In my opinion, Sony has the worst and confusing lens naming system of all camera lens manufacturers. As a relatively new Sony a7 III owner myself having pre-ordered two a7 III bodies upon announcement, I did some research on whether or not I can use Sony E-mount lenses on my Sony a7 III. This is what I found:
Technically, you can use any Sony E-mount lens on your Sony a7, a7R, a7S and a9 models. However, using Sony E-mount lenses such as the ‘Sony Sonnar T* 24mm f/1.8 ZA for NEX’ will result in severe black vignetting around each image in full frame mode. This is because Sony E-mount lenses were specifically developed for APS-C camera sensors. The severe vignetting is a result of the lens not being able to cover a full frame sensor. To bypass this, you can enable the crop mode feature found on Sony Alpha 7 and Alpha 9 models. Using the same Sony Sonnar T* 24mm f/1.8 ZA lens as an example, in crop mode, the effective focal range would be 1.5x 24mm = 36mm and the resultant image would be down-sampled to a lower megapixel output.
Yes. I agree.
In my rush to pick up a fast wide angle lens, I made the mistake of buying the Sony Sonnar T* 24mm f/1.8 ZA (SEL24F18Z) for my Sony a7 III. Clearly I did not take note of the “for NEX” in the product description before paying for it.
100% my mistake but seriously Sony, you guys could have differentiated FE and E-mount lenses a bit better.
This is what severe vignetting looks like
What lenses should you get for your Sony a7?
Don’t make my silly $998 mistake.
Always choose Sony FE for Sony E-mount lenses. Take a look at the screengrab of B&H when filtering for Sony lenses for your a7 or a9.
See how there is a checkbox for “Full Frame Lenses”?
Make sure that you click on that box, otherwise, you will be presented with a whole bunch of similarly named lenses that are designed specifically for APS-C cameras (e.g., a6300, a6500).
Here is a complete list of Sony E-mount FE lenses for your Sony a7, a7 II, a7 III, a7S, a7S II, a7R, a7R II, a7R III, a9
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS
Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS
Sony FE 28mm f/2
Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA
Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA
Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G
Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
Sony FE 50mm f/1.8
Sony Planar %* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA
Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8ZA
Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM
Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM OSS
Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro
Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4G OSS
Sony FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS
Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G OSS
Sony FE 500mm f/2.8 GM OSS
ZEISS Batis 18mm f/2.8
ZEISS Batis 25mm f.2
ZEISS Batis 85mm f/1.8
ZEISS Batis 135mm f/2.8 OSS
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 Di III RXD
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Sigma 35mm f.1,4 DG HSM Art
Sigma 50mm f/14 DG HSM Art
Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DG MACRO Art
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art
Rokinon AF 14mm f/2.8 FE
Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 FE
Rokinon AF 35mm f/1.4 FE
Rokinon AF 35mm f/2.8 FE
Rokinon AF 50mm f/1.4 FE
PS – all the lenses listed above will autofocus with your Sony a7 and a9 camera.
Do not buy these Sony E-mount lenses for your Sony a7
These lenses will either cause severe vignetting in your images or force you to use APS-C mode on your Sony a7 camera. Using APS-C mode will result in a loss of megapixel resolution. For example, on the a7 III with a 24-megapixel sensor, APS-C mode will result in a 10.66-megapixel image output.
If you have been using the Sigma MC-11 adapter with your Sigma Art lenses in Canon mount, you may be wondering if the native Sigma FE Art lenses perform better with your Sony mirrorless camera. I was certainly curious and so I spent a few hours doing this research. Here is a complete list of Sigma FE Art lenses for Sony E-mount:
I remember my first Sigma lens – it wasn’t very accurate and it tended to focus hunt a lot and exhibit front/rear-focus. But when the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 (non-Art) did nail focus, it produced a far better result than the Canon and Nikon 50mm f/1.4 counterparts. In fact, because I switched camps from Canon to Nikon, back to Canon and once again to Nikon (URGH!), I owned this Sigma 50mm f/1.4 on both Canon EF and Nikon F-mount variants. Like the Canon 50L, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 had good copies and atrocious copies.
I should also note that I only started calibrating each of my lenses with my DSLR camera in 2017 ..
So when Sigma released their Art series, I got out my wallet.
Ever since they were released for Nikon and Canon DSLR cameras, I have loved Sigma Art lenses.
After buying my first Sigma Art lens (50mm f/1.4 DG HSM), others quickly followed (35mm f/1.4 DG HSM, 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM). They were significantly cheaper than the Nikon and Canon counterparts and autofocus speed and accuracy nor sharpness ever an issue with the Sigma Art lens range.
The only reason why I never bought the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM was because I scored the Nikon Af-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G second hand at a bargain price.
