CRAZY COMPARISON! Sony 50 1.8 “Nifty 50” vs The Zeiss 55 1.8!


CRAZY COMPARISON! Sony 50 1.8 “Nifty 50” vs The Zeiss 55 1.8!

Here you go! Many have been asking me if the new $249 Sony 50 1.8 is worth the buy and ask me what is the difference between the Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8 and the Sony 50 1.8. Basically, the 55 1.8 uses a Zeiss formula for the lens. The Sony 50 1.8 does not. This means the Zeiss will be sharper, have more 3D pop, richer color and well, not much else. The little Sony 50 1.8 will be a tad softer, less contrast and about $650 less to buy! This lens is SO WORTH the $249..and if you own a Sony A7 series body, and do not have a fast native 50, take a look at this little inexpensive wonder. It even comes with a lens hood.

Below are a few snaps side by side with the 55 1.8 Zeiss. Yep, the Zeiss is sharper, as it should be, but for the price, this little “Nifty Fifty” is amazing. You can buy one for $248 HERE at Amazon.

FOR VIDEO I would use the 55 over the 50 though due to slight AF noise with this lens. EITHER WAY, thrilled to see Sony release an affordable fast 50! More on the lens from me is HERE. 














  1. The comparison completely ignores the fact that the sony 50/1.8 does not autofocus at all.

    • Doesn’t focus at all? Sure it does. I have no focus issues when using it on the A7RII. In low light it hunts but most lenses at this price point do. In good light it focuses just fine, and gives good performance for the price.

      • Sigh. EXIF is embedded in all files. I would take a look at all of my crazy comparisons and just for fun comparisons over the past eight years to better understand why and how I do these. There are tons and tons of them on this website. Thank you.

        • Love your stuff Steve, and while I think Bill is a tad over the top there is no comparison between the two on AF. I had my 50 for 2 weeks, and sent it back. With AF that bad I will stick my my MF lenses and feel less frustrated.

          I tested it on the A7II and A7rII. It worked fine on the A7rII except in low light. On the A7II it was hell and I happen to own two of them. I tested it against a 55 and it was light night and day.

          It does AF, it just searches for lock every time with the A7II and at times will just not get a lock. I compare that to my 28, 90, 70-200, 24-70 and back it went.

  2. It looks as if Steve Huff’s copy of the Sonnar 55 is not a good one, unfortunately. My copy does make much sharper photos than this. Here, the Sonnar looks like a soft lens, and I know it’s not. Definitely.

  3. I received the lens few days ago…sharpness is really good, but I am experiencing problem with AF: when I underexpose (I have an A7RII), the camera goes hunting forward and backward without finding the focus, even in a very sunny light.

    • Which is why Amazon has mine back. I may repurchase when Sony releases a firmware fix. It will only do Contrast focusing and that is slower than heck.

  4. Mine is up for shipping back to Amazon. If I want to use the lens in MF mode I would just stay with my Konica 57mm f1.4. After about 200 pictures I am returning mine

    I have no issue with the image quality. It met or beat my expectations in every way. Sadly the AF just does not cut it. The lens hunts, it seeks, it sometimes fails to lock and it is slow, really really really slow. I should have done a video but the lens just depresses me. I would have paid another $50 bucks just for better AF. Perhaps there will be a firmware fix for some of the problems.

    If you own an A7rII or newer you will be happy with the AF. If you own an A7II or older you will suffer for the money saved.

  5. If you “preview effects,” Sony closes the aperture to the preset value all the time. Even if this option is not selected, the aperture stops down as soon as focus is acquired. If you are using AF-C, the lens will usually hunt after that point. It will also hunt if an object you are tracking goes outside the frame.

    This is apparently a conscious decision by Sony engineers, perhaps to eliminate any chance of focus shift with aperture, but it takes phase-detection out of the equation for any setting beyond f/5.6. I would like the option to keep the lens open until taking the shot, like a DSLR.

  6. I’ll probably catch some flack for this but I like my 50s with a bit of aberration and color shift as long as they’re sharp enough for their use case.

