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Old Jan 13, 2011, 7:04 AM   #1
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Default Sony A55 - what lenses for my first DSLR?

I think I'm pretty firmly decided on the Sony A55 so now I'm looking at lenses. I'm thinking so far of the following which will hopefully come down further in price when I'm ready to buy later this year:

The Camera+18-55 kit lens (599)
Sony 35/1.8 Prime (150)
Tamron 70-300 (99)

The 35/1.8 has had good reviews and sounds nice and sharp for a relatively cheap lens which should be good for low light and portraits. The Tamron I'm not so sure on - possibly too soft at the long end? - Any other telephoto suggestions for less than 200? Will any of these let me do macro shots and can I use my Raynox 250 with any of them?
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Old Jan 13, 2011, 7:13 AM   #2
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Can someone move this to the Sony DSLR section if it makes more sense as it's about the lenses, not the camera choce now. Thanks.
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Old Jan 13, 2011, 7:26 AM   #3
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No problem. Moved.

That kit looks like a good bet. Yes, the Tamron is a bit softer towards it's longer end. So, you may want to stop it down a tad if lighting permits (i.e., shoot at f/8 or f/11 versus f/5.6 to sharpen it up a bit).

But, you'll find the same issues with any of the budget 70-300mm lenses (they all tend to get a bit softer towards their 300mm end, especially at wide open apertures).

As an alternative, you may want to consider the Sony 55-200mm (giving you about the same angle of view you'd have using a 83-300mm lens on a 35mm camera). That would give you a smaller and lighter lens. Of course, you don't get 300mm (same angle of view you'd have with a 450mm lens on a 35mm camera) with it like you would with the Tamron.
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Old Jan 13, 2011, 8:28 AM   #4
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P.S.

Another thing to keep in mind is that any Minolta Autofocus lens will work on the A55; and you can often find some bargains if you're a good shopper. dyxum.com is a good resource to find the ones that work better, as they maintain lists of many Minolta Autofocus lenses (and you can click on a specific lens to see specifications, links to sample images, and user reviews from Konica Minolta and Sony dSLR owners)

Fixed Focal Length Lenses in Minolta A mount

Macro Lenses in Minolta A Mount

Zoom Lenses in Minolta A mount
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Old Jan 13, 2011, 9:05 AM   #5
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Make sure the Tamron is the Di LD. There's a cheaper version that's not, and it's not nearly as good. If you want a better lens, it will cost you. There's the Sony 70-300 'G', or on the used market, there's the Minolta 75-300 Macro "Big Beercan" and the Minolta 100-300 APO.

The 35/1.8 is a good indoor/low light lens, but it's a little short for portraits.

BTW, if you think you might need to use flash, there's an issue with the A33/A55 that has yet to be resolved. When using a flash, those cameras have a shutter lag of about 1/2 second or so. Sony knows about the problem, but has yet to release a fix.
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Old Jan 13, 2011, 9:40 AM   #6
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Thanks both. I'm not buying for another 6 months or so so plenty of time to really research it and make sure Sony gets the bugs sorted.

TCav - when you say 35/1.8 is 'a bit short for portraits', what would you recommend instead? I want something that will do well in low-light (not dark but typical poor indoor lighting) family situations where I can get good pictures of people in the room without using flash. I guess for more formal portrait work you want a 50 so you can stand further back yet still fill the frame? That would give a less harsh perspective I guess?
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Old Jan 13, 2011, 11:22 AM   #7
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Portraits are photos of a single person or possibly a couple. A short focal length lens will have an odd perspective at a distance where the subject fills the image. For a 35mm film SLR or a 'Full Frame' dSLR, a good portrait lens has a focal length of from 85mm to 135mm. On an APS-C dSLR, that works out to from 57mm to 90mm.

But if, instead of 'Portrait' you mean small group shots, 35mm may actually be too long. Indoors, you're usually constrained by how far away you can get, so for small groups, you'd typically need something wider in order to capture more than two, possibly three people.

You might consider getting the A55 body (without the 18-55 kit lens), and get the Tamron 17-50/2.8 or Sigma 18-50/2.8.
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Old Jan 13, 2011, 11:42 AM   #8
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IMO, the 35mm f/1.8 will be just fine for shots of family members indoors in a typical home environment. If you want mostly head shots, a longer lens may be a better bet.

Perspective distortion is a matter of focus distance, not focal length (and a 35mm lens on a body with an APS-C size sensor gives you roughly the same angle of view as a 53mm lens on a 35mm camera).

For a general purpose prime for indoor shooting without a flash in a typical home environment, I would not go much longer than 35mm.

Otherwise, you may not be able to back up far enough to get your subjects into the frame. I often use a 28mm f/2 for that purpose (and even then, it can be tough to get group shots in closer quarters, since you can only back up so far).
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Old Jan 13, 2011, 11:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimC View Post
Perspective distortion is a matter of focus distance, not focal length ...
True, but with a wider angle of view, you need to get closer in order to get a similar composition of a nearby subject, which as a consequence, increases the perspective distortion.
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Old Jan 13, 2011, 1:59 PM   #10
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Yes it the raynox 250 can be used it it is the right thread size, or if it is larger then the lens used it with a step up ring.

But the raynox is not that great on a dslr or larger sensor camera. They will shot the flaws of the lower price lenses even more. I had a raynox 150 a very long time ago, before I could afford a true macro lens. It mag, but it also mag the problems of the lens. Avoid conversion lens for years. Recently I was talked into give a canon 500D close lens a shot, and they are better then the raynox. Higher grade glass, and they have very good center sharpness and color transmission.

So if you want to try macro for a while without a true macro lens, a better conversion lens with the 70-300 will give you better results. the raynox 250 will not give you much working distance. It is equal is like the canon 250D close lens. It is more for super macro, while the raynox 150 or the canon 500d is for regular macro close to 1:1.
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