The Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.Eight ZA is a normal prime lens for Sony’s mirrorless cameras, and corrected to be used on full-frame our bodies. Introduced alongside the unique A7 our bodies in October 2013, it delivers shut to straightforward 50mm protection for a traditional perspective, and a vibrant f1.Eight focal ratio for isolating the topic towards a blurred background.
The FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA was one of many first lenses for Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras, and it stays a preferred premium selection due partly to its compact dimension. It has since been joined by a number of 50mm primes from Sony: the Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm f1.four ZA represents a higher-end selection with a worth round 50% extra, whereas the FE 50mm f1.Eight is a finances choice at round one quarter of the worth.
For this overview I examined all three of those commonplace Sony lenses on the 42MP Sony A7R II digital camera physique. I additionally included the Sigma 50mm f1.four Artwork as an fascinating third get together different. So in case you’re by which commonplace prime lens to decide on in your Sony mirrorless system, you’ve come to the appropriate place!
Details from the catalog
As normal I’ll take a look on the technical knowledge of the Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA first. I’ve rated the options with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s higher than common and even state-of-the-art, a  if it’s commonplace or simply common, and [-] if there’s a drawback. For comparability I take advantage of the Sony FE 50mm f1.8, the Sony FE 50mm f1.four ZA and the Sigma 50mm f1.four Artwork (“Sigma Artwork” for brief).
Dimension (diameter x size): At 64 x 71mm (2.5 x 2.8in.) plus 49mm for the lens hood (77mm diameter) the Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA is a bit longer than the FE 50mm f1.8 (69 x 60mm + 26mm lens hood) though it’s nonetheless a small lens. The FE 50mm f1.four ZA is way bigger at 83 x 108mm + 53mm lens hood. And that lens is even topped by the Sigma Artwork which reveals its heritage as a DSLR design at 85 x 126mm + 47mm lens hood. [+]
Weight: 281g (9.9oz.) plus 41g for the lens hood. The Sony FE 50mm f1.Eight is just 166g + 18g lens hood, the FE 50mm f1.four ZA is 780g + 33g lens hood. The Sigma Artwork is the heaviest lens on this comparability at 910g plus 43g for the lens hood. [+]
Optics: The lens is an easy design with solely 7 parts in 5 teams however it has three aspherical parts.The Sony FE 50mm f1.Eight has 6 lenses in 5 teams whereas each the FE 50mm f1.four ZA and the Sigma Artwork are extra complicated designs with 12/9 resp. 13/Eight parts/teams [+]
Closest focus distance is 0.49m (19in.) in handbook focus with a magnification of 1:6.9. That is just like the opposite Sony lenses on this comparability. Solely the Sigma Artwork presents a barely higher magnification of 1:5.four at 0.38m distance. The Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA achieves a magnification of 1:10 at 0.67m distance. 
Filter-thread: 49mm, identical to the FE 50mm f1.8. The FE 50mm f1.four ZA wants 72mm filters, the Sigma Artwork takes 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. 
Auto focus: Constructed-in AF drive. Handbook-focus override is by merely turning the main focus ring. The main target ring has a non-linear gearing that permits for exact handbook focus however makes easy focus pulling for videographers nearly unattainable. Solely the FE 50mm f1.four ZA and the Sigma Artwork have linear gearing. The three Sony lenses don’t have any distance or dof markings. Deal with the Sigma Artwork works in another way because it has a direct linear mechanical coupling between the main focus ring and the main focus motion. It additionally presents the gap and dof markings that usually include lenses designed for DSLRs. [+]
Covers full body/FX or smaller. Similar with the alternate options. [+]
Value: The lens at the moment sells at round 830 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 1000 USD. The FE 50mm f1.Eight sells at 200 EUR / 250 USD, the FE 50mm f1.four ZA is the most costly of the 4 lenses at 1500 EUR / 1500 USD, whereas the Sigma Artwork goes for 700 EUR / 850 USD. 
The Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA comes with a delicate pouch and the lens hood is included and is reversible for transport. That’s the identical as with the FE 50mm f1.four ZA whereas the FE 50mm f1.Eight comes with out pouch. The Sigma Artwork comes geared up with a pleasant padded pouch however no strap. 
Aperture ring: Of the 4 lenses solely the Sony FE 50mm f1.four ZA presents an aperture ring with 1/three cease clicks which will be turned off for steady, easy, and noise-free operation. 
