Part III of the Sony FE 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Full-frame E-mount Telephoto Zoom Lens Review. In this review I wanted to see how the 24-240 stacked up against my Sony 35mm f/1.8 prime lens on the APS-C sensor Sony NEX-7.
Sony 24-240mm (SEL24240) vs Sony 35mm F/1.8 (SEL35F18) on a Sony NEX-7
After I posted my first review of the new Sony 24-240mm I checked out other reviews and reader comments. Some people were saying that the initial 24-240 tests were looking pretty good while others were saying it’s not good enough for them and they’ll stick with their fixed focal length prime lenses. As I read more zoom versus prime comments I began to wonder how much of a difference there would be between the 24-240 and a prime lens. The last time I compared my 18-200mm to a prime it actually didn’t do too bad. So I decided to check the 24-240 against my Sony 35mm f/1.8 which is known as a pretty sharp lens.
Comparing the image quality of a general purpose zoom lens against a fixed focal length prime lens is somewhat unfair. By default, a prime lens will almost always have better sharpness, less distortion, and much better optical performance in just about every way. But, a prime lens can’t zoom. And that’s the main tradeoff. With a zoom like a 24-240 you get decent optical quality with the convenience of not needing to change lenses. With prime lenses you get excellent optical quality but need to switch lenses if you want a different focal length.
So the question becomes, is the quality difference so much better with prime lenses that it’s worth the effort of changing lenses instead of using one zoom lens to cover a large focal range? It depends on a person’s needs. If you’re a studio portrait shooter you may mostly use something like an 85mm f/1.4 and on the rare occasion you need to switch lenses it only takes a few seconds. For a landscape photographer, changing a lens during bad weather conditions may not be an option and could mean missing that spectacular blue light shot.
So let’s take a look and see how the 24-240mm and 35mm compare at 35mm f/8 on the Sony NEX-7. While this doesn’t compare different focal lenths it should at least give a general idea of how the zoom does against the prime.
Sony FE 24-240mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Full-frame E-mount Telephoto Zoom Lens Review Part II. In this review I wanted to see how it stacked up against my trusty Sony 18-200mm (SEL18200/Silver) on the APS-C sensor Sony NEX-7. The crop factor and effective 36-360mm range on the NEX-7 may make the 24-240mm an interesting option for those who want a little extra zoom.
Sony 24-240mm (SEL24240) vs Sony 18-200mm (SEL18200) on a Sony NEX-7
I wanted to compare the 24-240 against the 18-200 because the 18-200 has become a trusted lens for me. The 18-200 isn’t perfect but it’s darn good for what it is. When I first got it a few years ago I did some field-testing and wasn’t expecting much. When I got back and inspected the images I was pretty surprised with how good the results were. Not best-ever good but it performed exceptionally well for what’s considered a non-professional general-purpose zoom lens. Very good center sharpness. Good side sharpness. Decent corner sharpness. Nice color and contrast. Has some distortion, vignetting, and fringing, but all easily corrected in Adobe Lightroom. In my past experience, general purpose zooms usually weren’t good enough for my needs which is why I had a bag full of Canon lenses. The 18-200 changed my thoughts on that. So if the 24-240 performed as good or better that’s all I was hoping for.
Sony has a few different 18-200mm models. The one I have is known as the “Silver”. Why? Well, because it only comes in silver. Looks kind of odd on the black NEX-7 at first but I quickly forgot about the color after using it. So how does the 24-240 performance compare to the 18-200? In summary, very similar. And that’s a good thing.
My Sony FE 24-240mm just arrived so I did some testing on the Sony A7R and also compared it against my Nikon D800 and Nikkor 28-300mm. This quick review covers a bit of my progression from DSLRs to Sony mirrorless, compares sizes between systems, and has a few images to give a general idea of how the lens performs. This isn’t a scientific test in a controlled lab. Just some general thoughts of a cityscape/landscape photographer.
Moving from DSLRs to Sony Mirrorless
For a while I was shooting with a Canon 5DMII and a bag full of lenses. Lugging around 30 lbs of gear and constantly switching lenses wasn’t really working well. I wanted to scale back on gear to go lighter and work more efficiently. I looked into the Canon 28-300 but it’s a monster. The Sony NEX-7 and 18-200mm caught my eye. A small, light, and versatile combo. But how good could it be especially compared to a 5DMII? Well, surprisingly good. Surprisingly, meaning when I first got it I wasn’t expecting great results from a utility 18-200 on a new and relatively unproven mirrorless camera. I took the NEX-7/18-200 and 5DMII/24-70 both out shooting so I could compare side-by-side results. I was pretty shocked. I opened two photos in Lightroom at 100% and thought I had accidentally picked two 5DMII photos. Nope. The two were so close in sharpness at the center I had a hard time telling the difference and in some areas the NEX-7 was better. Can you tell which is the Sony or Canon?