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Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* Lab Test Review

January 2014 | By Andy Westlake
Buy on GearShop$998.00

The FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* is one of the first three lenses available for Sony's full-frame E-mount system, having been announced alongside the Alpha 7 and 7R camera bodies. It's a slightly long 'normal' prime designed for everyday photography, and its relatively fast F1.8 aperture makes it a good choice for selective focus work or shooting in low light. Its 7-element, 5-group optical design includes three aspherical elements to minimise aberrations, which is unusual for this type of lens.

The 55mm is a large-ish lens for its type (it's 71mm / 2.8" long), but even so, when coupled with the A7 or A7R it's still more compact than comparable full frame SLR options (as the cameras themselves are slimmer). It's also decidedly expensive, at around $999 / £910 / €940 at the time of writing. It's pretty clear that this isn't going to be quite the same proposition as the inexpensive 50mm F1.8 primes available for full frame SLRs - indeed it costs several times as much as the average 50mm F1.4.

The FE 55mm F1.8 can also be used on Sony's APS-C E-mount bodies, on which it will behave like a classic short telephoto 'portrait' lens. However most users of these cameras will probably find the Sony E 50mm F1.8 OSS to be a better choice, as it's much cheaper and includes optical image stabilisation, while offering decent optical quality too.

Headline features

  • 55mm focal length
  • Fast F1.8 maximum aperture
  • FE lens for full frame Sony E-mount cameras (also works on APS-C E-mount models)

Lens test data

The 55mm F1.8 lives up to its Carl Zeiss branding, returning truly superb test results on the Alpha 7R. It's extremely sharp, shows little chromatic aberration or distortion, and has entirely acceptable levels of vignetting. In fact it comes very close indeed to the astounding (but $4000) Zeiss Otus 55mm F1.4.

Sharpness Sharpness is simply spectacular. At F1.8 the 55mm is impressively sharp, outperforming the 50mm F1.8s for Canon and Nikon SLRs by a substantial margin (and the 50mm F1.4s for that matter, too). It just gets better on stopping down; at F4 and F5.6, central sharpness is literally off the charts (helped here by being tested on the 36MP, AA filterless A7R). Diffraction takes the edge off sharpness at F22, as usual, but this setting should still be perfectly usable when depth of field is a priority.
Chromatic Aberration Chromatic aberration is pretty low. There'll be some green/magenta fringing visible towards the extreme corners of the frame if you look closely, but it's unlikely to be hugely objectionable. It will be automatically corrected in the camera's JPEGs, too.
Vignetting Vignetting is kept pretty well under control, at 1.6 stops wide open, which is perfectly respectable for a fast prime. The falloff profile is rather gradual too, which tends to make any vignetting less visually objectionable.
Distortion Distortion is extremely low, with just a little barrel-type visible if you look closely. This will also be corrected automatically by the camera when shooting JPEG.

The scale of Sony's achievement here becomes clear when comparing the FE 55mm F1.8 directly to the Zeiss Otus 55mm F1.4, which lays a strong claim to being the best lens for which we have test data. The Otus still just about comes out on top - it measures as slightly sharper wide open - but it's unlikely any difference will be particularly visible in real-world photography. The Otus also just about wins out on chromatic aberration and distortion, but overall the Sony can certainly wear its Zeiss badge with pride.

Compared to the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II or Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G, the Sony is quite simply in a different class in terms of wide-open sharpness. This is only to be expected, given its much higher price and far more modern design, but it does give some idea of why Sony feels it can charge a premium for the lens. The Zeiss also beats Nikon's latest, and even-more-pricey AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G for sharpness in these tests - it really is very good indeed.

Summary

From the lab test results, the Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA is quite simply one of the sharpest lenses we've seen. It's clearly been designed with the demands of modern high resolution sensors in mind, and is easily a match for the currently class-leading resolution of the Alpha 7R. It's impossible to ignore its price, but in this case, there's a pretty good argument that you get what you pay for.

Sony FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* specifications

Principal specifications
Lens typePrime lens
Max Format size35mm FF
Focal length55 mm
Image stabilisationNo
Lens mountSony E (NEX)
Aperture
Maximum apertureF1.8
Minimum apertureF22.0
Aperture ringNo
Number of diaphragm blades9
Optics
Elements7
Groups5
Special elements / coatings3 aspherical elements
Focus
Minimum focus0.50 m (19.69)
Maximum magnification0.14×
AutofocusYes
Motor typeStepper motor
Full time manualUnknown
Focus methodInternal
Distance scaleNo
DoF scaleNo
Physical
Weight281 g (0.62 lb)
Diameter64 mm (2.52)
Length71 mm (2.8)
MaterialsAll-metal construction
SealingYes
ColourBlack
Zoom methodRotary (internal)
Power zoomNo
Zoom lockNo
Filter thread49 mm
Hood suppliedYes
Hood product codeALC-SH131
Tripod collarNo


This lens review uses DxOMark data thanks to a partnership between dpreview.com and DxO Labs (read more about DxOMark and our partnership with DxO Labs). DxOMark is the trusted industry standard for independent image quality measurements and ratings. DxOMark has established this reputation with its rigorous hardware testing, industry-grade laboratory tools, and database of thousands of camera, lens and mobile test results. Full test results for this lens can be found at www.dxomark.com.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2014 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 306
12
David Smith - Photographer
By David Smith - Photographer (3 months ago)

I find it amazing that there are some people here that are so negative about the performance of this lens. They keep on ranting about how big, heavy, expensive and bad it is. The truth is very simple; any way you look at it, this lens delivers astoundingly good image quality in combination with a Sony A7r camera body. There's simply no way you can deny that. If a lens gives me that kind of performance, I'm willing to pay for it.

