Today the final part of my review of the Sony E-mount 24-240 lens.
During the review period Annewiek took some video of me shooting and sharing tips on Texel.
You can see some of the shots and the tips in this episode of Quite Frankly.
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Ok today the conclusion from the Sony E mount 24-240 lens.
Let me start by saying that I never expected this lens to be good in the first place, let’s be real it’s a 10x zoom so you know there are some major concessions you will have to do. However as you could have read in the previous blogposts :
The whole experience was actually quite positive.
As you can see on the web the images look very sharp, but… watch out when zooming in, these 2 examples are shot wide open and show the sharpness on wide and tele.
First shot is on 240mm and the second on 24
As you can see both shots aren’t 100% razor sharp… but… remember this is a 10x zoom.
Comparing these shots to other superzooms I tested I must say I’m pretty impressed. It’s not a lens I would not advise to shoot wide open on the long end for critical work, the images are ok for print up to A3 I guess and on wide A2 (on my A7r) but when stopped down 1-2 stops they really become much better as expected with most lenses.
Sony has put a nice lens on the market with optical image stabilization, nice contrast, more than ok sharpness over the whole range but most of all it’s a lens that will be very popular with travel/street photographers that prefer to get the shot instead of having to switch lenses all the time. There will of course always be people that love to shoot primes (and they are right), and people that prefer to shoot with a 24-70 in combination with a 70-200 to get the best sharpness in the total range (and they are right too) however there are also people that want to travel light, carry one maybe two lenses and prefer to just keep it simple, and for these people this lens is the match made in heaven. If you like me are very serious about image quality for critical work you can do better with 2 lenses covering the same range, but when I walk around and just shoot for fun or travel shots I actually prefer to have one lens and am willing to sacrifice some sharpness.
On the AF front the lens is nice and snappy wide open and ok on the long end (this is on the A7r), for birding it’s too slow, for tracking movement that is fast and unpredictable I would really advise against it, but if you just stumble across something like that and want to try… well you will get some keepers that can be printed pretty large, but don’t expect to hit 50% keepers (with a good combination you will probably hit 80-90% on the A99).
The sun hood did show some severe corner darkening on the widest shots so I would advise to take the sun hood off when you shoot wide.
The chromatic aberration of the lens is “very visible” but both Lr 6.0 and DxO does a pretty good job in removing it, but it’s added processing to your shots.
As you probably would have guessed I’m gonna highly recommend the lens for all the consumers that are looking for a one lens solution because this one pretty much covers it all, for more serious users it’s a choice, I can see myself shooting with the lens when traveling a lot, but I can also see myself on some days just go for one lens like the 24-70 and preparing myself to miss some shots just because of the speed of the AF and sharpness. (the zeiss 24-70 f2.8 is VERY fast and sharp).
In conclusion I loved doing the review for the simple reason that this lens was on my list to look at because I never saw a superzoom that was more than “barely ok”, I would label the 24-240 as a “good” lens with “fair” on the wide end shot wide open, when stopped down 1-2 stops you can actually go to “very good” on the wide end to “good” on the long end. Taking into account the 10x zoom of course. In the end however (and I really stress this) this is the kind of lens you REALLY should try out yourself before buying, it’s not a “everyone’s perfect lens”, some people will love it and I’m sure some people will find the lens not suitable for their work so make sure to find a dealer where you can test it. I’m probably gonna keep the lens and use it for all those trips where you never know what you’re gonna encounter and you don’t want to bring a bag with an extra lens.
Today let’s look at the one point where the 24-240 failed on the A7r…. movement and tracking movement.
Birds in flight
Ok I agree maybe it’s not completely fair to do a test like this on the A7r, the A7r is not the fastest/best focussing camera in the Sony line up, and it’s also not why I use the camera. Most of the time I shoot with A mount lenses and I use the convertor with SLT mirror which speeds up the AF considerably so when shooting an Emount lens I loose this extra AF engine, but on the other hand, it is what it is, and this is the camera I use, and the test I did is something I love to do when I have the chance, so for me it’s a very important test, so that’s why I decided to include it in this review series.
On the boat from Den Helder to Texel you have 20 minutes to freeze your butt off and take some bird shots, the seagulls are always an easy target because they are always around the boats I’m on, now don’t get me wrong they are not EASY to shoot, when they are in flight next to the boat it’s easy but that’s not the most interesting part, it gets interesting when someone feeds them or throws some bread to them because then they will fly in and the wings/movement are much more interesting, but… it also gets a lot harder to shoot them when something in your chain is not working the way it should. They are pretty fast and even with the A99 and the 70-400 it’s not a 100% easy job.
I’ve shot several birds in flight with the 70-400 MKII lens and on the A99 this is a very nice experience, the lens is razor sharp, very fast and the tracking of the A99 is awesome (as long as you keep it centered, this is something Sony really HAS to change in a successor, the focus area should be much wider than only the middle of the frame), the A7r as mentioned before is slower than the A99 with the SLT convertor but gets a LOT slower when using just the Emount lens… but how much slower.
