First of all, I would like to make it clear that I did not
burn PhP80k for a lens, no matter how beautiful. Hear my story out.
Secondly, I would like to declare that I have been lead to believe that a certain jug in our Hacker House
contains orange juice when it was, in fact, orange juice with alcohol
. I don't really drink so that might affect the lucidity of this post. But my first declaration stands completely. No amount of drunkenness will make me throw PhP80k for something that does not earn me back some money (yet).
So, well, to stop beating around the bush, I got the SAL35G F1.4, a refurbished(? is that the right term?) Minolta prime, last March and it has been the lens I've been alluding to ever since. What would make buy a prime lens, you might ask, when I've (mistakenly!) declared previously
that I find a prime lens useful for studio photography but not much outdoors. The first reason, is the price.Again, I did not burn PhP80k for this, hell no.
The thing is, I got it at a discount of more than 50%
. That keeps the SAL1650 in its position as my most expensive photography-related purchase to date.
The reason for the sale, I believe is Sony's decision to, uhmm, unofficially abandon the A mount system, in favor of E mounts. While I am impressed by their new camera offerings---me and my photography-minded coworkers talk of the A7R II in tones of mixed excitement and reverence---I can't help but feel pissed (betrayed even!) at their decision. I've already bought an adapter in preparation for the seemingly inevitable switch and I've even tried it on an A6000 a few times now but I really still feel disappointed for the A mount line. Ah well, it got me this lens at an excellent discount, so maybe I should look at that silver lining.
The second factor that goaded me into getting this lens is my aforementioned photography-minded coworkers. Kinda crazy for primes and the apertures they can achieve. Mix that in with my recent involvements with the Philippine Astronomical Society. Boom. Purchase looks inevitable, no?
So how do I really feel about this lens, now that I've had around a couple of months to play with it? The short answer is, I'm really glad I got this at an excellent discount.
I am not pro but I could clearly see the flaws Kurt Munger pointed out in his review of this lens. Granted, I've no experience with other primes to compare but it seems to me that you'd pay the bulk of its original price for the F1.4 aperture and not much else.
Among my issues are
- Focus/Image sharpness. Well, I kinda expected this given that I keep shooting at F1.4 but I noticed that the autofocus does not work as well as with my other lenses. I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that I've shot in manual focus with this lens more than any of my other lenses and I've just had two months with it. Maybe it's the fact that this is my only lens that stops hard at infinity but I've yet to figure out how that (missing?) feature actually affects my shooting.
- It can't zoom. Hahaha okay this is the alcohol talking.
But I am happy with the lens' performance overall (helped, undoubtedly, by the fact that I got it at an excellent discount). Getting it for the wide aperture really enabled me to get shots I would otherwise be unable to get, even with the SAL1650. And now I can see the purported benefits of prime lenses: you focus on your framing more and you just take the shot at the spur of the moment due to the absence of options for other focal lengths. And taking the shot, first and foremost, is photography at its core.
My old point-and-shoot had a narrow range of optical zoom, the rest being grainy and noisy digital zoom. As such, I almost used it exclusively at its default widest focal length. Having a decent zoom was one of my main attractions when I got the A35. I wasn't so conscious then of how I shot photos with my point-and-shoot but I find it funny that now, after a little more than four years, I'm back to using my legs to compose my shots.