Big and heavy, seriously? The A7r with this lens fits in a very small camera bag. If you think this is big and heavy, you should use a fixed lens compact camera like the RX1 or RX100 and stop crying in this thread. Or try a lens like the Zeiss Otus or Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art on a Nikon D800E body for similar image quality. O well, I guess some people alway feel the need to complain about something. If I had the money for it, you'd have to pry this A7r Zeiss 55mm combo from my cold, dead hands.

5 upvotes
dwightlooi
By dwightlooi (5 months ago)

I do not doubt the optical quality of the lens. But it seems that despite eliminating the mirror box and having the lens sit a lot closer to the sensor plane, Sony and Zeiss are not able to make the lenses smaller or faster.

F1.8 is not fast for a 55mm. And the FE 1.8/55 is not small by any standards. Personally, I will rather have either a larger 50 that is a F1.4, or a really compact 50mm F2.8. A really big standard lens that isn't fast is simply a lousy compromise. Given the advances in sensor technology and the more than usable high ISO settings in contemporary cameras like the A7, I'll probably opt for the latter -- a slow, but optically exceptional and compact 50. Afterall, gone were the days of rewinding with the film leader out so I can swap between Velvia 50 and some ISO 800 film.

The lens I miss the most fro the film days was the Contax MM mount Zeiss 50mm F1.4 Planar T*. It/s 3/4 the size of this 1.8/55 and it was $350 (new).

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
joao 43
By joao 43 (5 months ago)

And it was 3/4 the optical quality of this one. Check the numbers, it beats everything on the market. Except Otus. Don't see people complaining about that one.... http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/lens-compare-fullscreen?compare=true&lensId=sigma_50_1p4_a&cameraId=canon_eos5dmkiii&version=0&fl=50&av=2.8&view=mtf-ca&lensId2=sony_zeiss_fe_55_1p8_za&cameraId2=sony_a7r&version2=0&fl2=55&av2=2.8

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
dwightlooi
By dwightlooi (5 months ago)

No, I get it. But, what I am saying is that similar optical performance -- even illumination, aberations and resolving power -- can also be done in a much smaller package and a similar number of elements in a hypothetical 2.8/50 Planar T*. Add one more element (8 elements, 6 groups) and you can do an Apo-Planar. And either will be about 3/4th the length and 2/3rds diameter (it's be about 1/2 the front element diameter, but I am being a little generous on the focus motor and other stuff)!

0 upvotes
Raist3d
By Raist3d (4 months ago)

dwightlooi - what's your experience doing lens design? Have you designed and shipped any lens?

3 upvotes
photohounds
By photohounds (7 months ago)

No question that it's an excellent lens. I like sharp. I use the Zuiko 45 and 75/1.8 lenses and these too need a great deal of soft focus post processing if you'm shoot the occasional model - eg:

http://photohounds.smugmug.com/People/Models-ink-/

For low light performing art it is too short as are all standard lenses unless you're in the front row.

http://photohounds.smugmug.com/Performing-arts

Great in the studio or when you want to carry only say, 2 lenses as it's oversize and very heavy for a standard lens.

Balance on the little bodies Sony makes would be odd to say the least.

Are you planning to convert all your old reviews for a little pre-purchase comparison?

0 upvotes
stevo23
By stevo23 (7 months ago)

Oversized isn't really true - it's longer but thinner than a typical 50mm 1.4 like Canon or Nikon. Comparing it's weight to the same is not quite fair since it's worlds above those lenses. You really have to compare it's mass to the Otus or a Leica 50mm. Then it's very reasonable size and weight.

2 upvotes
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

It's not heavy at all. And the A7 isn't exactly a "little" body. Are you sure you're talking about the same lenses and cameras? Of course it's too short for portrait/mid-tele. That's because it's a normal prime. What were you expecting when you read "55mm"?

5 upvotes
123Mike
By 123Mike (7 months ago)

ABSURD ! I mean, what's WRONG with these guys? One could compete, just about, with this, using a plain old Minolta 50/1.7 for like $50. Either through A 2 E adapter, or choosing an A-mount A99 instead.
Sony's out to lunch with the E-mount prices. It's just plain weird.

0 upvotes
robber98
By robber98 (7 months ago)

Show me the MFT chart or test result of Minolta 50/1.7 on A7R. The Zeiss 55/1.8 is almost as good as Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 for 1/4 (or 1/5 if you get the $200 off discount) of the Otus' cost. How is that absurd?

7 upvotes
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

This is definitely a case of ignorance-is-bliss. If you can't see the difference in IQ, then you would be very, very happy indeed with your Minolta 50/1.7! Just don't pixel peep even a bit :)

6 upvotes
stevo23
By stevo23 (7 months ago)

You have to appreciate it's performance to understand. It's not just worlds sharper, it lacks any of the nasties that a Minolta 50/1.7 or even a Nikkor AF 50/1.4 have wide open. It even beats those lenses when stopped down in noticeable ways.

