One of the lenses that Sony has released in the last year that interested me was this lens. (The other being the instant favorite 85mm f/1.8.) Why? It is 50mm. And I am a sucker for a 50mm sub f/2.0 prime lens.
And now Sony was offering one at an unusually affordable price… for Sony. $249. Not quite the bargain that the $599 85mm f/1.8 is, but I beat that price by finding one used for $156. Even better. So I heard a few murmurs about this lens online so let’s address those first.
- Noisy. Everything is relative. One of my favorite primes ever is a cracked cover Pentax 50mm screw drive f1.something that is currently affixed to the era correct Pentax SF10 film camera SE Camera Carrboro gifted me with. Sounds like a demi pecan grinder even on the Pentax K-1. This lens is way quieter. Long winded way to say this does not matter to me.
- Slow to focus. [This will sound very familiar to you] Everything is relative. One of my favorite primes ever is a cracked cover Pentax 50mm screw drive f1.something that is currently affixed to the era correct Pentax SF10 film camera SE Camera Carrboro gifted me with. Not lightning swift even on the Pentax K-1, but very effective. This lens is way faster. Long winded way to say this does not matter to me. Plus most of my favorite 50mm lenses are manual focus and were not exactly inexpensive relatively speaking so…
- Plasticky. It is a nifty fifty, but I expect better. Canon does far better for less money.
As an added bonus it works great on the crop sensor a6000 also.
Now on to my favorite part.
- Small and light. For a full frame very small and light in fact. A combination I liked a lot was the Pentax K-1 w/ the Sigma EX DG 50mm f1.4. But the also full frame A7 II with the FE 50mm is closer in size to the APS-C Fujifilm X-T1 with the 35mm f/1.4 R I had up until recently. (click on photo below for link to camerasize.com comparison)
- It does all that you would wish a prime to do.
A bit vague? Non-specific perhaps? But if you have ever been bitten by the nifty-fifty bug you know exactly what I mean… but this lens was not it.
After a time I just could no longer get on with the slow focusing and less than FE 85mm f/1.8 IQ performance so I moved on. Even tried the RF Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM for a while before coming back to the FE mount and settling on the Rokinon/Samyang 45mm f/1.8. This and the Sony 20mm f/2.8 are the two Sony lenses I could just not get on with. Fortunately strong third party options came to the rescue.
I leave this sample album. In the end this lens just did not feel as special as it should for a nifty fifty.
Sidebar: Have heard recently that this lens improved greatly with firmware v3 when combined with A7III cameras and newer. My last spin with this lens was with later firmware and an A7II so a retest is in order. Had been hoping for an version 2 of this lens, but if they fixed the old one that would do also.