Sony Says They Could Make f/1.0 Lenses, but Won't, Because There's No Market Demand

Sony Says They Could Make f/1.0 Lenses, but Won't, Because There's No Market Demand

Last month, a Leica executive claimed that Sony's E mount is essentially too small to support more extreme optical designs. Sony has fired back, saying they could create an f/1.0 lens if they wanted to, but that there simply isn't the demand for one.

Kenji Tanaka, Senior General Manager of Sony's Digital Imaging Business group, mentioned his thoughts in an interview with Amateur Photographer, in which he directly addressed the lens mount issue, first noting:

Honestly speaking, it is very difficult to create a small size mount. But the quality of our new 400mm f/2.8 is better than the competitors. That means the diameter of the mount is not critical for our foremost lenses.

In following up with this, Tanaka said the company could technically produce an f/1.0 lens, but there's no demand in the market and it would not make sense business-wise. Personally, I have to agree with Sony. While f/1.0 is another full stop past the more standard f/1.4 and the sort of thing photographers drool over, high ISOs have gotten so good and depth of field is already so narrow at that point that I think most photographers would have a very hard time justifying what would surely be a stratospheric cost for any lens of half-decent quality with autofocus at that aperture. I know I'd much rather see Sony put that time and money into continuing to develop and release more standard lenses for the full frame E mount system. 

What are your thoughts?

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33 Comments

David Moore's picture

I COULD be the richest person and most handsome person, but why? lol

Not when they comes at the expense of your health. The golden triangle for lens has always been speed, cost & build (weight & size). Sony was just saying past F1.0, the size and / or cost is probably not going to make a lot of sense compared to F1.4. Just like what good is being rich and handsome but with terrible health and couldn't live beyond ~20 ?

Mike Stern's picture

But why? Because it won’t make you happy.

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, Sony's feeling the heat from the left and the right. Only the camera division is feeling the heat however, Sony makes pretty much everyone's sensors. :-D

I would prefer high IQ f1.4 and f1.8 primes over halo products costing over 3k a lens.

Fair point really. Very niche market that's probably mostly collectors of lenses who aren't really using them.
The Fujifilm 56mm 1.2 was the widest aperture lens I had but typically a 1.4 is bang on for cost/weight/usage.

Mike Stern's picture

And that lens is not a challenge to make really. Because it is aps-c. It won’t get too big.

Eric Salas's picture

Anyone that “needs” a 0.95 lens or as the Nikon gods claim, 0.65 ! Is just chasing numbers. 1.2 is shallow enough to miss more shots than nail and 1.4 is the sweet spot IMO.

Making a 0.95 lens with a 5k price tag so I can have one eyelash in focus and the eye blurry... miss me with that bullshit.

William Faucher's picture

I always find that argument a bit weird. Yes, only an eyelash will be in focus, if you shoot a headshot or shoulders up type of shot. But if you shoot more environmental type shots, where you are much further away, your DoF is much easier to work with. I think that is where the huge apertures really shine and isolate your subject.

Eric Salas's picture

Let’s say you’re shooting 20 feet away with a 105mm F/1. That’s still roughly 6 inches of in focus area and we all know an acceptable shot with this DoF is half of that. You can’t miss and if you truly care about your shots being sharp you’ll know and look for a cheek in focus instead of an eye.
We’ve all done it. With the technology available today, tack sharp is either hit or miss, there is no in between on a 4k monitor or print.

William Faucher's picture

Yes, at 105mm, sure. But at 50mm, which is what the new f0.95 will be, it gives you plenty in focus to work with.

We are starting the same old wars again. Las week was the F0.00001 Nikon Mirrorless lenses. Yesterday was the Zillion megapixel Canon Mirrorless. And today the Leica vs Sony who-has-it-longer, sorry brighter lenses. Who the hell has the need nowadays for anything faster than 1.8 or 1.4 lenses? And in the future with even better ISO sensibilities onboard newer sensors? Now we want extreme sharpness all around even in portrait lenses, and with F 1.0 for great "creamy bokeh" whatever that means. But then we are complaining because we are carrying bricks of DSLR cameras and lenses that weight more than a 4"x5" and are becoming almost as uncomfortable to work with them. I hope that somebody at the camera companies has some more common sense than the alleged "prosumers" who are driving the market nowadays in this crazy direction.

