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Sony FE 50mm F1.8 Review

Looking to find more information regarding the Sony FE 50mm F1.8? Read our latest review to learn more about the Sony FE 50mm F1.8, its specifications, and if it’s a good camera lens for you. 

Sony FE 50mm F1.8 Overview

Sony began the FE system by launching mostly costly lens first, following Fujifilm’s plan. This was definitely a good idea with respect to their significantly more expensive full-format cameras. However, Sony is now beginning to provide additional inexpensive lenses for the rest of us, as we approach the end of the initial quality rush.

That said, Sony lenses have never been very cheap. We’re talking about a difference of around $300 here, which is significant when you consider the lens’s basic optical and mechanical design. However, it is 3(!) times less expensive than its in-house rival, the Zeiss FE Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 ZA, suggesting there’s still something to be had for Sony users.

Sony FE 50mm F1.8 Specifications

The Sony FE 50mm F1.8 was first announced on 03/26/2016 with a Sony FE mount type. Below is a summary of this len’s specifications: 

Indicative Price: $250

Focal Range: 50mm

Aperture: F/ 1.8

Filter Diameter (millimeters): 49

Maximum Diameter (millimeters): 59.5

Number Of Lenses: 6

Length (millimeters): 68.6

AF Motor: /

Stabilization: None

Zoom Type: /

Tripod Mount: None

Colors Available: Black

Manual Focus: /

Weight (grams): 186

Sony FE 50mm F1.8 Performance

The Sony FE 50mm F1.8 lens has a maximum aperture of f/ 1.8 and a minimum aperture of f/ 22. The Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* 50mm F1.8 ZA is another option for the Sony FE system, but this comes at a higher price ranging from $450 to $750, depending on the store you buy from . It is also heavier weighing 316 grams compared to the Sony’s 186 grams.

In terms of performance, it has been said that there’s not much difference between these two lenses in various tests what so ever—aside from the weight and price differences, making it easier for one to choose. In fact, there have been several reports where people have been under the impression that they had purchased a Sony FE 50mm F1.8, only to realize later on that it was actually a Sony Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm F1.8 ZA .

With a maximum aperture of f/ 1.8, this lens is very good for taking pictures in low-light situations where you do not have enough light. Consequently, this makes this lens an excellent choice for photographing indoor events such as concerts or family gatherings at night. In addition to being great for indoor use, it is also good for outdoor shooting as well as landscape photography due to its wide aperture and sharp images. It also comes with optical image stabilization which helps reduce blurring from camera shake when taking photos handheld.

Build and Handling Quality

The Sony lens’ build quality is quite good. The body of the lens is composed of high-quality polymers, which are secured to a metal mount. Because it is a canine breed, it is relatively light (at just 186g). The focusing ring moves smoothly. When focusing towards the minimum focus distance (0.45m), the inner lens tube extends by about 1cm, utilizing what’s known as a “linear extension” technique rather than an inner focusing technology. Additionally included in the package are a barrel-shaped lens hood and an outer slip cover.

Autofocus Performance

Let me start by saying that regarding the AF system, Sony was the first to state it: “A new DC motor drive system has been carefully designed and implemented for optimum focus precision and speed as well as quiet operation.

Unfortunately this is not the case with this camera lens. It’s noisy and the autofocus is slow.

Sharpness

The Sony FE 50mm F1.8 is an extremely sharp lens when used at its native f/ 1.8 aperture setting, even when wide open it produces images with good contrast and very little chromatic aberration or coma . If you stop down, the bokeh produced by this lens will also be pleasant to look at. There are very few lenses in this price range that can produce decent images wide open!

Vignetting

At fully open aperture, the light falloff is significantly greater than normal at roughly 2.8EV (f-stops) – this is immediately obvious. To be honest, vignetting of such lenses on full format cameras is pretty typical. Stopping down to f/2.8 improves the situation (1.1EV), but if it’s an issue, it’s best to stop down to f/4 where there isn’t any more vignetting.

Chromatic Aberration

The lateral chromatic aberration is a bit disappointing. The sharpness decrease at the borders of wide open images can be observed even in small prints, and stopping down doesn’t fix it.

Distortion

Sony’s Lenses are Just, as the name implies, Sony lens. They have excellent image quality that is free of distortion. The Imatest number (below) is particularly outstanding.

Image Quality

The resolution is a bit of a mixed bag. The good news is that the center performance is excellent. It’s fantastic at f/1.8, and that includes high (local) contrast. The near-center region is still fine, but the outer image area has severely smeared corners.

At f/2.8, the depth of field is so dim that stopping down doesn’t make a difference. The first significant improvement is seen at f/2.8, with an excellent center and good borders, but the extreme corners remain extremely soft. Around f/5.6, maximum quality is achieved. Diffraction fringes decrease image quality after f/11 due to visible diffraction effects.

Bokeh

The bokeh of this lens is good. Exquisite out-of-focus blur can be achieved thanks to the immense image circle. Even at f/1.8, this lens provides a wide aperture which helps create an excellent separation between the subject and background making for very aesthetically pleasing images. The “bokeh” blurring was also found to be pretty much free from any distraction or irregularity.

How Does The Sony FE 50mm F1.8 Score? 

Below are the lens metric scores we’ve measured for this specific lens: 

  • Performance and Image Quality: 8/10
  • Features: 7.2/10
  • Bokeh: 7.5/10
  • Build Quality: 7/10
  • AutoFocus Quality: 6/10
  • Handling: 7.5/10
  • Value: 7.5/10

Sony FE 50mm F1.8 Pros and Cons

Below are some of the pros and cons regarding this lens. 

Pros: 

  • Good bokeh
  • Good image quality
  • Solid bokeh effect in photos

Cons: 

  • Poor autofocus compared to other modern lenses
  • Build quality is somewhat lacking

Our Verdict

The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 is a little perplexing to evaluate. It has its ups and downs, but there’s also blackness involved. The resolution quality is decent. At big apertures, the outer image field is quite soft, but your primary subject tends to be close to the picture center, so it isn’t really all that of a deal-breaker in real life.

At f/1.8, the center is already quite sharp and contrasty. The difference between f/4 and f/8 is significant; the quality is outstanding in fact. Lateral CAs are rarely an issue. At its maximum aperture, the lens exhibits considerable vignetting.

This isn’t an easy or quick effect to create; it’s not a 100% manual process. Some may enjoy the artistic aspect of it, but others may want to fix it either with the camera or their favorite RAW converter. Otherwise, you should stop down by 2 f-stops or so. The bokeh quality is good, with smooth highlight discs that have some outlining and a smooth yet asymmetric overall blur. Bokeh fringing is present in significant amounts.