Sony A7R mk2: WHAT IS THE BEST LENS FOR THE BEST SYSTEM CAMERA?
The Sony A7R II combines compact dimensions with extraordinarily good performance. The big difference between the A7R II and the A7 is in the amazing 42-megapixel sensor of the A7R II and the fantastic images that you can make with it. (Also see our Sony A7R II review). With a Sony A7R II, you get incredibly sharp and detailed pictures, with a high dynamic range. You only realize that added value if you also choose the best lenses. With really good lenses, you not only see a lot of detail in the center of the image, but the corners are also beautifully sharp. Fortunately, the choice of quality lenses is growing. We have reviewed 25 lenses and make recommendations based on our measurement results and practical experience of which lenses you can best buy for the Sony A7R II.
8 UNCOMPROMISINGLY GOOD LENSES FOR Sony FE
For the lenses for the Sony A7R II, we choose quality. Good lenses are naturally not inexpensive. So it is no surprise that the lenses mentioned here all carry a hefty price tag. By choosing top quality, you not only get the maximum from the A7R II, but also out of any cameras yet to be released with even higher pixel counts. You can work for years with the lenses mentioned here, and you are assured of sharp pictures with little distortion, aberrations and vignetting.
HOW ARE THE BEST LENSES FOR A SONY A7R II SELECTED?
For the recommendation, we only look at lenses that we have thoroughly tested ourselves. The lenses that we recommend are all tested on the Sony A7R II, which is currently the Sony E-mount camera with the highest pixel count. There are still few lens manufacturers who make lenses for the Sony A7 andA9 cameras. At the moment, the choice is limited to lenses from Sony, Zeiss, Sony-Zeiss and Samyang. For filming, there is also a choice from cine-lenses from manufacturers like Sigma and Tokina. More brands, including Sigma, have announced that they are going to make lenses with a Sony FE mount. Until then, we will have to work with what is available now. But Sony and Zeiss have now released multiple lenses in the most commonly used focal lengths, so that there is a real selection.
Use the overview of test results by focal length as an introduction to nearly 100 lens tests. Beginners and many photographers only use jpg files from the camera, in which multiple lens corrections have usually been done. For the lens recommendations for starters and amateurs, we take that into account, by basing our recommendation on the test results for jpg files. But for more experienced photographers – and we assume that most Sony A7R II owners are in this group – we base our recommendations on test results from unedited RAW files, because that gives the best view of lens quality. We assume that Sony A7R II owners will more often make use of RAW files to get the maximum quality and the best dynamic range from their images.
Standard: Sony 50mm f/2.8 Macro?
From the first 25 lenses that we reviewed on a Sony A7R mk2, we selected the best.
There is currently a wide selection of standard lenses for the A7R II, from the 50mm f/1.4 by Sony and Samyang to the 50mm Zeiss Loxia and the 55mm f/1.8 from Sony-Zeiss. The 50mm Sigma Art with Sigma MC11 converter is also an option. One lens in particular surprised us during testing. That is the Sony 50mm f/2.8 Macro. It is nearly one of the least expensive standard lenses that you can buy for the A7R II, as well as being one of the smallest and lightest. But the image quality is already phenomenal at full aperture. It is practically free of distortion and has almost no trouble from chromatic aberration. Add in the option of shooting macros at 1:1, and you have a very good and versatile lens with this 50mm f/2.8 that perfectly fits the Sony A7R II. Of course this is not a bokeh monster, and it is not super bright. Those who want to can choose the Sony-Zeiss 55mm f/1.8. This lens has nearly the same image quality, with a bit more distortion and a bit more chromatic aberration. It is also a bit heavier and bigger and brighter. And a good deal more expensive.
Macro: Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro
Sony also makes a 50mm f/2.8 macro. That is also a top class lens, which is rightly our recommendation for best standard lens. But for the better macro work, 50mm is still a bit on the short side. You have to get so close to insects with a 50mm that it’s difficult to light them well and of course the chance that they sit still is very small. With the Sony 90mm Macro, it’s quite a bit easier. The distance of the camera to the subject is considerably greater even at 1:1. Skittish subjects are more likely to sit still, and lighting is much easier. Add in the uncompromisingly good image quality at all apertures and you have a fantastic macro with which you can make stunning images in combination with the 42-megapixel sensor.
WIDE-ANGLE LENSES: ZeisS Batis 18mm f/2.8 & 25mm f/2
There are quite a few ultra-wide angles to choose from. You can also, for example, use the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art with an MC-11 adapter on the Sony A7R II. And the Sigma is good. The Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8, however, is certainly just as good, much smaller and lighter and equipped with good sealing against moisture and dirt. That low weight and the much smaller dimensions fit much better with the compact body of the Sony A7R II and the image quality is as good as you can get in this focal length. But those who really want to get more in frame also have a good lens with the Sigma, even if it is rather on the big and heavy side on a mirrorless camera.
What is true for ultra-wide angle is also true for wide angles. Instead of the Zeiss Batis 25mm, you could also choose the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 Art.Brighter and wider angle than the 25mm Batis. The image quality of the Batis, however, is fantastic, and the lens is a much better combination, ergonomically seen, with the compact A7R II. With the Batis, you get the maximum quality from the sensor of the A7R II, and you can also use the combination in a rainstorm thanks to the good weather resistance of the Batis lenses.
PortrAIt: Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM
A good portrait lens is bright (f/2.8 or lower) and has a focal length between the 85mm and the 135mm. The Sony A7R II is an outstanding camera for great portraits. With the Eye-AF, you can automatically focus on your model’s eye. We think the Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM is the best lens that you can buy for this. It is also one of the most expensive 85mms for the Sony system, but the optical quality and the great bokeh are worth it. Those who have less to spend can choose the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8. But those who are looking for the ultimate portrait lens cannot pass up the Sony 85mm f/1.4.
THE BEST SONY A7R II STANDARD ZOOM: Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM
In this category, there is little competition for the Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM. The lens is not only a full stop brighter, the image quality is actually better at all focal lengths and apertures than that of the Sony-Zeiss 24-70mm f/4. The difference is especially very big in the extreme wide-angle mode. What is really great is that the lens has little trouble from zoom breathing, and you notice that when you make a portrait. When you focus for a portrait at 1 meter in the 70mm mode, then with many standard zooms you are left with a field of view that comes closer to that of a 50mm lens than that of a 70mm. That is not the case with this Sony. You are really working with a light telephoto, and that creates a bit more compression in the portrait and a nicer bokeh.
Video: Tokina Cinema AT-X 16-28 T/3
The Tokina Cinema AT-X 16-28 t/3 is a lens as you might expect a real cine-lens should be. It is big, heavy and unbelievably solid. It is not just a converted photo lens with a ribbed belt for follow-focus. This is the real thing, and you see it in the performance. The lens delivers outstanding optical performance. Only in the extreme wide-angle mode do the corners lag perhaps a bit behind at full aperture. But what is much more important for film use is the absence of focus breathing. Despite the fact that we are talking about a 16-28mm wide angle, the bokeh is still really great when you focus close up, with beautiful, round light balls in the background. The price is, just like the lens, hefty. Bit in the film world, equipment is often not handled gently. And the Tokina is entirely prepared for that.