89 of 103 people found the following review helpful
A modern lens for modern times,
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This review is from: Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 Lens for Sony E-Mount Cameras (Silver) (Camera)
Modern design and production techniques have made it possible to mass market complex, automated lenses like the Sony E 55-210. But, can a modern consumer lens compete with an old legend? Gots to have a test...
I have a 40 year-old Leica Elmar-C 90mm, off of the "entry level" compact Leica CL of the day. And while it is old, nothing is really all that new in the actual optics, especially in this focal range. Even the coatings were just fine then. It is a heavy little sucker, made of glass and brass, and nearly the same weight as the far bigger Sony.
Nothing like the Big Sur coast for photos of rocks and water. Perched on a rock above a cove where the ancients once gathered abalone, I shot away with all of my lenses and my newly arrived Nex-7 from Amazon. Yay! Not a horrible way to spend an almost 75 degree sunny day in early March.
After downloading and enlarging the results at 100% it was evident that at 90mm the Sony was just a hair less sharp in the center than the Leica. At the edges, the Leica was clearly superior. Wow! To me that is both a testament both how good Leica was making entry level lenses 40 years ago and how an affordable, automated zoom can compete with a quality prime lens at the length and sunny lighting conditions that the Leica was optimized to work at! Awesome.
I believe that even a laboratory sort of test would find the same results. It was pretty clear in a real world sort of way.
And, in the real world the Sony goes way beyond what any prime can do. You can zoom in and fill the frame, avoiding cropping. This will equalize the sharpness factor in many cases. It can focus automatically, has optical stabilization so that even the longest telephoto shots are sharp. It can be hand-held and allows for high shutter speeds, an aid to sharpness in itself of course. It is capable of fully being controlled by the camera and in essence becomes one with the camera in a way that is different than the past when you manually operated your camera, then manually operated whatever brand lens was on it.
In video mode it tracked a big buzzard as it flew by. It focused well on waves coming at me, with the sun glaring from directly behind them.
It worked well with a 49mm polarizing filter.
The manual focusing is very smooth and precise, with a decent feel to it. It is a very good looking design, again modern in look as well, but the turned aluminum parts are more likely to be scratched than the rubbery, plasticy lenses on my old Nikon D40. I really need to get a decent little divided case. You can't just throw these new Sony lenses into a pile.
In the end, this is a quality, useful and well-priced lens, one I will always have with me when I go shooting around. You can get good results with the old technology, but modern lenses like this, mated to the cameras they were designed to work with, are just another thing altogether. The five-star rating reflects the value and utility of this excellent lens.