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Old November 8th, 2012, 04:34 PM   #1
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difference between Sony A-mount and E-mount lenses?

I'm looking to start investing in lenses for video work. With so many camera's coming out, and tech moving so fast right now, I don't think it's a good time to invest in a Camera body. I'm currently using my girlfriends Canon 7D, and I have a few Nikkor still prime lenses that I use with an adapter.

However, I like that cameras that are coming out of Sony right now (AF 100, VG900, a99), but unlike Canon which uses the EF mount across their whole line, Sony has two lens mount options - the A-mount and the E-mount. Why?

From what I can tell from the Sony site, there are far more A-mount lenses and the E-mount lenses cost more. Both of the video centric cameras mentioned above feature the E-mount, while the DSLR has an A-mount. But there has to be more of a difference? Why would Sony divide it's lines against itself like that?
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Old November 8th, 2012, 04:53 PM   #2
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Re: difference between Sony A-mount and E-mount lenses?

The A-Mount is a development by Sony of the SLR mount that they inherited from Minolta. The E-Mount has been developed for mirrorless and fixed mirror cameras where the rearmost elements of the lens can be much nearer to the sensor.
This shorter distance enables the design of suitable intelligent adaptors that allow many lens series designed for conventional mirrored SLRs to be fittted to E-Mount camera bodies. This would enable lens series such as Canon EF, Nikon and of course Sony A-Mount to be used with E-mount compact cameras like the NEX-3, 5, 6 and 7, and more interestingly, the NEX-VG10/20/30 range and NEX-FS100/700 camcorders.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 03:48 AM   #3
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Re: difference between Sony A-mount and E-mount lenses?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denez McAdoo View Post
unlike Canon which uses the EF mount across their whole line, Sony has two lens mount options - the A-mount and the E-mount.
Canon has two lens mount options as well: There are EF/EF-S lenses for the DSLRs and EF-M lenses with a much shorter flange focal distance for the new mirrorless cameras.
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Old November 9th, 2012, 05:16 PM   #4
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Re: difference between Sony A-mount and E-mount lenses?

As mentioned, the A-mount is a legacy DSLR mount, and most lenses also cover the full 35mm frame. The older lenses also do not have any AF or aperture motors, as these are mechanically driven from the camera.

Except for the new E-mount full-frame 35mm video camera, all E-mount camera's and lenses only cover a reduced APS-C circle. E-mount lenses are also completely electrical and contain motors for AF and aperture as well as Optical Stabilization. All of that also increases costs.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 01:35 AM   #5
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Re: difference between Sony A-mount and E-mount lenses?

The Sony A-mount lens range is based on the Minolta bayonet dimensions, but is definitely a current range. The E-mount is designed for Super35 lens and sensors which are bigger than APS-C, e.g. the FS100/700 cameras use it.

The fact that E-mount lens are electrical is not really a cost issue and will become less of one as time goes on. As lens design progresses, motor driven focus and aperture functions will become the norm save for a few legacy designs, e.g. Canon already has no manual ring for aperture on EOS kit and EOS OEM and Canon lens ranges are similarly priced to the Nikon equivalents. As a consequence, there is no practical price penalty for electronic lens.
It remains to be seen whether the VG900 body will inherit full-frame E-mount lens accessories. If the body can use full frame alpha lens with an e to A-mount adaptor, then an E-mount lens can also be made full frame.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 04:58 PM   #6
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Re: difference between Sony A-mount and E-mount lenses?

Sony has stated they will support BOTH A and E mount going forward - as evidenced by the "full size" Alpha SLT cameras and the smaller NEX series.

While the A mount is relatively "ancient", going back to Konica/Minolta heritage (Sony bought Minolta), the in body stabilization and the long history means lots of inexpensive lenses are available.

The E mount came about when Sony wanted a smaller format that was mostly equal when shooting video AND stills - the E mount lenses are designed to be quiet when adjusting, unlike the older A mount lenses, which have noticeable amounts of noise when re-focusing.

Of course the short flange distance of the E mount opens up even more possible "adapted" lenses, so it really comes down to what is the best "fit" for a particular shooter (and it may be a combo of A and E mount gear...).