So I would say, no. One can't compete with the Rokkor 50/1.7. The difference is noticeable. If you are one who doesn't really appreciate those particular things, you won't buy the 55 /1.8.

3 upvotes
nsainato
By nsainato (7 months ago)

I purchased Sony Alpha A7R with (Zeiss lens 55mm f1.8). I am confused about E-Mount and FE-Mount. If I purchase new lens will I ask for FE-mount? or
E-Mount? from what I understand E-mount is for NEX lenses (APS-C E-Mount lenses) am I understanding this correctly? Thanks.

0 upvotes
Zeisschen
By Zeisschen (7 months ago)

FE and E-mount have the same mount, meaning the same bajonet, so they are compatible with adaper or anything. The only difference is that FE lenses cover the full frame sensor area, whereas E-lenses only cover APS-C.
Your A7r can take both E and FE lenses, but if you attach an E-lens it will only (automatically) use the center of the full frame sensor, reducing the resolution to 15 Megapixel. The View on the viewfinder and Display will automatically be adapted so actually others than the lower resolution you won't notice a difference between E and FE lenses in use.
I use all my older E-mount lenses on the A7r now without issues, but in your case I wouldn't invest into E-glass now, better concentrate on FE.

0 upvotes
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

All lenses are E-mount. The mount is 'E'. 'FE' is an additional label they put on lenses that cover a full frame sensor. Lenses without the label do not. Because when E-mount first came out when there was only APS-C sensor sizes, having a label to show they were APS-C was redundant. Conversely, with A-mount, APS-C lenses are labelled 'DT', because APS-C A-mount lenses came out in the digital era, while the original lenses were all from the (FF) 35mm film era.

0 upvotes
NewForce
By NewForce (7 months ago)

With German Carl Zeiss brand built quality and 2x~4x $998 price tag, this 50mm F1.8(only) lens IQ has to be top quality than the cheap Canon and Nikon 50mm 1.4/1.8 lenses.

Oh no... the vignetting of this CARL ZEISS lens only go off totally at F8.0, it was much worst than the cheap and good Nikon 50mm F1.8G lens which go off totally after F4.0. That was pretty bad and what a shame.

Maybe the blame should be with the Sony A7R?

0 upvotes
stevo23
By stevo23 (7 months ago)

? So you want to find one parameter where things are a bit off and you criticize? Have you actually compared the results between the two? The Zeiss is in a class of it's own. The only Nikon that approaches it is the new 58mm 1.4 G at - $1800.

8 upvotes
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

Someone who thinks vignetting is a big deal in 2014 probably needs to get something better than MS Paint for image software. There are tons of in-camera solutions by the way.

Comment edited 32 seconds after posting
12 upvotes
Heaven is for real
By Heaven is for real (7 months ago)

35 F2.8 review is out. Second best 35mm ever tested http://www.dxomark.com/Reviews/Sony-Zeiss-Sonnar-T-FE-35mm-f2.8-ZA-lens-review-Model-behavior Great job Sony. Keep it up...

11 upvotes
frenchdream
By frenchdream (7 months ago)

Hello, are you aware of rumours, that despite exceptional optical quality, this lens is prone to sucking dust inside?

0 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (7 months ago)

Any facts or first hand experience of this? Otherwise why are you spreading rumours?

8 upvotes
Hugo600si
By Hugo600si (7 months ago)

No not aware, but interesting piece of bull your are spreading this way given the lens is dust/weather sealed...
The only note I could find which may have triggered your comment on this is from someone who mentions he had dust in his old 30 year old Canon 50 fd 1.4 lens which he has as an intermediary to this lens going on offer. His comment is a bit oddly written so you could accidentally read it like he had problems with the sony 55/1.8 (which he does not have)

6 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

Canon 100-400 is an infamous dust pumping lens but dusts come and go and there is a very good Canon service, too.

1 upvote
sillen
By sillen (7 months ago)

The lens has fantastisc performance!

I whish the lens tests would include autofocos performance testing

1 upvote
Stanchung
By Stanchung (7 months ago)

and it's AF!

I want it!

5 upvotes
Richard Schumer
By Richard Schumer (7 months ago)

Wow! What a great lens, according to the results of this review. Head and shoulders above the competition. One might even say there is no competition.

I have saved a few thou I'd like to spend to acquire more modern cameras than I now own and the Sony A7s seemed to be, theoretically, at least, what I wanted in a digital camera. This lens' results, on the A7 and A7r, reminded me of another lens/camera pair I had read the results of on DxO: the Sigma 18-35mm f:1.8 Art lens mounted on APS-C Nikon 7100. Yep, the sharpness curves could be overlapped almost exactly!

So, I'm off to buy a new K-3 Pentax body with microprism focusing screen and big, bright optical viewfinder and the Sigma, to replace my K10D and Pentax-DA 16-45mm F:4.

Same resolution results as the Zeiss on an A7r but in a crop sensor, with similar low noise, better RAW formats and more optics available, including some Pentax glass I already own.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

should be careful when comparing lens test results on different cameras.

1 upvote
Camley
By Camley (7 months ago)

Well it's an E-mount lens so the a7r is the logical camera to test it on. What's the problem?

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

> What's the problem?

every camera model tests lenses differently using different standards. so lens tests are not directly comparable if the camera models are different (even of same pixel count, or even same sensor, if anyone doesn't already know).

