The Sony 50 1.8 E Mount Lens review on the NEX-7
By Steve Huff
I have been shooting with the Sony NEX-7 for a couple of months now and sadly I have to pack it up and ship it back to Sony next week. I will (hopefully) soon have my own “7” though as I did in fact order one. It should be in my hands by mid January sometime. The new Sony 50 1.8 lens will also be mine when it is available because after using it for the past few weeks I have realized that at $299, it is a no brainer MUST OWN lens for any NEX shooter. NEX-3, NEX-5, NEX-5n, NEX-7, all of them would benefit from this lens being on the end of the camera. OK, review over! Well, not really. While the lens is indeed a no brainer purchase due to the price and quality, the lens may not float everyones boat. This review will basically go over the details of the lens, the size of the lens, and the quality of the images that the lens (and the photographer) can create.
Before I get into that let me say this. IT’S ABOUT TIME SONY! Just about a year and a half after Sony released the first NEX cameras and lenses (the 3/5 and 18-55 and 16) Sony has finally stepped up the game and released a couple of superb lenses. The Zeiss 24 1.8 and the 50 1.8 are both lenses that mostly all NEX owners will want. The Zeiss is a 35mm equivalent on the NEX cameras and many of my 1st shots with the NEX-7 were taken with that lens and shown in the full review HERE. The 50 has not been used as much because the lens when mounted will give us a 75mm equivalent focal length, and 75 is not one of my favorites. Still, you gotta love a fast 50 and I have been shooting fast 50’s forever it seems. I have shot and owned all the Nikon and Canon fast 50’s, all of the Leica fast 50’s, the Olympus 50s, and a slew of other 50s. The 50mm is a lens that just “feels” right. When you say it, when you see it, and when you shoot it.
But on a camera that is NOT full frame, like the NEX-5n and 7 you will not get a 50mm field of view due to the 1.5 crop of the APS-C sensor. This is all fine but just want to make sure all of you knew this up front. Not everyone that reads these reviews is a total camera geek like me. Even still, the lens is light, has a fast 1.8 aperture and has image stabilization built into the lens, which helps dramatically with shooting at slower shutter speeds.
NEX-7, ISO 1600, 50 1.8 at 2.5, 1/30s
The 50 1.8 Specs
- The Sony 50 1.8 “E” mount lens for the NEX system is a pretty inexpensive lens. When you compare it to something like a Leica 50 Summicron at $2000 the $299 price tag of the Sony looks insanely cheap. This is no 50 Cron, but it is also not $2000 and it is a SUPERB quality lens. After many weeks with it I have grown to really enjoy the lens, and it has actually become my favorite lens on the NEX-7, just due to its speed, rendering and IS. Here are the features of the lens:
- Built-In Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
- “The built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization system provides around a 4-stop shutter speed advantage, making it significantly easier to achieve crisp, blur-free images and video” – I agree with this statement. The OSS works great in this lens.
- Large f/1.8 Circular Aperture
- “Get beautiful, softly blurred backgrounds thanks to the circular aperture of the large maximum aperture of this lens” – At f/1.8, you can get some nice out of focus background for portraits though at 1.8 the lens is a TEENY bit soft, which is normal.
- Smooth and Quiet High-Speed Focusing
- “A linear motor used for focus drive contributes to low-noise focus operation, while a stepping motor built into the lens, technology inherited from Sony’s professional camcorders, results in smooth, quiet aperture actuation ideal for recording movies” – The AF is QUIET and SMOOTH but will hunt in lower light. This is due to the contrast detect AF of the cameras, not the lens.
- Aluminum Alloy Body
- “An elegant aluminum alloy exterior blends beautifully with the graceful design of an E-mount” – Same build and look as the 18-55 Kit Zoom in Silver.
- Direct Manual Focus
- “Use Direct Manual Focus (DMF) to go directly to manual focusing after autofocus lock-on without having to switch modes to facilitate focus adjustments on the fly – it’s perfect for portraits where depth of field may be extremely shallow” – This is a plus and works well, allowing you to override the AF for perfecting the focus.
My son Brandon with the 50 wide open at 1.8 on the NEX-7
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My Reviews and a word about the size of the Sony lenses
As mostly all of you probably know by now, my reviews are usually pretty different that other websites. Three years ago I decided I was tired of looking at charts and graphs and wanted to know how cameras and lenses performed in actual use. Real world photos! Not studio shots, not charts, not graphs…but using the product as it was BUILT and MEANT to be used! So many of us are hobbyists and enthusiasts and we do not shoot newspapers or care about the MTF charts, I know I never did. Some of you may, but for me, and for this site, I like to show how a lens does when taking pictures. These pictures can be snap shots, professional shots or whatever. I know many of you out there are looking for cameras and lenses to take images of your family, your children and your everyday life. This is what I show you in my reviews. Simple, easy and fun!
When I started shooting the 50 1.8 I looked at it and thought it looked almost exactly like the 18-55 Kit Zoom lens. Same color, ,same size, shape, etc. This is not a bad thing, but many of you were hoping Sony would create lenses that are smaller. The reason the lenses are not as tiny as a Leica 50 Summicron for example in simple terms is that A: The lens has AF built in. B: The lens has image stabilization, and C: The thickness of the camera body is too thin for the lenses to be tiny.
So with the NEX line we get tiny bodies and larger lenses but even still, the package as a whole is much smaller than even an entry level DSLR and even bigger SLR lens. I’d take a NEX-7 over something like a Nikon D7000 and lens ANY DAY. It’s sleek, it’s sexy, it’s usability factor is through the roof and the quality is REALLY REALLY good. At times it is amazing actually.
As always you can click on ANY image in this review to open up a larger and better version.
Shot this in Vivid mode with the 50 at 1.8, wide open.
This Kangaroo was posing for me 🙂 The 50 at f/3.2
The Lens construction, look and feel
The lens in use feels good and light and is a joy to use. When I mounted it to the NEX-7 I realized that it was about the same weight as the kit zoom and felt about the same but the 50 was a tad bigger (length). The lens will not win any heavy duty build awards but thats not what the lens is about . It’s simple, it’s silver, and it is a basic 50mm 1.8 lens coming in at $299. There is not really much you can say about it so I will try to SHOW you what the lens did for me and talk about the AF speed, sharpness, etc.
The AF Speed of the 50 1.8
In use the 50 1.8 AF speed was very good. Not excellent or super speedy but very good. In bright light it was speedy but when the lights got low the combo of the NEX-7 and the 50 had a hard time focusing in many situations. It would hunt, even with the cameras AF assist lamp. BUT, I am talking low light indoors. No overhead lights, just soft low lighting. For example, if you were on a couch in your living room with one lamp in in the room and took a snap of your wife sitting next to you then the focus would hunt a but before locking in. This is not abnormal as most mirrorless cameras do this with their lenses. In fact, the only camera that did not do this for me in recent times is the Nikon V1, which had blazing AF in good light and fast AF in low light.