Well in all honestly, it’s not 100% useless but it’s a “frustrating” affair trying to shoot the birds in flight, in 80% of the cases the focus is too slow, the bird is out of the frame when you finally get the shot, and the tracking is well….. let me put it this way I longed for the A99.
Still I managed to get some pretty decent shots but I missed some awesome shots to be honest.
When it hits the focus it’s a matter of hit/miss again, some images are nice in the sharpness department some are just barely usable. When I compare the amount of shots I took to the amount of keepers and compare it to the A99 with 70-400 MKII one could say the 24-240 is rather useless for this kind of work, but still I managed to get some cool shots which for most people would be good enough to end up in the photobook so I’ll let you decide how important you find this part of the review. For me it’s clear as day, as much as I love the lens when walking around and how much I liked the often snappy focus in normal situations the more frustrating using this lens with the birds was….. but again there is of course no lens that will shine in all areas and I think the 24-240 is already pretty cool in the all the other areas I used it on, but when I want to shoot birds in flight….. well I’ll switch to the 70-200f2.8 or the 70-400MKII and use the SLT convertor or A99. But in all honestly I would have been very surprised if the 24-240 would get me more keepers during this session, you have to know the limitations of your gear so to say 😀
Tomorrow the final part in this review, the conclusion……..
Click on the images to open the gallery
Today part II in the review of the Sony 24-240.
Part I can be found here.
In the previous review I took you guys to the beachcombers museum and we looked at how the lens performed in a museum like visit, today we’re gonna see how well it performed outside while walking around, something I think most people will do while on a trip or vacation.
One of the things I find very important in a lens is the overal image quality, now with most cheap lenses or other super zooms you will always have a tradeoff, this is very easy to explain of course, you pay a lot less money or you get a lot more zoom so that will cost you quality. The question is “how much of this quality are you willing to sacrifice?”
In all honesty I didn’t expect the world of this lens, I wanted to test it for the simple reason that you always hope for something spectacular but I expected it to go back to Sony with the idea of “It was a nice lens to look at but… not my thing” however during the test I grew actually very fond of the lens. One of the things I’m very picky about is sharpness, I didn’t expect the same sharpness as the 24-75 Zeiss but the 24-240 actually surprised me (a lot), even wide open the images only need a little bit of sharpening to give you sharp images on the wide end and fair sharp images on the long end. The image stabilization helps with the longer shutter speeds and on the long end, also focussing the lens becomes a lot easier because it’s an optical stabilizer and not the in body stabilizer that some Sony cameras use, meaning you can actually SEE the stabilizer work, making it easier to “focus” on your subject. I’m “always” using center focus point and keeping that on your subject if it moves is just that much easier with an optically stabilized lens.
The contrast of the images is very good and so are the colors.
There is some distortion and chromatic aberration but in “the modern workflow” with todays RAW convertors everything is actually easily/automaticly fixed, actually when using DxO optics 10 you can see the images “popping” in to the correct look. The one thing I did notice on a lot of shots is some shading from the lens hood so I would actually advise you to remove this when shooting wide (also mentioned in yesterdays blogpost).
The perfect walk around lens?
Walking around with a lens with 10x optical zoom makes you much more flexible, I know there are a lot of people out there that will claim that primes are much sharper/faster etc. and indeed they are 100% right, I also have and use primes. However when walking the streets of for example New York (or Emmeloord) a prime is a lens I find very limiting for myself, and I know this is a personal matter, I know a lot of people that love the fixed lens cameras and they can’t all be wrong of course, for me however I love to switch between closeups and wide shots. As mentioned in yesterdays review I used the Minolta 35-200 a lot on my A99 but I always found that lens a bit limiting in the wide segment I sometimes just wanted a little bit more wide options, with the Sony 24-240 it really hits the sweet spot, the 24 is what I would normally label as “I don’t need to go wider in most cases” and the 240 is just awesome to have for bringing in details or shooting someones portrait without coming to close. When I want wider I can always switch for the Sigma 12-24 (which I love) and when I need longer I’m often in situations where I will probably only use a longer lens (for example when shooting birds or wild life).
During our trip in Texel I found that I never really wanted to go wider, I also only once switched to the 70-400 and that was in a wild life reserve where I wanted to get it all just a little bit closer, for most tourists, day trip people etc. I can hardly imagine however that you would ever want to switch lenses during normal daytime shooting. For me the 24-240 grew on me and at the moment I’m really fond of the lens and would love to take it out on the streets in a city like New York, there are so many options to shoot there and this range would just give me endless oppertunities.
And indeed a prime is much faster and much sharper… but in the end it’s all about one thing that matters…. getting the shot and with a 10x zoom you have many options to shoot the same scene, and that’s something I really love.
Tomorrow part III with some bird shots… and the not so nice review about the 24-240. Hey after 2 positives I can be negative for once right 😀