Plaintive Tweet: Someone Really Needs to Do a Lens Recommendation List for the Sony A7s

by Hugh Brownstone7 Comments

@boxfx tweets:

“Given the A7s is a full frame Sony camera, someone really needs to do a lens recommendation list. So many options, but no perfect choices”

True dat.

One of my main go-to sites for quantitative lens and sensor evaluations, DxOMark, often has a “best lenses for…” article, but not yet for the A7 family (you CAN, however, get a listing of lenses which have been tested with the A7R by going into their Camera Lens Ratings section and setting a filter for the A7R).

One of my other favorite sites,, has a nice piece on using vintage glass the A7 and A7R – but not with the A7s.

Similarly, has recommendations for the A7 and A7r – but again, not for the A7s.

And the A7s is a different kettle of fish, isn’t it?

Or is it?

Sony A7s First Impressions Review
What difference does the 12Mp sensor make in the ORDER in which lenses rank, compared to the 24Mp and 36Mp sensors in the A7 and A7R, respectively? More importantly: what difference in IMAGE quality does the 12Mp sensor allow lenses to make, and given the sensor is the gating factor, does it make sense to spend for the highest performing lens irrespective of sensor?

It’s not clear to me, but I have a sneaking suspicion (though by the way, it's never just about sharpness, is it?).

Especially with DxOMark’s Perceptual Megapixel (P-Mpx) Measurement, for example, what we CAN say is that the combination of the A7R and Sony FE Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm F1.8ZA yields the highest perceived sharpness of any lens they’ve tested with the A7R thus far, at 29 P-Mpix.

So what?

The very similarly performing Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 – which scores an identical 29 P-Mpix on a Nikon D800 and is at the top of that camera’s lens food chain, only scores 21 P-Mpix on a Nikon D5300 and only 12P-Mpix on the older D3.

As we'd expect.

And these measures are ALL at full, still photography resolution — what the heck can we actually squeeze out of these lenses at 1080p?

Anyone out there know?

Can we – should we – extrapolate from full resolution results using the full sensor image in still photography to a down-res’d or down-sampled sensor outputting 1920 x 1080?

We’d like your thoughts.


(cover photo credit: snap from Luminous Landscape)


  1. Here’s my two cents worth after nearly 40 years in the video business.  I’ve read so much about lenses that today, more than ever, I think it truly comes down to the DPs preference.  Whatever he or she chooses for a lens is the right lens…for them.  Sure a high quality, expensive lens should produce a sharp photo of video with little or no distortion and render accurate color but we’ve all read of many DPs and photographers experimenting with strange old lenses (most made for shooting with “film”) that give them a unique “look” on video.  If that’s what they are after, then more power to ’em.  There will be one or two, or more lenses most DPs and photopgraphers will want to have in their kit for the A7s but it seems the mantra today is “anything goes!”  That is what makes creativity.

  2. Joe Ogiba Great combo, Joe.  Looks like you’ve got your bases truly covered.  Do you have a sense, though, of the degree to which these lenses outperform other choices when one only has the 12Mp of the A7s — or less, when one goes to 4K?

  3. stantod Well put! I love Canon’s 50/1.4 — creamy, dreamy at 1.4 even though it isn’t nearly as sharp as other competitors out there — but I only use it in certain circumstances.  At other times, I want and crave that STM auto focus capability of their new 18-55, and am happy to shoot with much smaller apertures.  I really do wonder, though, it we’re all missing something very basic when we read stats.  Does video resolution which is a fraction of that available to us on even “beginner” cameras — a bit of a misnomer in my book, anyway, when you think about the Leicas that Cartier-Bresson used almost a century ago — make the highest-performing lenses irrelevant?  Thanks for chiming in, gents!

  4. 24/2, 50/1.8/, 85/2, 105/2.5 – Vintage Nikkors baby, and If I want AF, the FE55/1.8 is a stunning walk around prime.

  5. I have a set of vintage primes and rokinon cine primes all adapted to EF mount. EF is the new PL mount 🙂 ! So I can have whatever look I need although there is something to be said about older glasses that can be a bit soft, flare more, have much more color variation ( for better or worse or just different ! )…. and of course you can always put a black promist on front to take the edge off and soften the contrast of modern glass for yet another look… and I have some 138mm nets that are yet another look…. so it all depends on what you want. bottom line is the gear we have now is so incredibly good and cheap compared to 10 years ago. you can really make whatever image you want from ultra sharp and contrasty to soft diffused and flared and anything in-between for a tiny fraction of what the old gear used to cost….

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