The Sony 50 focuses fast, but don’t expect blazing AF, especially in low light. With that said, I didn’t have any issues getting shots in lower light though I did have to shoot the image below a couple of times as the 1st one missed focus. These bearded dragons were in a huge display at the local Zoo. I find that by f 2.5 the lens is really sharp. To some, the Bokeh may be a little distracting but I think its great for the price point of the lens.
ISO 640 at f/2.5
This focal length will work well for portraits as well due to the 75mm equiv focal length. ISO 100 at f/2.8
ISO 1600 at 1.8
Is this a sharp 50?
Many shooters stress over the absolute sharpness of a lens. Me, I prefer “character” over sharpness which is why I still love my old Leica glass from the 40’s and 50’s. When you think about it and look back at old classic photos, not all of them were razor sharp. I also never really care what my photos look like at 100% view on my iMac screen. Why? Well, that is not how people will be viewing my photos! You guys view my review samples no larger than 1800 pixels wide. If I print something these days it is usually not bigger than 8X10. Pixel Peeping has gotten old for me and I just don’t do much of it anymore for my personal photos. If a photo is a bit off at 100%, so what! Unless I am shooting for some multi thousand dollar paying project then it’s not really that big of a deal.
So with that rant I bet you are expecting me to say the 50 is a softer lens right? Well, not really. The lens is somewhat sharp at 1.8 and gets sharper and sharper as you stop down. It never reaches the razor sharp detail I see with my Leica M9 and always seems to have a slight softness to the files but this is slight. To some, this lens may look razor sharp. I think it is all down to what your expectations are. The lens is also slightly soft on the edges, even at f/2.8 but again, not something most people would even notice. Even though I do not pixel peep I know many of you guys do, so below you will find a series of photos with 100% crops embedded. To see the crops at the real 100% view you must click on the photos to see the larger versions.
Here is a shot at f/2.5 with the NEX-7 and 50 1.8. BTW, F/2.5 is the widest aperture of the $1400 Leica 50 Summitar. Here, the Sony provides PLENTY of sharpness for my tastes.
In harsh AZ sunshine at f/3.5 – this is with default sharpening in ACR
The 24 Megapixel sensor makes for some larger files from the NEX-7. This one was shot at f/3.2
The lens at f/1.8. It renders beautifully in the right light
Once again, Wide open at f/1.8
The next two shots were both converted from RAW but the 1st one had some sharpening applied during the RAW processing, the 2nd one did not. When printing it is always best to add some sharpening…
Below is an image from my NEX-7 review using the 50 1.8. It CAN be razor sharp when sharpening a little – This one is at f/2.8
So there are some pixel peeping samples for you. When you do not apply any sharpening the files seem a tad soft but add some sharpening and you can get a crisper file, but of course artifacts from sharpening. If I am going to make a print I sharpen up the images and they look great on paper. If I am posting to the web I do not really add any sharpening because I resize the files anyway. Overall, the lens performs great. About on par with other brands 50 1.8 lenses (NIkon, Canon, etc) but with better Bokeh IMO.
My last thoughts on the Sony 50 1.8 OSS Lens
Basically this lens is a must have for any NEX shooter who wants a medium telephoto with a fast aperture. The lens has great color, has a fast aperture for shallow depth of field or when the lights get low and the lens pumps out great color with rich saturated tones. The lens is sharp but not clinically sharp. On the NEX-7 it is a fantastic performer. It is not perfect though! The lens is a little slow to AF when the lights get dim and the camera will hunt for focus even when using the AF assist light. Overall though, for $299 I can’t complain one bit because you are getting a super lens with built in optical steady shot and a nice look and feel as well. The lens is scheduled for release in Jan/Feb 2012 and I expect it will be a huge seller for Sony along with the NEX-7. Sony needed a lens like this and I am happy they finally released this and the Zeiss 24. With these two lenses, the NEX system is not only maturing, but is becoming a serious contender in the world of mirrrorless cameras.
The color is great when shooting RAW with the NEX-7 and shooting the 50 1.8
Where To Buy?
You can order the Sony 50 1.8 from B&H Photo HERE or Amazon HERE.
More samples from the NEX-7 and 50 1.8
Since the best way to judge a camera lens is actually using it, I will leave you with a few more samples from the 50 1.8 and the NEX-7. Enjoy!
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Thank you so much! I bought the lens after read your review for my A6000. Unfortunately i bought it not by following your links but in a local store (sale off event), I hope you don not mind that :'(.
Thank you a gain!
Thank you for your review! I would like to take both macro and general 50 mm type underwater images. Do you recommend this lens? I have an NEX7 with the 18-55, a 16mm pancake with fish eye adapter. Was the Moray eel shot in a Nauticam Housing with the standard 18-55mm bayonet?
hi, hope my answer isn’t buried in the long list of comments on here. but does this lens have one of those endlessly spinning focus rings?
Thanks for the review. Really help me with my selection.
But too big, too expensive (…still)
However there is no alternative. Just buy it.
I am using a Pentax adapter to use a SMC Pentax-A 50mm F1.7 with the NEX-6
Do you think this lens will be an improvement in IQ vs my current one?
I am trying to decide what lens to get next.
I am thinking logic tells me I want the sel55210 to complete my focal range from the kit but the sale going on for the Sigma 30mm and the fact I used the 50mm a lot with my K20D before for portraits keep me wondering
Son Brandon isn´t 50/1,98, but 24/1,8!!!!!!!
thanks for your review steve. im about to get one for this.
Thank you for a very helpful article. I am in a business for a new camera. This will be my second camera in 39 years. LOL. I have done many reading about cameras from many blogs and sites and this is so far the most easy review to understand (for me). I bought my first camera (Sony DSC-F828) about 10 years ago. Just like you said most of the people visting on your site are newbies like me. I am a kind of guy just like to point and shoot. I don’t know jack about the technical terms in the camera’s world. I think it is the time for me to learn about this hobby!. Anyway, that’s enough to bore you. LOL.
I am about to purchase the new Sony NEX-7 kit w/ 18-55mm OSS lens (for sure I will use the Amazon link on your site). I just bought the Sony Alpha SEL18200 E-mount 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS Lens this morning. I will use this lens for taking long shot and video. I am looking for a everyday use lens with less bulky and heavy for snap shot and video and good in low light condition.
I am thinking about getting this 50mm f/1.8 as for that purpose but as you mentioned in your review
“When I started shooting the 50 1.8 I looked at it and thought it looked almost exactly like the 18-55 Kit Zoom lens. Same color, ,same size, shape, etc.” So, My question is since the NEX-7 comes with the 18-55mm lens should I go ahead and purchase this lens? What are the differences between them two?
Your expertise would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
The difference is huge. The 50 goes to f/1.8 which is fast allowing you to shoot in low light or get shallow death of field effects for portraits or whatever you like. The kit zoom is slow, so you can not do either with that lens.
Thank you very much for the information, Sir.
50mm f/1.8 here I come! LOL
Thanks for all the work you put into this site, it has reinvigorated my interest in photography- especially now I have a Sony nex 5n. What an amazing tool!
