Sony An unscientific comparison test


Aug 4, 2013
You know how it is. You receive a new lens and instead of concentrating on producing beautiful photographs the first thing you actually do is go out and test it.

In this case I decided to 'go-a-bit-Leica' with and acquire a Summcron-C 40mm M mount lens. I already own the C-90 and (of course) a Novoflex adapter which I bought initially to use with an CV Ultron 21/1.8.

About eight years ago I purchased an Epson RD-1 (remember that camera? The first M-mount digital rangefinder) and a Summicron 50. I beetled down to my local canal lock and shot pictures of various bits and pieces and remember now with wonder 'developing' the first shots (I think in Lightroom 1 beta!). I was immediately seduced by the so-called Leica glow of one particular image, that of the mechanism which raises and lowers the sluice gates that allows water into and out of the lock itself.

So, yesterday morning, despite the grim grey skies (which were exactly the same iirc as approximately eight years ago!) I went back to the lock to test shoot my C-50 along with the FE 35 and FE 55 on a Sony A7. Here are the results and my comments.

First off the C-50 Summicron at f2. I shot in S-mode and Auto-ISO as I wanted to ensure steadyness of the shot as this is a manual lens. Focus was on the prong on the face of the mechanism, which at 100% looks a bit like Pinocchio's nose!.

100% crop:

I really like the rendering of the metal - it has a lovely patina in the photograph. As you can see from the detail shot, very nice sharpness as well as a good bokeh.

Next, the FE 35/2.8 at f2.8.

To me, equally good colouration as the C-50, a little more contrasty however at 100% the sharpness is excellent and in line with the best that modern lens design can deliver and the bokeh is nicely smooth even at f2.8. Of course the minimum f2.8 shutter produces a little less background blur but in landscape this is actually a good thing as the elements in the background have a little more form and this to my mind enhances the overall 'story' in the landscape.

Finally, the FE 55/1.8 at f1.8

100% crop:

What can I say? The FE 55/1.8 appears to me to be the best of the bunch. The sluice post 'pops' out of the image with the kind of 3-d-ness that is normally associated with the best Leica lenses. Gorgeous colouration under the diffuse overcast, to me a real 'Leica-glow' effect, more like a Summilux than a Summicron, spectacular sharpness (even at f1.8!) and bokeh is super-creamy.

So, what does this tell me?

I do like the C-50, it produces lovely colouration and excellent sharpness. But I am all again in love with the 55/1.8 which must be one of the best 35mm lenses in the marketplace at present.

To show that I am not just interested in testing the C-50 here are some photographs from St Pancras Old Church graveyard, proving that the A7 is a terrific platform for all sorts of lenses, not just the Sony FE ones.

"The Hardy Tree" - Google for an explanation.

"Sloane Mausoleum" - the cupola is said to be the inspiration for the canopy on the iconic British red telephone box.

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