B&H Wedding Guide: Sony Lenses

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Experienced wedding photographers know it’s essential to use a variety of different lenses to create a compelling visual document that sets their work apart, enhances their professional reputation, and will be treasured by their clients. Photographers using full-frame and APS-C-format Sony Alpha DSLRs now have an impressive optical array to choose from. Focal lengths range from fisheye to telephoto zoom and just about everything in between. The lenses presented here include wide-angle zooms and prime lenses, wide-aperture portrait, normal and macro lenses, and a selection of Carl Zeiss and Sony G-Series lenses designed to deliver exceptional image quality.

Full-Frame Lenses on APS-C Cameras: What Changes?

All the following lenses (with the exception of the Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 DT Standard Zoom) cover the full-frame (24 x 36mm) format provided by the current Sony A99 and the previous top-of-the-line A900. When they’re used on APS-C-format Sony Alphas, such as the A77, A65 and A58, their effective focal lengths increase by a factor of 1.5x due to the smaller format, thus narrowing their angle of view to simulate a longer focal length lens. For example, when the Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss T* is mounted on an A77 its equivalent range becomes 24-52.5mm—in effect, a normal lens instead of a wide-angle at the long end, and a wide-angle instead of an ultra-wide at the short end. Sony APS-C-format lenses, including the 16-50mm f/2.8 DT, are not compatible with full-frame Sony cameras.

All-Around Zoom Lenses

The Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss T* Standard Zoom lens is an extremely versatile lens for shooting weddings. At the 24mm setting it covers an 84-degree angle of view, ideal for photographing large and small groups, guests at reception tables and overall views of the wedding hall, all with minimal perspective distortion. At the moderate telephoto setting of 70mm it covers a relatively narrow angle of view of 34° and can be pressed into service as a portrait lens for shots of the bride and groom, parents and siblings, or for documenting the ceremony. Its constant f/2.8 maximum aperture facilitates shooting without flash in low light and using moderate ISO settings for maximum image quality and minimal noise. At wide apertures in the f/2.8-to-f/4.0 range, it yields shallow depth of field for creating striking pictorial effects by blurring the background or foreground. Its nine diaphragm blades form a circular aperture and help in capturing natural-looking bokeh in out-of-focus areas.

This compact Carl Zeiss lens also delivers outstanding image quality and detail thanks to its advanced 16-element, 13-group optical design that incorporates three Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) elements and two aspheric glass elements for enhanced color correction, low distortion and consistently high performance. It also employs a proprietary Zeiss T* coating to increase light transmission, minimize flare and ghosting and increase contrast. Its SSM Super Sonic Wave motor uses an advanced piezoelectric design to achieve high torque at low speed, and a rapid start/stop response to provide swift, silent AF action that’s crucial when shooting HD video. It also provides Focus Mode and Focus Hold functions to increase AF speed by limiting the focusing range, and aid precision by locking-in the focus point. When used on an APS-C format Sony Alpha, this lens is equivalent to a 36-105mm, which is also excellent for general event coverage and classic portraiture.

Prime Macro Lenses

Both the Sony 100mm f/2.8 and 50mm f/2.8 prime (single focal length) macro lenses provide a 1:1 reproduction ratio, enabling them to capture life-size images on the sensor. That’s why they’re an excellent choice for shooting details—a wedding ring close-up, the lace pattern on a bridal gown, a boutonniere being pinned to the groom’s lapel—that help to enrich the story of the event. Macro lenses are also valued for delivering exceptional image quality at longer shooting distances, making them excellent choices for portraits and general photojournalistic coverage. Both have wide f/2.8 apertures that facilitate shooting in low light at moderate ISO settings and the creation of artistic effects, such as sharp portraits with soft backgrounds, by using selective focus and shallow depth of field.

The Sony 100mm f/2.8 Alpha A-Mount Macro lens is a medium telephoto that provides an ideal perspective for portraits on full-frame and APS-C-format cameras (it becomes a 150mm equivalent on the latter.) It focuses to 1.2’, enabling frame-filling headshots and dramatic close-ups of small objects. Its eight-element, eight-group design ensures critically sharp imaging down to its minimum aperture of f/32, which maximizes depth of field. Its nine aperture blades produce round, natural-looking bokeh. The fact that this lens provides longer working (lens-to-subject) distance at any given magnification makes it easier to compose and capture skittish subjects. Thanks to its Auto Clutch, the manual-focusing ring does not turn in AF mode, which improves handling and prevents accidental focus changes. The lens has Focus Hold and Range Limiter buttons to enhance AF speed and focusing precision.

The Sony 50mm f/2.8 Macro Prime lens is a versatile high-performance normal lens with 1:1 macro capability. Its minimum focus distance of 7.9” makes it ideal for extreme close-ups, and its 47-degree angle of view provides a natural-looking perspective for general event coverage. Its seven-element, six-group design provides exceptional sharpness in general shooting, and it stops down to f/32 to maximize depth of field. Its seven diaphragm blades form a rounded aperture, which helps to produce smooth, rounded bokeh, and it has Focus Hold and Range Limiter buttons to enhance AF speed and precision.