Comment edited 21 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Mr Darma
By Mr Darma (7 months ago)

If this is what I have to look forward to when I switch from film and get on the effete digital merry go round, I think I'll pass.

1 upvote
Collett
By Collett (7 months ago)

Looks like a sweet walk around combo. Significantly lighter than my 5dIII plus 50L.

6 upvotes
gdfthr73
By gdfthr73 (7 months ago)

Why would you compare a f/1.2 lent to a 1.8. Silly, compare it to Canon's tiny 50mm 1.8 than you're not that far off.

1 upvote
Collett
By Collett (7 months ago)

Because the Zeiss will likely be as good (and perhaps better) as the 50L at F1.8, while the Canon 50F1.8 is not and is not even close. I am thinking any new Canon 50F1.8 is going to weigh significantly more than the nifty fifty, have better IQ but doubtful it will be as good as this Zeiss, and have a price tag closer to the Zeiss. Also, Canon does not have a FF body that comes close to the weight of the Sony - nor one that is 36mp. Add the saving in weight of the body AND the lens - and it is significant.

10 upvotes
Rocky Mtn Old Boy
By Rocky Mtn Old Boy (7 months ago)

If you believe the good folks at DX0 (which DPR obviously do), then the Zeiss 55 is quite a bit better than the Canon 50 1.2L.

In the old days, when we were stuck with film ISOs, I would agree that over a stop was a huge difference.

But now, it's like if you can't take the shot under 6400 ISO, you'd better buy a flash or turn on the lights, lol.

So easy now.

3 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

it's definitely much better than Canon 50/1.8II.

2 upvotes
gdfthr73
By gdfthr73 (7 months ago)

Their is more to a f/1.2 lens than just low light capability.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

> the sony-haters that the ZA lens have NOTHING to do with zeiss

they are bad by saying ZA lenses have everything to do with Sony?
praise Sony if a lens is good, blame Sony if it's not.
nothing to do with Zeiss who got their dirty money.

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Viramati
By Viramati (7 months ago)

What is the matter with you?

12 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

no problem just blame Sony when it does something bad,
and praise Zeiss when Sony does something good.

1 upvote
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

congratulations to Sony for making great camera and great sensor in RX1 and A7.

congratulations to Zeiss for making excellent lens for Sony and other cameras.

8 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

Zeiss means rubber stamp in German (or any language).

1 upvote
zxaar
By zxaar (7 months ago)

yab okk means troll in any language too.

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
22 upvotes
Scorpius1
By Scorpius1 (7 months ago)

Don't understand why so many comments are saying this proves Sony can make glass... this is a Zeiss lens!

0 upvotes
josseee
By josseee (7 months ago)

well, I read sooooo many times from the sony-haters that the ZA lens have NOTHING to do with zeiss...that sony just bought the licence for the blue logo to put on their glass and bla bla bla...suddenly when the ZA glass gets TOP rating, its not sony anymore, its again Zeiss :D ... you got to love em haters :)

27 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (7 months ago)

It is probably Sony...

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

some shallow person at Sony loved Zeiss too much but if there is any rational in the decision to license a foreign brand it should be that Sony see no chance for them even in the far future to build their own brand as a quality lens maker.

Comment edited 28 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

It's almost as if 2 companies that claim to cooperate are actually cooperating!

12 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

very true. Sony fanboys butthurt. does Sony own Zeiss? NO ! that's why they contract Zeiss to make lens for them because they cannot make their own design. they cannot even think how to better design lenses after buying Minolta.

0 upvotes
Heaven is for real
By Heaven is for real (7 months ago)

@Scropius, FYI "ZA lenses are designed and manufactured by Sony in Japan, while Zeiss will ensure that certain design and quality parameters defined in a collaboration of Sony and Zeiss are met."

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

it'll be great if anyone finds out Zeiss can design and make a lens for Sony or Cosina or Kyocera ...

1 upvote
Scorpius1
By Scorpius1 (7 months ago)

Looking forward to seeing how the new sigma art 50 compares to this..

4 upvotes
dynaxx
By dynaxx (7 months ago)

In my experience, expensive lenses are expensive because of superior quality of construction as much as better optics. In a way this is a good thing, because the photography fanboys who switch brands because of peer pressure don't loose too much if a lens has a one or two year life expectancy as they will be moving on. Third party lens makers exploit this market sector.

The Sony lenses, and especially the Sony/Minolta G's / Sony ZA's are built to last ( the number of 20/25 year old Minoltas still in use is amazing ) and are not far short of Leica/Schneider/Voigtlander industry standard setters in construction quality.

Get Roger Cicala to strip down the FE 55mm and you'll find that beauty is more than skin deep as he found with the A7R camera.

7 upvotes
Zanken
By Zanken (7 months ago)

I'm fairly certain the new release of the Sigma 50mm will be around a similar price range. I love the focal length so I feel very catered for (now - finally). I can't wait.

0 upvotes
Viramati
By Viramati (7 months ago)

I have this lens on the A7 and I will so only one thing 'Stunning', equals and and probabaly betters the leica summilux 50 asph on the leica M (240)
Expensive!!!! the Leica costs £2700 so it is cheap by comparison

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
15 upvotes
mediman30
By mediman30 (7 months ago)

Yes, indeed! It's a spectacular lens and for the price I paid for it £592 (brand new), it's even better! Super, super like this lens!

