After years of waiting, Sony fans finally received news that the Japanese manufacturer has launched a 35mm f/1.8 prime lens, plugging a huge gap in its lens lineup. You can get your pre-orders in now but many are balking at the price.
At $748, this is not an expensive lens when compared to the G and GM lenses that Sony has produced for its full-frame mirrorless cameras. However, when you consider that Sony’s nifty fifty is a mere $248 (and is frequently discounted — I bagged mine for $180 just before Christmas), and the 85mm f/1.8 is incredibly affordable at $598, plenty of prospective buyers are a little disappointed that the price is so high. This is further compounded by the existence of the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 at $774, a lens that is more than twice the weight but offers that slightly fatter aperture.
The 35mm f/1.8 has been a bizarre hole in Sony’s lineup, something that I documented in depth last year. Samyang seemed to have an open goal in front of them, more than capable of filling this void but instead opting to produce a funky little pancake f/2.8 and then a much meatier f/1.4 for $528. You wonder if there was an agreement in place that forced Samyang to shoot either side of the posts.
Comparing the new f/1.8 to the budget nifty is probably a little unfair: the new 35mm has a “dust and moisture resistant construction,” nine blades, and customizable button. The ZEISS 55mm f/1.8 is probably a more honest comparison and that lens will set you back just shy of a grand. Looking to other manufacturers, the NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 is even more expensive at $847 with Nikon having gone the route of launching prosumer glass ahead of their pro glass, and there hasn’t been too much chatter about whether that was overpriced.
With all that said, the vast majority of Sony fans seem a little bit taken aback, expecting something closer to $550. Personally, I’d happily forego the customizable button if that meant shaving off $100 or so. For me, Canon set the bar: its 35mm RF f/1.8 is $499, one of the few affordable lenses in their new mirrorless lineup. I’ve always considered f/1.8 primes as being geared towards shooters who want something small and lightweight, don’t need and can’t justify the price of huge apertures, and can go without the weather sealing. For those stepping from APS-C to full-frame, having a range of affordable primes softens the blow and makes the transition more appealing. The 50mm and 85mm options were there with Sony, and the new 35mm now feels slightly out of place.
When you consider that most camera manufacturers seek to profit from lens sales to offset underpriced camera bodies, it’s arguably no great surprise to see Sony releasing this lens at a relatively high price. Furthermore, there’s the possibility that the cost will come down in due course, with further discounts available at certain times of the year. That said, you might have to be incredibly patient given that the Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM lens was released in September last year and is still impossible to get a hold of. Perhaps Sony realized that it priced this lens too low — it now seems strangely affordable — and is now making sure not to make the same mistake with the 35mm f/1.8.
Will you be placing a pre-order? When do you expect to receive it? Or, having held out, will you now be pulling the trigger on the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 or Samyang 35mm f/1.4 instead? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.