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The camera equipment I review is a mixture of items I own and items I have used or tested at my camera club. The Sony SAL100M28 100mm f2.8 lens is an item I own and have had now for around about 18 months.
The Sony SAL100M28 is a macro lens and although macro (close up) photography is not something I actually do much of, I still decided to go all out and get a very good Sony lens rather than skimping and getting a third party lens.
I currently have three DSLR`s all Sony, I have the mid range A550, the much more advanced A700 and the current top of the range Sony DSLR the awesome A850Q, this lens can be used on all of these cameras of course and it creates excellent images whichever body I attach it to.
Now the third party lenses would also be able to be used with all of these cameras but I have used and still do use third party lenses as part of my kit and it really is simple in photography, a £150 lens will simply not compete with a £350 lens so if you want the best possible images then you need to spend the money unfortunately.
Many of the lenses in the Sony range have survived from the Minolta days and this is one of them, Minolta are the brand that Sony bought over and the alpha mounting system used by Sony is the same that was used by Minolta so many of the old Minolta lenses themselves will fit right on and work but this one has had a makeover by Sony and really all that is left is the name.
Sony have modernize the look of the lens to match the rest in their range, but that might be just about all they have done as the lens itself seems very similar indeed, I guess if it aint broke don't fix it. For me the build quality of all Sony lenses with exception to the budget kit lenses is excellent and this lens has the usual reliable Sony feel to it and the auto focus is as quiet and quick as any other in this end of the Sony range.
The outer barrel of the lens is completely plastic which some people will frown upon but it is not a brittle cheap plastic and the durability of Sony lenses has never been bought in to question as far as I know.
This being a prime lens rather than a zoom lens you of course do not need to worry about lens creep which to be honest there never is with top end Sony lenses anyway. The Sony SAL100M28 has a fast and quiet autofocus but that said if it has to hunt back and forth through the entire focus range for very close up macro then it can become a bit tedious, you have two options here, you can either choose to focus manually or you can use the handy little range limiter on the lens which will make focusing much quicker.
The one thing you can rest assured of with this lens is that every shot you take will have great colour reproduction and clarity as well as not having any chromatic aberration or softness , just crisp sharp images every time. Now this lens is compatible with every DSRL in Sony`s range but I fear the budget entry level DSLR`s will throttle this lens so if you are using a budget end Sony like the A290 or the likes then remember the body has limits so you possibly won't get the best out the lens, that said it is unlikely with a £300 camera you will be using a lens that cots over £500.
The minimum focus distance of this lens is 0.35mm, so you really can get right up close and personal with insects and the likes to get photos of them like you never imagined, the max magnification ratio is1:1 which basically means you get true life size images, (ie) the photos will be exactly as the eye would see if you were looking at the subject close up in real life.
If you intend to take up macro photography then one thing I should say is that to get these type of images you do not just need a great camera and a great lens like this, you most definitely need a tripod. DSLR cameras are heavy old chunks of kit and then you add this 505g lens to it and try and hold it perfectly still to get tack sharp images and it just wont work.
I have been using this lens for over a year now as I said and I have taken a good couple of hundred macro shots that I am pretty proud of including one that I have displayed and a few that I have sold so if you take photography seriously and you use a Sony DSLR then this is the macro lens I would recommend to you or at least one of them.
Costing around £550 this is an expensive piece of kit but then photography is an expensive hobby, I am lucky enough to have photography as my profession so buying pieces of kit like this is investment for me rather than just cost and I have lenses that are way, way more expensive than this one and they are mostly very good value for money, if you look after this lens or any other top end Sony lens they could easily be partner you for life.
THE SONY SAL100M28 SPECIFICATIONS:
Optical construction 8 elements in 8 groups
Number of aperture blades 9 (circular)
min. focus distance 0.35m (max. magnification ratio 1:1)
Filter size 55mm (non-rotating)
Hood barrel-shaped, snap-on, supplied
Other features focus stop button, focus limiter
TO SUM UP:
I have to say that using this lens has been a real pleasure, most lenses have their limits but I have yet to find this one's limits if indeed it has any. Although it is a macro lens it can of course be used as a normal lens to shoot at more normal focal distances, I have created some very interesting portraits using this lens and it now accompanies me to the studio more and more whereas before it was very much an outdoor lens.
I would feel very confident in recommending this lens to family and friends and I am confident that anyone using it on my recommendation would get great results from it. There is no need to spend this much money unless you want it for macro photography but if macro is your thing then you should definitely consider this lens, but remember this lens is for cameras using the Alpha mounting system only so basically Sony DSLR`s or old Minolta cameras, other brands such as Canon and Nikon will do their own versions of this type of lens.
BUILD QUALITY 9/10
EASE OF USE 8/10
IMAGE QUALITY 10/10
VALUE FOR MONEY 10/10
** PLEASE NOTE THAT THE QUICK RATING GUIDE BELOW HAS BATTERY LIFE LISTED BUT AS THE LENS DOES NOT USE BATTERIES THIS IS OF COURSE NOT RELEVANT**
Thanks for reading.