4 upvotes
Everlast66
By Everlast66 (7 months ago)

And has AF unlike the 50 lux

7 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

Sony E-mount is definitely a better mount than Leica M. Leica used to be the king but was kicked out of the market by some short Japanese dozens of years ago. it's not approperate to use a virtually non-existence as reference.

0 upvotes
Viramati
By Viramati (7 months ago)

of course it is relevant as the leica M an the 50 lux are the nearest equivalent in size and performance and both are the only FF mirror-less cameras on the market. AS I own both I do feel that I can make a comparison.

Comment edited 59 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Nijuc
By Nijuc (6 months ago)

Glad to hear that !

0 upvotes
Kipplemaster
By Kipplemaster (7 months ago)

What is meant by "all-metal construction" in the "Materials" section of the specifications? I find it difficult to believe it can have such a similar weight to the Canon 50mm f1.4 which is almost entirely plastic without also making quite extensive use of plastic.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (7 months ago)

But the Canon is f/1.4, meaning almost twice as much glass. Canon 50/1.8 is half the weight.

0 upvotes
sgoldswo
By sgoldswo (7 months ago)

Fantastic lens and achievement for Sony with this lens (note how I didn't have to knock any other lenses in saying that?). It's actually a bargain relative to the performance it gives.

A challenge for Sony/Zeiss: can you produce a similarly exceptional 20/21 in FE mount? I think we would live if it were F2.8...

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
8 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

correction, fantastic achievement by Zeiss. plain Sony made lens are garbage.

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

an easy way to make better lenses is to ask Tamron to design and make lenses for Sony who utilizes marketing service from a German website Zeiss.de.

1 upvote
Revenant
By Revenant (7 months ago)

Sony Zeiss lenses are not true Zeiss lenses. The Panasonic Leica m43 lenses are neither designed nor made by Leica, but they are manufactured using equipment and quality control methods approved by Leica. I don't know what kind of requirements must be fulfilled before you're allowed to put the Zeiss logo on a lens, but it's probably something similar.

5 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

> approved by Leica

I don't think Leica guys have ever seen those but they should be happy to deliver their approval at a good price.

1 upvote
Heaven is for real
By Heaven is for real (7 months ago)

@jennyrae, you don't know what you are talking about. I guess you haven't shot using G lens by Sony and "ZA lenses are designed and manufactured by Sony in Japan, while Zeiss will ensure that certain design and quality parameters defined in a collaboration of Sony and Zeiss are met."

18 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

but does Zeiss have an idea about quality parameters?

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
technotic
By technotic (7 months ago)

but does Nikon have an [sic] idea about quality parameters?

0 upvotes
Rocky Mtn Old Boy
By Rocky Mtn Old Boy (7 months ago)

@jennyrae... do your homework. ZE lenses are made by Sony under license.
Zeiss' Zx other lenses are mostly made in Japan by Cosina (Voigtlander, etc.)

Every brand has crap lenses... why the hate?

Comment edited 58 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

no hate. but what you say is still made by zeiss no matter where you put it. maybe look at non-zeiss Sony lens if they perform excellent like Zeiss made for Sony. do your homework.

Comment edited 50 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

@heaven. G lens designed by Minolta. G lens=rebranded Minolta lens. do your homework. only job done by Sony is acquire rights to them products but not design them. with Sony branded Zeiss lens is same also but not make Sony real makers of the lens.

if there was something that Sony made as achievement, it is sensor development. that's it. but do not take too much Sony weed to think everything is made by Sony is excellent.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (7 months ago)

@jennyrae

Zeiss list the ZA lenses made for Sony cameras on their own website:
http://lenses.zeiss.com/camera-lenses/en_de/camera_lenses/sony-alpha-lenses/distagont224za.html

http://lenses.zeiss.com/camera-lenses/en_de/camera_lenses/csc/sonnarte1824za.html

I'm sure all the ZA lenses are designed by Zeiss and the glass used, so on is specified by Zeiss. Does it really matter if they are manufactured in a Japanese plant owned by Sony?

If it really bothers you, there is always the Zeiss Otus...

Does Canon or Nikon have a 50 or 55mm f1.8 prime as good at this price?

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

@CFynn you misunderstand statement.

it do not bother me. just say that give credit to where it is due. some people get defensive when I say statement that Sony do not produce or make their own lens which is truth. the bother come from Sony fans, not me. they claim Sony make great lenses which is false information. they have great lenses made for them but not they made. attempt made by them has been not to standard by Zeiss. not refer to where it is manufactured but who made lens like if it was Zeiss or not.

if you read, I did not say anything bad about lens but some people get upset when I not give credit to Sony because of lens but give credit to Zeiss instead. I have logical reason to do so because company made the lens and not Sony.

0 upvotes
Markas
By Markas (7 months ago)

@jennyrae, I believe the lens is 100% design by Sony, and Sony has licence to use Sonnar lens designs, and qualities are control by Zeiss since they dont want Sony to ruin their brand. You will probably cant find a lens element design similar to this in the Zeiss range. Plus I dont think Zeiss are expert in lens AF. Perhaps Sony and Zeiss are work together to deliver the Zeiss AF lenses. Who knows. If what you saying is true about all the credit should be Zeiss then non of the good camera on the market should be credited by the brand, as the component are not design by that brand. Take the Nikon D800E for example, I dont think the board memory chip are design by Nikon, mostly like some taiwanese IC companies, you see why it has good continueous shooting buffer, its should credit to the IC chip company not Nikon? . Lastly as a consumer, why you so care sony fanboy cheering at their brand? well only one logical answer is you not a sony fanboy :)

0 upvotes
lem12
By lem12 (7 months ago)

SLT-A99 more of a camera + accessories than any of these two.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

Sony doesn't have a chance there so they want to try their luck in mirrorless.

