Intro

The Sony Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm F1.Four ZA is a main lens for Sony’s mirrorless cameras, and corrected to be used on full-frame our bodies. Introduced  in July 2017, its optical design is from Zeiss and it delivers customary 50mm protection for a standard perspective, and a brilliant f1.Four focal ratio for isolating the topic in opposition to a blurred background. That is brighter by 2/Three of a cease than the Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA or Sony FE 50mm f1.Eight which permits for higher background isolation and shorter shutter speeds and/or decrease ISO values.

Because the FE 50mm f1.Four ZA will not be precisely low-cost at 1500 EUR/USD it’s anticipated to carry out on a really excessive degree. To search out out whether or not this holds true I examined its optical qualities on the 42MP Sony A7R II digicam physique in opposition to a number of different lenses, together with the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 (my present reference customary lens) and the Sigma 50mm f1.Four Artwork (a less expensive different now accessible within the e-mount). So if you happen to’re by which excessive efficiency customary prime lens to decide on to your Sony mirrorless system, you’ve come to the precise place!

 

 

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Information from the catalog

As common I’ll take a look on the technical knowledge of the Sony FE 50mm f1.Four ZA first. I’ve rated the options with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s higher than common and even cutting-edge, a [0] if it’s customary or simply common, and [-] if there’s an obstacle. For comparability I take advantage of the the Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA, the Sigma 50mm f1.Four Artwork (“Sigma Artwork” for brief) and the Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 (“Zeiss Otus”).

Measurement (diameter x size): At 83 x 108mm (3.Three x 4.3in.) plus 53mm for the lens hood (92mm diameter) the Sony FE 50mm f1.Four ZA is way bigger than the FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA (64 x 71mm  +49mm lens hood). But it’s even topped by the Sigma Artwork (85 x 126mm + 47mm lens hood) and the Zeiss Otus (92 x 117mm + 32mm lens hood) which reveals their heritage as a DSLR design. And the Zeiss Otus turns into even longer whenever you add the mandatory adapter to mount it on an E-mount physique. [0]

Weight: 780g (27.5oz.) plus 33g for the lens hood. The FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA is way lighter at 281g + 41g lens hood however then it solely has a focal ratio of f1.8. The Sigma Artwork is 910g + 43g lens hood and the Zeiss Otus weighs 945g + 64g lens hood not counting the mandatory adapter. [0]

Optics: The lens is a fairly complicated design with 12 components (together with one aspherical) in 9 teams. However that is par for the course with the Sigma Artwork and the Zeiss Otus sporting 13/Eight resp. 12/10 components/teams. The Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA is a a lot easier design with solely 7 components in 5 teams however it has three aspherical components. [+]

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Closest focus distance is 0.45m (18in.) in guide focus with a magnification of 1:6.3. The FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA and the Zeiss Otus provide barely much less magnification of 1:6.9 resp. 1:6.8. Solely the Sigma Artwork is barely higher providing 1:5.Four magnification at 0.38m distance. The Sony FE 50mm f1.Four ZA achieves a magnification of 1:10 at 0.63m distance. [0]

Filter-thread: 72mm, whereas the FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA makes use of 49mm filter. The Sigma Artwork and the Zeiss Otus take 77mm filters. [+]

Picture stabilization: No optical stabilization of the lens. The Sony A7 Mark II our bodies onwards present built-in sensor-shift stabilization. Similar with the opposite lenses on this comparability. [0]

Auto focus: Constructed-in AF drive. Handbook-focus override is by merely turning the main target ring. The main focus ring operates as focus-by-wire however it has a linear gearing which makes easy focus pulling for videographers simple. The FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA has non-linear focus-by-wire and just like the FE 50mm f1.Four ZA has no distance or dof markings. Deal with the Sigma Artwork and Zeiss Otus works otherwise as each have a direct linear mechanical coupling between the main target ring and the main target motion. Additionally they gives the gap and dof markings that usually include lenses designed for DSLRs. [+]

Covers full body/FX or smaller. Similar with the options. [+]

Value: The lens sells at round 1500 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 1500 USD. The FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA is 830 EUR / 1000 USD, whereas the Sigma Artwork goes for 700 EUR / 850 USD which makes it the most cost effective different on the high-end. The Zeiss Otus is the most costly of the 4 lenses at 3200 EUR / 4000 USD. [0]

Each Sony ZA lenses include a delicate pouch and the lens hood is included and is reversible for transport. The Sigma Artwork comes geared up with a pleasant padded pouch however no strap whereas the Zeiss Otus comes with out pouch. [0]

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Aperture ring: sure, with 1/Three cease clicks which may be turned off for steady, easy, and noise-free operation. The Zeiss Otus additionally has an aperture ring however it gives only one/2 cease clicks which can’t be turned off. [+]

Sealing: Each Sony ZA lenses have particular weather-sealing all through the development however lack a rubber sealing on the lens-mount. The Zeiss Otus and the Sigma Artwork will not be particularly sealed. [+]

The rating within the “features-department” is 0[-]/6[0]/6[+], essentially the most outstanding options of the lens being its de-clickable aperture ring and its safety in opposition to the weather.

