Saturday 26 June 2021

Sony FE 90mm f2.8 Macro Lens

Since taking up photography in 2004 my two main interests have always been photographing flowers and digital infrared but I'll also shoot landscapes, architecture and sports when I get the chance. 

When out shooting for the day, I found myself constantly conflicted between capturing the colour spectrum with the Sony A6400 or invisible light with the A6000 infrared camera and I eventually realised that my colour photography was suffering. A question I often ask myself is, "What kind of photographer am I?" 

Being a club photographer I've often believed that I fell into the category of being a "Jack of all trades, but a master of none" I know a lot of very good photographers and they're very good because they specialise and put all of their efforts into perfecting their chosen subject be that wildlife, landscape, wedding, street photography etc. 

With fewer opportunities to photograph because of Covid restrictions my camera gear wasn't getting as much use as I'd liked, so a month ago I reluctantly sold the Sony A6000 infrared converted camera, my 15 yr old Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro lens and some other camera gear and purchased the Sony FE 90mm f2.8 macro lens to specialise in my other passion of flower photography. What kind of photographer am I? I guess I'm now a flower photographer and looking to improve my skills in the subject.

Cirsium- Sony 90mm Macro

The change over from the 15yr old Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro (A mount) lens used with the LA-EA4 adapter to the Sony FE 90mm f2.8 E mount lens on my Sony A6400 camera has made a huge difference to the way that I now capture flowers. Previously my method was very rigid and constrained with little room for creativity.

Astrantia maxima and a Hoverfly - Sony 90mm Macro hand held

Neither the Tamron lens or the Sony A6400 have built in stabilisation so all of my macro work was done on a tripod. That's generally good practice for any macro work and it produced good results but it was a slow and frustrating workflow. 

Carrying a heavy tripod around all day. Positioning the tripod legs at the correct height. Moving it back and forth to frame the shot because you're using a prime lens was a slow process.
I'd often place the camera on the tripod with the ballhead slackened off and use the tripod like a gimbel to prevent me from swaying back and forth whilst manually focusing. This gave me some degree of freedom to switch from flower to flower or to frame a shot.

The Tamron was always notorious for having an autofocus system that was prone to hunting. It was accurate and very sharp once it found it's subject but it was best used in manual focus, recommended again for macro work. 

Tradescantia "Osprey" - Sony 90mm Macro on a tripod

I'm still getting to know the Sony FE 90mm macro lens with it's fast responsive autofocus and image stabilisation. I've used it a couple of times without using a tripod and the freedom to move around, compose a shot and shoot quickly has been very enjoyable compared to my previous workflow with the Tamron although I do miss focus at times when autofocusing given the very shallow depths of field involved.

Candelabra Primula - Sony 90mm Macro hand held

Using a tripod and manual focus is still the recommended method for shooting macro and the images in this post have been captured using either this method or shooting handheld with autofocus. Which method I use in the future will depend on the available light, the F-stop used and the resulting shutter speed but the Sony lens does give me the freedom to be more creative.

Iris sibirica - Sony 90mm Macro hand held

Why did I choose the Sony FE 90mm macro over the other brand of lenses available for the Sony E mount? The other lenses are cheaper and all have their good points but some were manual focus only while none had any stabilisation. The Sony lens was the most expensive but the build quality, sharpness, fast accurate autofocus and most importantly the image stabilisation on my A6400 won the day.