Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Macro

From portraiture to photojournalism, fashion, weddings and whatever

Pretend it was your money:

Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85 F1.4
4
50%
Sigma 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro
2
25%
Tamron SP AF 90 F2.8 Di
2
25%
 
Total votes: 8

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KevinBarrett
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Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Macro

Unread postby KevinBarrett » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:42 pm

I have an approaching indoor wedding and I intend to add a faster portrait-length lens to my kit. My choices include one obvious star, and two more unconventional solutions.

My first intention was to get the 85/1.4 ZA from Sony, and I've got the holy grail of Gear Acquisition Syndrome: permission from my wife to make the purchase! But that's over $1200 and, permission or not, with that budget I could get a lot more candy. Older Minolta lenses of similar specification range from $900 to $1200, but if I was spending in that range anyway, I'd just as soon get the Zeiss glass.

Enter the Macro challengers: A fraction of the cost with the benefit of close-focusing ability. The most obvious drawbacks would be speed of focus, but I read the 85/1.4 isn't particularly quick to focus either.

At $480, the Sigma appears to be sharper at f/2.8 than the Sony stopped down to the same aperture (according to SLRgear.com). I read that with a grain of salt, as the lenses were tested on vastly different cameras. We'll assume the Zeiss has a 1 stop advantage over the Sigma. Is the extra stop available to the Zeiss worth triple the cost? Maybe, but with the extra dough I could add an a550 to my a700 and have a more-than-corresponding increase in ISO sensitivity, not to mention an extra body.

The Tamron 90/2.8 makes the cut because it offers similar speed for a similar price and is hailed as the "portrait macro." I include it here for discussion's sake, but I doubt if I'll choose it over the Sigma.
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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby Dr. Harout » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:00 pm

If recuperating the money is no problem then go for the Zeiss. After all a Zeiss is a Zeiss and no one can persuade me that some other brand may this or that.
If money is an issue as well as if you think that in the future there won't be any screw drive then go for the Sigma.
A99 + a7rII + Sony, Zeiss, Minolta, Rokinon and M42 lenses

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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby Dusty » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:47 pm

I voted for the Tammy, based on it's reputation. I'd love to have all Zeiss glass, but you're right about the price of an other lens AND back-up body VS just the CZ lens.

You DO have a back-up system available, right? I did a wedding last week and borrowed my buddies Nikon as well as having film cameras available. It's when you don't have a back-up that someone will come out of nowhere and trip over your tripod, breaking everything.

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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby pakodominguez » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:49 pm

Hi,
If you will stick with APS cameras, get the Sigma
if you count going FF, get the Tamron.

I sold my Minolta 85mm f1.4 G non D and no regret: too big and heavy for just 10% of the shots on a wedding. (in my case, I already had the 100 SF and the 100 Macro, a focal distance that works better for me on FF)

BTW, why don't you buy a Tamron or Sigma 70-200 f2.8 instead? it is a good portrait lens and more versatile...
Pako
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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby KevinBarrett » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:38 pm

Doc, I've learned to always get the better lens if ever you can rationalize it, and by this reasoning I would get the Zeiss, but I've always wanted the Sigma 70mm Macro, too. Considering I'm only getting the $1200 budget because my wife has some surplus loans for nursing school, I don't want to spend all of my budget if I don't have to.

Dusty, unfortunately, my back-up body is a Maxxum 5 film camera. I don't do any high-dollar, high stakes weddings--just budget alternatives for friends who would otherwise only have had a family member do it with a P&S...but this will NOT become one of those threads.

Geez, Pako! Why do you have to make so much sense? The Sigma 70-200/2.8 HSM has had my eye for a while, and it sits comfortably in the middle between the price of the macro lenses and the Zeiss. I could always sell the beercan to help pay for it, too. The appeal of the 70mm Macro is its sharpness wide-open, and it's that uncompromising speed that I ultimately want. How is the Sigma 70-200/2.8 for sharpness at full aperture?
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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby pakodominguez » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:58 pm

KevinBarrett wrote:Geez, Pako! Why do you have to make so much sense?

:oops:
KevinBarrett wrote: How is the Sigma 70-200/2.8 for sharpness at full aperture?

Ask DK -he love that lens.
I have the Tamron and speed is a little slow (but apparently better than on the CaNikon mount) I never shot wide open but at f4 is wonderful. It is corrected for macro and have the best close focus range from the 3 70-200s available for A-mount.

just be aware that, a 70-200 f2.8 is a big lens, heavy to carry with you all the time and some people get intimidated by those lenses -I believe your charm will help putting people at easy.
Pako
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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby David Kilpatrick » Thu Jun 10, 2010 12:34 am

The Sigma is a little soft at f/2.8 compared to a Nikon latest model, or the Min/Sony at a distance at 200mm. It's much sharper at close range, and at 70mm. The Tamron is 'sharper' but has a slight bokeh related secondary halo issue, the Sigma looks smoother and might for example suit portraits better - the Tamron overall has a more 'wiry' quality.

