Thursday, September 25, 2014

Underwater Shooters Looking Forward to New Sony a7 FE Mount Wide Angle and Macro Lenses

Sea LionUnderwater photographers who travel and want a pro-level camera have been stuck with much larger, heavier full-frame DSLR camera systems. The choice was to compromise quality and capability for smaller size mirrorless cameras, or just deal with the extra weight, bulk and travel expense. In these days of add-on airline fees, this situation has been getting worse.

Earlier this year Sony changed all that with the release of the Sony a7 full-frame mirrorless camera. This is truely a game changing platform.

As I stated earlier in my review of this camera, the Sony a7 series are light, fast, incredibly customizable, and with a great sensor. The release of the high resolution a7r and the 4k capable a7s further reinforced this great lineup.

But they have very few lenses available for the their new FE lens mount. For some reason Sony seems to come out with a new mount every time they come out with an SLR. Alpha lenses don't fit. Of course they have adapters, but those are usually slow and the resulting lens stack won't fit underwater housings. And the price adds up.

The missing lenses for underwater photography are (surprise) macro and extreme wide angle. 

Sony has recently posted the 2015 roadmap of new lenses for their FE mount that fits the a7 series. 

The good news on this front is that starting mid-next year Sony/Zeiss will ship a 90mm macro lens (still not as powerful as I'd like to see for FX) and a 28mm wide angle with FE and W/A adapters - not a great solution, but a better option than the 35mm they have now. The venerable Nikonos 15mmFE manual lens probably still remains the underwater wide angle lens of choice for the Nauticam NA-7 housing. Hopefully Sigma and some others will jump into this FE mount vacuum soon.

Here's a quote from a Sony executive from dpreview
"...There are 13 lenses for the E mount currently but we still need to create more lenses to compete with other manufacturers. We’re catching up. One consistent request from our customers is macro lenses and wide-aperture lenses...."

The promise of a lighter, smaller, electronic full-frame SLR camera system is slowly being realized. In the meanwhile, I'll still be shooting my Nikon, with decades of glass available. 

Sony a7 Lenses