Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Latest Sony lenses - especially the Easychoices

There is enormous discussion on the net at the moment about the latest lens releases from Sony. Everyone from Mike over at TOP to just about everyone on Flickr and at Dyxum seems confused. Why is the 35 1.8 a DT lens? Why is the 85 2.8 so slow? Why do they have plastic mounts and SAM drives. Where's the 2.0 apertures? Where is the metal mount and SSM drive. All these photographers saying they would have paid more for just these little upgrades.

Ok, I'm going out on a limb here but I believe almost no one on the net 'gets' what Sony is setting itself to do and hence we dont understand these lenses. That said I reckon Sony needs to be far more ambitious in its selling and really get a message (and message) out there.

I think the mistake we are making is trying to understand the Sony releases in the context of the market as it has been for the past 2 decades. In that world 95% of people only bought a body with a twin set of cheap zooms and never went near a camera store again. Hence we, the geeks that haunt internet forums obsessing about gear have been the market for nearly 20 years and can only rationalise gear in its relationship to us.

I think Sony is trying to change that paradigm and re-introduce the masses to the consumerist dream of buying, collecting and occasionally even using lots of different lenses. We know that joy so Sony doesnt need to peddle its cheap trinkets to us.

Sony's language is clear in the press release. These new lenses are the easy choice range, Buying them is easy, about $us200 each. They give new users choices, right now its 30 1.8, 30 2.8 macro, 50 1.8, 85 2.8. And Sony is making it clear that this will be a growing range, my guess is that before long we will see a 135mm 2.8, a 24 2.8 DT and perhaps even a 16mm 2.8 DT. I can imagine an Easychoice kit with an A290, 24, 35, 50, 85 for under a grand if Sony was really aggressive.

So people are struggling with the logic - in my mind this Sony's criteria for the easychoice range:

1. Target cost - $US200ish
2. Std filter 55mm
3. Very good to excellent performance across the frame (therefore stds and wides will be DT)
4. Target weight under 200-250 grms

If I was running Sony (as opposed to just a customer wanting Sony to be my personal lens factory) this is exactly what I'd be doing in this segment. I'd probably even go further with a range of lenses I might be able to source from tamron as well like the 90mm and 180mm macros.

As for the premium end well there are so many holes where to start? The widest premium prime is the 35, the longest is the old and massively overpriced 300 so the 24 and never-ready 500 make perfect sense. Also while Sony has the 'gold' standard premium covered (16-35 2.8 CZ, 24-70 2.8 CZ, 70-200 2.8 g) the 'silver' std is almost completely empty. I think the 24 was obvious, I think the 500 will come. I suspect that after that we will see that 'silver range of premium glass - say a 16-35 4.0, 24-120 4, etc start to emerge.

of course I still havent squeezed in PC lenses.......it never ends does it? LOL

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