Sony FE 50mm 1.8 and why it's awesomely bad (first impressions)
Everyone who follows the full frame mirrorless market (we can't count Leica since they are in a market of their own) knows that the lens selection was pretty scarce. Then it became a little more abundant but the prices were infuriatingly high. So much so that I was seriously thinking of selling my A7 to get an xt-1. Another amazing camera which has a lens line up that won't drive you mad wondering how you will be able to buy lenses.
here's your current lineup of Sony FF lenses:
Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens - $1,248.00
Sony FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens - $1,098.00
Sony FE 24-240 F3.5-6.3 OSS Lens - $973.00
Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4 G OSS Lens - $2,398.00
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS Lens - $1,398.00
Sony FE 28 F2.0 Lens - $423.00
Sony FE 35 F1.4 ZA Lens - $1,498.00
Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA Lens - $698.00
Sony FE 55mm/1.8 ZA Lens - $898.00
Sony FE 90 F2.8 Macro G OSS Lens - $998.00
Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 - $1,499.00
Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2.0 Lens - $1,299.00
Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens - $1,199.00
New Line Up
G Master series
Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 G Master Lens - $2,198.00
Sony FE 85mm F1.4 G Master Lens - $1,798.00
Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 G Master Lens - $2,899.99
I didn't include the Rokinon and Voitlander lenses since there's no shortage of manual focus lenses out there in the wonderful world of eBay and Craigslist. As you can see, though, these lenses are expensive as f*%$! with the exception of the 28mm (which I have and it's a fantastic lens. Fast focusing, sharp, etc) and the 35mm Zeiss.
Granted some of the first batch of lenses you can get used for pretty reasonable prices. like the 55m f1.8 and the 70mm-200mm f4. But for a professional kit, you have to imagine you can get L glass for cheaper than most of Sony's current line up.
With all that said, this brings me to the topic of the new FE 50mm 1.8 they just released for $250 depending on where you get it.
This is a HUGE deal for Sony users because now they, including myself, can finally afford a piece of native glass without dreading the months of saving that will be needed just get get a standard prime lens. The question is, is it even worth it? $250 still can be pricey depending on how good the glass is.
Is it better than the nifty fifty starter lens from Canon that you can pretty much get for $80 bucks used or $150 new? How does it Focus? is it sharp? Bokeh nice and smooth? and most importantly, is it worth my hard earned cash?
Well in short, yes it's worth it. But, and this is a pretty big but, if you can afford the Zeiss 55. get that. hands down. there's no comparison. focus speed, sharpness, looks, feel, everything.
How does it look? The look and feel is ok. It's a matte black plastic, like the 28-70 kit lens, though the tip of the barrel is metal. It's sort of odd and kind of throws off the continuity, if you will, of the design. In addition, the lens hood is a matching black plastic, but that's nothing new in the realm of lenses. Seems pretty sturdy, which is all you need. overall, the build quality is better than other cheap 50mm lenses though, for the price, I would have expected a little bit better quality.
So how does it perform? Well, lets just say, if this lens was a person and they were really good at one thing it would be hunting. I mean this lens hunts, a lot. I was surprised how much it hunted for focus even in great light. this is on single and center focus. I also tested on continuous focus and forget about it. Think Will Ferrel in Night at the Roxburry when he bobs is head to the side. That's all the lens does. In and out, in and out, in and out. never locks on anything, just dances forever. it's horrible.
Though when you do lock focus the images it creates are decent. It's sharp and the bokeh is relatively good. It depends on your background and if there's a lot of specular highlights. if there are you will find that the bokeh will have distracting hard balls. If the background is relatively neutral then the bokeh looks very smooth and creamy. So don't go shooting subjects with a sparkly background, it won't be pretty.
Now I should say the overall performance wasn't terrible and I was shooting this on the A7, not a camera to gauge optimal performance. So this may perform much better on the a7ii, a7rii, etc.
Overall, is this a lens you should get for your Sony mirrorless?
If majority of the lenses you have been using were manual focus lenses (because you can't afford the insane priced lenses Sony offers, which I fall into that category) then get this lens. $250 is a good chunk of change but having an auto focus lens is a treat. I have the Minolta Rokkor 50mm 1.7 and I love that lens. But it's nice to have an auto focus 50 for my Sony now.
Hopefully Sony will make more affordable lenses like this. Or at least other manufacturers will, because I have and still am debating abandoning the Sony system just because it's pretty much not feasible for me to expand my kit.
Good news is Samyang (Rokinon, Bower, etc) are coming out with a 50mm 1.4 and 24mm auto focus lens for the system and hopefully the price will be right with performance to math. If they can do both of those then they will take a big market our of the Zeiss/Sony line up. Of course it wont be Zeiss quality, or will it? we wont know until July. Until then I, and I'm sure many others, will stick to their manual lenses until more affordable options are available.