The Sony 35mm 1.8 lens for my A6000 came yesterday and I wanted to experiment. Since its snowing, sleeting and raining today I decided to shoot indoors. To conduct a proper test I put some large white roses on a shaky table, set up two daylight balanced full spectrum bulbs with reflectors, forgot to turn off the lamp with the regular bulb and drank four cups of iced coffee. But I did use a tripod and an iShoot L bracket, shot in manual and used the self timer.
My first impression with this lens is that the closest I can get is about a foot away, so filling the frame without cropping will take some thought. It seems that focusing wide open this close is tough but easier at f/4 and above with enough light. The lens goes from f/1.8 to f/22 although the sharpest aperture is probably about f/8, which I will obsessively determine on the next sunny day above 30 degrees.
The main reason to use a fixed focal length prime lens is that it encourages you to focus on composition. If you need to zoom you move closer, which is easy unless you’re on the bank of a lake or river, in which case you simply buy a boat. Prime lenses are also compact, allegedly sharper and sometimes inexpensive although not this one. The Sony 50mm f/1.8 is about $200 dollars cheaper but it’s also bigger and depending on what you photograph possibly not the perfect all around lens.
I plan to shoot wide open or a stop down with flowers so I really wanted to see what the rose looked like at f/1.8. The flower is past its prime and so am I and this photo is far from perfect. But as cinematographer Conrad Hall said: “There is a kind of beauty in imperfection.” I think I like Marilyn Monroe’s quote better: “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”