I can see why, having come from a P&S camera, you would be attracted to a superzoom but IMO it is less than optimal.
Your stated photographics intentions are for "Lanscape, Street, Museums and Tourist Attractions".
These require lenses at the shorter end of the scale and the A77 kit lens, 16-50mm is a good match for those aims and is a high quality lens.
The Tamron 17-50mm is an alternative but not first choice IMO.
Ok, there will be times when you find the need for a longer lens but, in the short term you could pick up a cheap Minolta/Sony in the 75-300mm range.
A good camera deserves a good lens.
Choosing between the SLT and NEX is less clear; for the style of photography you espouse, I don't think the NEX lack of fast AF will be a problem for you but there is a shortage of NEX lenses which does limit your options.
You also lose in body image stabilisation which may be a factor.
NEX has a slight advantage in IQ but I doubt you would notice.
In the end I went for the A65 / Tamron 18-270mm combo. I went with the A65 in part because of the price (I unexpectedly managed to negotiate a good deal, and in Japan, the price difference between the A77 and A65 seems more pronounced than elsewhere), but also because of the size. Coming from a P&S, the A65 felt a bit more comfortable, and I was worried that the A77 might end up being an expensive dust collector.
Online comments do not favour the A65 that much, but I really enjoyed shooting over the week-end during the cherry blossom viewing season and I am pleased to say that have no buyer remorse. To my untrained eyes, and despite my inexperience, the pictures look a lot better than what I was used to (and I was not exactly unhappy with my P&S). I will be a very fine camera to learn on, my P&S only allowed Shutter or Aperture Priority, so I have a long way to go before I am comfortable with manual control. The lens will also allow me to find out exactly the range I am most likely to use (over the week-end, I did find myself using all the range, though it could just be my initial enthusiasm). Besides, assuming my enthusiasm remain in a few years (more or less when I feel like upgrading the body), I may decide to jump to Full-Frame so I do not want to invest too now.
That said, I think that in a couple of months I may want in a fast lens (as part of the learning process and noting the differences via practice). I haven’t quite decided whether I should go with a very fast prime (e.g. 50mm f/1.4 or something similar) or one of the aforementioned lens (e.g. 16-50mm f/2.8). Yes I realise that I would be “replicating” the range (either way), but that’s fine (for now, until I understand what I am doing). What I am wondering is, is a very fast lens like a f/1.4 used online for very specific type of photography / effect (in which case, I think that I will just settle with a f/2.8 with more flexibility), or is it something potentially useful enough that anyone should at least try it for a while as part of learning.. even if it means having to go with a prime?
Ok, I don't think you went far wrong with the A65; if the size suits you better than the A77, why not? IQ wise, the A77 has an advantage but in reality, there's nothing much in it so just enjoy.
You already know I'm no fan of the Tamron 18-270mm but, to give it it's due, it is flexible and turns in a decent performance in good light especially at f/11 where it is at it's sharpest (at any focal length).
You make it sound as if (even if it means having to go with a prime) using a prime lens is a bad thing but many folk, myself included will pick a good prime over a zoom whenever possible. A zoom lens will never beat a good prime whether in terms of IQ or speed.
I wouldn't go for the 16-50mm if, as you say, you may jump to Full Frame, it's not exactly cheap and is a DT lens so no use on FF.
You are wondering "why a 50mm f/1.4?", well first things first, speed. The prime lens is 4 stops faster than your current lens at 50mm which is the difference in shutter speed between lets say 1/8th sec and 1/125th or in ISO, say iso400 and iso6400. This comes down to the difference between getting a shot and not getting the shot.
Image quality shows the 50mm lens to be well ahead in terms of distortion and aberration; even at f/1.4, the 50mm lens beats the Tamron at every aperture for sharpness, even at f/11 where the Tamron is best. This is an unfair comparison as it wouldn't be normal to compare a 15x zoom to a Prime, this is just in the context of what you have.
Not that the 50mm is perfect, at f/1.4 the edges are soft compared to the centre but this is not necessarily a very bad thing. On A65 SLT, its focal length is equivalent to about 75mm and as such within the classic range of portrait lenses where edge softness is not generally an issue and may contribute to a smoother bokeh. In any case it sharpens up pretty well by f/2 and at f/4 gives of it's best. The separation, shallow depth of field and good bokeh associated with this fast lens gives you the option to do things like this...
http://www.blorenge.co.uk/img/7Day C...2/16 Poppy.jpg
... not easily done with the narrower apertures of your Tamron.
The 50mm is no slouch as a Landscape lens either, offering excellent maximum sharpness between f/2.8 and f/8 it is no mean performer.
