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?
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)
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 Makro (134)||$4,900|
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
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.
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:
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.
Since we stuck to Nikon lenses for our primes, I highly recommend Nikon zooms as well. Canon zooms are equally good, if not better:
- Nikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II
In Part Four we will look at filters and internal recording.