The Sony Zeiss 50 f/1.4 Lens Review
by Steve Huff
This is the brand new lens announced today from Sony, and I have my review right here! You can pre-order at B&H PHOTO HERE
One thing is for sure. It is never dull, the life of a camera reviewer. Today I am lucky enough to write about a lens that is not only right up my alley, but up the alley of sooooo many of the readers here. It’s a fast 50! What else can I say? If you are a Sony shooter, or curious about Sony or have a love for fast primes, then read on my friend about their latest offering in the lens world, the 50 1.4 which has the blue ZEISS stamp on it.
Many of you know I love and adore the focal length of 50mm. My favorite lenses of all time have been 50 MM lenses, and I have been preaching on them and using them for years and years. I have owned and loved the Leica 50 Summilux, the Leica 50 Summicron (Old and APO), Noctilux, the Canon 50mm Dream Lens, the 50 Jupiter, and various 50’s by Zeiss, Voigtlander and others such as SLR Magic. Let’s not forget the Zeiss 50 Loxia. I may have tried, used or tested 95% of the 50mm lenses made today, even from Nikon and Canon yet I am always on the lookout for a new, fast, amazing 50mm prime that delivers the performance I have come to CRAVE in my photos so let’s see if this new premium pro level Sony fits the bill for those of us with an A7 series camera. If there is one thing I know in the photo world, it’s a good 50mm lens, and this is why I am able to write my full review after only 2 1/2 days with this lens. It did not take me long to appreciate what Sony had here with this one.
For the record, I prefer a rendering between the Leica 50 APO, Zeiss Otus 55 1.4 (review soon!) and the Leica 50 Summilux 1.4. If a single 50mm lens could deliver this combo of styles, and was priced within reason, then I would be all over it in a nano second.
Also, all photos in this review were shot on a Sony A7RII. (My review of the camera is HERE)
The new 50 is gorgeous in build, design and while larger than most 50 1.4’s, the quality here is simply gorgeous, almost to Zeiss Otus Levels. This lens is quite a bit smaller than the OTUS though and offers Auto Focus while coming in at $1900 less than the Otus.
Today Sony announced their new 50mm premium lens, the 50 1.4 Zeiss.
While this is NOT a G Master lens, which is reserved for the highest end Sony glass, it is a Zeiss 50 1.4, which for most, is PLENTY good enough. I mean, ZEISS is legendary when it comes to not only the name, but also the lenses made throughout time with that blue Zeiss logo attached.
For some, Zeiss beats Leica in 3D pop, contrast and color and this lens by Sony is NOT just another 50 1.4 prime. This one is up there with the best 50’s made today IMO (Think Leica 50 APO, think Leica 50 Summilux), and while it is large for a mirrorless 50mm, at least Sony now gives us choices in this area. Three of them to be exact.
Not only do we have this new Zeiss 50mm, we have the new cheap Sony 50 1.8, which is small and tiny, light as air and comes in at under $250. While not perfect, its a must for anyone with a small budget who wants a 50. We also have the 55 1.8 from Zeiss and Sony which is the 1st lens made for the E system. It’s fantastic but still, not up to par with this new 50 1.4, which is just a beautiful drool worthy lens.
CLICK ON IMAGES FOR LARGER AND BETTER VIEW! THANK YOU!
The new Sony 50 1.4 Zeiss lens is simply beautiful. I can see so many pros using this for weddings, studio work, and also many using it for street. The contrast, color and sharpness is extraordinary delivering a stunning look not far off from the Zeiss Otus 55 1.4. (Think Medium Format Look/Style)
Luckily I have already shot with this new 50mm and have enjoyed it, worked with it, found its strengths and weaknesses and have realized that this is a lens that is as good as it gets in the 50mm focal length for the Sony E/FE system or any system for that matter.
See my quick video on this lens and the new 70-200 f/2.8 G Master Below
As I said in the beginning of this review, the life of a camera reviewer is never ever dull, even when you have been doing it for what seems like forever. True, we can get burnt out from time to time and sometimes cameras and lenses meld into each other when nothing truly exciting comes out for a while, but at the end of the day, doing this job is a blessing, a gift and is something I truly am grateful and thankful for.
So a few weeks ago, when I received a notice from Sony that they were showing off some new products to some members of the photographic press and they wanted us to see them, use them, and share our thoughts on them…I JUMPED at the shot, as I always do. I mean…it IS my job after all 😉
Away I went to meet up with other review site/photo blog writers (many of whom I call friends) to see just what Sony had up their sleeve this time. Sony is, IMO, one of the leading camera companies when it comes to organizing events to show off their new gear. It’s always fun, never ever boring and we are always assured many photographic opportunities to give us ways to test the lenses or cameras in many scenarios. They want us to TRULY test these items and give feedback, to IMPROVE their future products. It’s a win/win all the way around. I wish more camera companies would follow Sony’s lead as I feel this is why Sony has come so far, so fast and with so many improvements over a short time frame. They listen to our feedback, and actually implement some of our ideas. That is how progress is made IMO.
Back to this 50mm f/1.4…
Me, I tested it late night on the streets, I tested it in B&W and Color (Some lenses excel for B&W), I tested it at high ISO and did some detail tests with crops. Each time it rewarded me with fantastic rendering with many of the qualities I have always loved about the BEST 50’s made. It was inspirational.
Two OOC JPEGS using HC B&W mode…
What it always gave back to me was POP, 3D RENDERING, SHARPNESS even when wide open, and I found it to have that Zeiss look and feel to the final output. Which is a good thing if you love Zeiss, as many of you here do. The two images above were out of camera JPEGs using a B&W mode in camera. In the 1st shot of the performers, you can see the etched out detail of the subject and the wall of Bokeh blur that goes behind him, and while there is some funkiness in the out of focus parts this is due to the mode I was in. not the lens. I LOVE THIS way of rendering, and the Zeiss 50 1.4 does this when up close. It has a way of delivering the subject in a 3 Dimensional space that Leica also excels at. For me, this lens is on par with any Zeiss or Leica 50mm f/1.4 when it comes to image output and rendering. That’s not just jibber jabber, that is reality and what I truly feel.
From being on the field at San Diego’s PETCO PARK to checking out some Roller Derby to walking the streets at night, this lens never let me down.
This lens has the rendering that I missed in the fantastic Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8. That lens has been WIDELY praised as one of the best 50’s around. Me, I never said that as I always felt it was lacking when compared to great Zeiss and Leica designs, and I will admit it..I am spoiled rotten when it comes to 50mm lenses. I have tried and used nearly all of them and I have used the worlds best 50mm lenses. It was the damn Leica 50 APO and 50 Summliux that have spoiled me, and the Sony Zeiss 55 1.8, while a fantastic lens, was never up to par with those other lenses I just mentioned in my opinion.
This new 50 1.4 Zeiss is indeed up to par, and then some. Even at night, hand holding a shot wide open you can see the color and detail and contrast at work here to deliver a beautiful rendering of what is just a basic statute I walked upon during my night walk. It’s crisp, it’s lovely and it is at f/1.4 allowing as much light to be sucked in as possible. It also has that “turn the night to day” effect in some shots, like below…I could BARELY see this statue at night..I mean, I saw it but it was DARK, yet the photo makes it appear there is loads of light hitting it and I shot it handheld (I never use tripods).
