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Lens review

Sony FE 50 mm f/1.8

24 November 2017
Maciej Latałło

11. Summary


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Pros:

  • Very good image quality in the frame centre,
  • Good image quality on the edge of the APS-C sensor,
  • Low longitudinal chromatic aberration,
  • Imperceptible lateral chromatic aberration,
  • Lack of spherical aberration problems,
  • Negligible distortion,
  • Slight astigmatism,
  • Low vignetting on the APS-C sensor,
  • Pleasant out-of-focus areas,
  • Quiet autofocus.

Cons:

  • Image quality near the maximum relative aperture on the edge of the frame could have been a bit better,
  • Huge coma,
  • Significant vignetting on full frame,
  • Slow autofocus.

If you turn a blind eye to the build quality, the Sony FE 50 mm f/1.8 might be a very attractive alternative for the more expensive Zeiss Sonnar T* 55 mm f/1.8 FE. The cheaper lens is weaker at the maximum relative aperture, that’s true, but on stopping down it provides even higher MTFs while correcting the longitudinal chromatic aberration and distortion better. In other optical categories a duel between those two was very close to a draw.

The results of the Sony FE 50 mm f/1.8 are typical for optically simple 1.8/50 primes. In practice it would be very difficult to find a difference between the performance of the tested lens and that of the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 STM or both Nikkors 1.8/50. Still the reflex camera lenses seem to offer a better autofocus motor and are almost two times cheaper. You can argue that the Sony construction features an aspherical element which is more expensive to make but I doubt whether that fact justifies well a price of $200 while the Canon device costs $125. Such a pricing policy is especially surprising when you take into account the fact that the Sony system position is still on the make. After all the first A7 bodies can be bought for $1000, making them the cheapest full frame bodies available on the market. Still you cannot shoot photos with just a camera, you need some lenses too. I am fairly surprised Sony don’t want to risk and they don’t see any need to launch cheaper lenses, aimed at those amateur photographers who cannot afford the best, the newest and the most expensive devices. Of course we always greet launches of lenses such as the Sony FE 85 mm f/1.8 with joy, but still we think that their prices should have been lowered a bit. There are simply no reasons whatsoever to make them two times more expensive than their rivals.