0 upvotes
lem12
By lem12 (7 months ago)

This makes so much room for third party lens makers, especially Sigma.

3 upvotes
naththo
By naththo (7 months ago)

I would be so curious to see how Sigma fare with FF to make lens especially if they can do the 19, 30 and 60mm. To be compete against Sony with Zeiss glasses at lower price. That would be rather interesting. Its good to have more option of what brand you want to choose the lens. Lacking option isn't that good though.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

Sony is about the same level as Tamron and
Zeiss is no more than a paint on the lens barrel.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
technotic
By technotic (7 months ago)

Another childlike remark from yab.

21 upvotes
Cameracist
By Cameracist (7 months ago)

Yabbokie: Are you sayin this lens is no better than a Tamron? Which one, please, as I will be on my way to buy it immediately...

4 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

please read the posts again. no one is talking about a specific lens. Sony as a camera lens maker relies on Tamron a lot.

Comment edited 43 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
lem12
By lem12 (7 months ago)

So little choices and such a big difference in price. I would have to make money on something this expensive. This is a 55mm $1000 lens! Personally I don't make money on photography to invest in such product.

2 upvotes
AndreSJ
By AndreSJ (7 months ago)

'You get what you pay for' that's my problem with Sony, they either offer these very expensive Ziess lenses which are very good and sharp or you have a limited Sony own lenses which are basically 'Tesco Value' lenses.

1 upvote
Miwok
By Miwok (7 months ago)

Usual fanboy nonsence
Sony 16-50 f2.8, 135 STF, 70-400 and other G lenses are 'Tesco Value"? LOL!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

the lens got a high score on a high resolution sensor. so what's the optimal sensor resolution if it's not highest resolution (1 -e well depth)?

0 upvotes
lem12
By lem12 (7 months ago)

Probably one of the sharpest optics by Zeiss and the price is in the proper range for such glass and brand. But introduced on mirrorless body system not on high end DSLR? I thought these two mirrorless cameras aimed at advanced user. For an advanced user this lens becomes just a 55mm lens, at not even high but astronomical price.

0 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

you not make sense.

19 upvotes
DVT80111
By DVT80111 (7 months ago)

High end DSLR, you mean Full Frame?
Expect bigger, heavier glass, and your thinner wallet.
Who care for those things today? Everything is getting smaller and more mobile.

2 upvotes
Rocky Mtn Old Boy
By Rocky Mtn Old Boy (7 months ago)

A top quality lens made by Sony (under license by Zeiss AG) launched by Sony for its new flagship camera line.

What is it that you don't understand exactly?

7 upvotes
K E Hoffman
By K E Hoffman (7 months ago)

You forget unlike Canon and Nikon who cripple their mirrorless offerings and wonder why they can't sell them Sony has turned out very useful mirrorless cameras. In this case the bodies are $1700 and $2300 so $1000 for prime that can be used for portraits etc. is not un reasonable. Its and FE mount lens.. not targeted at the AXXXX or NEX users..

11 upvotes
shaocaholica
By shaocaholica (7 months ago)

But this is a FF lens

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

> under license by Zeiss AG

which covers a small area on the barrel, 1cm2?

0 upvotes
lem12
By lem12 (7 months ago)

Not both, I mean the one that is cheaper - A7.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
lem12
By lem12 (7 months ago)

These two cameras came out at the same time, the 7R is not an upgrade, 7R cost about $600 more. And only one lens made for both cameras - 55mm at $1000. It couples with 7R but for people getting a cheaper 7 model, $1000 for 55mm lens could be a bit unreasonable.

1 upvote
lem12
By lem12 (7 months ago)

Rocky Mtn Old Boy, it doesn't look like FE is a new flagship camera line. We still in a camera market, not just sensor and smaller body design.

0 upvotes
lem12
By lem12 (7 months ago)

K E Hoffman, Let's compare Canon and Nikon to Sony FE when it will provide a stable and full photographic line of accessories and lenses.

1 upvote
Rocky Mtn Old Boy
By Rocky Mtn Old Boy (7 months ago)

lem12... I don't think anyone would argue that if you're going to spend money on a body *or* a lens... it's going to be a lens. That said, it requires commitment to a brand.
The A7 has a 24mpix, full-frame sensor that compares favorably to any DSLR offering similar. Granted, the sensor isn't everything, but it's a bloody good start.

I have one, and what would I change? Get rid of the gimmicky junk that is best done post-processing (read: not at all) in a future version. Make the bottom plate tougher as it feels like a big lens might break/crack it. I have the battery grip, which is very good/strong.

The A7R? Wow... this is a camera that deserves top lenses.