Amazing, and the best fast 50’s do this with ease. This lens has a quality about it that is just gorgeous. When a lens can make a mundane subject in the dark look like this, it does indeed have something special about it. Again, lenses that do this very well? The $11k Leica Noctilux, the $3600 Zeiss Otus, the $1350 Canon 50 1.2L, the $4k Leica Summilux, and lenses of the higher end variety.
Now I find this performance just stunning. This lens reminds me quite a bit of the Leica 50 Summilux f 1.4 and that lens is around $4000. While the Leica is a work of art in design (it is 1/3 the size of the Sony) it is only a manual focus lens. This Sony, while larger and beefier does have Auto Focus, which comes in handy in situations like the one above. With the large bright EVF in the A7RII and this lens mounted, shooting at night was a breeze, though I will admit…the Auto Focus speed is a tad on the slower side. While not slow, it is not blazing fast. It is much quicker than something like a Canon 50 f/1.2 but do not expect instant AF performance like we can get in Micro 4/3 with a 25mm lens. But also expect IQ that we just can not get on a Micro 4/3 when it comes to DR, Bokeh and Depth. THIS is on another level thanks to the full frame sensor vs Micro 4/3.
BUILD, AF PERFORMANCE and SIZE
The new Sony/Zeiss 50 1.4 is not a tiny lens. Next to the small, cheap and hollow 50 1.8 from Sony, it looks like a beast. But next to a Leica Noctilux, things start to look even. So think of this lens as a larger than normal 50mm f/1.4. But also be aware that this lens was made with one purpose in mind, QUALITY and I thank Sony for this.
Sony did not say “Let’s make the smallest fast 50 we can”..instead they said “Let us make the BEST 50 we can”. If you want small and light, pick up the 50 1.8 for under $250. If you want to up the quality and still want small size, check out the Zeiss 55 1.8 as it has been out and established for a long time now and most love that lens. If you want the best optical quality, best color, best Bokeh and best detail of any Sony 50mm auto focus lens, then you must check out this new 50 1.4 Zeiss. It packs a serious punch and delivers the best of the best for the Sony offerings. Hands down.
This is quality, and you can feel it in the lens and see it in the performance. The build of the lens is solid and professional. As I said earlier, this is NOT a G Master lens, but even so, it could have that GM blasted on to it and I would welcome it. It is THAT good. It has the manual aperture dial and using it in manual was also a treat. This lens offers the best of Sony in a 50. Plain and simple. From build to IQ it just delivers. Though it does make me wonder about something…will Sony ever release a G MASTER version like they did with the 85mm? Will it be an f/1.2 or even larger? Who knows, but for now, this lens is the best 50 they offer, hands down.
OOC JPEGS IN HC B&W MODE
As for AF performance, it has fantastic lock on ability and when this lens locked on to the subject, it was truly locked on. I used to have issues long ago with Sony lenses locking on and not really being in focus. This lens, when it locked it was truly locked, which I liked. The only niggle I had, and I talked it over with a few of my colleagues, was the AF speed was slower than expected. I assume it is due to the heavy glass inside this beast (Much like the Canon 50L and 85L, both larger AND slower than this lens) that slows it down. Even so, it is not horribly slow or obnoxiously slow. It is just slower than you would expect. For me, it was no issue at all as it was plenty fast for anything I shot with it. In fact, this new lens is also equipped with a ring drive SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) system for silent AF and speedier operation. You just cant beat physics and this bad boy has a load of glass inside.
I feel that today we expect too much for too little, and this lens for me offers a TON that far outweigh the two small cons of size and slower AF than one may expect.
It’s funny but this simple image below of a fire hydrant has just about sold me on this lens to the point that I am an inch away from ordering one, just to have this amazing jaw dropping performance in a 50 that does not cost me $3 or 6 or 11k.
The color here is amazing considering this was late night. The sharpness and detail here is perfect and the contrast also right up my alley. Friends, this lens is magical, and for me to say that about a Sony lens…well, it says alot. I usually keep my “Magical” moments to those from Leica but this one has that charm, and rendering to put it up there in the same League. I love everything about this photo (color, contrast, bokeh, highlights, detail, pop, etc). It looks very very “REAL”. If I only had the Zeiss Otus on hand to compare a the time but really…can we get MUCH better than this? Sure, maybe a different presentation but who knew a hydrant could look so good? 😉
Color performance reminds me of the Leica 50 APO, which is a $7k 50m f/2 (review here)
The Bokeh here is pure CREAM and ORGANIC, so it also reminds me of a 50 Summilux from Leica.
THE CHASE FOR THE BEST…
It’s no secret to those of us who follow new camera releases like mad and for those of us who just have this in our blood. To many out there and most here, photography is in our hearts. It’s a passion for so so many and yet the “digital craze” has slowed down dramatically, and what I mean by that is this…
A few years ago, namely the past 10 years has been a constant stream of non stop camera tech. I remember the 1st DSLR from Canon, the D30. Today you can pick up this 3MP wonder for $48 on Ebay. Back then, it was $3500 for a 3MP DSLR with AWFUL performance (by todays standard). People were buying it up back then like it was the hottest thing ever yet it performed like a turd when compared to film. That camera, IMO, is the one that started the whole DSLR craze that went on for years and years, which eventually turned into the MIRRORLESS craze for years and years and we had everything in between from advanced point and shoots to Leica rangefinders..and all the while, a slew of lenses were being created CONSTANTLY.
Thousands of enthusiasts, pros and those with G.A.S. (A very real camera buying and selling disease, GEAR ACQUISITION SYNDROME) were buying, selling, upgrading at a frantic pace. It was a digital CRAZE!
Today I have seen this practice slow down due to less cameras being released as well as BETTER cameras being released. We are in a matured digital age where most cameras are “good enough” and some are above and beyond that.
Cameras like the Sony A7RII are changing the game for so many and while many out there still use and adore their DSLR’s, more and more are jumping into mirrorless and ditching the DSLR. (this is facts from sales reports in 2015 and 2016). I see companies like Sony, Olympus, and Fuji leading the way while Canon and Nikon still pump out VERY NICE and VERY GREAT rehashed versions of the same old DSLR’s, of which are standbys for many pros, so I understand this 100%. I really do. It’s just that today in my life, at 46 going on 47 I am tired of the DSLR, and I feel Mirrorless is the future as I have said for years.
It is true! Today, the excitement seems to be with mirrorless as there are just so many options to go with and they come in all shapes, styles and sizes. We can use almost any lens on these mirrorless designs and that gives us more of a chance to be truly creative and different. Instead of shooting a Nikon and a 24-70 why not an A7RII and a Leica lens? Or a Canon lens? Or a Voigtlander lens? or a Nikon lens? Or a vintage screw mount lens? Exactly. You can do things on mirrorless you just can not do with a DSLR, and that is why so many are drawn to them.