In the past, Sigma lenses had a reputation for having inaccurate focus. The Art series changed that. Plus, after meticulously calibrating each lens with each of my Nikon D750 bodies before any paid assignment, front-focusing and back-focusing issues were a thing of the past.
But not all my experiences with Sigma Art lenses have been positive. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art was notorious for having a loose barrel. I had to send the lens back to Sigma in order to have it fixed.
On another occasion, I owned the Sigma 24-35mm f/2 DG HSM Art zoom lens to have it die on me in less than a month. When I took it in for repairs, I was told that it was because I had dropped the lens. I hadn’t. I mean, I’m rough with my gear when I work but I was 100% sure that the lens had never been dropped.
On a more positive note however, I have photographed many weddings and engagement session with the Sigma Art lenses in the rain and none have failed on me – despite the Sigma Art lenses have no weather sealing.
Meet the Sigma Art Sony E-mount FE lenses
Sigma were one of the first third party lens manufacturers to announce native Sony E-mount FE lenses.
There was much excitement within the Sony photography community. Myself included.
We knew that the quality of the lenses would be worthy of the Art series label. The APS-C lens (a6500, a6300, a6000) Sigma 16mmf/1.4 DC DN had been getting consistent positive reviews. And that wasn’t even an Art series lens. So the excitement was justified.
Another reason for the hype was because native Sony FE lenses were inherently very expensive. Before buying the Sony a7 III, I had never paid so much for a f/1.8 lens in my life. For example, my Sony Sonnar T* FE f/1.8 ZA costs $898 from B&H while a Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA would set be back $1,498. That’s a lot of money for a f/1.8 lens!
After a wait that seemed like forever, the first Sony FE Sigma Art lenses started to trickle into the world. Considering the price of the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art ($949 from B&H), it is a significant one.
Quality-aside. Pricing-aside. There is one more reason why Sigma FE Art lenses are popular.
It’s all about Sony’s eye AF.
What is eye AF and how does it work?
Coming from DSLR photography, eye autofocus was a complete game changer. It just made photographing people at events so much easier. Quite literally, I am pointing the camera and pressing a button. An EVF to help get the right exposure and eye-AF – this is what photographer’s dreams are made of. Literally.
Which Sony cameras have eye AF?
Based on my research, eye AF is available on these Sony mirrorless cameras:
Sony a7 II
Sony a7 III
Sony a7R II
Sony a7R III
Sony a7S II
However, not all of these Sony mirrorless cameras have eye AF with continuous tracking (AF-C).
Eye AF with continuous tracking means that once your Sony camera has acquired your subject’s eye, even if they move, the camera will continue to lock onto your subject’s eye. These cameras have been highlighted for your reference.
One of the biggest reasons why DSLR photographers such as myself switched from Nikon and Canon was because of Sony’s ingenious implementation of eye autofocus.
Other camera systems had facial recognition and super fast autofocus (Olympus OM-D) but to date, no other camera system has implemented eye autofocus
Even the new Nikon Z6 and Z7 mirrorless digital cameras do not have a similar feature to Sony’s eye AF.
Eye AF is a game changer.
Paired with the very attractive price point of the Sony a7 III, it became a no-brainer game changer for many professional photographers.
Imagine not having to think about focusing.
Imagine how much more time and effort you could spend on giving your clients and/or subjects a better experience,
As I said, eye AF and A7 III is a no-brainer game changer.
I thought Sigma was developing a whole new line of Sigma Art lenses for maximum Sony FE compatibility. I was really excited seeing as I was on the edge of buying my first Sony mirrorless camera (the a7 III).
My excitement somewhat died completely when a friend revealed to me that the new Sigma FE Art lenses were simply an optimized version of a MC-11 and a Sigma Art lens. In my disbelief, I searched the Internet and the photos of pre-production models of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art confirmed my friend’s comment.
This experience of mine was shared within many other photographers. We all had high hopes for Sigma FE Art lenses. Now, instead of ‘hurry up and take my money’, there were concerns.
I think we can all agree that the Sony a9 is a beast of a camera. However, it wasn’t enough to push me across the line to give up on my trusty Nikon D750. You see, for the longest time, I believed that Sony’s Achilles’ heel was its lackluster lens line up. But this was based on outdated information.
But native Sony FE f/1.4 fast primes were very expensive and for the longest time, I looked down on f/1.8 prime lenses (mostly because f/1.8 prime lenses for Canon and Nikon were not good enough for professional work IMO).
Then came along adapters.
Canon EF to Sony E-mount lens adapters
There are only 2 worth mentioning:
Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-mount T Smart adapter
Sigma MC-11 EF mount converter for Sony E-mount
Both work but you should be aware that by introducing a third party adapter between a lens and your camera increases the chance for errors.
