Brian's Photo Blog — Article 04
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Building the Lens Kit
Thursday 10 February 2011   —   Category: Equipment
As I wrote in my last blog entry, I've ordered a new Sony Alpha α55 camera body, but it’s not going to be here until March. While I’m waiting, I’m ordering lenses to make up my camera kit. As I mentioned before, the pathetic stock lens — a Sony DT 18-​55​mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens — just won’t cut it for me. Prime lenses could be nice, but such a kit would first cost too much, and second weigh too much, to be practical. Therefore I’m planning on building my kit around two or three high-quality zoom lenses.

One thing to keep in mind is that cameras with an APS-C sensor, like the Sony α55, have a focal length multiplier of 1.5. What this means is that a 50mm lens functions as a 75mm lens (1.5 x 50) on an APS-C camera. In other words, 75mm is the 35mm-equivalent focal length. If the same lens were attached to a full-frame 35mm sensor camera (or a 35mm film camera), it would have the 50mm focal length that the lens is designated as. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the lenses I am getting.
This Sony Carl Zeiss 24-​70​mm f/2.8 zoom lens is going to be the normal, everyday lens that I keep on my camera. Its focal length — from medium-wide-angle to medium-telephoto — is very versitile for general use. If I could have only one lens, or take only one lens with me on an outing, this would be it. As mentioned above, because the α55 is an APS-C camera, the 35mm-equivalent focal length of this lens on the α55 is 1.5 times larger: 36-​105​mm.

Its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture ensures good low-light performance. As with everything in life, this great performance comes at a cost. Weighing 2 lbs. 3 oz. (985g) — slightly over twice as heavy as the α55 body! — measuring 3¼ by 4⅜ inches (83 x 111mm), and costing $1,600, this lens is neither light, small, nor cheap. In fact, it costs more than twice as much as the α55 body! But, you get what you pay for, and there’s no way I’m going to get a nice body like the α55, and then skimp by settling for a cheap lens.
As you can see from the pho­to, this next lens is a bit wider as well as much long­er than the lens above — and more ex­pen­sive too! The Sony G-​Series 70-​200 mm f/2.8 tel­e­pho­to zoom is a monster — the above-​mentioned 24-​70​mm lens mounted on the α55 body are, together, still shorter than this lens! This hunk of glass and metal weighs 2 lbs. 15 oz. (1300g), measures 3½ by 7¾ inches (87 x 197mm), and costs $1,800. Yikes!

As with the previous lens, the fast f/2.8 maximum aperture ensures good low-light performance. And once again, because it’s being used with an APS-C camera, the 35mm-equivalent focal length of this lens on the α55 is 1.5 times larger: 105-​300​mm. It also comes with a nice, heavy-duty case. In addition, this lens is compatible with Sony’s teleconverters, so the focal length can be extended — which leads us to the next lens....
This Sony 2x teleconverter attaches to the above-mentioned 70-​200​mm lens (but NOT the 24-​70​mm lens — too bad!!), and turns it into a 140-​400​mm lens — the 35mm-equivalent focal length of this lens on the α55 is 1.5 times larger: 210-​600​mm. As usual, there is a price to pay for this blessing (besides the $480 it sells for) — the photographic cost is losing two full f-stops, causing the above lens to have a maximum aperture of f/5.6 instead of f/2.8. But in those cases where you need the extra focal length, that’s not a very high price to pay. For the relatively low cost of this converter (compared to the above lenses), it gives you the capabilities of an additional lens (like the Sony 70-​400​mm f/4-5.6 telephoto lens) without having to shell out the big bucks to buy one (to the tune of $1,800) — that makes sense ... and cents!
Last, and maybe least, I definitely want to have macro capability with my new camera. Sony has three different macro lenses available, but since I don’t really know why I would want one focal length over another, I decided to go with the focal-length in the middle, the Sony 50mm f/2.8 macro lens. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of shots I can get with this!

Well, there you have it — some things to keep me occupied while I’m waiting for my α55 camera body to arrive: the joy of dreaming, the joy of shopping, and the joy of having the UPS guy bring photographic goodies to the door! It will be a glorious day when I have a camera body to attach all of these lenses to! Hopefully less than a month to go!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 04
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