The Sony FE series of cameras and lenses, to be honest, are closer to DSLR size than any other mirrorless. Slap the brand spanking new and AWESOME 70-200 f/2.8 G master lens on the A7RII and many will think it is a streamlined DSLR with a little less bulk on the body but the same sized lenses. True, the A7RII is not tiny but it is quite a bit less substantial in the hand compared to a Nikon D800 or Canon 5D series. The lenses though, well, they are still on the larger side. While companies like Leica have perfected the art of making super fast aperture lenses small, Sony has not, and this is mainly due to Auto Focus motors (that make the lens larger), the mount and Sony designers.
Even so, for me, a camera like the Sony A7RII, A7II, or A7SII are preferred to a DSLR for my style of work, and even though the size is not tiny, it still offers size and weight savings over a DSLR, and feels better in the hand, and has an EVF, which I prefer. The A7RII is my most recommended mirrorless due to what it offers for the price, and now, due to the HUGE selection of amazing lenses this system NOW offers.
Seems like yesterday when I was writing how Sony had no glass to offer…and today Sony is offering TONS of amazing lenses for their A7/E/FE system. Pretty damn amazing of Sony, and this newest addition is one of the best lenses they have EVER released.
What would a review be without some 100% crops to show details. This 50 1.4 Zeiss is absolutely stunning and while RAW is the way to go, even shooting JPEG delivers fantastic results. Take a look below at some of the awesome-ness one can get with this lens when it comes to detail.
CLICK THESE TO SEE THE TRUE 100% CROPS!
This simple fan, natural light, f/1.4. The detail at 1.4 is very LEICA 50 APO LIKE
Even an out of camera JPEG rocks the detail. (click it to see full crop)
How about at night? High ISO detail?
Details from an out of camera JPEG, in B&W mode..click it!
This is a 50mm f.1.4 that I can finally say compares well with a $4k Leica 50 Summilux or $7k Leica 50 APO or even the $4k Zeiss Otus which many regard as the best fast 50 ever. In some ways, I prefer this Zeiss (color and 3D) but the Leica will always be a legend due to the performance and TINY small size it brings to the table. There is nothing quite like a Leica M and 50 Lux when it comes to size and feel and simplicity but there is also nothing quite like this new Zeiss 50 on an A7RII as it allows us to shoot in ANY situation, day or night and always rewards with an in focus image, fantastic color, and all of the good things we associate with a great Zeiss lens design.
My friends, this is one of the best 50mm lenses I have ever shot with. (Zeiss Otus Review underway now, so will let you know what I think of the difference in THAT review)
PROS AND CONS of this 50 1.4
- This lens is one of the best 50’s I have ever used for image quality, color and rendering
- Auto Focus is spot on when locked on
- Build is fantastic, feels very “pro”
- Manual aperture dial on the lens!
- Lens hood included
- The perfect everyday focal length
- The third and highest end offering from Sony in a full frame 50m lens
- Bokeh is creamy and beautiful IMO, but this is subjective
- Has a massive 3D rendering with nice contrast
- Detail even wide open is brilliant
- Reminds me of a mix of the best 50’s ever – 50 APO, 50 LUX, Zeiss Otus 55
- Priced JUST right at $1500. Worth the cost 100% IMO.
- Auto Focus may be slower than you expect, it’s not a speed demon but faster than a Canon 50 1.2
- Size is larger than most 50 1.4’s but this is due to priority being on QUALITY of output rather than size
MY FINAL WORD ON THIS SONY 50 1.4 ZEISS LENS
Usually my lens reviews are short (3500 words or less) because there is only so much one can say about a lens. Sure, I can use fancy words, or I can just be quick and blunt but any way you slice it, this lens from Sony is WINNER in every way. In fact, it may be my fave lens from Sony for their FE system…EVER. As I have already said, this is one of the best 50’s I have EVER used for IQ.
This lens, if I do indeed pull the trigger on it, will end up being my most used lens on the A7rII because it is my favorite focal length, it is still small in the grand scheme of things and it offers a fast 1.4 aperture with no image quality compromises.
I own the cheap $250 Sony 50 1.8. It’s amazing for the price but it does not get close to this. If you are spoiled like I am when it comes to amazing lenses, that 50 1.8 will not satisfy that itch. I also own the original 55 1.8 from Zeiss/Sony. That is a small and great performer as well but it is nothing like what I am seeing from this new 50 1.4. I am currently testing the Zeiss Otus 55 1.4 which is AMAZING but larger, only manual focus and while I think it edges out this Sony by a bit in some areas, it is double the cost so all depends on your needs and budget.
With this new lens it seems Sony concentrated on Bokeh, Color, Pop, Contrast, Detail and giving us some Magic thrown in for good measure. Maybe Sony hired some of the magical fairies that used to work for Leica, who knows. OH WAIT, it is a Zeiss…Duhhhhh!!! They already have their magic goblins doing some work.
All I know is that I loved this lens more than any other Sony/Zeiss offering to date for the Sony system, and that is probably because I am a 50 guy at heart.
It’s funny though as just before I saw this lens, I was missing my Leica M (of which I no longer own) and missing my “good old days” of the M and 50. When times were simple 😉 Now that I have used this new Zeiss, the 50mm passion is once again ignited in me and I am looking deep within to find some personal projects to do with just a 50. Yep, this lens on my A7RII will scratch that 50 itch I have been having for a while. This is one of those “lifer” lenses..one that you buy and would never want to give up. I know my 50’s…and I was never this passionate about the previous Sony 50’s…because this one is extremely amazing. 😉
Those who are passionate about shooting and shooting high quality primes, it doesn’t get much better than this in the massive world of 50’s and it is the BEST hands down in the Sony world of 50’s. Amazing piece of glass, and a true classic in the making. It’s better than MY abilities so I can not wait to see some of the work created by others using this lens.
I say, BUY IT. You will not regret it. $1500 is what it will set you back but compare that to a Leica 50 APO ($7k), or Leica 50 Lux ($4k) or a Zeiss Otus ($4000). This lens has a little bit of all of those combined, which if you read this whole review then you would have seen that was my wish for it from the start. I love it when wishes come true. 🙂
PS – I will be updating this review with a comparison or two in the next couple of weeks 😉
WHERE TO BUY?
You can order the new Sony 50 1.4 at B&H Photo for around $1500 HERE starting July 13th. Ships this month.
PRESS RELEASE FOR THE SONY 50 1.4
Sony Releases Full-Frame FE 50mm F1.4 ZA Prime Lens
A quintessential wide-aperture 50mm “normal” lens, the new ZEISS® Planar F1.4 offers high resolution, high-contrast and overall exceptional performance
SAN DIEGO, July 11, 2016 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced a new full-frame lens for their E-mount camera system, the Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA (model SEL50F14Z).
This 50mm prime lens features a large F1.4 maximum aperture that offers impressive contrast and outstanding resolution that are hallmarks of the ZEISS® brand. It produces these consistently strong qualities throughout the entirety of the frame – from center to corner – and at all aperture settings, even while shooting wide open at F1.4. The cutting edge optical structure includes high-precision AA (Advanced Aspherical) and ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements that reduce spherical and chromatic aberration, as well as a ZEISS® T* Coating that minimizes flare and ghosting creating the classic ZEISS® clarity. Additionally, its Planar design ensures minimal distortion.