The general consensus is that the Sigma MC-11 works best for Sigma lenses. If you have existing Canon EF Sigma Art lenses, the MC-11 comes highly recommended based on multiple reviews. However, the pricier Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-mount T Smart adapter (click here to check current prices on Amazon)
For videographers, I would recommend sticking with native Sony FE lenses if you rely on autofocus and focus tracking.
Nikon F-mount to Sony E-mount lens adapters
They do exist but to be honest, nothing worth writing about or trying.
Sorry Nikon users (myself included).
Eye AF: Sigma FE Art vs Sigma EF Art using MC-11 adapter
Optical image quality and sharpness have never been an issue with Sigma Art lenses. The same applies to Sigma FE Art lenses for Sony E-mount.
But if you have been using the Sigma MC-11 with Sigma Art lenses in Canon EF mount, you may be curious to know whether the new native Sigma FE Art lenses perform better.
I found these reviews for you:
Conclusion: why I won’t be getting any Sigma FE Art lenses
I still have my Nikon D750 and lenses. They have served me well for the past 3 years and I don’t see a reason to discard them at a big loss.
I also have 2x Sony a7 III bodies. Initially, my intention was to switch completely across to Sony for photography and sell my Nikon gear to recoup some finances. But, as much as I enjoy the features of the Sony a7 III, I prefer using my Nikon D750 for stills.
Am I going to sell my Sony a7 III bodies then?
Why Dan? You said you prefer to use your Nikon D750 for taking stills.
Well here’s the thing.
Because of the a7 III, I have come to love film making. Having access to 4K 30fps, dual card slots, and a very smart inbuilt autofocus system removed many of the barriers of film making for me. And so, that is why I will be keeping my Sony a7 III bodies and the accompanying Sony FE lenses.
Yes. I own a number of Sony FE lenses:
Sony Sonnar T* E 24mm f/1.8 ZA (yes, I bought this APS-C lens thinking it was a full frame FE lens ..)
Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA
Sony Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 ZA
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS
Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
There is not a single Sigma FE Art series lens in my possession. This is because I prefer to film videos on my Sony mirrorless cameras. From reading reviews, I gathered that no matter how optically perfect Sigma Art lenses were, I needed lenses that would work 100% of the time. Hence, I stuck with native Sony FE lenses.
Will I change my mind the future? Perhaps. But for now, I am actually very surprised by the performance of the Sony FE lenses and have not missed having f/1.4 fast primes one bit.
But that’s just me – my situation is probably very different to yours.
If you use your Sony mirrorless camera for predominantly photography, you probably have every reason to buy all the Sigma FE Art lenses.
PS – I wasn’t having much joy with custom Sony Picture Profiles until buying EOSHD. Seriously, worth every penny!
I was always intrigued by film making but the technical side made it very unattractive. Then Sony released the A7 III. Admittedly, I was initially attracted to it for photography reasons but soon after playing the camera, I started to fall in love with the video side of storytelling.
In this blog post, I am going to share all the things that I have learnt about the Sony a7 III because I am sure that we have some overlapping questions.
The Sony Alpha 7 III (ILCE-7M3) has a 24 megapixel CMOS sensor. It can film UHD 8-bit 4K resolution (3840×2160) in 30p, 25p and 24p as well as in full HD (1920×1080) in 120p, 100p, 60p, 60i, 50p, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p. It can film videos in the following file formats: XAVC S, AVCHD 2.0, and MP4. When filming in 4K 30p (available only in NTSC mode), footage is cropped in by about 1.2x. When filming video in 25p and 24p, no cropping of the sensor readout occurs. The Sony a7 III does not offer 4K 60p although at the time of writing, rumors are that the anticipated Sony a7 SIII may have 4K 60p.
What file format should I use for filming video on the Sony a7 III?
I personally like to film in the highest quality possible even though most of my content is viewed at 720p on mobile devices. This means choosing 4K XAVC S 4K at the highest bitrate that my memory cards will let me (100M).
I also film in 30p and take the crop factor hit. I do this because my typical video timeline is set to 24fps and by having 30p footage, I can natively slow down the footage by 80% without taking a hit in quality. Filming in 30p also forces me to film in NTSC (even though I’m in a PAL region).
Can the Sony a7 III film in 4K slow motion?
The answer to this question ultimately depends on what you determine to be slow motion. When I was doing my research, I had no idea how slow motion was achieved in post processing. Now I have a better understanding. I think ..
I should have spent some time watching this video first! It would have removed a lot of my initial confusion.
The short answer is no, the Sony a7 III does not offer 4K 120p/100p. 120p/100p is only available in 8-bit 1080p.
