…. but sometimes it’s the lens

Yeah, it may not be the camera indeed, but lenses do play a huge role in our photographic success (of failure, for that matter).

MarlaSept13-106I took my kid, my dog, and the Sony 50 1.8 DT horseriding today

In my rolling reviewing and testing of A mount lenses in the dim but crazy contrasty indoor barn where my kid takes her pony riding lessons, I figured out a very fast lens with good AF might be more useful than a zoom, and decided to test a few bright primes. The camera is the NEX 7 with LA-EA2 SLT adapter mounted. So far I’ve tested the Minolta 50 1.7 (bright, but erratic AF performance and tons of purple fringing) and the Sony 16-50 2.8 SSM (optically cracking good, with fast AF, but a tad to slow aperture wise and too short in focal length) so the Sony 50 1.8 DT was next in line. It was put to the test today. And I have to report results are not encouraging.

MarlaSept13-104Sure, the light is still beautifully eerie

MarlaSept13-101and I did a mistake of my own, which didn’t help performance

Hoping to take advantage of the lens’s very bright max aperture, I set it, realistically, at F2 for great sharpness, and put the camera in A mode with Auto ISO enabled. Wrong move. Since there is no way to configure a minimum shutter speed, the camera chose stupidly low values in order to keep the ISO down. So yes, I got properly exposed and pretty clean shots ranging from ISO 500 to about 800, but my shutter speeds dropped to sloppy 1/80th, which was hardly good enough to ensure sharp shots. It’s not so tragic in itself. What is, is that I shot the *whole* damn session this way, not becoming aware of the issue, hence not correcting it. Lazyness at its worst…


The second issue I ran into (which actually got my full attention and prevented me from addressing the first one), was the AF performance of the lens. Bad, bordering on abyssmal. There’s a lot of hunting and racking back in forth involved, the whole affair is pretty noisy and by the time it does AF you’ll have missed plenty of shots. Not to say it’s not usable. It’s just not reliable enough to be useful.

MarlaSept13-102When it nails focus it works well, is sharp with good contrast

MarlaSept13-99with pretty smooth bokeh

MarlaSept13-97I had another problem at rather close focusing distance. My kid’s face seemed slightly blurry in my EVF, as if the lens couldn’t quite properly focus on her. I shot anyway to find how it’d turn out, and it seems rather ok. I ran into the same issue trying to focus on my dog’s face for this shot, and again, the outcome is ok (?!?)

CannelleSept13-32I don’t quite know what to make of those focusing woes. In my home it seems to focus pretty reliably as long as I use the center AF point (the others result in miserable hunting unless lighting is optimal).

MarlaSept13-95Cannelle got to ride as Marla wanted a picture with both her pony *and* her dog to identify her coat hanger in the school hall

MarlaSept13-103Otherwise the ride was pretty uneventful

MarlaSept13-94She wasn’t really in schooling mood so I told her to just do what she felt like, which meant trotting a bunch of laps 😉



MarlaSept13-105And always a final hug

Overall little decent images, and a lot to cull for misfocus and motion blur. The 50 1.8 DT will make way for its more expensive sibling, the 1.4 version, by next week, which I’ll put through the exact same workout and see how it handles it.

MarlaSept13-96Overall the kid had fun, practiced, and I got to shoot. Not a bad afternoon I’d say.


About marla2008

Shutterbug. Shallow DOF nut. Mother of Child. Student of the Horse.
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