The large F1.4 maximum aperture of the FE 50mm F1.4ZA lens provides a level of brightness and speed that are advantageous for dimly lit indoor shots, night scenes, and portraits, while its 11-bladed circular aperture allows for stunning “bokeh”, or background defocus, in images. The lens also features an aperture ring with an adjustable ON/OFF switch, an AF/MF focus mode switch, and a dust and moisture resistant design¹, further increasing its functionality.
The new lens is also equipped with a ring drive SSM (Super Sonic wave Motor) system, which allows it to efficiently lock focus with speed, precision and in near silence, making it particularly useful for shooting movies.
Pricing and Availability – FE 50mm F1.4 ZA Lens
The new FE 50mm F1.4 ZA lens will ship this July for a retail price of $1,500 US and $1,950 CA. The new FE interchangeable lens will be sold at a variety of Sony authorized dealers throughout North America.
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First: Zeiss/Sony lenses are NOT MADE BY ZEISS, from an expert/friend, “Geoffrey, no lens under 2,000€ can be made in Germany. They are usually made in Japan and most by SIGMA. I assume the new ZEISS Batis and othrs are made in Germany. And, I am only interested in SHARP and Picture Quality (Whatever that really means… SHARP is everything to me. So, I could care less about how great a lens feel and how solid it is and all the BS. I only care that the rea is metal and the important parts are also metal. Plastices, these days are more thn good enough for me.
Also, about softness: It could just be the focus. You can have that ajusted. This is why the new SIGMAS have a USB dock. I went to my dealer and he told me to make photos at a specific distance on a ruler and bring it to him. He said it could cost 50€. I am thinking about it.
Also: I would like to see more camera tests with the same lens.The cameras are great.
The lenses are the main weak point. That is why I suggest to anyone thinking about an APS-C camera or other (With an Adapter) to buy a camera and a Full Frame lens…
For example a 750D or 80D or D7100 or D5500 and put a FF 16-35 or 17- . These lenses should be better and by using more of the center and less of the sensor’s outer limits with an APS-C. Then in a few years you want buy a FF, you alread have a good lens and save a lot of money.
You can even get a new SIGMA 12mm- (Which starts at 18 on a APS-C) for a Nikon/Canon Etc. and if you decide to change companies you can use SIGMAs offer to change the lens to fit the other for about $100 HUH?
Im really debating between the Sony Zeiss 35 1.4 Distagon and this one for video on my a7sii. Which one is better?
Do you prefer 35 or 50? That should be the question 😉
Would the 35 offer that same pop as consistently as this 50?
No, due to focal length. The longer the FL, the more “pop” one can see, usually. But with these two the 50 is the superior lens, and the 35 is also amazing but I heard too much about sample variation with that lens. My copy was stunning, but others said theirs were slightly soft wide open. The 50, I have not heard of anything like this, and it’s one of the best 50’s I have used.
I can confirm that the 35 suffers from sample variations heavily. I finally got a good copy and when you find one, you will be super happy with sharpness even wide open. Rendering an color is quite similar to the 50 i would say. I am going to sell my 55 and buy the 50 just for the color and rendering.
I just received mine and it’s not being recognized by either of my bodies. I know it happens!! Thank you B & H for having such a great return dept.
That stinks. Did you update the firmware on your bodies to the latest?
I updated the a7rII but the a7II. Prolly something that doesn’t happen very often.
My answer is Get a 28mm, then you can crop to whatever you want and remember the Zeiss from Sony are not Zeiss, but made by Sony with Zeiss name and Zeiss specs, I hope. Read my comment above. The main answer is… Don’t listen to anyone, not even me. Test them all and print to a regular size, 8×10 in a 1/2 and 1/4
crop. This is the best way to see which is better. Not on a site or a computer screen. I have seen people showing their camera monitor and saying, “Look how sharp it is.”
Even if you don’t print, the print is the best comparison.
I just did a side by side comparison I could barely tell them apart
color is better on the zeiss
summilux is better for size
All I can say …glad to have both
I can’t believe how much “POP, 3D RENDERING, SHARPNESS” this glass has. How can every image posted have all three of these amazing qualities. I’m blown away by this review. If I’m able to get all three of these qualities for $1500.00 (10/16 Prices) I’ll be adding it to my bag soon. I’ve always wanted the Zeiss Otus but could never justify 4K for it but this Sony seems to produce IQ on par with the Otus and it’s AF, Yeah!!! I suspect It’ll be on the A7rII most of the time.
I just received my copy few days ago…awesome lens! a really gem
Is Loxia 50 far off in performance from this 50 1.4 thanks !
Totally different character, 100%. The Loxia is f/2 and could never give the pop and DOF of this lens, but the Loxia is MUCH smaller, so it is a trade off. Sadly. no f/2 lens can replicate an f/1.4 lens. The Loxia is fantastic though, and I compare it to the original Leica 50 Cron, but with warmer colors.
Steve, is Loxia 50 far off from this 50 1.4?
I don’t see the “Big Deal” over 50s. I started with a 105, for portraits, then moved to an 85,
which I still like for getting across a room and closer to 3-way conversations, then dripped to 35mm and quickly to 28mm, which is my, “Normal lens”.
Now I will ask Sony and the others to make a fixed lens FF 35mm with a 24mm. With a sensor of 36-50Mps, these days, it would be easy to set-up frames of 28/35/50/70+ and… who needs a wide zoom. Join me in asking for a new Sony with a 24mm 2. or 2.8.
I am looking at the Sigma DP0 with a 21mm at Photkina next week. It is a $900 lens witha free camera attached. Just keep it shooting in Raw under normal conditions and it is a great camera until the next model.
I wrote before. Look how you got around the truth: “I mean, ZEISS is legendary when it comes to not only the name, but also the lenses made throughout time with that blue Zeiss logo attached.” What does that mean if a lens is not made by Zeiss and made by Sony with a “Blue”, Zeiss, label.
The Sony Zeiss and Panasonic Leica are mede to the specs and dedign of Zeiss/Leica but not made in Germany and Sony/Panasonic make all the final decissions. They maybe better lenses but, they cost more so… Sony now made an M lens. I think they have learned how to make lenses equal to Zeiss without the log and the royalty. MAYBE we still need the name. The new generations in Asia/Africa/So. Amer. my never hear the names, Zeiss/Leica. That is the main reson Leica has opend a store in China.
Another question. How much is a, “Teeny small credit” from B&H sales? Is it 1% or more? How much. What is the problem with saying the percent. I won’t ask for your tax returns.
I have stated MANY MANY times here that SONY/ZEISS lenses are made by SONY not Zeiss. This is a known fact that Sony is licensing the Zeiss name and also, the plans for the glass. Sony makes them to Zeiss specs in this case, and in the case where Sony brands a lens with both names, Sony and Zeiss. But this is not a secret, it’s been talked about countless times over the years here and elsewhere.
You are right it is a KNOWN FACT, Except for the people who don’t know.