Steve, the pics from the Sony 50 look a lot less sharp than the ones in your review of the Olympus 45mm on the EP3. Is this the case in practice, or is it down to the cameras being set up differently?
Thanks for responding Matt! I didnt quite understand what was the problem with “crop factor” on the nex when I’ve seen it mentioned before. I believe it would be a bit annoying at 75 mm for an everyday lens. I was considering the 30mm for a time and also the Zeiss 24mm. I’m afraid of spending money and having a collection of average lenses instead of just saving a bit and getting one great lens. The most I’d push my budget to is $700 – $750, Any recommendations?
The only really *great* native lens for the NEX is the 24mm Zeiss, but I think it is too expensive when you consider you can buy a Fuji X100 camera (with fixed 23mm lens) for less and it is super sharp – shame the camera is rubbish! I used some of my Nikon lenses on the NEX in manual mode and it isn’t too bad with the Peaking function compared to MF on other systems, but personally I prefer using native lenses so I don’t have much experience of lenses on the NEX other than the NEX E-mount lenses. Sony are planning to release more lenses over the next 12-18 months, so you might find something that comes up with what you’re after without having to go crazy on the 24mm.
I really like the 30mm macro, but if you want a f/1.8 lens then you’re probably going to get frustrated with the relatively slow f/3.5, even though it is a great lens for the money.
Brian – I think if you’re considering the 50mm as an everyday lens, you may find that it is too long because 50mm becomes 75mm on the NEX. I had a 50mm 1.8 on my APS-C dSLR, and although it is a great lens for portraits and low light situations, it isn’t much use as a general lens because it is too long – too ‘zoomed in’ – so you can almost never get far enough away from things to get a good general shot, especially indoors. 50mm is fine on a full-frame 35mm camera, but not so great on one with an APS-C 1.5x crop sensor. I would suggest you go and try one and see what I mean, and discover if that focal length is really useful to you or not. If you can’t try one and have the 18-55mm kit lens, set it to 50mm and try shooting with it all day fixed at 50mm, that way you will discover if you can live with a fixed 50mm lens.
I know it isn’t super fast, but I found the 30mm f/3.5 macro lens is sharp and a great all-round lens if you don’t want to use the 18-55mm kit lens. It works out at 45mm on the NEX, so nearly 50mm on a ‘real’ camera! High ISO performance on the NEX is very good so loosing approx. 1/2 a stop over an f/2.8 isn’t going to be the end of the world. It’s also very reasonably priced! I’ve sold my NEX 5N now, but the 30mm was almost permanently attached for everyday stuff – I guess it is the NEX’s poor mans 24mm Zeiss, but doesn’t get much of a look-in unfortunately.
Well hopefully not to late to the discussion but my photography life just started and could certainly use some help. Reading through this discussion the general feel I get from everyone is that it is a great lens though a bit over priced. Another Impression I get is that it’s a great lens for someone who can’t be bothered with manual focusing. Personally I don’t mind manual focusing ( I picked up the slr magic 28mm 2.4 after reading Steve’s review) the few times I really nailed the focus the pictures came out great. I don’t mind the trial and error so with that I ask what should I buy?! I own the nexC3 and my budget falls into the $300 to $500 range including adapter. I have scoured every forum trying to figure it out and was going to go with the Sony 50mm OSS , but really want something with better image quality and bokeh. Mainly I want something for portrait, street, museum, etc. Please, I could really use some assistance. I don’t want that great feeling of buyers remorse ( c3 over 5n….I didn’t know, lol). And please keep it to simple terms, I’ve had my camera for five months so a lot of the jargon is way over my head. Thanks for reading and answering!
Really wondering about the OSS in terms of video performance on this lens, does it work well? That would be my major reason for looking at it, something great to shoot outdoor scenes without having to have them always stable or some rig, i’d love to see some sample footage from this lens using OSS
Now i got the Nex 7 and looking for a lens for shooting low light. Can you pls suggest me which lens to go between E mount Sony 50mm f1.8 oss and A mount Sony 50mm f1.4 which i will use with the adapter. Thanks.
I’m wondering the exact same thing. I have both in my card on amazon right now actually. Debating on which to get. Do you have any advice?
Am waiting to compare, the fuji Xpro100 and the new Olympus OM-D. Got a feeling the Nex7 will out preform and be the cheaper option. I’m in the market for a new camera & think dlsr camera’s will go the way of the DouDou.
Got my credit card ready.. Sony nex7+ 50mm f.18 for around £1100!!
do you think? will the Xpro100 and the OM-D have the performance of the Nex 7
Great review. Love the nex system and what it can do. I’m suck between this lens and the Voigtlander 40mm f1.4. I have the cv 15mm and love it! If money is no concern and I’m not worried about auto focus which one would you pick? I know it’s subjective…just looking for opinions.
you quickly mentioned that “This is no 50 Cron”
If price was not an issue, would you say the image quality of a 50 Summicron outweight the practicallity of AF & OSS of the Sony? subjective question I know, but I’m interested in your thoughts regarding how the Sony stacks up againts a Summicron.
BTW Steve, when you compare the size of the 50 mm and the kit lens, your picture is misleading. It makes the 50 mm lens look bigger, because you align the kit lens with the body, while the 50 mm lens includes the mount. They are in fact practically equal in size.
“The lens in use feels good and light and is a joy to use. When I mounted it to the NEX-7 I realized that it was about the same weight as the kit zoom and felt about the same but the 50 was a tad bigger (length).”
That is a quote from above the photo. Yes, the lens is not aligned properly but in fact it is still a little bit longer than the kit zoom. Not by much though.
Thank you very much for this great review and the website. They have been both extremely useful.
I’ve ordered the nex 7 not long ago, and considering your article i thought to pair it with this lens. However, it has been said that sony E lenses are focusing “by wire”, so does it mean there is no true manual focusing? if its the case, is the focusing by wire of the sony’s lenses somehow comparable to a real manual lens?
I’m kind of used to focus manually with my dslr’s lenses and an entirely electronic focusing system would be the greatest step to me. Thanks again, and sorry for my english.
Yes they do focus by wire. Just like the Micro 4/3 lenses and other mirrorless system lenses. When using MF it does not feel like you are focusing a real mechanical lens but it works. Same concept just different feel.
I just ran across this series of papers this morning. Has a good explanation of why wide-angle lenses are so big. The Sony NEX system with its short distance between lens flange and sensor should allow for very short small lenses, except the digital sensors do not like the wide angle light beams that come from having the final lens element too close to the sensor. This is why the small rangefinder lenses have issues on the NEX cameras in the corners. My assumption would be even the 50mm lens is using a retro-focus design to overcome these issues. The m4/3 cameras have both a smaller image circle and a larger flange distance which reduces the angle of the light unless the lens is designed to extend into the cavity behind the flange.
sorry for my english, could you tell me how you lightning photo with your son Brandon? Is flash or some little lamp, or softbox lightning his face? That photo is so beautifull, that i want know how you setup lights. Thanks, roman, slovakia
No lighting. Was in my kitchen in the early evening and he was about 7 feet away from the back door that had a little natural light shining in.
