The 50mm f/1.4 lens is arguably one of the most popular lenses of all time. And Sony just released its second offering for their full frame mirrorless lineup.
in 2016, Sony released the Sony Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA. And since then, it's been a very popular lens in the Sony FE lineup. But in true Sony fashion, they have just released the latest update, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM. And just like when Sony updated to the Sony 24-70mm GM II and the 70-200mm GM II, this new lens is lighter, faster, and smaller than any other full frame mirrorless 50mm lens on the market.
To kick things off, let's quickly compare a few specs. The Sony Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA lens has a close focus distance of 17.76 inches and weighs in at 780 g. The newly released Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens has a close focus distance of 17.7 inches and weighs 660 g. The new Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens has a close focus distance of 16 inches and weighs just 516 g. The new GM lens also takes a filter thread of 67mm, while the other two take a 72mm. So, this goes to show that the new GM lens is significantly lighter, thinner, and also shorter. And from there, we don't have much else to compare this lens to, because Canon and Nikon don't even offer a 50mm f/1.4 in their lineup.
Aside from the external physical qualities of this lens and a better close focus distance, this lens also has two of the new and upgraded XD-linear motors for autofocus. These motors are paired with a fully internal focus system, so the lens won't change sizes when focusing. The XD linear motors are also extremely quiet in order to give you fast and silent autofocus while recording video. These new motors will also have 1.9x faster speeds when compared to the already fast Sony Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA. Lastly, the focus system is also designed to minimize focus breathing for use when recording video, and the lens can also focus track at up to 120 fps for use with slow-motion video.
Looking back at the outside of the lens, you'll find an aperture ring that gives you the control to adjust your aperture in 1/3rd stop increments. You also have an iris lock and de-clicking switch to lock this ring as well as make it move more smoothly, respectively. You'll also find two programmable buttons that give users the ability to assign their favorite features to the lens for quicker and easier access. From here, all these dials, buttons, and switches are dust- and moisture-resistant along with the mount and all the seams of the lens.
One thing worth at least knowing about when picking this lens up is that it is almost identical in size when compared to the FE 35mm f/1.4 GM and the FE 24mm f/1.4 GM lenses. So, when I was photographing a wedding, I had the new 50mm in my bag alongside my 24mm GM. So, I found myself constantly reaching for one lens and accidentally grabbing the opposite, which isn't a bad thing in terms of lens build and quality. You will just have to make a mental note as to where in the bag each lens is or give each lens some type of physical marking in order to help make changes as smooth and fast as possible.
What I Liked
- Unmatched size and weight.
- Extremely fast and precise autofocus.
- All the bells and whistle features you'd expect from a GM lens.
What I Didn't Like
- Even though the close focus distance is best in class, I still wish it was a bit closer. But I also know I'm being unreasonable with that request.
At the end of the day, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens is as close to perfect as currently possible. It's lighter, faster, and has more features than any other full frame mirrorless lens. It's also going to be sold at $1,299, which makes it cheaper than their older Sony Zeiss Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA lens and not much more expensive than the Sigma 50mm Art. So, this lens could justify an upgrade from an older lens, and if it will be your first 50mm for your Sony, then it should be at the top of your list.
Thanks for the nice overview. Any thoughts on image quality of the photos you shot with it?
Really nice lens, makes Sony system even more tempting
The Zeiss 55 f1.8 still serves me well. And so light and compact.