Just like the Leica SL, which says, “Made in Germany” is NOT, Made in Germany.
The body may be but, probabley in Portugal and/or Austria and assembled in Germany. I live in Germany. What I know is: The sensor is a Kodak. Made in USA and who is Germany or Sweden (For the Hasselblad XD1-50, which has, Made in Sweden on the top,) If they were smart they could say: “Made By Leica Germany”
or “Made by Hasselblad Sweden”. That would be more precise for percision camera makers. Huh? At least we know that the Fuji XGF, is really, Made in Japan.
Most real Zeiss photographic lenses are made by Cosina in Japan. Some are designed in Germany, but some designs are also outsourced to Japan. For example, the Batis 85 was designed by Tamron.
Sony Zeiss lenses are usually designed by Sony engineers which then go through an approval process by Zeiss.
Quite honestly, I don’t see the big difference between the Sony Zeiss 55/1.8 being designed by Sony engineers, approved by Zeiss, and then produced at a Sony factory versus the Zeiss Batis 85/1.8 designed by Tamron engineers, approved by Zeiss, and then produced at a Cosina factory. In these cases “Zeiss” is literally a brand, a label of quality, a stamp of approval.
Just received the 50 f1.4 and after a few dozen shots mostly at f1.4, it is obvious that it is special – consistent with your very positive evaluation. Eye autofocus on the A7R2 worked wonders (eye lash counters will be thrilled). However, it is not just the sharpness of the lens, but the overall beauty of the images it produces that really impressed me. Until now, I’ve shot very little at 50mm preferring either wide or long. That is about to change! This is a fairly heavy lens that, for me, is worth carrying – something I don’t normally choose to do if I’m going to be walking very much. Without your enthusiastic review, I would not have ordered this gem of a lens. I have the 55 f1.8 and it is very nice as well but not as thrilling as the f1.4.
I am on holiday and had the time to compare the Zeiss to my Leica Summilux. The Summilux was till today the best fifty. Period. Sharpness, falloff of the sharpness and Bokeh – amazing fit such a small lens. Unfortunately no AF – which is quite useful sometimes.
But as you wrote – the Sony/Zeiss is really there. I second that – all the way. I love the 50 mm focal length as you do – so I know after three days of use what I see there too. I am a happy camper with the Zeiss. It’s a keeper for sure.:)
It is indeed! Thank you!
Nice article Steve… very thorough,thanks for sharing. I recently purchased the 50 1.4G and although I’m very impressed with the sharpness, booked and color tones, I’m finding the focusing to be almost intolerable at times. I’m using it on an a7rii and doing portraits with eye focus, it constantly hunts, even in good light conditions (within a controlled studio setup). Can you share your focus settings for people/portrait use? Thanks
Are you trying to focus with a small aperture dialed in? The Sonys try to focus with the closed aperture – thus with less light. Only Sony knows why on earth they ate doing this…. Andy
Damn, I’ve been pondering for weeks now whether to get the 35 1.4 or the 90 1.4 for my next lens. I currently have the 55 1.8 and then this comes out. I do like the 50 range, but also wanted more width and closeups too…oh the decisions…
For someone who wants really Fast AF, but still wants good IQ, rendering, and bokeh – will you recommend this 1.4 or the sonar 55mm f/1.8 ?
no fast AF, as it focuses stopped down…
One thing that I like about this site is that it is not falling into the ditches, theorizing more than what we know. The first Sony-Zeiss 55 was criticized but the second Sony-Zeiss 50 was welcomed although no one of us could understand what makde the difference, indicating the reviewer is unbiased.
Sorry if my comment here is a bit long, but it is based on a long term experience.
I sold my Sony-Zeiss 55/1,8 because of several negative reviews, saying that it is ”looking analytical and sterile” and ”non 3-d” although it is in fact sharper than almost any other lens. It went away together with the A7R in favor of a A7RII together with a Loxia 50.
Aspects like the above are troublesome and difficult to grasp and measure and it opens up to different beliefs similar to the difficulties we had evaluating hifi music systems: what makes a sound ”musical” or ”analytical”? Cannot we have both? The lack of measurable facts opens up for different beliefs, for example ”old is better” or ”less is more”. Some tries to sell their arguments with almost religious arguments.
I searched on internet, trying to find out what characteristics of a lens, makes a good ”3-d-look”? I found one article saying that a lens must have a maximum of 9 elements, no aspherical element and absolutely no low—dispersion elements, which was considered the worst of all, but not explaining why. The article ranked a numer of lenses. At the bottom was the Sigma Art, that showed ”no 3-d at all”. We don´t know what knowledge and what facts this guy based his conclusions on. Maybe he just based it on the fact the Sigma has many lenses, aspherical elements and lowdispersion elements and therefore came up with a preconceived opinion about the image. Not everybody agrees about a Sigma is looking flat, do you?
We would need a lens designer to explain what designs makes the difference for those that are interested. Somebody knows a book or article that explains things in popular-scientific terms?
I got beliefs too! I like six elements in four groups dual gauss designs! I have a few with Zeiss/Contax G 45/2, Zeiss/Contax macro 60/2,8 C and Mamiya 7 80/4 and all are great. Another similar design is Leica M Summicron 50/2. There was also a Leica R 50/2 6/4 design too, although one would think of it would impossible to make for an SRL camera, because of the need of space for the mirror.
I made comparisons (at F 4) with old and new lenses on my A 7RII: Loxia Planar 50 and Zeiss/Contax G Planar 45/2 had by far the better sharpness and contrast, second the Zeiss/Contax Planar 50/1,4 and slightly below the 1,7 and last the pancake lens Zeiss/Contax Tessar 45/2,8. It is easy here to think ”less is more” in some regards. Zeiss said when the Contax G system was launched that better optical designs is possible thanks to the lack of a mirror.
The Zeiss/Contax macro 60/2,8 was better than the Loxia below 0,8 metres (scale :10) and had the same contrast. Over that distance the macro has got a harsh rendering and a harsh bokeh. I don´t have a modern 60 mm macro to compare with, but I have the Zeiss/Contax macro 100/2,8 and compared it to a modern Samyang 100/2,8. The Samyang had more smooth of a bokeh but the Zeiss is much sharper but has a more busy bokeh. I prefer the sharper Zeiss and the bokeh effekt is personal. You might actually prefer the busy bokeh, if you compose the photo well, just as if you might prefer the busy painting over a smooth one, it is personal!
I miss the autofocus with the Sony-Zeiss 55/1,8. In one situation I perceived the Loxia´s image limits. In a group photo in dawn at F2,8 the persons at the sides was not as sharp as in the middle. With the 55 the picture would have been sharp all over. Well it seems I must accept having two 50´, the Loxia for travel, and a Sony-Zeiss 50 for situations where I can carry a heavy lens, or will I try to resist buying one until a G-Master 50 appears.
There is a company in Berlin that makes and adapter which makes all SLRs into an auto-focus.
I have the guys card some where. Write .me and I will look for it. I met them at Photokina this September. It costs about 250€, not sure.
