Sony’s A7 full-frame mirrorless camera lineup, which includes three variations – the A7, A7R, and A7s – has taken the camera world by storm. Each variant serves a different purpose for photographers who have different preferences depending on their shooting type.
The R in the A7R series stands for resolution, and Sony wasn’t kidding around. The upcoming A7rII packs a whopping 42MP. The 36MP A7R currently sits just behind the D810 and D800 for third in overall score by DxO, a website that measures camera and lens quality.
The S stands for sensitivity, and the A7s is DxO’s best overall low-light camera. The A7 is a compromise between the two, and it is also the least expensive option; however, it still ranks in the top 10 in DxO’s overall rankings. What all three versions have in common is that they take Sony FE-E mount lenses and accept a Metabones adaptor for Canon full-frame lenses.
Best Lenses for the Sony A7 Series
The market for native full-frame E-mount FE lenses is relatively immature and does not offer the range available for micro four-thirds mirrorless cameras or Canon and Nikon SLRs. That said, there are two lenses in particular that satisfy the needs of the two extremes, wide angle and macro, most commonly used in underwater photography.
Best Underwater Photography Macro Lens for the Sony A7 Series:
First Choice: Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS
The best macro lens for the Sony A7 series is the Sony FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens. It just so happens that the 90mm macro lens is one of the best macro lenses on the market – period. It is a pricey lens at $1100, but it has the fourth overall DxO score among all lenses, as well as the top overall sharpness score.
By almost all accounts, the lens performs exceptionally, with little to no chromatic aberration, light falloff (vignetting), or distortion. Despite being a macro lens, reviewers found it to autofocus quickly.
The Sony FE 90mm macro lens is also currently the only native full-frame E-mount macro lens, and therefore, by process of elimination, it’s the winner. However, that’s selling the lens short, as it’s a fantastic option for underwater photographers using the Sony A7.
Alternative Option: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro USM IS Lens with Metabones Adaptor
If you’re buying the A7 to replace or complement your Canon SLR, you can use your Canon mount lenses with the addition of a Metabones adaptor. The adaptor allows for autofocusing, metering, and aperture control; however, it tends to autofocus very slowly, making it a less practical solution for moving subjects.
You can manually focus your 100mm macro, though, so if you already have the Canon EF 100mm macro lens and don’t want to drop $1100 on a new lens, it’s a suitable option. However, if you’re starting fresh, the native Sony FE 90mm F2.8 is the clear winner.
Best Choice: Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens
Sony’s 16-35mm f4 is the best option for wide angle underwater photography with the Sony A7. This rectilinear wide-angle lens has a minimum focus distance of around 11”, similar to that of the popular Nikon 12-24mm and the Canon 16-35mm rectilinear wide-angle lenses.
Like Sony’s 90mm Macro lens, this professional-quality wide-angle lens is not cheap, with a price tag of $1,348. However, its wide angle of view and short minimum focus distance make it ideal for underwater use. Also, at the moment, there is no native fisheye lens, so this is the widest option available.
Alternative Option: Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM with Metabones Adaptor
The Canon EF 8-15mm fisheye zoom is an excellent underwater lens, and it is the only fisheye zoom available to full-frame shooters. If you need a fisheye and don’t mind the slow autofocus caused by the adaptor, this is an option. If you’re migrating to Sony from Canon or using your A7 as a Canon SLR supplement, and you don’t want to invest in new glass, this is a great option, especially for stationary subjects like corals.
A Growing Market with Two Excellent Options
The Sony A7 series is perhaps the first mirrorless camera lineup to hold its own with the SLRs in terms of image quality. As the lens market matures, there should be a few additional options for underwater shooters, most notably a native Sony FE fisheye lens. Despite the limited options, most underwater photographers only really need two lenses – a macro and wide angle option. The 90mm macro and 16-35mm wide angle rectilinear fill these roles perfectly, making the Sony A7 a top underwater camera option.
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