  7. It would be interesting to see a few more images without labels or EXIF and ask people which they prefer. I get the feeling most would not be able to tell one from the other and lots would pick the cheap 50 as it looks really good from the samples I’ve seen around the web.

    • You should because there is no reason to downgrade. The build and the noise will not suite you for sure if you’re spoiled with the 55. In my opinion.

  8. It would be nice if you would do one of the Sony 50 compare to the Leica 50 1.4 to see the difference in color and signature. we need to know if it is worthwhile to keep those leica lenses.

  9. were all settings the same? the 50mm images seems darker (and thus appears to have more contrast).

  10. Hi Steve!

    I tried out the 50mm in a shop today and found out that above f9.0 in AF-C mode, that lens won’t stop focusing at all (even with the new firmware). Would you be able to test this?

    Looking forward to your reply.


  11. I don’t see a massive sharpness advantage to the 55, in the centre at least. I don’t know if you would see any differance in central sharpness if mounted on one of the lower resolution Sony bodies.

    I think the bokeh is a bit smoother on the 55, but again not a big difference.

    The one concern is the varying reports about AF speed and noise. I suspect that this might be due to people running different firmware versions.

    If anyone has this lens on the A7II with the latest firmware I would love to know what the AF performance is like.

    • In my opinion, AF is not faster than the 28F2 maybe because of the firmware? I hope Sony will release a new one. I have version 3.1 firmware Version 1.0 lens. I don’t know how to explain the speed but I think when you are in the street you’ll miss some shots for sure. I said some because it can do the job in a way. It is adequate not impressive.
      Coming from shooting film, I think it helps that I’m used to manual lenses to get the focus right – this is I’m sure with any lens. I can only compare with the 28 because that is another prime I have. As compared to the 16-35, it is definitely slower – I don’t know why.

  12. These are mostly examples from the center of the lens . It might be interesting to see comparisons focused at the lens corners as well.

  13. From all the photos I’ve seen, the FE 50 has a look very similar to the SEL 50 1.8 OSS which is a good thing. The 55 is a bit sharper and the colors appear a bit “richer” but the 50 need not make any apologizes for the price.

  14. I looked closely at the tail light shots, I beg to differ, the Zeiss 55 is sharper, just look at the embossed text on the orange tail light cover. The 50 lens on the other hand seem a touch contrastier hence more easily perceived as sharper? Just my 2 cents worth, I don’t own either lenses here, but the apsc E 50mm f1.8 OSS for my A6000

  15. only in the tail lights photo, the 50 looks sharper than the 55. in all the other photos, in particular if you click on them, I can clearly see an advantage in sharpness for the 55. that being said, the 50 is pleasing, too, in particular for its price.

  16. 50 looks sharper at 1.8 on the tail light. Could be a focus point issue, though. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes, the screw is more in focus with the sony, the markings on the light are in focus with zeiss. Back/front/inaccurate focus? Human/camera/lens error? The tire shots probably show 1.8 performance more clearly.

  17. It is a great lens in my opinion. Yes – really noisy and built nothing like the 28. Never had a chance to use 55 F1.8 but if you’re not a pro, it just doesn’t make sense. Do browse some pictures I took with this lens It is always in my bag together with the 28F2. It is so light weight adds almost nothing to the bag.

        • Waiting for the updated firmware to come out for A7II updating it for this lens. No reason to buy an A7RII. It is just not needed. I’d spend my GAS on a Leica digital next to add on to my M7 where I have 3 lenses already. I just started loving digital with the 28 and 50. My collection of film cameras will have to stay a while in the dry cabinet.

  18. Wow. Maybe it’s just from looking at them on my phone, but that 50 1.8 looks sharper and contrastier than the 55. Could that be?!

    • I don’t have the 55 1.8 but if you ask me you like it base on the character of the lens. For me, I like mine enough not to buy a 55F1.8. Not for video though and if you don’t have an A7RII like what Steve says, it will hunt. I use the A7II and it hunts and slow far if I compare to the 28. Built is cheap but it is so light which I think is cool.

  19. Surprisingly good results from the 50. I don’t regret my 55, but this is quite a nice lens at a great price. Real winner. Sony should make more of the budget friendly lenses.

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