Wide-Angle Prime and Zoom Lenses

Wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle and wide-angle zoom lenses can solve many of the problems encountered in shooting in confined spaces, and expand the photographer’s creative options. They’re essential for capturing large groups, wide areas like the dance floor, large interior spaces such as the entire nave or chapel, an overview of the reception, pictures of the bride and groom in the limo, and pre-ceremony preparations. Wide-angle lenses are also great for capturing people in spontaneous moments of joy and emotional intensity that define the event.

The Sony 20mm f/2.8 Wide Angle Prime lens is a wide-aperture, ultra-wide-angle lens that provides 94° of coverage with minimal distortion on full-frame cameras and a 30mm equivalent focal length on APS-C-format models. Its wide aperture allows available-light shooting indoors, so it’s perfect for shooting expansive interiors of the church, synagogue, temple or reception area, outdoor pictures of the wedding party’s arrival and groups of people in tight spaces. Its rear-group focusing system increases AF speed to enhance its effectiveness in capturing fast action, and it focuses down to 9.8” for compelling close-ups. Its optical design comprises 10 elements in nine groups, and its seven aperture blades yield smooth, rounded bokeh.

The Sony 24mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss T* Wide-Angle Prime lens is a fast wide-angle lens that delivers exceptional image quality across the image field, thanks to a nine-element, seven-group, retrofocus design that incorporates Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass and aspheric glass elements. Its ultra-wide, full-frame coverage (36mm equivlent on APS-C cameras) can capture expansive views of small or large interiors, and it’s ideal for photojournalistic wedding coverage. Its wide f/2.0 aperture facilitates low-light shooting and, combined with its nine rounded aperture blades, enables users to create striking pictorial effects with shallow depth of field and beautiful bokeh. Its piezoelectric SSM Super Sonic Wave motor provides swift, silent AF down to 7.6”, and it has Focus Mode and Focus Hold buttons to enhance AF speed and precision.

The Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss T* Wide-Angle Zoom lens is a high performance wide-angle zoom that delivers outstanding image quality and color correction over its entire range, thanks to an advanced 17-element, 13-group optical design that includes three aspheric glass elements as well as Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) and Super ED elements. It covers an ultra-wide 107° to 63° angle of view on full-frame cameras, making it suitable for everything from expansive interior views of the ceremony to environmental portraits, and its wide constant f/2.8 aperture facilitates low-light shooting and creative use of depth of field. When used on APS-C-format cameras, it covers a useful 24-52.5mm equivalent range—still wide enough to “open up” interior spaces. It has an SSM motor for swift, quiet AF and a nearly circular nine-bladed diaphragm to capture smooth, rounded bokeh effects. A Focus Hold button aids focusing precision.

The Sony 16-50mm f/2.8 DT Standard Zoom lens is a compact, wide-aperture standard zoom for APS-C-format Sony Alphas that provides a very useful wide-to-medium-telephoto equivalent range of 24-75mm. Its 16-element, 13-group design incorporates Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) and aspheric glass lens elements to provide excellent image quality throughout. Its versatility, performance, and wide f/2.8 constant aperture make it suitable for interior views and people pictures in low light as well as capturing compelling portraits using shallow depth of field. Its seven aperture blades form a nearly circular aperture to produce smooth out-of-focus background effects and its SSM Super Sonic Wave Motor provides the quick, silent AF needed for capturing sharp images of active subjects and HD video.

High-Speed Prime Lenses

These three f/1.4 prime lenses are compact and relatively lightweight compared to zooms, and their very wide apertures make it possible to shoot without flash or auxiliary lighting in low-light environments, often at moderate ISO settings that maximize image quality. As a group, these prime lenses deliver outstanding detail at the point of focus, even at their widest apertures, and provide greater flexibility in creating artistic effects using limited depth of field.

The Sony 35mm f/1.4G Wide Angle Prime lens is a fast, high performance, moderate wide-angle lens for full-frame Sony Alpha cameras that works as a 52.5mm normal lens on APS-C-format models. It features an aspheric element to correct for distortion and reduce spherical aberration, delivering outstanding sharpness even at f/1.4, and it focuses down to 11.8" for tight portraits. The 35mm focal length is prized for photojournalistic work and is excellent for general events shooting. At close distances, its wide aperture and nine rounded aperture blades yield smooth, natural out-of-focus backgrounds that complement the subject.

