One side shot with Canon 24-105, other shot with Sony 18-55. Can you tell which is which? Click on the image for a larger version.
I love good lenses. The feel of a Zeiss lens when I turn the focus ring is probably the same to me as a sip of a bottle of $500 wine to a wine connoisseur. Zeiss ZF and ZE lenses provide an excellent quality image. The Canon L lenses look good too, though they don’t feel as good or seem as well built as the Zeiss. Both are expensive.
Last fall I ended my participation in the DSRL revolution with the purchase of a Sony FS100. I didn’t get the kit deal with the Sony 18-200 lens because I had the Canon 24-105 L lens plus the 70-200 L. The zoom range was covered, and the 24-105 had OIS. Also, all my lenswhore friends had no respect for the Sony lens, and being a lifelong lenswhore, neither did I. But after using the camera for a few months I’ve come to regret not buying that 18-200.
The 24-105 is significantly heavier than the Sony lens. Insert the Metabones adapter between lens and camera and the weight is increased and is farther from the center of gravity, making it feel even heavier. Makes me nervous to use it without the lens support, which requires setting up the rods and all. The 70-200 really sticks out there, though it’s lighter than the 24-105. So I began to wonder what it would be like to give up the 70-200 and the 24-105, which I consider one of Canon’s best zooms, and go with that long range superzoom. It would be more convenient, but at what loss in quality?
The advantages to the Sony lens: lighter weight, shorter length, no adapter, a single lens to cover the range of two, and an OIS system that allegedly works better for hand held walking shots. Disadvantages: Not a constant F4 (it goes from 3.5 to 6.3), not an L lens, probably not as sharp.
I decided to do a test between the 24-105 and my Sony kit lens I got with the NEX-7. That lens is an 18-55 f3.5-5.6 and costs about $200 with the camera, less than $300 if you buy it outright. I figured if it looked halfway decent, then the $900 18-200 should look better. But I expected it to look really soft compared to the L lens.
It actually looks pretty good. The frame grab you see is from the video clip that was shot with the L lens at f5.6, close to 55mm, and with the Sony lens at 55mm, f5.6. The camera was set at 5600K and I forget which picture profile. Nothing was done to the clips; I just loaded and overlapped them so I could watch side by side. Some daylight is coming in, some overhead fluorescent. Both shots looked less red in the original than after exporting to H.264. I don’t see all that much difference in them. Seems to me that either lens is good.