ANY camera "system" requires a certain amount of investment in accessories, when you go to an interchangeable lens "system", you have to consider what things are likely to span generations and which will be "obsolete" or outdated when the next model year releases. Lenses hopefully will be something you'll have for a while once you find the ones that you want or need, and then just change out sensor/bodies as technology changes.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 11:25 AM   #7
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Re: difference between Sony A-mount and E-mount lenses?

Thanks for all this info.

From what your guys are saying, it looks like the newer E-mount is a much more versatile option, with the extra room for adapters to accept most other lens systems. I like this a lot, I want to be able to pick up a lens from a friend, slap on an adapter and start shooting. Granted with all manufactures moving to electronic aperture, this almost makes the option moot. Again, why I prefer shooting with old adapted Nikkors - manual aperture. Though I did see some adapters that feature a built in aperture mechanism, I'm note sure how good or reliable this option is.

Also, what's with some lenses covering full frame, and some only being for APS-C size sensors? There seems to be a difference of opinion below on what the E-mount lens is designed for (however, the VG900 is full frame E-mount). I use full frame Nikkor lenses on a 7D, and the only drawback is I have to multiply the focal length by 1.6. Big deal. However, my EFS 18-35mm lens designed for the APS-C size lens, apparently give me NO BENEFIT, except to prevent me from using it on a full frame camera. Am I wrong about this?
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Old November 11th, 2012, 01:16 PM   #8
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Re: difference between Sony A-mount and E-mount lenses?

Denez,

APS-C, or any of the reduced frame size lens are cheaper to design and manufacture as only the cropped portion of the lens needs to work to specification. Usually, the rear-most element can be seen to be smaller, so the overall construction can be simpler.
I have for example four Canon EFS mount lens for use on my 550D:
Canon 18-55mm APS-C (the kit lens)
Tamron 18-270mm APS-C
Sigma 8-16mm APS-C
Canon 50mm full frame
All fit the same on the camera but the full frame has a larger rear element than the others. This lens will work on any Canon EFS camera, including the full frame models (e.g. 5D) despite its low cost construction. The three APS-C lens would probably cause vignetting on a camera with a full frame sensor.
As far as the VG900 is concerned, Sony have probably found that A-mount lens fitted to the LA-EA1 adaptor just get away with low enough vignetting for prosumer video use. I imagine that they may have plans for purpose designed full-frame E-mount lens to offer if the VG900 sales take off.
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Old November 11th, 2012, 01:26 PM   #9
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Re: difference between Sony A-mount and E-mount lenses?

You need to think about the parts (lens and body/sensor) as two entirely separate entities...

Sensor size is sensor size, whichever body/sensor you choose. Sony has their little small chips (P&S and camcoders), a 1" chip in the RX100 (not IL), the APS-C in SLT/NEX, and now the FF in the "9" series SLT/NEX cameras.

If you want to be able to use the entire sensor area in a "FF" body, you need a lens designed to provide an image to that entire larger surface area - from the descriptions, Sony has taken it into consideration that you may put an APS-C lens on, and you'd get a "cropped" sensor, OR you can use a lens designed around FF, and utilize the entire sensor area. There has been some debate about whether the smaller E mount has sufficient diameter to let a "FF" lens mount, and pass an image through, but it seems it is possible... light is "bent" as it is passed through several elements in a typical lens in order to produce the image at the right size, shape and focus on the correct sensor plane, so it is possible to still get a FF image to a FF sensor even with the physically smaller mount.


Lens construction, aperture and bokeh (which is typically a major part of the "image quality" that larger sensors are all about) are another tangled ball of twine entirely...
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Old November 14th, 2012, 12:03 PM   #10
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Re: difference between Sony A-mount and E-mount lenses?

Great info.

Is there any suggestions on the best non-sony E-mount lenses to use on an E-mount camera (like say the FS100). I saw a video where the person used Canon lenses (EFS mount, actually) with an active adapter that allowed it to control the exposure. Image stabilization wasn't recognized, he said, but since that works within the lens, it didn't matter (unlike, Sony A-mound, as I understand it).

I'm really leaning towards the Sony route, but I want to make sure I'm flexible and future proof my lens selection.
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