Steve, I’m confused since I’m from the Canon world, where there is only one flagship lens line (Canon’s L series). Why does Sony seem to have TWO flagship lines: the G Master series, and the Sony + Zeiss co-branded lens line? I guess it’s ok (but confusing) because there is no overlap in focal lengths between them?
I think that thy want to get away from paying Zeiss for their name and making their own “Better” more expensive lenses. On a lower level, with the first littl Kodak 4mil and 5mil and… They started with a lens made by a German company then after good reviews, for thi time, they switched to a, “Kodak” lens,. whatever that means and where it was made. I still have two of them, I liked the 7mil pix which used AA batteries. Also, I just bought an under the SLR 8AA battery holder for Nikon flash with elec.input, reduced from 50€ to 15€. Happy me.
Thank you Steve for this exciting review.
Do you still plan to make the full review of the 24-70 G ?
The full 24-70 review was done by Craig Litten, who is now writing for this site on a regular basis. So that review was posted already:
Wow Steve, once more the passionate Huffian treatment sends spikes to my want gauge. Surely enough, the dust will settle as time goes by and all users have their say, as well as the uber technical analysis is done. In the meantime you are as always justifiably spot on. This looks like da lens.
Issue is that this Sony 50mm (as well as the 1.8 ) is that it focuses stopped down, creating a problematic handicap for the AF performance.
If you shoot landscapes or static objects it may not be an issue.
I shoot lifestyle and often I photograph people and environmental portraits and I want to use f:4 to have eyes, nose in focus.
But in that circumstance the AF will perform as I have a f:4 lens rather than a f:2 or f:1.8.
Issue also for fashion / studio photographers who shoot at f:11 with modeling lights. The lens will struggle to autofocus.
I wish Sony would do a firmware update to allow user choice about whether a lens would autofocus wide open or stopped down.
Anyway I have the Sony 50mm 1.8, the 55mm 1.8. I also have the Minolta 50mm macro 2.8 with LA-EA4, that may be even sharper than the 55mm at apertures like 5.6 and has warmer, more pleasing tones for landscapes.
But with the LA-EA4 you lose eye-AF, and you get AF points only in the central area of the frame.
Anyway Sony should change the AF / aperture behavior, but I am afraid that the new lenses are designed without a constant focus plane at every aperture. But at the end of the day is unacceptable that such an expensive lens would not focus wide open.
How does the IQ, Color and Auto Focus the 50 1.4 compare with the 35 1.4 Distagon?
How is the Sony Zeiss 50mm f1.4 compare to the Otus and Leica APO in terms of IQ, not size, cost and autofocus?
I stated in both reviews the differences I felt were there in IQ. The Sony will not match the OTUS for overall IQ. Not in color, microcontrast or bokeh, but it gets close. The Leica APO has the closest rendering to the OTUS but is f/2, and I feel the Otus has something a tad more special about it. Im testing the 28 OTUS now and OMG it is insanely good. The OTUS would be my #1 pick for IQ, then the Leica APO, then the Sony 50 1.4, then Leica 50 Lux 1.4 ASPH.
Since I already own the APO, just try to figure which one to buy Otus or Sony for the AR7II.
You can use your APO on the A7RII…if you have THAT and want another I would go for the Sony as it’s an AF option and renders alot like the Leica 50 Lux IMO.
Thanks again, I will go with your recommendation.
I was about to pull the trigger on the Otus 55, when the Sony was announced all of a sudden. When is your Otus review coming, and will you have a comparison between the Otus and the Sony? I would imagine that the main difference is APO vs. non-APO (color fringing). From the RAW samples of the Sony 50 1.4 that I’ve seen, I can’t find anything that would make me not want to buy the Sony. It seems to be a fantastic achievement by Sony/Zeiss.
Sorry, I’m a little late. Reading the Otus review now.
I dont get it. The sony 85 1.4 looks very nice and has lovely bokeh and bokehballs, this one.. well.. not on par. What’s up with that?
I’m wondering how this lens compare to my Zeiss Milvus 50mm F1.4. Thanks!
I have the 50mm 1.4 Milvus on my a7rii w/ a Canon metabones adapter. Besides the AF, have you done any further research to find which on is better?
I have a hard time understanding why You go through all that work of describing wile simply comparing with the easily obtainable 55mm F1.8 Sonnar, that many know, much would be spared, and with more certainties.
The 55 1l8, which I own, is not even close to this lens in performance. I tested this lens over 3 days in San Diego. I did not have my 55 1.8 with me as when I went, I had no idea what I would be seeing or using or testing. But my 55 1.8 will not give me performance like this, and I have owned it since it was launched. It’s a nice lens but not to this level, which is why Sony made this lens, for even higher performance. This is for those who want the best FE AF 50 1.4 they can get.
I still hope for
f 1.4 42mm
f 1.2 70mm ( or 68mm 😉 )
Real comparison photo would mean more than many words.
The Cats-eyes : At that price it’s not engaging to me -jet.
Great review as usual Steve. It is nice to know we have more options now that will challenge all lens maker to step up the game from price to quality to size. It will only make us gear lovers a choice.
For me, after 16 months of gear addiction, i have realized to go for what I think is best that will grow old with me. As we get old we will end up with the best point and shoot to carry along all day. Funny thing is a point and shoot that is with interchangeable lensü this is in addition to being able to do AF.
Anyway, while AF is something I know I need in the future, Im still stuck into having an M9 which I was able to buy recently. I have given up my whole setup of sony to my colleague to use with lots of fe glass. I will definitely later on get an A7s ver x as M9 is struggling in low light.
To cut this short, im still in catchup mode with your experiences and now still years behindü and loving it. That summilux 28 and 50 is sure to follow to replace the 50 planar and 28 elmarit that you have enticed me onto buying.
Keep up the great work as we appreciate you helping us filter the too many options now out there. Your job I can imagine is both frustrating and fullfilling in so many ways.
Thank you Gavin! The 28 lux and 50 lux are gorgeous, so if you go that route you will love them both I am sure!
Slow AF sounds like a problem for me. I recently took the Batis 25 f2 and the Sony 35 f1.4 on a trip where I took people and street photos quickly to catch candid expressions. The Batis nailed focus every time, while the Sony missed nearly half the shots either completely or by degree. I realise focusing a longer, wider lens is much harder but the performance of the 35 was kind of disappointing. I felt I’d be more successful with a manual lens, almost, as it would at least hold its focus from shot to shot and when the camera is off.
How does this new 50 f1.4 compare with the 35 f1.4 in terms of AF speed? Is it any slower than others powering up?
A simple trick, You can use manual focus on any lens but, what I do is focus on a place where they will pass with AF and the shut the AF off. Also, stop down a bit give more DOF, and a wide angel can give more apparent DOF, move in closer and shoot with a 28mm or 35mm. Don’t be a chicken. That is what, “Street Photography”, is all about. It is , what I call, “Artistic Photojournalism”. Whether they know it or not. You can shoot anyone you want in a “Public Street/Space/Park. It is a matter of usage. I usually say, if I get a complaint…
I was shooting the light or ask them to look at it. and see what they think about it. You have to hold the camera tightly to be sure. Most people are really nice and can appriciate a good shot. I often send them a print. I don’t send files as Emails because, agani, who knows who/how it will be used. Prints are best. I often ask for their work address. I don’t look that suspicious anyway.