Jan Kruize's picture

Who buys a sony anyway?

To add some fire to the discussion I’ll answer: Trump supporters who use new Macbooks.

Jan Kruize's picture

hahahaha... i don't support Trump and my macbooc is an oldskool 2015 one.

Domenico Dentice's picture

read the market!! Sony is killing it!! Nikon and Canon latest releases show the desperate need to catch up with sony. Meanwhile, Sony is already working on breakthrough cameras !!!

Michael Rapp's picture

And you have to take into account that you really need a top notch eye detect autofocus to go with that lens.
Able camera bodies can be counted on a single hand, even across all brands.
And yo need subjects who have come to terms with the command "freeze!"
And yoy might want clients who are good with an image where less than 2 percent are actually in focus .

Mike Stern's picture

Rather than making a huge large aperture lens, i would concentrate on making sensors more sensitive than other brands if I were sony.
...wait, they already do that don’t they.

We are at the edge of the AI coming on our cameras hopefully not only on our smartphone cameras. I love FOCOS app on my iPhone X. And soon cameras may also benefit from this technology. I think sony’s next Axxx camera should take those innovational steps.

Could be if it was a 50mm F1.0 TS or 70-200mm f1.0 1:1 macro..

All what I need right now is 50mm F 1.2 G-master , and 135mm F.1.4 G-master, I would buy those lenses even if they would cost a lot.

Agreed - these are the two lenses i'm waiting for.

I have the 16-35mm and 85mm GM lenses and they are incredible. Got the Zeiss 50mm too which is very good, I heard Sony are unlikely to release a 50mm GM soon due to the Zeiss being so good (build quality and optics are almost the same as GM). Rumours say the 135mm GM is next - in 2019.

Eric Salas's picture

Just get the 105 1.4 from sigma. It’s amazing

Jerome Brill's picture

Yeah no demand at all. Granted you can't get this lens anymore but there is a market. FYI, it's about as sharp a 2x4.

Alex Cooke's picture

That lens was created basically to have bragging rights and never really sold well. It ended up becoming a big part of the R&D for the 85mm f/1.2.

I remember that kid in grade school that always said, "I can do that too, I just don't want to."

Agree. Going larger than f1.4 is like a technical stunt but with very little practical use. I would rather see Sony direct their efforts in new technology and techniques to bring the prices of their current lenses down so even more people can afford them.

Bill Larkin's picture

my thoughts are: GIMMEE the f/1.0!!!!!!!!! LOL

David Pavlich's picture

I would say that Sony is correct, the market would be too small considering the cost of producing the lens and making a decent profit. Heck, a 600mm f2.8 could be made, but who'd, 1, pay for it and 2, who'd want to carry it?

I think they should build it just to prove a point. There are already a bunch of 1.0 lenses for e mount with manual focus. Just get an autofocus motor in there. It can't be too hard.

Michael Jin's picture

f/1.4 is fine... Hell, f/1.8 is fine for the vast majority of photographers. f/1 would certainly be cool, but let's be real. It would be prohibitively expensive and extremely large. You're essentially talking about photographic bling rather than an honestly useful lens at that point. It's not that there'd be no demand for it, but demand would probably be low enough to make it difficult to justify the R&D and manufacturing line when those resources could go into other projects that would produce a better return.

The other problem with releasing such a lens would be the fact that you would need your AF system to be able to hit focus consistently and at that aperture, it would probably be pretty difficult. This is also why I suspect that Nikon is releasing their 58mm as a MF lens rather than an AF lens... It's not that they can't create an AF version, but if their AF is not hitting it'll inevitably create a backlash. With an MF lens, missed focus is user error.

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