Lens recommendations for Sony A7ii

Hi everyone, new to mirrorless scanning, previously was using a v600, which is pretty painful, slow, and its abit soft, so I thought of making the switch to using my a7ii.

After reading a bunch of reviews from @Richard1Karash of the Skier copybox i think it fits my needs, 35mm, 120 and is well made and I think it will be a good purchase.

However, I have no idea what lens to buy/use, after a bit of research Ive narrowed down my options from cheapest to most expensive:

  1. Buying an adapter to adapt my hasselblad 120/4 macro lens to the sony. No clue if this will work, no clue how the magification factor will be, but it will be the cheapest option, the adapter is about $50

  2. Canon FD 50mm 3.5 macro with fd 25 tube for 1:1 (~$200), cheaper than the nikon but I hear the nikon has better performance

  3. Nikon 55mm 2.8 macro, with adapter and tube(?)(~$300)

  4. Sony 50mm 2.8 macro lens, which will probably give me the best results since its modern lens with a native mount, which is what @Nate recommends, but is very pricey ($600+). However I can use this lens as a normal lens which is a big plus too

Im currently leaning towards option 1 and 4, and im wondering if anyone has experience using a medium format lens on a full frame camera.

Thanks for all the help in advance!

I have experience with the classic Canon 100mm macro as well as the Sony 90 macro. At the time I was using the borrowed Canon I was shooting an A7Riii.

The Canon was running through a Sigma MC11 adapter. While not the fault of the lens specifically, I would find that occasionally the combination would claim focus lock when in fact it was just slightly off. If you’re scanning a lot of film and then sleeving it you can imagine how exasperating it is to discover one of your frames is not quite sharp. You won’t really know if it’s the original image that’s out of focus or your camera scan. And the miss is so slight you’ll only ever see it at pixel level on a computer monitor. Never on the camera lcd. I digitize a lot of film and I can promise you a little bit of that goes a long way.

As a classic lens designed in the 90s it will definitely show its age when put in front of an A7Riii or IV. It seems a lot of the highly regarded Canon glass of the film era does fine at 24mp, which makes sense given the limits of 35mm film. So there’s a question for you: do you think you’re going to upgrade your camera body at some point? If you are it may be better to go for the glass that will grow with you. OTOH 24 mp may be all you need. That’s a question only you can answer.

My goal is to scan my film one time, do it as well as I can do it, and hopefully never touch it again. That led me to pick up the Sony 90 after three months of agonizing over whether I really needed to spend $1100 on it. I read every review on the web and looked at all of the alternatives on the market at the end of 2018.

So what does it offer over the classic Canon? Edge sharpness. Flare resistance. Resolving power, easily keeping up with my A7Riv. And absolutely reliable auto focusing. As a native lens, what little distortion it has is corrected automatically. Rectangles are rendered as perfect rectangles. That’s a big deal for camera scanning.

The only real drawback is the price tag although the lens does offer the ability to be used as a standard portrait lens so if you have a need for that focal length it might take some of the sting out of the price. After using it for nearly 2 years now I can say that I would buy it again in a heartbeat knowing what I know about it now.

Thanks for taking your time to reply, and sharing on the focus bit, something new i learnt! May i ask what the workflow is like when you scan? So you would use af every shot and check it manually? or just use manual focus? No idea how to make sure each one is in focus across so many frames!

Hmm I dont think i would upgrade it anytime soon? Given that I dont shoot digital much, thats why price is a large factor.

Ive heard only good things about the sony 90mm, but it really is so much more expensive as compared to the sigma 70mm.

Thanks for your input though, definitely leaning on a native sony lens now!

No worries, the focus issue is one that you would never think of it until it happens to you. It didn’t happen but maybe one side of every 50 shots or so. I still shoot my adapted Canon glass on the Sony regularly when I’m just using the camera as a camera. And it might actually be slightly misfocusing sometimes but I have enough depth of field to cover it up. The macro doesn’t leave any margin for error.

The Sigma 70 was not out when I bought my Sony 90, it definitely would’ve been on the short list. Sigma has been doing great things with their Art glass. I don’t read reviews on gear once I make up my mind and am happy with my purchase so I have no idea how it compares to the Sony, I believe Richard Karash has compared them and finds them essentially interchangeable. Just verify it focuses reliably on your camera, and if it doesn’t, make sure your retailer will take it back. Manual focusing is possible of course, but you really don’t want to go that route if you can avoid it.

Alright! Thanks for your reply, it was very helpful!

The Sigma 70 is cheaper here, so maybe may be more accessible for me, sadly its still 70mm kinda a strange focal length for normal photography.

Thanks!

The Voigtlander MACRO APO-LANTHAR 65mm f/2 Aspherical Lens for Sony E is an excellent lens, extremely sharp and manual focus. I get excellent result copying 120 B+W film.

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I’ve been using the Nikon 55mm Macro on a Sony A7II (with a metabones adaptor and a set of extension tubes). Works very well, and seems quite sharp, but of course, it’s manual focus. I connect the camera to my laptop using Sony’s Image Edge software, which works okay and does the job, but isn’t elegant. I’ve scanned a lot of negatives this way (color & B&W, 35mm & 6x6)

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Definitely a good lens, but also very expensive! May I ask, what is your workflow when using manual lenses? do you focus for every frame?

I see, nice setup! Do you face any problems with flaring because of the tubes or the adapter? Also do you check the focus for every single frame?

The tubes are matte black of course, and no, I haven’t noticed any flare issues. And yes, I check focus every time. This is because the rig is ‘upside down’. The camera points upwards on a tripod and the negative carrier is pressed onto a lens shade screwed into the macro lens. A lamp and diffuser are placed above the carrier. This makes the negative carrier itself easy to access – it’s on the top. The rig was made for me by a friend who has a precision laser cutter and works well, but every time you change the negative you perturb it a bit and that necessitates the refocus. It wouldn’t hurt to lubricate the lens, too, which would make focusing more precise, but focusing isn’t much of a hassle. Having autofocus would be slicker, though, for sure.

I shoot at f5.6 or f8 and, usually about 1/4 sec. I use the electronic first curtain shutter to reduce vibration.