I don’t know if the following applies in this case. But sometimes the AF improves a bit on a new lens, after the camera maker does a firmware update. Perhaps this might happen here are well?
Well, the AF is not bad by any means, just not a blazing fast performer. Id compare it to other higher end 50’s though its much quicker than the Canon 50L 😉 But yes, firmware updates can and do speed up AF sometimes. I think whatever Sony has planned for Photokina will also help…(I think a new pro A9 will be coming).
Ah…the fabled A9. I’m still using a first generation A7R and didn’t upgrade to the newer mark 2 body because it didn’t tick all of my boxes. I rather not buy a new body every year and would rather wait 2 or 3 years and pay a lot more for something that I really want. Got my fingers crosses for Photokina to bring us a Pro Sony body (dual SD cards, bigger battery, heavy duty weather sealing, etc.). Steve, I really hope you are right about an A9 and you get a review copy first 🙂
The color, bokeh, 3D pop, rendering, sharpness, size and weight remind me of the Sigma 50/1.4 Art lens.
So, Steve is not buying one?
From these image samples, the bokeh does not look as good as the 55/1.8 and 50/2 Loxia.
I’m less convinced than with the 35/1.4.
I’m glad someone else noticed that. Almost like a digital simplistic harshness and a bit grainy for such an expensive lens. I feel much better now. Thanks for your remark. (<:
All lazy amateurs stay with Nex-6, a6000 or any RX. The A7 line is for the adapter nerds and the quality nerds. Sony realised they can neither make truly compact lenses like Leica M, nor fast pro bodies like Nikon/Canon, so they conseqentially went totally mad in a new market segment where they are alone by themselves.
I wonder how a 24x36mm sensor with giant, fast lenses compares to a 33x44mm sensor with tiny, slow lenses, like the new Hasselblad.
There’s a fan boy in every crowd. A loudmouth who gets off insulting others to make his own inferiority less noticeable. Carry on. We know your kind and take your opinion accordingly.Lack of professionalism starts with no courtesy.
To be fair, FE 55mm F1.8 and FE 28mm F2.0 are small enough. Sony need make similar size lenses at 21mm, 35mm, and 85mm.
By no means to ruin the party. After releasing this lens, Sony has completed the giant pro line. 35mm F1.4, 50mm F1.4, 85mm F1.4, 24-70mm F2.8, 70-200mm F2.8, and etc.. Now, Sony should make good quality small lightweight lenses, 35mm F2.0, 85mm F2.0, 21mm F4.0, and etc for enthusiasts. Are camera manufacturers supposedly supported mainly by enthusiasts?
@Steve, if you ask, Sony may listen.
No, they haven’t. A 24/1.4 is still missing as well as a 135/1.8 and a f/2.8 wide zoom, not to speak of longer fast primes and a 100-400 zoom. My bet is the next affordable lens will be a 100/2.0. 21/4 will never happen as that is a Zeiss focal length and f/4 is just as slow as the 16-35mm zoom. Sony may release a 20mm lens at some stage, propably at least f/2 as Nikon’s latest 20mm lens is f/1.8. Question is in what price range a 35/2 lens would slot in? Making it cheaper than the 35/2.8 would look a bit strange.
I believe there are way more enthusiasts than pros. Many of us enthusiasts pick Sony A7 series for FF and small size. We still missing some small lightweight lenses. 35m F2.8 is a little too slow. Loxia 21mm is a llittle too heavy (394g). A 21mm in the similar size and weight of Voigtlander 15mm will be nice. Batis 85mm is a little too big and heavy. A Sony 85mm F2.0 in the similar size and weight of FE 55mm will be nice.
For those who want the best lens money can buy, there are G Master, Batis, Loxia, and big and heavy F1.4 Sony lenses.
You missed comparing this to the “Dark Knight”, Mitakon Zhongyi 50mm 0.95.
What are your thoughts?
No contest really, at all. This lens is superior.
You have compared the Mitakon to the Leica 50, saying that the Mitakon is not better than the leica, but at $900 vs 10K, worth it. I can believe this zeiss is “better” than the Mitakon, but again, I wonder how close these lenses really are, if we control for cost and size.
Can you please be a little more specific on why you like the Sony/Zeiss 1.4 better than the Mitakon .95? I have the Dark Knight now, and love the character of the lens. I am interested in knowing if its worth switching. Without going into details about what I like to shoot and how, since I know you don’t have enough time to answer everyone’s questions individually, some pro’s and cons of one versus the other would be much appreciated!
The quick comparison:
+smaller & lighter.
-colour: A side by side pic comparison would be great if you still have both, if not, I’m guessing you think the Sony is better based on your comments, but the Dark Knight is REALLY sweet, so I don’t think it can be THAT much better?
-character (Zhongy) vs IQ (Sony): perhaps too individual a question to help anyone choose?
-waterproof: neither appear to be. I’m never sure what sony saying dust and moisture resistant means. Lets give this to Sony, as Mitakon hasn’t made any claims.
-build quality: I image they are both well above average.
-looks: most people won’t care…
-ease of use?
-better for video? …I assume people are already using the 28-135 here, so the advantage would goto the Dark Knight, as the extra light would be useful. Although the front of the Zhongy moves slightly, which would throw off your balance and distance to subject when using it professionally?
-I’m going to ignore the million other uses for a lens, as that conversation could go on forever.
Any other details you can give us would be great.
The Sony is in another league with detail, pop, 3D separation, color, Bokeh and across the frame sharpness. Its like a Leica 50 Lux more than a Zeiss. It also has AF.
ok, I used your link to buy one from B+H.
Interesting and very clinical review Steve. I own the a6000 and was wandering how this lens would perform with this camera. As you are aware the a6000 does not have inbuilt IS and this lens is not OSS (which would obviously make it more expensive) So at a crop factor of 75mm how does it rate?
Have not tried it on the 6300 as there were none to be seen when testing this lens. When I get this lens I will do a follow up. Thanks!
Thanks for the quick reply Steve. Look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for the quick review Steve. Some of these pics do remind me of the 50lux ASPH that I used to own. You’re making me miss it. Dang.
I saw a detailed review of the G Master 85mm 1.4 vs the Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8. One of the differences was “football” shaped bokeh with the Batis, and nice round circular balls of blur with the G Master. The hydrant shot is great for color and pop. I’m nonetheless curious about those lights in the back. Did they start as ovals (circular fixtures seen on edge) or does this lens approximate the Batis in terms of rendering points of light in the background as ovals? Personally, it doesn’t make a huge difference to me, but as long as we’re engaged in counting just how many angels can dance on the head of that pin, or a thousand points of light, I just thought I’d ask. I agree with the previous poster that big heavy lenses kind of defeat one of the obvious advantages of mirrorless, small and lightweight. I’d probably go for the Loxia, if I were spending that kind of money, but I found your review very entertaining. By the way, with regard to that B&W profile portrait, I like to think that with a Loxia, I’d have gotten the eye in focus, not the ear.