 

4 customary prime lenses

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Above from left to proper: Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA, Sony FE 50mm f1.Four ZA, Sigma 50mm f1.Four Artwork, Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 (Sigma and Zeiss in Nikon F-mount model)

 

Alternate options

If you need a normal lens (45 to 58mm focal size) with an f1.Four focal ratio and autofocus for Sony E-mount full-frame cameras there are solely two options:

  • Sigma gives their 50mm f1.Four Artwork lens for the E-mount since 2018. It’s an optical design from 2014 and got here Extremely Really useful in my Sigma 50mm f1.Four Artwork assessment when examined on a 36MP Nikon D800 in 2014. It’s round 50% cheaper than Sony’s 50mm f1.Four ZA.
  • Samyang has the AF 50mm 1.Four FE from 2016 which sells for 480 EUR/USD.

Different options embrace guide focus lenses or lenses with slower focal ratios or shorter focal size:

  • Sigma has their 40mm f1.Four Artwork now additionally accessible for E-mount for 1200 EUR / 1400 USD. The lens is large and heavy however optically wonderful. See my Sigma 40mm f1.Four Artwork assessment the place it earned a Extremely Really useful. With its shorter focal size you need to crop 25% to realize the identical angle of view as a 50mm lens which reduces the decision of a 42MP full-frame picture to 27MP.
  • Sony gives the FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA for 830 EUR / 1000 USD. It’s a a lot smaller and lighter lens than its larger sibling however you lose 2/Three of a cease of sunshine gathering energy and endure some discount in background isolation. I’ll be quickly finishing my Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA assessment. There’s additionally the funds however primary FE 50mm f1.8 to think about.
  • Samyang has a number of guide focus 50mm lenses one in all which is the 50mm 1.Four AS UMC which sells for round 350 EUR/USD.
  • Zeiss gives the 55mm f1.Four Otus from 2013 which is guide focus solely and can be utilized on an EF to E-Mount adapter. It sells for 3200 EUR / 4000 USD. See my Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.Four assessment the place it earned a Extremely Really useful. Zeiss additionally gives the guide focus Loxia 50mm f2 and the autofocus Batis 40mm f2.

 

How huge is the distinction between 50mm and 55mm focal size? Right here is the angle of view that the Sony FE 50mm f1.Four ZA covers on a full-frame physique in comparison with the FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA:

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Above: Sony FE 50mm f1.Four ZA (left), Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA (proper)

 

Focus

Focus accuracy and repeatability is essential to constantly produce sharp photographs particularly with massive aperture lenses. Repeatability (the accuracy of concentrate on the identical topic after repeated focus-acquisition) of this lens is superb (measured 98.4% in Reikan FoCal) with no outliers over a sequence of 40 photographs. There may be solely a really slight focus variation whether or not the lens focuses from a better distance or from infinity.

The lens focuses in round 0.9 sec on a Sony A7R II from infinity to 0.63m (1:10 magnification), which is comparatively sluggish. The Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA and the Sigma Artwork (on a Nikon Z7 with FTZ adapter) transfer in round 0.7 resp. 0.6 sec. The main focus ring of the FE 50mm f1.Four ZA is 33mm extensive. It strikes very easily and might simply be operated with one finger similar to the FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA. The Zeiss Otus additionally has a silky easy AF operation. Solely the Sigma Artwork has a a lot stiffer mechanical coupling between the main target ring and the main target motion.

AF-operation of the Sony lenses on this comparability is inaudible from the skin and if you happen to report video with the built-in microphone. The Sigma Artwork produces an audible focus noise. As you pull focus, you’ll discover some focus respiratory: the picture of the Sony FE 50mm f1.Four ZA turns into 7% extra magnified when I adjusted the main target from infinity to 0.63m. This could possibly be distracting when taking pictures movies however is par for the course: the opposite lenses on this comparability all improve their magnification between 5% and seven%.

 

Subsequent take a look at my high quality outcomes!

Test costs on the Sony FE 50mm f1.Four ZA at Amazon, B&H, Adorama or WEX. Alternatively get your self a duplicate of my In Digital camera ebook or deal with me to a espresso! Thanks!

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