In Part Two we covered prime lenses used for still cameras. In this part we’ll look at the cinema lenses and zoom lenses available for the Sony A7s.

If you need help in deciding on a cine lens as opposed to a still camera lens, read what is a cine lens and how is it different from photo lenses?

Zeiss CP.2

 

Challenges to using cine lenses

There are three ‘problems’ with using cine lenses on the Sony A7s:

  • Cine lenses will make handholding unwieldy, if not impossible. Neither camera nor lens will have image stabilization.
  • There are only two manufacturers that make full frame cine lenses for the Sony E mount.
  • There are no cheap options for the full range of focal lengths.

 
There is nothing that can be done for the first option, except to use a proper rig and follow focus system. No free lunch here.

The two manufacturers that make cine lenses for the full frame sensor, in the Sony E-mount, are:

  • Samyang (Bower, Rokinon, et al)
  • Zeiss

 
We’ll learn more about this in the next section.

Recommended cine lenses for the Sony A7s

Here’s a chart comparing cine lenses for the Sony A7s:

Samyang Zeiss CP.2 (114) Canon (with Adapter) (114)
Lens Approx Price Lens Approx Price Lens Approx Price
14mm T3.1 (N) $399 15mm T2.9 $5,700 14mm T3.1 $5,220
24mm T1.5 (77) $699 18mm T3.6 $3,990 24mm T1.5 $5,220
35mm T1.5 (77) $519 21mm T2.9 $3,990 35mm T1.5 $4,950
85mm T1.5 (72) $349 25mm T2.1 $4,500 50mm T1.3 $4,950
28mm T2.1 $3,990 85mm T1.3 $4,950
35mm T1.5 $4,900 135mm T2.2 $4,950
50mm T2.1 $3,990
50mm T2.1 Makro (134) $4,900
100mm T2.1 $4,900
135mm T2.1 $5,700

Note: Information in brackets is the filter thread diameter in mm.

Right of the bat you can see that, though Samyang cine lenses are cheap and offer great value for money, they lack a few critical focal lengths for a full frame sensor. Both Canon and Zeiss offer an excellent range of lenses, though I prefer Zeiss CP.2 for the following reasons:

  • They have cheaper options
  • They have greater options and focal lengths
  • They have a macro option
  • They don’t need an adapter

 
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Is there a middle ground?

Yes, and no. It seems unlikely that any manufacturer will make great cine lenses in the sub-$1,000 price range, so the next best option is to modify a still lens for cinema work. Two companies that have been doing this for a while and have sufficient track records are:

  • Duclos Lenses – $250 for a full cine-mod, and $409 for a cine-mod plus mount change (you need to contact them for Sony E-mount at present)
  • GL Optics – they also provide casing modifications, and the prices run greater than $3,000 per lens. For primes, the charges are too high. For zooms, they might be a bargain (considering the prices of cine zooms)!

 
In either case, these services don’t have a worldwide presence, so you must be aware that replacements and service will be slow; and if you want a quick replacement in an emergency you likely won’t find the same lens.

Cine zoom lenses for the Sony A7s

This is where cine-mods make sense. Zoom lenses for full frame sensors are as rare as UFO sightings:

Lens Approx Price Mount (Filter thread)
Tokina 16-28mm T3.0 $4,499 EF/PL (114)
Zeiss LWZ.2 15.5-45mm T2.6 $19,900 EF/PL (114)
Zeiss 15-30mm CZ.2 T2.9 $23,900 E (114)
Zeiss 28-80mm T2.9 CZ.2 $19,900 E (95)
Zeiss 70-200mm T2.9 CZ.2 $19,900 E (95)

It would be the rare individual who will buy a $20K zoom for a $2.5K camera.

Sony 70-200mm f4 OSS

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Zoom lenses for still cameras

So we come full circle as to why it’s a good idea to stick to zoom lenses made for still cameras on the Sony A7s. If you already own zoom lenses stick with the brand you own, and get adapters. If you’re starting from scratch, here are my picks:

El cheapo

Stick with the ones made for the Sony E-mount by Sony:

 
If you want f/2.8 and don’t have the budget for the high-end Nikon zooms, you can also opt for Tamron equivalents at f/2.8. It goes without saying that any zoom lens for a full frame sensor can be adapted to the Sony A7s.

Top-of-the-line

Since we stuck to Nikon lenses for our primes, I highly recommend Nikon zooms as well. Canon zooms are equally good, if not better:

 
In Part Four we will look at filters and internal recording.

 

7 replies on “The Sony A7s 4K Guide (Part Three): Cine and Zoom Lenses”

  1. what sort of bracket for lens – if my lens is heavier than the A7 body, and doesn’t have a lens mount for tripod
    how do I mount such a lens to a tripod ?

  2. I’m in the process of selling my 5D Mark III along to get the A7s. Problem I am having is what to do when it comes to the lenses… Should I 1) keep my Canon L lenses; 2) Buy vintage Nikkor prime lenses or 3) get the FE PZ 28-135mm G OSS lens coming in December for $2995. THAT would really be my only lens for shooting corporate videos etc.. and maybe a Tokina 11-16mm for my 3-axis gimbal. what to do, what to do……..

  3. i don’t have a lot of lenses, but i have a few, and having played with my a7s i thought i would like to share tat hands down my favorite lens is my 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS that i retained when i sold my fs100. i recall that everyone complained about this lens on the fs100 for its apertures not being so good in low light, especially zoomed in. but this camera compensates for that downfall with its ISO. i LOVE this lens. it offers not only a huge range, but also i am able to achieve very stable footage even when zoomed in all the way if it is necessary. i borrowed my friends e-mount 50mm f/1.8 lens to see what i think, and i gave it bad the next day because i like the 18-200mm better. in fact the 18-200mm gives me shallower depth of field if i need it. all i need to do is set it at a long focal length and step back if i need that. plus it gives me a fairly wide shot if i need it at 18mm which is a good 24mm full frame equivalent. i realize there is no such thing as a one size fits all lens, but this lens fits nearly every need i have until i can afford more lenses. i have some rokinon cine lenses too, and a couple other various assorted glass, but i would like to humbly recommend that anyone getting the a7s consider this lens. with its aps-c crop, it also apparently reduces rolling shutter that would otherwise plague the camera in full frame mode. i would like to do a review of it soon.
    ps, thank you for all your articles and reviews and guides. i read them regularly and appreciate everything. i subscribe via Feedly, so thanks very much

  4. Sorry the comment was meant for Part 2 si I’ve put it there as well. Feel free to delete the ones here.

  5. Actully Contax (I have a set of primes) are full frame and would work extremely well on the A7S. The glass in the Zeiss Contax is the same as the glass in the Zeiss ZE’s but are a third of the price. They’d give even the CP.2’s a run for their money in terms of glass quality. The barrels have long focus throws but of course being full frame shooting with an 85mm at f1.4, focus is critical. When handheld I used to focus with my feet rather than on the lens and got quite good at shifting my body in and out to keep the eyes in focus or whatever it was. Bokeh is very good to as long as you get the right ones (some have a ninja star shape bokeh when opened just before f1.4 but dissappear when fully open.

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