Sony FE 50mm F/1.4 lens

Firstly I would like to thank Sony for sending this lens to test and review. Since my recent win at the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards Sony have provided me with some digital imaging equipment including the Sony A7II mirrorless camera. Just this week the Sony FE 50mm 1.4 arrived in the post. I have been using this lens all week. My first observation with this 50mm lens from Sony is the weight and build quality. The all metal body and size of the lens makes it a beast at 782g. The well known phrase nifty fifty certainly doesn't apply here.  This is a high end 50mm with a price tag to match at around £1500 in the UK.
Sony FE 50mm f-1.4 review-2664

The 50mm 1.4 fe lens from Sony.

The front of the lens has a 72mm thread for attaching those filters. The lens build quality is absolutely fantastic from front to back. The focus ring is quite large and very smooth to operate. On the left side of the lens you will find the A/F switch making it easy and quick to switch from auto to manual focus.
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Sony FE 50mm f-1.4 72mm thread

Sony FE 50mm f-1.4 AF MF switch

Sony FE 50mm f-1.4 AF MF switch

Sony have included a very welcome and superbly deigned aperture ring which allows the photographer or videographer to change aperture on the lens manually. This is extremely useful for videographers especially as changing aperture using the ring is so smooth and silent. There is an option to de activate the click on the aperture ring which is so so good for videography.  The focus peaking feature on the Sony A7II camera is such a fantastic feature on the camera and works beautifully with this lens.
Aperture Ring on Sony FE 50mm 1.4

Aperture Ring on Sony FE 50mm 1.4

Sony 50mm FE 1.4 attached to Sony A7II body

Sony 50mm FE 1.4 attached to Sony A7II body

Image quality

With all the technicalities aside let chat about the images. I personally love the 50mm focal length not just for portraits but for street and even landscapes. Zeiss have been producing high quality glass for years and I had high expectations with this lens having that blue Zeiss stamp. I was very eager to start shooting this lens wide open at 1.4 to test the sharpness. with 11 blades in the aperture this did not disappoint with superb sharpness from middle to corner and creamy bokeh making the image subject look almost 3d popping out from the blurred background.
Look how sharp this image is around the eye in this portrait of my daughter Maria. f/1.4, 1/250 sec, ISO 1000

Look how sharp this image is around the eye in this portrait of my daughter Maria. f/1.4, 1/250 sec, ISO 1000

baby portrait shot on the sony fe 50mm 1.4 and sony a7ii

baby portrait shot on the sony fe 50mm 1.4 and sony a7ii. F/1.4, 1/640 sec, ISO 6400

Sharp at 1.4 with superb Bokeh. Check out the blurred background. Fast 1.4 lens

Sharp at 1.4 with superb Bokeh. Check out the blurred background

The 50mm focal length is such a great lens for portraits and group portraits and in fact I will always have a 50mm lens in my kit bag at all times. You can see from the above portraits how sharp the images are with the Sony. If I had more time I would have loved to have tested this lens out in a studio or at a wedding for bridal portraits or family portraits.
horse portrait with 50mm lens

1/4000 sec, f/1.4, ISO 125

50mm Sony 1.4 lens

1/4000 sec, 1.4, ISO 100

Street

Opinions are undecided amongst street photographers on shooting street with a 50mm. Personally I dont care what lens I have I will shoot street photography with whatever lens I have. I do feel however that it can be hard to get up close to a subject on the street whilst capturing the whole environment but nevertheless this review is not about street photography more so the performance of the lens, so I decided to hit the streets of Derry and take the Sony for a test drive. I starting walking the streets during the day around 1pm and the sun was very strong and high in the sky so I was unable to avoid some harsh shadows. I was however able to shoot at very high shutter speeds keeping the ISO between 100-400. I also headed out in the evening as the sky got more cloudy and the sun was dropping so I could begin to lower the shutter speed and increase the ISO. I was honestly blown away with the colours I was getting from the Sony. The fast 1.4 lens was producing some unbelievable blurred backgrounds and pin sharp images almost resembling the look and feel of a medium format image. I was now beginning to understand the premium price tags for the lens. I headed out again that evening to try and test out the lens in the evening. I am a big fan of panoramic shots and decided to go for a landscape image using the 50mm. I shot 6 images handheld all using the same settings and made a panoramic image in Adobe Lightroom. I was again very impressed withthe colour rendition and also how sharp the images were even at wide open at 1.4.
Lisahally docks at night derry sony 50mm 1.4

Lisahally docks at night derry sony 50mm 1.4. Handheld at 1/50 sec, f/1.4, ISO 800

 

Conclusion

Overall the image quality from this lens is absolutely superb. I would love to test this out at a wedding or in the studio but from the short time that I used it I have no complaints. Doing some pixel peeping I noticed zero chromatic aberration when zooming in to 100% on high contrast areas. Distortion was minimal with this fast prime lens and with good sharpness at f/1.4 from centre to the edges of the frame. As mentioned the lens produced beautiful colours and very little lens flare from what I tested. Autofocus outdoor was a breeze and super quick and nailed it every time. Low light scenarios also absolutely no problem with this 50mm too. My only real bug bearer is the shear bulkiness and weight of the lens which to be honest is not that much of a big deal. I am more use to using smaller nifty fifty lenses and for a 1.4 premium lens producing such high quality images... maybe I can let the bulkiness slide. Build quality is superb but I would expect nothing more from anything with he blue Zeiss badge. I hope this review was interesting for you and provided some insight. To find out more head on over to the Sony website or buy from Amazon To See more of my street portrait work head on over to my home page and check out my commercial, landscape and street photography site DerryPhotos.com