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Lens review

Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55 mm f/1.8 ZA

27 August 2016
Szymon Starczewski

11. Summary

Pros:
  • compact and solidly sealed casing of high quality,,
  • very good image quality in the frame centre already from the maximum relative aperture,,
  • sensible image quality on the edge of the APS-C sensor,
  • imperceptible lateral chromatic aberration,
  • moderate distortion,
  • lack of serious problems connected to spherical aberration,
  • slight astigmatism,
  • blurry areas pleasing to the eye,
  • accurate, fast and silent autofocus.

Cons:

  • distinct longitudinal chromatic aberration,
  • huge vignetting on full frame,
  • too high coma,
  • steep price.

Compared to all full frame standard f/1.7-1.8 lenses, tested by us so far, the Sonnar 1.8/55 FE has one undeniable advantage: sharp images in the frame centre already from the maximum relative aperture. Only the Tamron 1.8/45 VC can compete with the Zeiss and it is an instrument much bigger and much more optically complex.

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In other categories the situation was not so rosy anymore as even 1.8/50 instruments much cheaper than the Zeiss could fare better. As we’ve already mentioned the finances…although compared to the Leica Summicron 2/50 the price of the Zeiss might seem a bargain it is even higher than the price of the Sonnar 2.8/35 FE, produced in Japan. While other producers tend to offer relatively simple f/1.8 standards with price tags below $250 Sony decided to launch a lens as expensive as almost $1000. Additionally, despite the price, they still tried to economize moving the production to Thailand…

Not so long ago the Sony FE 50 mm f/1.8 was launched on the market. It is a simple, asymmetric Gaussian lens (so a Planar-type construction) consisting of 6 elements. It is also almost three times cheaper than the Sonnar tested here. We are very curious how those two models would compare…