Introduced alongside the FE 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 last week, Sony has added its own take on the “Nifty Fifty” to their lens lineup. Aimed at photography hobbyists, the FE 50mm f/1.8 will only cost $248 and gives a wide aperture option to those that may be only shooting with the FE 24-70mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens at the moment. Here are my first impressions of the new 50mm f/1.8 after briefly shooting with the lens.
Inside the lens is six elements in five groups situated in a double-gauss configuration. One lens element is aspherical for spherical aberration control and improved clarity. It uses a linear actuator for autofocusing just like other Sony FE lenses.
The FE 50mm f/1.8 is lightweight and small. It can easily fit into small bags and be incorporated into a travel-friendly kit. The metal bayonet mount (rather than plastic used in some other brand’s inexpensive 50mm options) should also hold up to the stresses of transport.
The image quality of the FE 50mm is fairly good. It has acceptable sharpness, even when mounted on the 42.4-megapixel a7RII. The out-of-focus areas are also quite pleasing and creates a smooth transition of separation from the background. At the same time, it faces many of the same issues that wide-aperture budget prime lenses of any company have: heavy vignetting and chromatic aberration while shooting wide open. However, these problems are mostly solvable by either stopping down a bit or correcting it in post-processing with a few clicks.
Again, I didn’t spend very long shooting with this lens — perhaps half an hour total — so I am eager to put in more time and see the results from really exploring with the new FE 50mm. Initially, I am satisfied with its image quality and compact form factor. I’m also pleased to see Sony reaching out to bridge the gaps in its lens lineup. A few months ago, Sony originally went the opposite direction with the introduction of its premium line of G-Master lenses, but now we are seeing they didn’t forget those who love photography at the opposite end of the spectrum.
The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 is available to preorder for $248 and will start shipping May 4.