The Sony 50mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Planar T* ZA lens is a classic high-speed normal lens from Zeiss that integrates two glass-molded aspheric elements and special ED glass elements in its design to provide outstanding image quality free of distortion, aberrations and field curvature. It excels in high-definition, handheld low-light shooting and is an excellent all-arounder that provides a natural-looking perspective. It has a rounded nine-blade diaphragm that yields beautiful bokeh, and incorporates a Super Sonic Wave Motor for fast, quiet AF. Its optics are housed in a robust aluminum lens barrel to enhance durability, rigidity and dust resistance. It’s the premier normal lens for full-frame Sony cameras, and a superior high-speed 75mm  equivalent portrait lens on APS-C-format models.

The Sony 50mm f/1.4 Alpha A-Mount Standard Prime lens is the basic high-speed normal lens for full-frame Sony Alpha cameras, and it’s quite light (7.8 oz) and compact (1.7 x 2.6”) despite having a very wide f/1.4 aperture. Its seven-element, six-group design delivers commendable image quality over the full f/1.4-22 aperture range, and it has seven aperture blades for enhanced bokeh. It’s a fine choice for general available-light coverage, facilitates shooting at lower ISO settings for optimal image quality, and works as a 75mm equivalent medium telephoto on APS-C-format models.

Wide-Aperture Portrait Lenses

These lenses provide a natural perspective when shooting headshots and head-and-shoulders portraits. Their longer-than-normal focal lengths let you shoot at more comfortable working distances and aren't as likely to distort or accentuate the subject’s less flattering features. Their wide maximum apertures, ranging from f/1.4 to f/2.8, make it easier to blur the background and create a pleasing aesthetic effect using shallow depth of field. They’re also useful for covering the wedding ceremony, giving an intimate view from a discreet distance.

The Sony 85mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Planar T* Prime lens provides a very wide maximum aperture that facilitates shooting portraits and people in low light at moderate ISO settings, and also enhances the ability to create striking pictorial effects using shallow depth of field. Its classic eight-element, seven-group optical design yields exceptionally sharp images at the point of focus, and its nine rounded aperture blades enhance its beautiful bokeh at wide apertures. It focuses down to 2.8’, enabling frame-filling headshots, and it provides a Focus Mode Switch to limit the focusing range for faster AF, and a Focus Hold button to aid focusing precision. It becomes a 127.5mm equivalent telephoto on APS-C-format models.

The Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss T* Telephoto Prime lens has an extremely wide aperture for its long focal length, and a nine-bladed circular aperture, both of which enhance its ability to create smooth background effects with beautiful bokeh using very shallow depth of field. Its 11-element, eight-group formula, with two Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass elements delivers outstanding image quality, sharpness, and color correction at the point of focus. Its angle of view is like a 202.5mm equivalent on APS-C-format cameras. This is an excellent lens for picking out people in a crowd, covering low-light scenes from discreet distances, or showcasing individual portrait subjects in the classic style. It features a Focus Mode button for faster AF, and a Focus Hold button to lock in the focus point.

The Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Alpha A-Mount Telephoto Zoom lens is a versatile, high performance, wide-aperture telephoto zoom lens that covers a broad range of frequently used telephoto focal lengths. Its 19-element, 16-group design incorporates two Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass elements and delivers corner-to-corner sharpness and detail across the image field at all apertures from f/2.8-32. Its 3.9’ minimum focusing distance enables frame-filling headshots and head-and-shoulder portraits, and its wide range lets you compose with the zoom ring to capture intimate views, action, and details at a distance.

Its wide constant f/2.8 aperture facilitates shooting in low light, and provides considerable scope for creating striking pictorial effects using shallow depth of field. It functions as a 105-300mm equivalent when mounted on APS-C-format Sony Alphas. This outstanding lens is the perfect complement to the 24-70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss T* Standard Zoom—combined, they cover a 24-200mm range with no overlap.

Full-Frame Fisheye Lens

Full-frame fisheye lenses cover a 180-degree viewing angle and produce an exaggerated perspective with increasing barrel distortion toward the edges of the frame. They can create fascinating, hyper-realistic interior or exterior views that capture the entire event and make a compelling creative statement that sets your work apart. Even if you shoot only one or two shots with this lens, they can enrich the entire wedding portfolio.

The Sony 16mm f/2.8 Alpha A-Mount Fisheye lens can capture huge vistas with crisp imaging and amazing depth of field—even at its maximum f/2.8 aperture, everything from 7.9” to infinity is in focus! A built-in lens hood minimizes reflections without getting in the way of the 180-degree, super-wide view. For enhanced creative effects there are four built-in filter settings—normal, 056 monochrome, B12 red reduction, and A12 blue reduction. Its wide f/2.8 aperture facilitates low light shooting at moderate ISO settings and it stops down to f/22 for shooting in bright light. When mounted on an APS-C-format camera, it equates to a 24mm lens for effects that are still unique and fascinating but somewhat less dramatic.

For more information on these Sony lenses, stop by the B&H SuperStore in New York, or contact our sales professionals over the phone at 1-800-606-6969 or online via Live Chat.