Nothing really compares to the new Nikon and Canon lenses, I've used both. They are amazing, and they should be for £2000.

David

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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby paulmurphy » Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:15 am

Hi Kevin,

For what its worth my vote would be for the Sigma 70 - 200 f2.8 HSM, I love mine, the focus is quick and the IQ suberb - also the HSM focusing is totally silent (a revelation after the noisy Minolta screw drives) which may be a consideration when shooting weddings.

Most of the shots in my recent Young Farmers post are with this lens, the zoom also gives you a good range of framing options.

However it is a big piece of glass and quite heavy although personally I can put up with that for the image quality.

Best wishes

Paul

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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby KevinBarrett » Thu Jun 10, 2010 7:49 am

Thank you, Paul and David. I assume we're talking about the Sigma 70-200/2.8 II EX DG APO Macro HSM and not the newer one that replaces "Macro" with "OS." The APO Macro lens appears to be in short supply, with most retailers expecting new stock in August at the soonest.
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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby paulmurphy » Fri Jun 11, 2010 7:42 pm

Hi Kevin,

Yes it is the Macro version I was talking about - shame about the stock levels, the other option you have is someone like alphalensrental - the rates look good and you could try the genuine Sony article to see how you get on with it.

Either way I hope you feel able to post a shot or two after the event - I've done a couple of weddings as favours and it can be nerve wrecking (but also really enjoyable I have to say)

Good luck with the choice - and I hope you thank your wife for being so understanding :)

Paul

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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby bossel » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:53 pm

KevinBarrett wrote: We'll assume the Zeiss has a 1 stop advantage over the Sigma.

Ah humm ... do I miss something or isn't 1.4 - 2.8 2 stops? Anyway, I read somehwere, for a wedding better use a zoom. Rather get the shot than utmost corner sharpness if you get one :? I only did 1 wedding as a guest and was happy to have a zoom. While there have been lots of DSLRs around, they chose one of my shots for their 'thank you'-cards.

Update: A 30-150/2.8 (or 20-100/2.8 on APS-C) might be ideal :mrgreen:

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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby KevinBarrett » Sat Jun 12, 2010 8:05 am

bossel wrote:Ah humm ... do I miss something or isn't 1.4 - 2.8 2 stops? Anyway, I read somehwere, for a wedding better use a zoom. Rather get the shot than utmost corner sharpness if you get one :? I only did 1 wedding as a guest and was happy to have a zoom.

Of course you're right about f/1.4 being two stops faster than f/2.8, but I was focused more on the beginning of the sweet spot for best aperture. I have neither lens and cannot judge this with any certainty, only I can dig up and compare incomparable reviews.

But I'm sold on the Sigma 70-200 II Macro: it's a focal length range I already know I will use and appreciate, plus I can add a teleconverter later to get 400mm at f/5.6. I just have to find a reputable dealer with one in stock.
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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby pakodominguez » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:52 pm

KevinBarrett wrote:But I'm sold on the Sigma 70-200 II Macro: it's a focal length range I already know I will use and appreciate, plus I can add a teleconverter later to get 400mm at f/5.6. I just have to find a reputable dealer with one in stock.

but, how about the Zeiss?
;-)
just kidding...
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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby KevinBarrett » Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:11 am

pakodominguez wrote:but, how about the Zeiss?
;-)
just kidding...

Oh, Pako. I have the worst kind of indecision. The cart is full and I can't click "Purchase" because I keep thinking about the mere 1 stop advantage of the Sigma over my beercan, and right when I've learned how to correct the CA at 200mm. I keep thinking how I'm mostly satisfied with the lenses I have now and what would benefit me most at a wedding is another digital mount. Then I think about the a700 successor due this fall and I freeze, empty my shopping cart, and start assembling a fresh wish-list instead.
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Re: Sony 85/1.4 ZA, Sigma 70/2.8 Macro, or Tamron 90/2.8 Mac

Unread postby pakodominguez » Sun Jun 13, 2010 6:03 am

KevinBarrett wrote:
pakodominguez wrote:but, how about the Zeiss?
;-)
just kidding...

Oh, Pako. I have the worst kind of indecision. The cart is full and I can't click "Purchase" because I keep thinking about the mere 1 stop advantage of the Sigma over my beercan, and right when I've learned how to correct the CA at 200mm. I keep thinking how I'm mostly satisfied with the lenses I have now and what would benefit me most at a wedding is another digital mount. Then I think about the a700 successor due this fall and I freeze, empty my shopping cart, and start assembling a fresh wish-list instead.

A good lens is always a good buy. Bodies... The A700 is a good camera that will do the job for about 3 years. The A900/A850 will endure probably 5 years. After that, digital cameras are disposable.

Enjoy your lens and wait to see what happens at the end of the summer. By then you'll have a better idea of what do you need and, if you get more weddings to do, those jobs will finance the new camera.

Regards
Pako
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