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Sony a7 Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 Could my system or lens be faulty?
Old 05-14-2016   #1
streetshoot
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Unhappy Sony a7 Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 Could my system or lens be faulty?

So I've been a Canon user the past 4 years and have finally made the switch over to the mirrorless sony a7, mainly to integrate using my manual film lenses from my voigtlander bessa to be interchangeable.

I've sold my canon lenses and everything, so I feel theres no going back. Unfortunately I'm very disappointed so far with the system combo...I understand that there is some getting used to the system but it seems like something is just not right with either my body or the lens. Compared to my canon rebel t2i which I thought would be dusted by the sony a7 the pictures lack quality and appear blown out and to be shot with a simple digital point and shoot.

I've been using the Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 on my bessa for about a month now and its produced some really crisp quality images, while also butchering a few that I had focused spot on, so Ive been slightly leery about its condition.

Like I said this is my first mirrorless and I'm still getting used to it but the image quality seems drastically reduced compared to images of seen of this combo, I purchased the voigtlander vme close focus adapter and I'm shooting in raw. Ill post some of the images below for examples. It would be really appreciated to receive any comments or opinions, I'm gravely disappointed so far and was so exited for this. Does anything seem faulty? is my quality reduced or is this what I am to expect.
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Old 05-14-2016   #2
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Old 05-14-2016   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by streetshoot View Post
I've been using the Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 on my bessa for about a month now and its produced some really crisp quality images, while also butchering a few that I had focused spot on, so Ive been slightly leery about its condition.
It's a good lens, and I have seen many positive comments about its performance also with various a7 versions. What do you mean by butchering? Does the focus seem off or is there some other problem? The lens has pretty significant focus shift, but this would generally go unnoticed on film. A close subject at f/2-4 should show it the best. Anyway, focus shift is not a problem on your Sony, as you probably shoot stopped down.

It's difficult to see what the issue is with the photos you posted, as they are small and heavily compressed. I'm on an iPad currently, and the Flickr interface is utterly hopeless. I'll try and check again on a computer.
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Old 05-14-2016   #4
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As Lss pointed out, the 35/1.4 has focus shift, which IMO, can also be a problem on film and may be a reason some of your film images have incorrect focus.

Lenses with focus shift typically cause the focus to progressively move farther back behind the intended point of focus as the lens is stopped down, until the point where depth of field is deep enough to mask the effect. It also seems to be more noticeable at nearer distances.

Rangefinder lenses when used on a rangefinder camera seem to come adjusted for focus shift in two ways:

1) correct focus and rangefinder coincidence wide open. As the lens is stopped down, the focus shifts increasingly farther behind the intended point of focus.

2) correct focus and rangefinder coincidence at about two stops down. This is like a compromise setting that aims to minimize focus shift at all wide aperture settings, but the consequence is that images shot wide open will be slightly front focused if rangefinder coincidence is correct, but the backwards focus shift at somewhat stopped down apertures will be more quickly masked by depth of field.

With respect to the 35/1.4 on the Sony camera... if you focus then change the aperture setting, there is a chance you will run into focus shift problems. If you use focus peaking at medium to far distances at middle aperture values, you can end up with a scene swimming in focus peaking artifacts, leading to believe focus is good anywhere, but then later learn when looking at the full-rez images that it wasn't the case. Precise focus with the Sony cameras can only be assured by magnifying the viewfinder image while focusing. This is good for static scenes, but can be difficult for any dynamic situation.

The 35/1.4 is modeled after the original Leica 35/1.4 from around the 1960s and as such is intended to mimic 'vintage' lens performance. That means it's not super, highly corrected like pretty much any modern lens design. Take for example the new Voigtlander 35/1.7, which is bitingly sharp with very good contrast (though exhibits significant field curvature on Sony cameras). On digital it's easier to zoom into the aberrations of the 35/1.4 that otherwise blend in and add to the various aesthetics of film images.

Quickly looking at the photos you posted on Flickr and my impression is you need more practice focusing. It might be helpful if you outline your shooting/focusing technique with the Sony camera in greater detail.

You've gone from a Canon camera with which you probably relied 100% on AF for focus, to a mish-mash combination of a quirkily lens on a camera it wasn't originally designed for, forcing the use of manual focus and more careful technique. In some ways the two are at opposite ends of the spectrum. As a result, there's going to be a learning curve involved.

If you're looking to add more lenses to both system, I would suggest something like the Zeiss ZM 50/2 Planar. It's a good all-rounder without any peculiar quirks that works well on both rangefinder and mirrorless systems. Pretty much any 50/2 out there should be similar (other than maybe the Leica 50/2 APO ASPH) and might be a smoother combination with the Sony to get up to speed. With rangefinder lenses wider than 35mm you start to run into a range of considerable technical problems related to how the Sony sensors are designed vs. how the wide angle lenses were designed originally for film use (or Leica-specific digital sensors). Rangefinder lenses longer than 50mm generally have no technical loss in performance on Sony mirrorless cameras.
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Old 05-14-2016   #5
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The first and last shots were taken at 1/40th. In the first, I'm willing to bet the dog was moving enough to make it blurry. if the last was handheld and if you were hoping for a really sharp image... well... that shutter speed is a bit low. It also looks like the focus may be slightly off. At that distance and likely wide open, you don't have all that much range in focus.

What seems off about the second shot? It looks reasonable giving the lighting conditions.
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Old 05-14-2016   #6
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Looks like user error here... You need to dial your exposure more.. I would underexpose -2/3 to -1 stop to preserve highlights depending on the scene.. and then bring up the shadows in post processing.. assuming you shoot raw.. In terms of focus others are probably right about the focus shift problem as I haven't used this lens..
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Old 05-14-2016   #7
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Here's a link to a full-res jpeg from the Contax Zeiss SLR 35mm f/4

http://www.imdev.biz/rff/DSC00332.JPG
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Old 05-14-2016   #8
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And here's a link to a full-res image with the new Sony Zeiss at f/4. Look at the upper left corner.

http://www.imdev.biz/rff/DSC00271.JPG

Make sure you have the latest firmware in the camera as well.
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Old 05-14-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by streetshoot View Post
Compared to my canon rebel t2i which I thought would be dusted by the sony a7 the pictures lack quality and appear blown out and to be shot with a simple digital point and shoot.
Canon by default has a warmer color balance than SONY. That aside, the Nokton 35/1.4 is a very special lens that references the early 35 Summilux M. Soft at open aperture with significant distortion. Stopped down it becomes sharp and "ok" overall without the EXIF based tweaks for a dedicated Canon lens on EOS.
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