I know this doesn’t have much to do with your review, but that is a great photo of a posing kangaroo!
Steve – I know it’s not apples to apples, but which do you think has the better sharpness and rendering (contrast/bokeh), the 50/1.8 or the Olympus 45mm 1.8?
Thanks for another great review. Mine has been on order for months. Hope it ships this week as the sonystyle page promises.
Well, I have to say I prefer the Oly 45 for a couple of reasons. It is smaller, it is nicer feeling, it is sharper and I prefer the rendering of it over the 50. If I had a NEX and PEN system, Id take the 45.
Based off samples I’ve seen here and elsewhere that seems to be the case. If I ever pick up m4/3 again, that lens will be one of the first purchased. Will decide next year once more is known about the Fuji ILC.
Please a similar review of 50 on sharpens, color, AF and bokeh mounted on Nex 5n. Or even better compare Zeiss 24 1.8 with 50 1.8 and 30 3.5 on Nex 5n.Thank you.
I would but do not own a NEX-5n but my guess is that it will be sharper. The 24 1.8 is going back to Sony today as well. Sorry.
Kangaroos are fun. Are you allowed to hand feed them there? Or is that reserved for only down here?
Thanks! Well, they do not allow it from what I seen, but they do let you get up to t hem and pet them, no supervision either. There was no one else around, just me and my son. Was pretty cool actually!
Thanks Steve for a good review.
Now would someone PLEASE ansver my question:
I have never owned nothing but my NEX 5 (original) and it’s kit zoom. I shoot a lot at low light, especially indoors. I use f 3.4 and i have to use ISO 3200 very often. I want to know how much more light will come throught 1.8 lens compared to 3.4 ? And i dont understand that “step” -thing, so if someone could tell me how much could i change the ISO down from 3200 using the 1.8, if i keep it at the same 1/50 that i often use indoors? Could i use 1600 or even lower ISO in the situations where i have to use 3200 with the 3.4?
If you opened up the lends to 1.8 then yes, you could probably get away with 1600.
Wouldn’t that be ISO 800? f/1.8 is about 1 stop from f/2.5 and that is about 1 stop from f/3.5 – so a 2 stop difference all together.
Or in other words Sqrt [ (3.4*3.4 / 1.8*1.8) ] = 1.88 So that is nearly 2 stops.
To answer the original question, 1 stop is a factor of 2 in terms of ISO. It’s sqrt(2)=1.4 in terms of aperture, because the amount of light grows as the square of diameter.
In fact the kit lens at 50 mm can only do f/5.0, so that’s full 3 stops of difference (because (5.0/1.8)^2 = 8). Whenever you need ISO 3200 with the kit lens at 50 mm, you could use ISO 400 with the 50 mm prime.
Steve, there’s no doubt you are a highly skilled photographer with tons of experience. I closely followed your reviews because they seemed honest and thoughtfully critical. But lately I feel your reviews have become soft. I own a 5n with the 18-55 and a dozen legacy lenses (voigtander, zeiss, canon, takumar and so on). From your images, I cannot believe you’re saying this lens is a must buy. There are very few circumstances where people will notice a difference from the kit lens, especially with the nex’s high ISO ability. Why recommend a $300 50/1.8 that is not very sharp, has poor bokeh and is not even that fast. Sure a pentax Takumar 50/1.4 is manual focus, but for less than $100 you get a sharper, faster, better constructed lens with wonderful bokeh that can be adapted to a ton of different bodies. Or what about the super sharp, great color, Contax G Zeiss 45/2 that you get for under $400? Or the canon rangefinder 50/1.4 or 1.8 or the OM zuikos which are much better lenses for less money than the Sony 50/1.8.
This is not the first review I felt you went soft on. Others include all of your slr magic lens reviews, the Nikon V1 and voigtlander 35/1.2. I want to support you as an independent reviewer which i do by using your links to b&h and amazon, but I’m starting to feel like you’re not as independent as you once were.
Disagree. I think Steve Huff is correct. An AF lens gets a lot of credit as 99% of users need just that. The 1% who do manual focus already have their 30 favorite lenses. And their 20 not so favorite.
Nothing soft about the V1 review I can assure you that. What makes this site credible is that Steve is not a Leica fanatic, but gives credit where credit is deserved.
Not disagreeing with your findings that there are sharper lens out there JT (Contax G glass is fantastic for sure) but surely you realize that your a bit of a minority in being the type of user that has a dozen legacy lens and is happy to MF ? Your a 1% enthusiast, and while one could get the impression from the comments section of this site that its a common viewpoint, think about how many tens if not hundreds of thousands of people read these reviews vs common and discuss them ?
A majority are going to prefer an AF lens in this day and age and it only makes sense to review the AF lenses offering.
$300 is a reasonable price, it looks acceptably sharp, and has decent bokeh and is a darn sight faster than the kit lens. Its not a pixel peeper lens made to appeal to the gear based forum guys who spend every day posting images from their 20+ 50mm option they’ve got, but again, its just a $300 consumer lens.
Again, sure a Contax G may be optically better, but I’m wager than most uses far would prefer AF and IS and a lightweight.
I’ve let friends use my NEX5 w/ my Contax G 45 and 90’s and they complained its hard to focus (even with Metabones adapter) and rather heavy, and they couldn’t get over the fact it didn’t have AF.
Thats just the average persons mentality. I could take them home and show them 100% all day and its just not going to change that
Spot on! Thanks Jeff.
Hi Jeff, I appreciate your response and spirited discussion. I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but it’s hard to believe that 99% of the users who read this site are basic, everyday users who don’t use manual focus lenses, especially since probably more than half the lenses that Steve Huff reviews are Manual Focus ONLY. Four figure Leica glass and rangefinder focusing, which this site has a lot of (and I find very interesting) are a million times further from the realm of a basic user than manual focus.
It’s also important to talk about the advantages of the NEX body itself for a basic user (that is what this lens is exclusively made for). With focus peaking and zoom, the NEX provides a very USER FRIENDLY way for inexperienced users to achieve great manual focus. And if you own an NEX and you’re interested in spending money to buy prime lenses for portrait photography/DOF/low light/bokeh, you’re already moving away from being a regular user. I’d venture to say that your same friends who don’t like MF, probably won’t be interested in changing out prime lenses or being relegated to a single focal length.
In terms of the Contax G, there are many cheap 50s out there that are better than the Sony 50 that have much smoother focusing than the Contax G/adapter combo. If you want smoother and lighter, get the Kipon adapter instead of the metabones.
And though this is personal opinion, I think the bokeh from the sample images is poor and nowhere near decent. Again, just my opinion.
While I do enjoy buying and trying out different lenses, I consider myself more of a hobbyist looking to get really good results without breaking the bank and this Sony 50/1.8 feels more like a stutter step than an upgrade. I know $300 is cheap, but you can get A LOT of great stuff for well under $300. I could list a dozen sharper, better made, more useful, more portable lenses where that money would be better spent.