By the way, PAL = 100p while NTSC = 120p (it took me a while to get this).
The beauty of S&Q mode is that you can playback in slow motion. That is, you can film a scene in S&Q mode and show your client immediately how the slow motion looks like. However, there are downsides to S&Q mode.
In the following video, Miguel Quiles explains Sony’s S&Q mode. He is using a Sony a7 RIII in the video but it is essentially the same to the Sony a7 III for S&Q mode.
According to Jason Vong, S&Q mode does not record any audio. Then again, do you really want slowed down audio? I always have a laugh when I listen to slowed down audio. You should try it.
When I need slow motion, I’ll record in XAVC S HD (1080) 60p to get the highest quality from my footage. Since my video timelines are typically 24fps, 60p will allow me to halve the speed of the footage without any quality loss. But to be honest, I rarely film in slow motion as I feel as it is overused as a crux – similar to super shallow depth of field.
What is eye AF and how does it work?
Eye AF was one of the biggest reasons why I bought the Sony a7 III. As a wedding photographer who needs to capture a lot of natural interactions between people on a wedding day, eye AF makes my job almost redundant. I simply point the camera in a vague direction and it does all the hard work for me.
What is eye AF like on the Sony a7 III?
I can confirm that eye AF works just as magically at wide apertures (f/1.8 – f/2.8) as it does in the video above (f/6.3).
Based on my personal experiences, using eye AF for the very first time feels weird. As a DSLR photographer for 8+ years, I am used to carefully picking the AF point in-camera and making sure that the subject rarely strays from the AF point.
Using eye AF is like relearning composition – almost like driving in USA versus driving in UK. Same thing but different!
Does eye AF work with adapted Canon/Nikon lenses on the a7 III?
Does eye AF work in video mode?
Sadly, no. Eye AF does not carry across into video mode. The Sony a7 III does however track faces, people and moving objects quite well. Here’s some proof:
Sony picture profiles
If you are considering a Sony a7 III as your first Sony mirrorless camera for film making, the picture profiles found on the a7 III should be of particular interest to you.
As a photographer, I didn’t quite understand what picture profiles were. I simply shot in raw and in Lightroom, I would make the necessary adjustments to white balance, contrast, sharpness, individual HSL adjustments, saturation, tone curves etc. Little did I know that when recording video, the flexibility I had with raw files was no longer available.
I was lucky enough to go on a short holiday with the wife in Seoul, South Korea just when I took delivery of my Sony a7 III. Wanting to vlog, I brought my a7 III and FE 24-105mm f/4G OSS. Let’s just say that I won’t be showing any of the videos that I shot in South Korea.
Not wanting to color grade, I followed the advice of many YouTubers to shoot in Cine4. They had convinced me that SLOG was too much work. For a while I followed Henbu’s recommendations (see below video).
For you convenience, I have written out the settings down below.
Black level: +5
Black gamma: Range Middle, Level +6
Knee: Manual (80%, slope +2)
Color mode: S-Gamut3.Cine
Color phase: +3
Color depth: R +1, G -2, B +3, C +3, M +3, Y 0
The following two videos were filmed using pretty much the above picture profile cine4 settings.
Looking back, I’m not a big fan of the colors that came out of it. But using those cine4 settings allowed me to think more about the actual filming than worrying about color.
Then I filmed this prewedding in Sydney, Australia.
Ultimately unhappy with how the colors were turning out, I decided to use my wallet and pay for something: EOSHD Pro Color V4 HDR.
I had really low expectations going into this. To be honest, I didn’t get the hype about achieving ‘Canon’ colors.
I was so so wrong.
EOSHD blew my mind.
Canon colors! I LOVE YOU.
As you can see in the above video, I am pretty lazy when it comes to editing color in video. Perhaps lazy is the wrong word. I simply do not have the experience or skill set to manipulate color in video footage compared to the experience I have with manipulating color in raw still images. But using auto white balance (I know right!!?!) with EOSHD Pro Color V4 HDR, I am happy with the results out-of-the-box.
I originally bought two Sony a7 III bodies for photography work. Whilst eye AF continues to blow my mind, I still prefer using my trusty workhorse Nikon D750 for photography and use the Sony a7 III for filming video.
Would I recommend the Sony a7 III?
It is an incredible machine. Not perfect but it is close enough.
Thinking of buying the Sony a7 III but not quite ready yet?
It may be just $2,000 but $2,000 is still a whole lot of money! Especially considering that if you’re switching across to Sony across from Nikon or Fujifilm, you’re in a whole world of pain when buying an entire new set of lenses (click here for a full list of Sony E-mount lenses).
These were the reviews that I watched in my research phase that ultimately pushed me across the line to not just purchase one Sony a7 III but two!