JJ Casas

San Francisco-based portrait & commercial photographer & 

creative director. 

Sharing my thoughts as a photographer, cinematographer, marketer, and copywriter.

JCasas Photography | The Blog

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30 December 2022

$398 vs $2098 lens — can you see the difference?

This will be quick: one lens is $398 and the other is $2098. Take a look and see which you like and find out which is which after the comparisons.

Wide Angle — obviously hard to spot the difference

100% crop of the image. See anything that makes you decide which is better?

How about this?

Another wide angle…

And another 100% crop.

And the drumroll please to reveal which lens is which…

Sony Zeiss 24–70mm f/2.8 on the left; Sony [kit] FE 28–70mm f/3.5–5.6

Lens on the left is the Sony Zeiss 24–70mm f/2.8 (A-mount) vs Sony’s 28–70mm f/3.5–5.6 which is a kit lens (the one that can be bought for cheap with a camera body).

The price?


Yup, the lens on the left is $1700 more than the lens on the right.

Without a doubt, the Sony Zeiss lens is superior in terms of lens build (its magnesium body weighs in at 974g vs the plasticky 298g), the constant aperture of f/2.8 vs the variable one and of course the glass that Zeiss German optics are known for. Yes, the Sony Zeiss is A-Mount [Sony’s “old” lens mount obtained by Minolta when it was in the D/SLR business] while the 28–70mm is E-Mount [mirrorless cameras that are smaller than its predecessor]. But looking at the comparisons above, the difference may be there but really not by so much.

Of course, this is only just one scenario where I took photos in our living room. And a quick disclaimer: I shot both comparisons with the same settings and because the pictures rendered differently, I edited them in Lightroom to match brightness and white balance.

Every photographer and cinematographer I know has bought things by justifying it will improve their quality of work. And with this example, if you couldn’t see the difference between the two lens, my point here is to not say expensive gear isn’t worth it.

But maybe this is more of a reminder that gear serves two purposes:

  1. Enable you to do your job efficiently, practically, safely, and at the highest quality possible
  2. Boost your confidence so you can do your job efficiently, practically, safely, and at the highest quality possible


The second part is surely not a bad thing as for example you never want to opt in on cheap, second-rated gear if it involves a higher risk of putting you in danger. But if it’s to buy top-level gear to boost your ego, I think you’d be buying it for the wrong reason.

The only silver lining of buying expensive gear for the ego is that it may inspire you to produce something better. Or at least make you believe what you produced with it is better than what you did without it.

Sigh. Photographers and their willingness to buy gear for their next shot, right? :)

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