Furthermore, the Sony lens might not be heavy (because it’s made of cheap plastic), but it’s huge. Another advantage of the NEX is portability and while the Contax lenses (an many other legacy lenses) may be heavier, they are significantly smaller and more portable than an e-mount lens (16mm not included). Anything with an LTM or M mount is tiny, even the OM mounts are pretty small. You can get a Hexanon pancake 40/1.8 for less than $50, and it’s smaller, sharper, better bokeh and 16% of the price.
Just because this lens is the only fast, AF 50mm for Sony, it doesn’t mean you can ignore what else is out there, even if it isn’t AF.
JT, care to list out some of your favorite 35 primes for the NEX system under $300 and which adapter you would use?
I have an NEX 5N on it’s way with the kit lens and am trying to make up my mind on a 35mm walkaround lens for street photography.
Actually there are soooo many newbies that come to this site. I get over 13,000 people a day just from google, many of then newbies. It is not just the advanced amateurs that come here. I get at least 20-30 emails daily from newbies asking me about kit zooms, lenses, etc. These are the people who will find the review from google and they could care less about manual focus lenses on the camera as most have no idea they can even be used. The NEX line is being bought by many total amateurs who are only interested in the lenses Sony offers.
The 50 is a nice lens for $299. WIll a $4000 Leica Summilux give you better results? Yea at $3700 more and you lose AF. Will cheaper MF lenses give you better results? Maybe, at least equal and even sharper but again, you need the adapters and it is only manual focus.
I enjoy shooting MF lenses on the NEX line due to the EVF and peaking but the audience who does NOT shoot MF lenses on their NEX is larger than those who do. This lens is a great choice for them as there is nothing else. If this lens were $399+ I would not have recommended it. But at $299 it is a nice lens to have in your NEX stable if AF is what you want.
Also, the Bokeh from the Sony beats the Nikon 1.8 easily 🙂 It is about 2X the cost though.
Though it’s not a 35, the Hexanon 40/1.8 is a great lens, you should be able to find a mint one for around $50-60 and you can get a rainbow imaging adapter on amazon.com for $20. Just search “Konica AR NEX adapter”. Talk about a MUST BUY. It’s $80 and if you don’t like it, you can sell it and get back every penny you spent.
If you want something in a much higher class: Contax G makes fantastic lenses that in my opinion rival the Leicas, both in 35/2 and 45/2/ Depending on how patient you are, you can get them for $300, but you may pay closer to $400. They have become insanely popular.
There is an article about pairing them with the 5N on this site too.
I would recommend the fotodiox Contax G NEX adapter which can also be found on amazon. You should read about focusing with an adapter ring to understand what you’re getting into and installing them is a little tricky, but not too bad.
Or if you want a more classic look, lower color contrast and slightly softer, but a really special lens with great bokeh, you could get the canon rangefinder 35/1.8 LTM. I had a canon 50/1.8 and loved it. I regret selling it now. I hear the 35 is very good, but I have not tried it personally. They have one on ebay right now:
You can get the adapters off amazon, I’ve used the Kipon and Fotodiox Pro versions, the adapters are super slim and very simple with the screw mount.
Now about my experience with the Voigtlander 35/1.4 MC. My friend and I both bought these lenses in mint, almost unused condition for $500 and we both couldn’t get rid of them fast enough. Problems included purple fringing, and while it had sharp color contrast, I was very unhappy with the look of the colors it produced. It also had distortion and poor sharpness even in the center when shot wide open. Anything below 2.8 was not very sharp which made me prefer a contax G lens that is sharper at 2, than the voigtlanders seemed to be across their entire range.
Hope this helps.
JT, I think the very fact that nothing else out there is AF is a huge reason why most people, ie; the average photographer who doesn’t own a dozen legacy lens and spend all day reading reviews and websites, will ignore what else is out there.
Many people just want to shop at Best Buy or Amazon etc. They don’t want to search Ebay or internet FS forums looking for old lenses. Its just not how they buy things
Again, nothing wrong with legacy glass, internet camera forums, searching Ebay etc, but you don’t seem to realize that just because it works for you that its not going to appeal to a majority of users.
Most photographers want to point the camera, half press the shutter, have it focus and give them a nice shot with the correct exposure. Anything more than that is too much work.
Its just like most people buying a car want to simply get in, turn the key and put it in drive.
Some enjoy shifting gears, just as some enjoy manually focusing a camera, but neither are the majority.
Sure certain sports car as manual only, just as a camera like a Leica M9 is manual only, and both are targeted to the enthusiast crowd, but the NEX is a mass marketed camera sold at the big box stores.
Many NEX users don’t have the slightest clue what “bokeh” even means. Hardly anyone who buys the 50mm 1.8 E mount is going to spend an afternoon comparing it to their collection of legacy glass.
Again, I’m not saying your wrong, as I do own some ZM and Contax G glass myself, but realize its not for everyone.
I can only laugh thinking of you trying to explain to someone like my mom how to mount a G lens onto a Metabones adapter and then how focus peaking etc works.
I can assure you that you could argue your points about its better bokeh, sharpness, yadda yadda til your blue in the face and she just will not get how it works, see a difference, and frankly not even care to.
She presses the button, gets the green AF box and takes the picture, doesn’t want anything more than that.
Again as well, sure we have 50 some “enthusiast” or whatever we want to call ourselves who actually live and breath this stuff, but for every one of us there are thousands of people like my mom who bought what the sales person said to get at the big box store and who happily take photos with consumer grade AF lenses
Jeff, you’re first response made sense, but you lost me on the metaphor this time.
That being said, I completely understand the user you are describing. This person makes total sense to me. But if a person just wanted to point and shoot an camera, and didn’t care about depth of field, why would they be interested shelling out money and carrying around a prime lens that is within the range of their 18-55 kit lens that frankly, only produces results that are slightly superior.
Focus peaking explained in 8 words: “Whatever is outlined in red is in focus.” Easy as explaining Velcro shoes.
Well, actually focus peaking might be a bit harder to use, depending on what you’re trying to focus. As it works as a contrast detection system, it can’t detect for example if someone’s nose is on focus or not, as it’s never in much contrast against the rest of the face when shooting a portrait.
In those situations I usually end up checking it with the x7.0 magnification(I press a button 🙂 )
JT, thanks for your comments, as I was interested in how this lens fares compared to other much cheaper MF legacy lenses. I also understand and agree with the other posters, especially considering this is one of the 1st reviews on the web for this lens.
In my case, I just recently bought a NEX for 150E and had no MF experience or aspirations, but, and this is my point, by visiting sites such as this one I have learned quite a bit on the subject and have gone that route. I had my doubts about this lens, but after this review, I decided to get instead a Takumar 55mm/1.8 SMC.