Ah, re-reading my post, I can see why you would think that I have a low opinion on prime. While it is true that the lack of flexibility is a downside for me, I had a fairly neutral opinion even though it did not come across that way. If anything, now that I have a slow but flexible zoom lens, I was leaning more towards the prime. I also did not check the price or realise that the 50mm will be usable in a FF (as I do not plan to buy for a few months) - those aspects pretty much convinced me that the 16-50mm is a no go.
I was only leaning that way on basis that "1.4" is much smaller than "2.8" - the real significance of the value of it is something that I do not fully grasp (I have read text explanations, so I know it's "2 stops faster" but I have no seen pictures showing the same thing shot with different lenses across various f-values). 1.4 was the fastest I could find amongst Sony lenses 50mm, which I selected on basis of the result from Googling "First prime lens".
Indeed, a much more sensible solution would be to assess what my goal (though portrait or landscape are the most likely - if possible in low light setting). Now that I am pretty certain that my next lens will be a prime, I will be assessing which one to get. Is "faster" always better, or are there situations where one might prefer a f/1.8 lens over a f/1.2?
Whilst it can be foolish to generalise, faster generally means better. There's not much point in making a fast lens of poor quality as the thing which draws Togs to such a lens is IQ.
There again, define "better"; a very fast lens when wide open will generally (that word again) exhibit some softness and lack of contrast especially around the borders; this can be welcome in a Portrait but not so good for a Landscape. The good thing however, is that you don't have to stop down much for these lenses to sharpen up.
I'm guessing the main reason to choose an f/1.8 over an f/1.2 would be price; 1.2's are horrendously expensive. Unless you count the legendary Rokkor f/1.2, there is no lens faster than f/1.4 for the A-mount.
Have you considered the venerable old Minolta 50mm f/1.7 which can still be had quite reasonable secondhand. This was the Minolta Kit lens back in the 80's (when I aquired mine) which is why there are plenty of them around.
Several pages of images here.
Sony 50mm f/1.4 ( SAL-50F14)
Several pages of images here.
I suppose I should mention the Sony 50mm f/1.8 DT although it is a DT lens and therefore unsuitable for FF. It has terrible build quality but surprisingly good IQ.
Several pages of images here.
If I were in your shoes and not certain of where I was going, I'd pick up the Minolta 50mm f/1.7; it makes for a nice Portait lens especially on your current "crop" camera (75mm equivelent) and stopped down to f/8 for Landscapes turns in a decent performance edge to edge. You won't lose much, if anything, should you decide that Primes are the way to go and upgrade to the f/1.4.
Be warned though, that deep pockets are the order of the day. Check out the ultra sharp SAL-24F20Z - ZA 24mm f/2 SSM.
I have read about the Minolta, but haven't researched it much depth.
From what I've seen, at 50mm f/1.4, it's the battle between Sony and Tamron. Unsurprisingly, my Googling doesn't turn up anything decisive ^^;
By the way, what do you make of 30-35mm? Not sure if there is any other than the super expensive 1.4G, but I thought I'd ask. I have read that a 50mm prime on a "crop" camera works very well for portrait before. But I have also read that 50mm is versatile and great to learn on due to more or less matching the field-of-view of the human eye. A 30-35mm lens would be as close as I could get to that on my A65, and I'd still be left with a wide lens if I was to upgrade to FF, but I am not sure if it would take away too much portrait taking prowess in the mean time.
Sony makes a 35mm, f1.8 DT lens that inexpensive and pretty good image quality. The part number is SAL35F18 and can be had for under $200.
On an unrelated question, would you recommend installing the Picture Motion Browser? It won't start moving files around or modifying them without permission, will it?
Hmm, I noticed that in post number 16, I said Sony vs Tamron. That's was a typo. I really meant Sony vs Sigma (50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM).
The price difference doesn't bother me, but the size difference is very significant. Granted, the Sigma is not that much heavier than the Tamron, but it is over twice the the weight of the Sony!
The question I have (looks like I might buy my second lens sooner than planned as I am going on holiday) is whether the difference (presumed Sigma advantage) between the two is immediately apparent to the untrained eye?
Hi TooNice, Been away for a while!
I'm not that impressed with the Sigma given the price and weight. The wide open performance is good but not impressive at smaller apertures and it exhibits focus shift, not good for a portrait lens.
You're right that a "normal" lens on your crop camera would be around 35mm.
You know, with focus peaking and focus magnify on your camera, you might think of trying manual focus.
Look at the Samyang 35mm f/1.4, quite impressive.
Also, there is the option of old M42 lenses (with adapter). This is a cheap way of exploring options.