No idea but if you look at the other images in this review with highlights in the OOF areas you will see the character of the lens. As for the B&W, it was DARK, I could not even see is face so I pointed and shot. Since I use center point focus 100% of the time, it focused on the center, where it was aimed 😉
It sure is crisp and bright, without being clinical.
Some of the bokeh is pleasant enough, but imho it’s not _melt-away_, like e.g. a ‘Lux Asph. I wish there wasn’t so much definition to the out-of-focus rendering. The specular highlights & lights, in particular, look to me like white poker chips in sharp focus – crisply outlined, rather than melty.
That said, a couple of the low-d.o.f. shots are delicious – e.g. the b&w cell phone guy, and the silhouette following it.
Thanks for another interesting & useful review.
Would be good to hear how it compares with the Zeiss CM 1.5.
I guess Sony doesn’t want to let Sigma corner the market on giant 1.4’s.
Whatever happened to the promise of the original FE35/55’s – meaning small/light and high quality?
Instead of rounding out the lineup and filling gaps, Sony drops another duplicate FL. Again.
I agree. We need high quality, smaller and lighter, Sony. Even if slower.
Steve, the HC B&W mode is doing some strange posterization things to the backgrounds, right? These images are very 3 dimensional and remind me of the great Leica 50 lenses. Thanks for the prompt review.
Yes, and I agree. Thanks!
My opinion… obviously, the bokeh looks good in some cases and not others. Also, this is too big to carry around. I will stay with my ZM Sonnar. That has almost everything I could ask. It is great Sony is bringing out these lenses. I wonder why don’t they come up with more of pure manual lenses like those in M mount? I found even loxia to be big compared with M mount lenses.
The coolest photo you’ve posted in a while is the one of the lady shot through the fan. (no pun intended). Interestingly enough it would have been a better image if shot with a less sharp lens as seeing every bump and pore on her face sorta takes away from it.
This would have looked fantastic on Tri-X and a 50mm Zeiss Sonnar ZM lens.
The more I look at it, the more I wish I took it!
The placing of the center of the fan in the bottom right quarter. The model’s head in the center of the image with her head tilted to follow the lines of the fan’s ribs. The hair drawing the eye out to the opposite top corner.
Isn’t it a little bit early to call this a review just after a couple of hours playing with it? Just let the first enthusiasm settle and validate your feelings again. Is there really this kind of magic 3D pop or is it just your shallow depth of field? What about the bokeh? When I have a look at other first looks, their images don’t pop. Also the bokeh seems to get ugly some times – just my observation now.
I had this lens for 2 1/2 days, and used it almost exclusively. If there is one piece of gear I have EXTENSIVE experience with it is the 50mm focal length. I have used 90% of them that are out there, give or take a few % points 😉 When using this lens, I knew what to look for, and what my expectations were. It exceeded them in all ways. It doesnt take me weeks with a 50mm prime for me to know how good or not good it may be. I am evaluationg the Zeiss Otus 55 1.4 now, and my review for that will be up tomorrow, after using it 2-3 days. It’s not hard for me to review a 50mm lens, so I had plenty of time with it to know it has something special from the Bokeh, color, contrast and detail as well as night performance. All top notch. The only weakness is slower than expected AF in low light, and its a tad large but if quality is top priority, it doesn’t get too much better than this (though it does for double the cost). As for others who tested it, I can not say anything about that as I am sharing MY results and thoughts. Thanks for reading.
How is this compare to the Leica 50 APO?
As I write in the review (I know, its lengthy)..it has some flavor of the APO in it. The shot of the fan with the crop for example…that reminds me of that 50 APO look, MAYBE a touch better. Also, this lens gives a real medium format feel, which the APO does as well. It’s comparable in performance but for size, no. The APO is 1/4 the size. BUT this has AF, and can focus closer and its made for Sony.
What is the benefit again? Mirrorless cameras were appealing in the first place, for their small size and weight. People started to dump their DSLRs, claiming to havy to schlep around. Now people spent THOUSAND of Dollars and Euros and whatsoever investing into mirrorless and are back again where they were, plus having less money I their pockets, worse autofocus and battery-life…well. That is sort of funny.
Well, using this lens on a Sony A7RII vs a Canon 5D series with Canon 50 L is quite a difference. The Sony setup will be quite a bit smaller and lighter over the big bulky Canon. Yet we gain the benefits of a great EVF which many prefer over an optical, especially for manual focus use. We also gain the ability (as stated in the review) to use a limitless number of tiny lenses that we can NOT use on a DSLR. Lenses from Leica – M mount, Screw mount. Old classic rangefinder lenses from Nikon and Canon that are tiny and full of character. Or even something like the Voigtlander 40 2.8 which is ULTRA tiny:
These can not be used on a DSLR and when used on the Sony, the system is SMALL and light. If you want a cheap 50, use the 1.8 which offers a small and light setup much smaller than a DSLR setup. There are MANY benefits to an A7RII over a full frame DSLR, you just have to know them and see them. Oh, and we can also use all Nikon and Canon glass as well. It’s a very versatile system. As for Battery life, I shot for 3 hours the other night at a protest, still had 71% left when I got home. I have 5 Sony batteries and they are tiny, light and take up no space (and cheap). It’s a non issue though I keep asking Sony to make a better battery system!! It does need a better one for sure. Thank you.
The Sony A7ii caught my attention for the size and backwards compatibility (and IBIS). When the A7Rii came along, I stayed for the quality. My Hasselblad is now sitting idle.
At times it’s nice to hang back and walk around with just a Loxia 35 or 50. But it’s nice to know I have other choices, even if they’re not as petite.
Here’s a real use case…the lens that are on my Sony A7Rii the most are Zeiss ZM 28mm and Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm. Both are small and light.
This is the one of the benefits of the FE system – it provides you with a tremendous array of choices across different mounts / brands of lens, It is up to you to consider the tradeoffs of the lens out there, and customize your system exactly how you want it.
AWESOME lens! And a glowing review 🙂 To me the B&W snake Lady is my fav and it looks almost like large format. Many thanks Steve for the eraly and great review!
I’d love to see a comparison or hear your thoughts on this lens versus the loxia (that I love) wrt iq, bokeh, snap, color, etc
Sure thing, as soon as I get a review unit here at home will do that and add a comparison section to this review. Thanks. From memory, I can say this lens is above the Loxia. This one has a special rendering IMO..color, contrast, pop and even Bokeh that the Loxia does not quite reach. With that said, this lens is 2X the size of the Loxia, and offers Auto Focus. Both are fabulous 50’s though and I think one would choose based on character as both are quite different in that area. This 50 offers more subject isolation as well. It’s the best 50 for E mount made right now IMO.
On a scale from 1 to 10 (even with decimal points) how would you rate the IQ of the 3 Sony 50/55mm lenses? I do not see the 50 1.8 that far from the 55 (apart vignetting a slightly lower contrast / detail) but the AF is a drag, hunts and hunts….
If I were just rating the Sony’s I would give the 50 1.8 a 5, the 55 1.8 a 7 and this one a 9. It’s far above the other two by a large margin IMO.