The 50 gives a TOTALLY different quality than the kit lens. 1st of all, you can not get this kind of shallow depth of field with the kit zoom. This is a $300 lens, not a $1000 lens. For $300 it is a GREAT buy. WIth th eV1, I said it exactly as it is and still feel the same way. I use that V1 almost EVERY DAY. Love it, and it has become my goto camera. If you have followed me at all for any amount of time you would know that I ONLY review products i enjoy. If you do not see a review for something I have been using it is because I did not like it. For example, the Ricoh GRD IV. Was not a fan. When something sucks, I am not inspired to write about it. When I like something, I do write about it. As for SLR Magic, there were a couple lenses I did not care for so much but still did write about them. Their 12mm lens for M4/3 is amazing. End of story. All I can say is that if you do not like what I write, do not read it. These are MY opinions, nothing more. I use the gear extensively and share my opinions. I feel many NEX Owners will love this lens. No, it is not super sharp and built like a tank, but it is also not $3000, it is $299.
I’d love to see a side by side comparison of portraits with both lenses at equal focal length and aperture.
This thread is pretty old, but as I just bought the Sony 50/1.8 and am reading it now, I’m just commenting now.
What would be the point of that? The Sony 50/1.8 is f/1.8… the kit zoom at 50mm is f/5 I believe. There is a lot of value in the ~3 stop difference that a comparison of equal focal length and aperture will not address. Though I still predict that the prime would be better, especially until the zoom is stopped down at least one stop, and probably two.
I don’t know why you’re so stubborn about this. Everyone has agreed that there are technically (build quality, image quality) better lenses out there for less money (or much more money for that matter). That doesn’t change the fact that this lens serves a large portion of the NEX market just fine. I have a lot of experience using alternative MF lenses on a Canon 5D (and less so on m4/3), but these days I just want small, fast, and simple. Hence, good IQ, AF and OSS make the Sony prime well worth the $300. And if I want a slightly longer perspective, the 24MP of the NEX-7 affords me lots of room to crop to an equivalent 90-100mm lens.
Thanks for the review, Steve.
Great review Steve, thank you:) I agree character and rendering are high up on the list. I’ve already made my mind up and getting this lens.
I have a quick question about sharpness, would you say the 50mm has better or the same sharpness as the 18-55mm kit lens at F/4 and beyond?
To be honest, I don’t really like what I see from this lens – but also from the Nex in general. I have the 5n and use it with a lot of different lenses, incl. Zeiss, but there’s just something which doesn’t really excite me about the files. Anyways, thanks for the reivew.
I should also add that last comment wasn’t intended to be a shot at Steve but I’m questioning for myself weather I want to invest in the Sony 50mm 1.8 OSS vs just using a $25 adapter and the Mrs’ Nikon 35mm 1.8 AFS and saving the dough. There just wasn’t anything in that set of photos that made my head turn. I guess I’ll see how it performs once some tests using it for video in low light show up.
All of Steve’s work is much appreciated in bringing us great reviews.
No offense taken! I post pics to try to show the quality of the lens/camera, thats it. Thanks!
I’m completely uninspired by the images compared to the Contax G lens photos that were posted in the guest post by Jae Yoon.
Am I alone on this?
What kind of underwater housing did you use to shoot the moray?
None, that was at my local Aquarium in Phx. Through thick glass. 🙂
It IS kind of a weird focal length to bring out early in the life cycle. Not normal, not really long.
I think it’s odd that there’s no (for instance) 35mm f1.8 and no 65mm f2.
I think the NEX 7 is very interesting, but Sony’s strange lens choices don’t help me want to buy the camera.
I fully agree. The two most popular focal lengths in 35mm terms are a 50mm lens and a 35mm lens. Sony offers 24mm and 75mm primes (equivalent). The latter is one of the least popular focal lengths in history. And 24mm is no more useful for general use.
Steve, you need to have a quiet word with the people at Sony that are making these odd ball decisions.
If you want a 35-ish mm lens, why not take a look at the NEX 30mm Macro? It’s as sharp as they get – from my own images I’d say it could be sharper than the 50mm 1.8 samples provided by Steve. It’s a lens I could keep on the 5N almost every day. f/3.5 is only a half stop from f/2.8, realistically not that bad for every day shooting – you still nice out of focus blur, especially at closer range. The only downside being that because it is macro, if AF doesn’t hit the spot it can take a while to hunt through the range (as any macro lens can) because it has a long way to go from one end to the other!
I went through a phase of using my Nikon lenses on the NEX (and Oly MFT cameras) but at the end of the day the whole point of the MSC’s is (unless you’re doing something specialised) that they are compact and portable – stick an adapter and a FF lens on them and they suddenly become less so!
Walt made a mistake in his post, stating Sony had a 24mm and 75mm equivalent, when they actually have a 36mm and 75mm equivalent. The 30mm macro is actually a 45mm equivalent, but at f3.5 is rather too slow for a fast prime for street shooting (it would need to be around f2 or below). It is also arguably rather too short for a sensible macro – a 60mm macro would have made much more sense on APS-C, since it would have also doubled up as a short-medium tele for protrait work etc. The 50mm (75mm equivalent) is arguably a little short for portraits, and will tend to distort facial geometry for face only portraits (though would be fine for head and torso type shots, maybe even head and shoulders).
Thanks for the review!
The color rendition looks nice. It’s just a little bit softer as I’ve hoped. Well, it may be about as sharp as the Canon one (just a guess), but after all, it’s 3 times the price … And the Bokeh could be a little bit better, at least in the last three pics.
However, it’s a nice lens. Not a bargain, but – with OSS and a metal body – probably worth the money. The next problem is getting my hands on one as it seems I won’t be able getting one before 2012. 🙁
10 hours a day working on your web page? you must be kidding
Nope, not kidding. During the week it can b 10-12 hours and other days a little more. Keep in mind that does not mean I am sitting at my computer writing for 10-12 hours. Thats only part of it. This site takes a ton of work and takes up the majority of my life 🙂 Driving to go get pics to test a camera, editing the images, answering hundreds of emails every week, writing the reviews, maintaining the site and making sure its running smoothly, shipping back cameras and lenses, phone calls, etc. My day starts between 6am-9am and usually ends whenever I am done for the day and have done all I can do for that day. That might be 6pm, or even 10pm. There is quite a bit of “behind the scenes” work and I am only one man 🙂
..and we very much appreciate it Steve. I know from experience how much work goes into creating something like this site, making it successful, and keeping it up to date takes a lot more work than most people imagine – certainly much more than the financial rewards! That is why there are thousands of personal photographic blogs, but only a handful of successful ones.
Nice review. Hope you could make a review of the Zeiss 24 1.8.
Didn’t know the lenses are so big because the camera body is so thin. I’ve always wished the NEXs could have been just a little bigger so they were better to hold. Maybe we then could have gotten smaller lenses?
…but that wouldn’t have made any difference to the overall length from the back of the camera to the end of the lens, so it doesn’t really make that much difference at the end of the day. It’s a trade-off either way. Fat body, shorter lens – slim body, longer lens!