1 upvote
lem12
By lem12 (7 months ago)

Rocky Mtn Old Boy, Personally I think Sony makes one of the best sensors on 35mm frame market. And for such giant like Sony it's easy to pop another great line of electronics. I have no doubts here. So that places A7 on the level with Canon and Nikon DSLR's in similar price range. The problem I see here that Sony could pop cameras faster than make enough lenses for them. And these electronics get upgraded so quick that the cameras like A99 is already behind by its sensor performance and oddly more of a camera than these two. Considering all this paying a $1000 for 55mm lens for A7 is a bit unreasonable.
I wish I could! 8)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Rocky Mtn Old Boy
By Rocky Mtn Old Boy (7 months ago)

lem12... on those points I tend to agree with you. I suspect that we will see this very same 55mm lens come out in the A-mount soon enough.
I am not sure why the mount change (to E) on the A7, though if I had to guess, it's because the old A-mount is restrictive in its design.

But this is not really considering your point, which is why $1000 for a 55mm? Well, if you look at the Canon and Nikon offerings... ok, well neither of those brands has anything even close (according to DX0Mark) even though they both have standard lenses over $1500. Apparently the Nikkor 58mm is atrocious, and while the Canon 50mm 1.2L is over a stop faster, its IQ is far less. In fact, the only lens that is really in its league is the $4000 Otus... which is only marginally better.

Again according to DX0, the A7 has a sensor and associated IQ ranked in the top 10 (along with the A7R and two fixed lens Sonys).

In my books, that earns a decent lens. And welcome to diminishing returns. ;-)

0 upvotes
naththo
By naththo (7 months ago)

You need to watch out for vignetting at lower f stops like around F1.8 or F2 or F2.8 or so. That is very good lens I must say, very high level of sharpness but distortion is fairly significant that may be common through Sony lens even incorporated with Zeiss glass. I found that Sigma lens has a lot less distortion when combined with Nex 7 to compare to Sony fixed focal lens. Sony need to improve in manufacture over lens to have less distortion and vignetting that would be nice if they do so.

0 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (7 months ago)

Measurements done by DXO and SLRGear disagree with you: very low distortion on FF, practically no distortion on APS-C.

Not sure which Sigma you're talking about, but if it's the E mount 60mm, it was measured to have more distortion.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
13 upvotes
naththo
By naththo (7 months ago)

Your comment is rejected by me for reason because you have not pay attention closely to distortion and vignetting. I saw DxO and can clearly see some distortion there, thats a bit of worry for that pricing lens. Sigma E mount 19, 30 and 60mm have a lot less distortion than Sony normal E mount lens according to SLRGear review.

0 upvotes
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

If you're going to compare with APS-C lenses, the FE 55 has no distortion on a APS-C crop sensor - the distortions are in the extreme corners of a FF sensor, and comparable with other FF 50s (e.g. it's less than the Nikon 58/1.4 G).

11 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (7 months ago)

" Sigma E mount 19, 30 and 60mm have a lot less distortion than Sony normal E mount lens according to SLRGear review"

I didn't say there was no distortion, I said less than the Sigma 60mm and practically no distortion on APS-C (the Sigma's are after all APS-C lenses at best...), the latter confirmed by DXO and SLRGear.

SLRGear did not even test the 60mm and shows between 0.19 and 0.5% distortion for the 19mm and 30mm on APS-C, just 0.1% for the FE 55mm on APS-C. Vignetting of the 55mm was also tested to be lower on APS-C than both those Sigma's at SLRGear. DXOmark also shows both distortion and vignetting to be lower on the FE 55 on APS-C, than any of the 3 Sigma's.

I wonder what you're really looking at.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

it is most possible you not know what you are talking about.

12 upvotes
K E Hoffman
By K E Hoffman (7 months ago)

Why are comparing APC sensor lenses with an FF sensor lens? APC lenses often look better because they don't have to cover as large an image circle.

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

> incorporated with Zeiss glass

I'm not sure if there are glass grains in the paint.
does anyone know if there are?

Comment edited 39 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
ZeevK
By ZeevK (7 months ago)

@naththo: "Sony need to improve in manufacture over lens to have less distortion and vignetting that would be nice if they do so."

Sorry, I don't know where did you get this... Distortion and vignetting has nothing to do with "manufacture" - these are pure design compromises / tradeoffs / limitation, generally unaffected by production variation.

1 upvote
Heaven is for real
By Heaven is for real (7 months ago)

@naththo, APS-C vs FF lens? you make me laugh...

1 upvote
straylightrun
By straylightrun (7 months ago)

naththo, you're drunk. go home.

2 upvotes
naththo
By naththo (7 months ago)

TrojMacReady, Yeah now I am aware that SLRGear did not test 60mm which is a pity but at least I am happy with this lens on Sony Nex 7. Its pretty good anyway and excellent value for money I must say. Its important to compare bronze to gold. Choose which one you want. Cheap sigma or very expensive Zeiss, take your pick. I think it will take a while for Sigma to make new lens for the FE mount series. Probably say few years time. While Zeiss is out already like these.

ZeevK it might be to do with quality control problem as well that could be the culprit. But review tells the truth regarding to resolution, distortion, vignetting, etc. Other than that I took risk to buy 60mm Sigma and still very happy with quality overall because that SLRGear has not yet review that though.

straylightrun, you made me laugh anyway :P

Heaven is for real: Like one of comment I read came from quezra is definitely correct. 10 out of 10 points for quezra.