Sealing: Each Sony ZA lenses have particular weather-sealing all through the development however lack a rubber sealing on the lens-mount. The Sony FE 50mm f1.Eight is just not particularly sealed, identical to the Sigma Artwork. [+]
The rating within the “features-department” is 0[-]/5/7[+], essentially the most distinguished options of the lens being that it’s fairly small, mild, and effectively protected towards the weather.
If you need a normal lens (45 to 58mm focal size) with a focal ratio of at the least f2.Zero and autofocus for Sony E-mount full-frame cameras there are fairly a couple of choices to think about, principally on the 50mm size. Consider although that precise 50mm lenses are barely wider than 55mm and it’s a must to crop 10% to attain the identical angle of view, which in flip would cut back the decision of a 42MP full-frame picture to 35MP. That mentioned, except you’re evaluating them side-by-side, a 50mm goes to really feel quite a bit like a 55.
- Sony has two alternate options: the small and low cost FE 50mm f1.Eight from 2016 for 200 EUR / 250 USD (see my Sony FE 50mm f1.Eight overview which I’ll be finishing shortly). And there may be the FE 50mm f1.four ZA from 2016 for 1500 EUR/USD. It’s a lot greater and heavier than the FE 55/1.Eight ZA but additionally presents 2/three of a cease higher light-gathering energy. It earned a Extremely Beneficial in my Sony FE 50mm f1.four ZA overview.
- Sigma presents their 50mm f1.four Artwork lens for E-mount since 2018. It’s an optical design from 2014 and got here Extremely Beneficial in my Sigma 50mm f1.four Artwork overview 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 alternate options embody handbook focus lenses or lenses with even shorter focal lengths. To get the angle-of-view of a 55mm lens from a 40mm although it wants a 38% crop which suggests nearly halving decision:
- Sigma has their 40mm f1.four Artwork now additionally accessible for E-mount for 1200 EUR / 1400 USD. The lens is big and heavy however optically glorious. See my Sigma 40mm f1.four Artwork overview the place it earned a Extremely Beneficial. With its shorter focal size it’s a must to crop 25% to attain the identical angle of view as a 50mm lens which reduces your efficient decision of a 42MP full-frame sensor to 27MP.
- Samyang has a number of handbook focus 50mm lenses considered one of which is the 50mm 1.four AS UMC which sells for round 350 EUR/USD.
- Zeiss presents the Loxia Planar T* 50mm f2.Zero from 2014 which is handbook focus solely. It sells for 750 EUR / 950 USD. And there may be the Zeiss Batis 40mm f2.Zero CF from 2018 which presents autofocus and has a really spectacular close-focus functionality. It prices 1200 EUR / 1300 USD and got here Extremely Beneficial in my Zeiss Batis 40mm f2.Zero CF overview.
How large is the distinction between 50mm and 55mm focal size? Right here is the angle of view that the Sony FE 50mm f1.Eight covers on a full-frame physique in comparison with the FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA:
Focus accuracy and repeatability is vital to persistently produce sharp photographs particularly with giant aperture lenses. Repeatability (the accuracy of concentrate on the identical topic after repeated focus-acquisition) of this lens is excellent (measured 97,6% in Reikan FoCal) with no outliers over a collection of 40 photographs. There’s a slight focus variation whether or not the lens focuses from a better distance or from infinity.
The lens focuses in round 0.7 sec on a Sony A7R II from infinity to 0.67m (1:10 magnification), which is comparatively quick and similar to the Sony FE 50mm f1.Eight and the Sigma Artwork (on a Nikon Z7 with FTZ adapter). The Sony FE 50mm f1.four ZA takes nearly 1 sec. The main target ring of the FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA is 21mm broad. It strikes very easily and may simply be operated with one finger. Each different Sony lenses additionally presents very easy focus by wire operation. Solely the Sigma Artwork has a a lot stiffer mechanical coupling between the main focus ring and the main focus motion.
AF-operation of the Sony lenses on this comparability is inaudible from the surface and in case you file video with the built-in microphone solely the FE 50/1.Eight registers a tiny little bit of noise. The Sigma Artwork produces an audible focus noise. As you pull focus, you’ll discover some focus respiration: the picture of the Sony FE 55mm f1.Eight ZA turns into 7% extra magnified when I adjusted the main focus from infinity to 0.67m. This may very well be distracting when taking pictures movies however is par for the course: the opposite lenses on this comparability all improve their magnification between 7% and 11%.
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