Personally I quite like the more contemporary look of the Sony as it provides something a bit different from the norm, plus the fact that the body is slimmer means that I personally find it gives a really nice fat rounded reassuring to hold grip for your right hand, and the longer lens means you can support it more easily with your left to get steadier images.
It’s a trade-off either way. Fat body, shorter lens – slim body, longer lens!
The first combo is much more balance 🙂 Thats why people regretting the choice of the second combo
I find the tickness of the NEX-cameras a little too thin for my hands. When carrying/holding a camera I will usually only grip the body (not talking of DSLRs with big lenses). I know the NEX cameras probably won’t change but I still wish they had been just a little thicker and if the lenses had min smaller, that would have been a bonus. Better balance, but I guess there are other options for those of us that like a thicker body.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but..
What many people don’t mention is that because of the thinness of the body the flange focal distance is very short, this is the reason the lenses on the NEX system need to be relatively long. However, due to this short flange focal distance, it is possible to put an adaptor on the body and mount a host of different types of lens mounts, something which would not be possible on other systems due to the longer flange focal distance increasing even more when using an adaptor and as a result being too long to use the lens you desire – this why you won’t find an adaptor for M-mount lenses for SLR-type camera’s for example, as their flange focal distance is much longer than what M-mount lenses are designed for.
Whether this was done by Sony intentionally or not, it does allow for great versatility if you want to use your NEX with (legacy) glass using different mounts.
I still wish that this lens was a 35/1.8 or a cheap 24/22.
Us Nes users, who have been wanting a fast 50mm lens have bought a Canon FD, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Minolta etc. They are at least f/1.8 or even faster, sharper, more solid, and they usually have a better character than this lens. They also weigh the same, have similar sizes(including the adapter to fit them to a Nex body(Quick note: My FD 50/1.4 also has the same weight and size of SLR Magic 23mm). All those legacy glasses are also usually much cheaper than this Sony. Of course they lack Autofocus, Image Stabilization and the ability to control the aperture from the camera body.
These are trade-offs you might want to consider. Personally I prefer a manual focus only lens, as I know that it’ll never hunt in low light. My MF-hit-miss ration with my Nex is not worse than any DSLR with phase detection, except for shooting sports. It is also much higher than what I was able to manage with the kit lenses. Image stabilization is a very good and useful feature. The aperture control from the camera is not really important for me, I usually shoot in aperture priority anyway(I can go to the S mode and select Auto ISO, it’ll work perfectly).
In short, I personally wouldn’t pay 300$ for a lens which is not better, more beautiful, smaller and lighter than my existing lens, just because it has AF and OIS. And of course, as you’ve pointed out, 50mm on a APS-C body is not something to die for. For portraits I prefer a 85mm or a 135mm(127.5 and 200mm equiv.). For everything else I’d just prefer wider lenses, 16, 24 and 35mm(24, 35 and 50mm equiv). If this lens was a 35/1.8 at this price, weight and size, I’d buy it instantly as I can’t find cheap 35mm lenses with a fast aperture. But right now, this doesn’t offer me much.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked the lens. For all the features it has, it might even be considered as a bargain. It is more expensive than Nikon 50/1.8D or G and Canon EF 50/1.8 II, but also looks better and has OIS. It might be the lens someone’s been looking for, but that’s not me.
I do share your feeling, Obican.
I want something better than normal, not just with similar quality, though I may pay more. If it is 35, or 85mm I think I should buy one immediately!
Thanks and yes, the V1 is awesome. So many have complained to me about my review but hey, I just say it like it is. I also have at least 30 e-mails from the past three weeks from those who bought a V1 and LOVE it. The complainers are the ones who never even handled a V1. Thanks again.
I see some great “crazy comparisons” coming up! And more interesting is, that a balanced lens-sensor combi is making more sense then top glass or megapixel only.
thank you for your sharing
Are you going to review the Nokton 35 1.2 II on nex-7 before you ship it back to sony
i really want to see this
Yes come on, the Nokton 35 1.2 II on nex-7 or 5N
+1 That’d be really interesting !!
Great review, Steve. Thanks for your sharing. I wondering in the above photo, beside those you mentioned you had done a sharpening on it, the others do you had done any PP on it? Or it is just raw to JPEG conversion straight?
I wonder when Sony will sell this and the 18-55mm lens in black as individual lenses. Just don’t like that silver look. D!RK
Did you try the 50mm f/1.8 on the 5N? Im wondering if maybe the 24mp is outresloving the lens and that is why you are seeing some of the issues you noticed including the corners and overall lack of sharpness. It is also possible that the copy you got wasnt the sharpest. I know there is some variation in the 16mm and even some of the original 18-55mm lenses that were released.
Great to see Sony releasing new Nex lens at great prices – I had a Nex 7 originally but sold due to the lack of good lenses upon release + the relatively expensive price of the Zeiss 24mm. I might reconsider getting back into the Nex system again in future if they keep releasing lens like these.
Wow Steve – you’ve certainly appear to be enamoured by lots of the new cameras these days. If I’m not mistaken, you’re already personally hanging onto a Nex 7, EP3, Nikon V1 and Fuji X100 … perhaps an indication of the diverse range of great cameras on offer these days and how there’s no perfect one. Variety is the spice of life. Thanks for the review – I can only guess the dilemna you have now re which camera to take each time you head out.
Sorry – had a Nex 5 previously I meant to say … how I wish I had a Nex 7 … 😛
Thanks, I´ll just stick to my Canon FD L lenses.
SONY did an excellent job by designing what no one else wanted to (a mirrorless APS-C digital that would take any legacy lens mount possible). But their own lenses are either boring or unaffordable (Zeiss 24/1.8).
Yes, a $100-120 50/1.8 is a no-brainer for any Canon or Nikon (D)SLR, but the $300 SEL50F18 isn’t exactly. Many enthusiasts shooting NEX already use an old 50mm lens with adapter, either cheap off ebay or from the attic. The SEL 50F18 benefits are smaller size, AF and OIS. But smaller size only applies to SLR lenses, not Leica-M, AF does not work well under poor light, OIS is of limited use with fast lenses and moving objects, i.e. people.
Steve wrote the Nex 7 is not made for Leica-M glass, at least not for wideangele glass. When viewing the video I noticed the 24F18 has a deeply recessed rear lens, as if it was a retro-focus design for a SLR. This the reason for its relative bulk and price. The Nex 5n is less delicate, so we pay for the pixel race.
Thanks, Steve. The output looks good. Maybe not as sharp at 100% as I expected, but definitely ‘good enough’ – hardly to complain about for the price. Just a slightly off topic note – with the fast lenses that appeared for m4/3, NEX and Samsung in the last year or so – it would be about the time for Ricoh to bring something faster too for the GXR …
A 18-55 in…BLACK!? In your photo comparing the sizes of the 50 1.8 and the 18-55 Sony zoom the later is clearly BLACK: I never saw a 18-55 Sony emount in black… A complete mystery to me!
The NEX-7 comes with an 18-55 in black. Sony said they will NOT be making the 50 in black.
