &shift option, a native 135mm lens ( Zeiss Batis) and dual slot ( on the A9).

    What I think is still missing are third party converters (Kenko, Tamron, Sigma: where are you guys? There is a definite need for this type of product…

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  2. Florian Lazzari

    Well, a 16-35 2.8 is obviously the next lens to complete the GM series, there were also rumors on sonyalpharumors, month ago. It will probably be released with the A7iii within the next 2-3 month. Also a 135mm will be a logical next step, likely within the Batis Line (maybe within Batis and Loxia). Apart from that I really have to agree.

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  3. David Kalonick

    These are just some of the many reasons I’m confused why people left Nikon/Canon.

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    • Black Z Eddie

      Probably because the ones that left don’t have a need for the lenses as stated above. Or, they are happy using adapters because of the range of possibilities. You don’t need native lenses to take great photos.

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    • adam sanford

      BZE is dead on here. Moving to a new mirrorless platform opens up all kinds of creative new opportunities, but you lose some creature comforts like first party AF. For many, that tradeoff is totally worth it.

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  4. Bjorn Hermansen

    I agree with all especially the telephoto primes and dual card slots for the added security of file safety. I use the 135mm 1.8 on my A7II and it’s a fabulous lens. I wish for native 135 but even more so I’d like to see Sony add a 200mm prime also.

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  5. adam sanford

    I’ll throw in a few more things:

    1) A grip large enough to wield big fast lenses. If you are going to throw size savings out the window with an f/1.4 prime or f/2.8 zoom, give photographers a chunkier handle to wield it.

    2) The trust of working professionals. It’s more than just sensors and lens offerings, or pros would have all migrated over by now. Ergonomics, handling, reliability and service really matter.

    3) Also: Speedlites? I never hear any commentary about Sony flashes, so either the current ones are perfect or folks are just consigned to third party solutions.

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    • Will Gavillan

      Most people I know shooting Sony are using 3rd party strobes and speedlights from Godox/Flashpoint. For the price, the Sony speedlights are not worth it.

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    • Bing Putney

      I think the grip is a personal preference. When I shoot larger lenses on my A7Rii, I just use two hands, and it’s fine. There’s also a vertical/battery grip available for A7 bodies.

      Sony does have a solid selection of TTL speedlites available. They’re solid, but it seems like photogs from various systems are going for 3rd party these days. Pye shoots Canon and prefers the Phottix speedlites, for example.

      As for the trust issue, I think it will come with time. These mirrorless bodies are new and different, and established pros, accustomed to bigger SLR bodies, are understandably hesitant to trust a new system with a limited track record.

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