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Blog  March  2016

Sony A7RII with the Sony Zeiss 55mm F/1.8 lens compared with

the Sony A99 with the Carl Zeiss 24mm-70mm F/2.8 lens



The objective of the comparison is to compare a hand-held cropped image captured by the full frame Sony A99 camera using the Carl Zeiss (CZ) 24mm-70mm F/2.8 lens with a hand-held cropped image captured by the full frame Sony A7RII camera using the Sony Zeiss 55mm F/1.8 lens, and to obtain opinions on the results obtained.

The images were captured from the same location and at the same time at Motukaraka Point on the Pauatahanui Inlet near Wellington New Zealand.

You may need to slightly reduce the size of the images in your browser in order to see them at their maximum clarity.

The Sony A99 is an "A-Mount" full frame 24 megapixel camera that was announced by Sony in September 2012. The Sony A7RII is a mirrorless E-Mount full frame 42.4 megapixel camera that was announced by Sony in June 2015.

The CZ 24mm - 70mm F/2.8 lens is a high-quality 3x zoom lens that is designed to be used on A-Mount cameras, such as the Sony A99. This lens can only be used on E-Mount cameras if it is mounted on a compatible A-Mount to E-Mount adapter, such as the Sony LA-EA3 or LA-EA4.

The Sony Zeiss 55mm F/1.8 lens is a high-quality prime E-Mount lens that is designed to be used on E-Mount cameras, such as the Sony A7RII, but it cannot be used on A-Mount cameras, such as the Sony A99.

Because the Sony Zeiss 55mm lens is the best lens that I currently own for use on the Sony A7RII, I was interested to compare the image quality from this combination with the best image quality that I can achieve (at a focal length of 55mm) from my Sony A99, for which I use my CZ 24mm - 70mm lens.

"On paper" it seems likely that the 42.4 megapixel Sony A7RII with a FE 55mm prime lens, should produce a much superior image than the 24 megapixel Sony A99 using the zoom CZ 24mm - 70mm lens, because the Sony A7RII is about 3 years younger than the Sony A7RII and uses the latest technology.

Also, it is well established that high-quality prime lenses usually produce better images than high-quality zoom lenses, and the 42.4 megapixels of the Sony A7RII should allow it to resolve a greater amount of detail than the 24 megapixels of the Sony A99.

However, owners of the CZ 24mm - 70mm F/2.8 lens have often said that it's such a good lens that it's almost equivalent to owning several prime lenses, so I thought it would be worthwhile to make the comparison specified in the objectives stated above.

To give you an appreciation of the magnification achieved with the cropped images, below is the uncropped view of the Whitby homes as seen from Motukaraka Point. This view, taken at a focal length of 55mm, is close to how the scene appears to the human eye.



Below is the first 100% crop showing Whitby homes for which the above hand-held image from the 24 megapixel Sony A99 camera was used. This image was captured using the Carl Zeiss 24mm-70mm F/2.8 lens: 1/320 second; F/10; 55mm; ISO 100; cropped image size 1000 pixels x 692 pixels.



Below is the second 100% crop of the view of Whitby homes, but this time the original image was captured hand-held using the 42.4 megapixel Sony A7RII camera with the Sony Zeiss FE 55mm F/1.8 lens: 1/320 second; F/10; 55mm; ISO 100; cropped image size 1333 pixels x 914 pixels.



Note that the above cropped image from the Sony A7RII camera is larger than the cropped image from the Sony A99 camera because the Sony A99 has 24 megapixels compared with 42.4 megapixels for the Sony A7RII.

In case you would like to compare both the A99 and A7RII images at 24mp,
below is the A7RII image downsized from a crop width of 1333 pixels to 1000 pixels.



It should be appreciated that the above magnifications are a very demanding way of evaluating the quality of the cameras and lenses used because the homes pictured are a long way away from the cameras and represent only a small part of the overall picture! However, these 100% crops illustrate clearly the detail and image quality that you can expect if you were to make very large prints (say 40 - 50 inches width) from these images.

This web page has been discussed  on this DPR forum  and I appreciate the views of the photographers who have posted there. One photographer who viewed the above images said this:

"The FE55 image is very much superior. More lively, more information, better definition, clearer (less muddy), more micro-contrast, better tone handling, more accurate, just to mention a few characteristics.

The zoom image looks almost like a watercolor, you can get some back with judicious sharpness but not enough to matter or change things. The FE55 is a seriously great lens. Even among high end normal primes, and detail is its long suit."

Some further images are referred to in a posting in the above thread which also compare the image quality of the Sony A7RII with that of the Sony A99. This posting can be seen  here.

Rather than looking at 100% crops, this posting gives links to three full-sized images taken at Titahi Bay near Wellington. These images were captured hand-held at 1/800 second, F/5.6, 55mm, ISO 100 and are JPEG's "straight out of the camera". The images in the above posting are as follows: 

IMAGE 1: Sony A99 with the CZ 24-70mm lens set at 55mm

IMAGE 2: Sony A7RII with the LA-EA4 adapter and the CZ 24-70mm lens set at 55mm

IMAGE 3: Sony A7RII using the Sony Zeiss FE 55mm F/1.8 prime lens

The above images show that Image 3 probably has the best image quality, followed by Image 2 and then Image 1.

Click  here  to see further examples of images captured using the Sony A7RII and the Sony Zeiss 55mm F/1.8 lens This page includes a selection of images that demonstrate the excellent image quality and amazing detail that can be captured using this lens. To give you an appreciation of how these images will appear when greatly enlarged, crops of just small areas of the images are included, or the full-sized image is published.