A Samsung NX200 with a 30mm F2 is much sharper a lens and weighs 30% less at 9 ounces and costs 70% the money at $ 990.
But also it is only 2.5″ thick instead of a jacket busting 6″ long.
I think it is more in the philosophy of a small 9 ounce camera that goes into any jacket pocket.
Yeah, but you have to compare the 50mm Sony with the 55mm f1.8 Samsung pancake and not with the 30mm. Exact size and price of the 55mm are not known yet. Of course it will be much smaller than the Sony, but how much?
Who says the NX 30mm is ‘much sharper’?
I bet they are basically identical in resolution apart from the fact the Sony will give you much greater ability to isolate subjects and has OSS.
The Samsung lens is smaller, yes. But my Leica 40mm is also smaller and covers full frame so….
1. It was no me posting that the Samsung 30mm is sharper.
2. Samsung will release a 55mm pancake, f1.8, this ist the one to compare with the Sony 50mm.
3. Samsung NX200 with pancake is a 300g compact perfectly pocketable (jacket, coat) set up with no VF. (no I don’t own a Samsung).
Here we are towards the end of March, and still no sign of the Samsung 55/1.8. It’s very easy to say a lens that doesn’t yet exist will be smaller, cheaper, and better than one that’s actually shipping. Will the Samsung, if and when it ships, be a stabilzed lens? Seems unlikely. Most (all?) pancakes are not.
Regarding Steve’s shot of the kit zoom and 50mm side-by-side, it would have been interesting to see this shot with the kit lens set to 50mm, instead of 18mm.
Thanks for the review, Steve.
Looking good but for its size. Samsung already has 16 f2.4, 20 f2.8 and 30mm f2.0 pancakes of good quality and will release a 55mm f1.8 pancake in Q1 2012. Why is this technically not possible for Sony?
I was really excited about this lens! However, after the release was pushed back to after Christmas (and I really wanted a new lens for the holidays), I decided to buy an old Minolta 58mm f/1.2 instead (same price). Still, the new Sony lens looks great and the OSS is especially interesting to me since it would let me shoot in low light even better than the f/1.2 non-OSS lens.
BTW, what’s going on with the aperture blades? Why are there 7 of them, seems like an odd number to me? I thought normally there were 6 or 8 of them. And is there a downside to circular blades, it seems very few lenses have this? Or is this a new feature? Sounds like something every lens should have! (Which makes me suspicious)
I’d also like to see more pictures with shallow DOF. So far it seems the bokeh is vivid but not ugly, and highlights are really round. Thanks for the review! 🙂
I’m wondering what you mean by “The thickness of the camera body is too thin for the lenses to be tiny” when talking about lens sizes on NEX.
This could be the subject of a whole long essay on optics, but here’s a way to start thinking about it: In general, with simple lenses, the distance from the center of the lens (usually where the diaphragm is) to the sensor or film equals the focal length. That is, the distance from the diaphragm to the sensor for a 50mm lens is 50mm.
If the camera body is (say) 40mm thick from flange to sensor, then the center of the lens can stick out only 10mm.
If the body is only 10mm thick, then the center of the same lens would have to stick out 40mm from the len flange.
For lenses designed specifically for digital cameras, there are additional problems with getting the light rays lined up with the sensor that tend to make the lenses bigger.
There are lots of exceptions and lots of “yes, buts”, and there are design tricks that engineers can use to change the relationships a little, but that’s the beginning of an answer to your question.
Meant to say “40mm from the lenS flange.”
Also, I just roughly measured my Pentax K5, and it’s actually about 50mm from the flange to the sensor, which gives them a lot of room to design their lovely little pancake lenses.
It you wanted to make an adapter to attach Pentax pancake lenses to the NEX 7, it would have to be about 37mm (maybe 1 1/2 inches) deep. So they wouldn’t look so pancakey any more. 🙂
In the 100% this lens has extreme red chromatic aberrations! it looks to have a veiling haze /ghosting kind of feel at large apertures. The olympus 45mm f1.8 is much better it may have a little less resolution at f1.8 compared with 5.6 but it still give an image comparable with a kit lens … this one looks worse!
Would you do a comparison between those 2 lenses?
The backlit 100% of the kangaroo? The 45 would do the same actually. Nothing that shows up or is noticeable in web sized images or prints, unless you are going 20X30….then maybe.
As specified your review provides the concrete information that an enthusiast (for instance me!) would want to help in deciding on a purchase. I’ve had this lens on order and wanted to make sure it was what I hoped it was. So not super sharp at f1.8 but sharp enough at f2. Good contrast AF performance and good anti-shake. And all for 300 bucks? What’s not to like?
Thanks for your help.
Looks great, can’t wait to have mine in.
It cut be cool , if sony manufactured a manually lens that work like a Leica lens.
Thanks for the review Steve, been waiting to see how it performs for a while! Certainly looking good. I’m really loving the new stuff from Sony in the NEX range – I do wish they’d up their game on the AF side of things tho like Olympus have done.
How would you compare it to the Oly M43 45mm 1.8? I’m just thinking they are both good contenders for portrait lenses, both about the same price – and if you had both a M43 and NEX system, which would you choose if only buying one?!
Great Review! Thanks Steve for all you do on this site… I have learned tons through it! This lens looks pretty dang good and I’m am seriously thinking about getting one. Too bad it is being pushed back farther. I do have one big question though, I have a 5N and my primary lens is an Olympus OM 50mm 1.8, if you were going to spend $300 on a lens and your budget was super tight, would you buy this 50 or an older lens to give a 50 equivalent? Like a good 35 f2 or something? I love shooting the OM 50 for portraits but it tends to be a bit long for most everything else. Also I’m so used to manually focusing that it doesn’t bother me and I actually think I like it better than autofocus half the time. I sold the 18-55 because of how slow it was and now I have the 16, an OM 28 2.8, the OM 50 1.8 and an OM 70-210.
Any other input would be great! I have really been looking forward to this review and I am on your site at least once every day! Thanks lots! Cody
Can’t speak for Steve, but I use my Nex equipment with both my Nikon AI and Zeiss (Contax) primes and consider myself a very happy bunny! Cheaper than Sony primes – I didn’t have to buy them – I already owned them – and usually of similar size (lens + sensor) plus, most importantly, there is a wide, plentiful supply on the used market.
Lack of AF is usually not a great failing – I find I nail focus on subject far easier & more often than the Sony equivalents.
Lots of good old prime lenses out there, many better optically than ‘new’ lenses and often with killer, fast, max. apertures. I’ve got 50mm primes that were given to me because they were deemed ‘useless’. A good 35mm f2 may be a little pricier than ‘free’ but should be easy to source on eBay and the money you save (on buying a new Sony Zeiss) will probably be far better spent on a good photo trip!
OOPS – re. above: read adaptor, not sensor!!!! My typo!
Eagerly awaiting the arrival of the lens – my wife ordered one ages ago! Seems to be worth every penny! I ordered the Zeiss – we’ll see which arrives first!