0 upvotes
naththo
By naththo (7 months ago)

One more thing while waiting for Sigma to make new FE lens. I don't think Photography around here would wait patiently for that. Sony and Zeiss are doing good job to do that straight away and is available already. So most photography here would prefer to buy new lens like these that are available now than waiting for few years for Sigma to come out. I am waiting for 24-70mm to come out in February but not available in Australia yet. $1500 is going to be about that for here.

0 upvotes
naththo
By naththo (7 months ago)

Actually someone may have done unofficial review on that Sony with Zeiss glasses lens of 24-70mm F4. I better find it. As I want to be able to compare against this current kit lens I have on A7. (Btw this kit lens does good job on F8 aperture though).

0 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

f8 is best result for any lens. be it kit lens or performance lens. I think you stop making comparison and silly conclusions.

Comment edited 59 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
naththo
By naththo (7 months ago)

http://www.slrclub.com/bbs/vx2.php?id=slr_review&no=383 Thats the one I found for 24-70mm lens. Pretty good but corner sharpness look so so so far though but it possibly he might have had prototype copy or bad copy.

There is another one here: http://www.the.me/a-worthy-24mm-zoom-the-zeiss-vario-tessar-24-70mm-f4-for-sony-a7r/

But I think that lens will still be better than Kit for the quality of it though. Of course using higher f stop is better off with.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
sportyaccordy
By sportyaccordy (7 months ago)

Most lenses of this type, regardless of quality, have heavy vignetting wide open.

1 upvote
FriendlyWalkabout
By FriendlyWalkabout (7 months ago)

@Dpreview
Dxo also reviewed this lens on nex-7. I don’t understand how it can get a phenomenal 29/36 mp resolution on the A7r while only getting 15/24 mp result on the Nex 7. I understand the nex 7 has anti aliasing filter, but it wouldn't make that big a difference would it? I see the very cheap canon eosm 22mm lens scores a relatively better 13/18 mp. Please help me understand.

0 upvotes
slncezgsi
By slncezgsi (7 months ago)

I am not 100% sure I understand the DxO rating, but I would expect anti-aliasing filter to eat away substantial amount of effective Mpix resolution. At the same time - the Nex7 has larger pixel density than the A7R (though not by much).

One way to another - the 55/1.8 seem to be an excellent lens with lovely rendition. I just hope that more Zeiss primes with this quality are coming for the A7/A7r cameras.

0 upvotes
noirdesir
By noirdesir (7 months ago)

The NEX-7 sensor seems to have microlenses (and possibly complete pixel design) that reacts badly to any oblique light. You can find test after test of fast or wide-angle lenses that do poorly off-center.

1 upvote
Dave Oddie
By Dave Oddie (7 months ago)

I don't look at the dxo site much but if I recall correctly the same lens always gets a higher rating on full frame than on aps-c regardless of make. (justs checked and the Nikon 58mm f1.4 is has a higher rating on the 610 than on the 7100)

As to the Sony lens. Nice short portrait lens on aps-c but 55mm is too long for a standard lens on full frame for me personally. I never liked 50mm never mind 55mm when I shot film.

The very compact A7 is crying out for a 40mm F2 pancake style lens.

2 upvotes
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

Yeah, all Sony CMOS sensors have micro-lenses... they are just calibrated differently. Sony has only ever made one 24 MP APS-C mirrorless sensor, and I wonder if a simple recalibration of the micro-lenses might be all it takes to get some amazing performance out of both legacy lenses and FE lenses. Hopefully the 7 successor will see this

3 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

question is in the NEX-7 itself. why it is poor in comparison with other NEX cameras.

2 upvotes
balios
By balios (7 months ago)

Considering that 36mp cropped to APSC is something like 16mp, the fact that it gets 29mp on FF and 15mp on ASPC seems to make sense. It's about half for both cases, which is what you'd expect if you cropped your 29mp-sharp FF image to APSC size.

The "circle of confusion" of any lens aberrations are the same on both sensors, but the FF sensor has pixels that are spread out more with fewer pixels falling into those circles. Lenses are therefore sharper on FF, at least in the common central portion of the image.

1 upvote
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

@balios. Confusing part is nex7 is 24mp sensor but only resolve 16mp effect. bad part for nex7 is no lens made for it or nex7 is just bad design. My opinion is nex7 is enlarged 16mp sensor or false 24mp. Can be reason why best lenses struggle to even reach 20mp. With camera sensor limit, lens resolvepower become limited.

0 upvotes
Andrew Booth
By Andrew Booth (7 months ago)

Balidos has the answer. APS is half the size of FF, and therefore 29mp on FF would expect to translate to 15mp on APS.

Nothing to see here...

1 upvote
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

@Andrew booth, that did not explain why other APS-C with same sensor size and pixel size size resolve better. can you explain why 55/1.8 resolve less on smaller size sensor? 55/1.8 should perform better on APS-C because of smaller field of view and cropped corners, not opposite. that do not explain why lens resolution on NEX7 is stuck at 16MP and not 24MP. if this was A7r camera, I understand reduction of pixels due to cropping of the sensor by 1.5x equal to 24MP, but APS-C NEX7 is native 24MP but resolve only 16MP?

0 upvotes
balios
By balios (7 months ago)

@ Jenny

If this Zeiss is resolving 29mp on the A7r (36mp, no AA filter), then the lens is the limiting factor at 29mp on FF sensors. If you put that 29mp-sharp FF lens on a APSC camera, then it can't resolve more than about 15mp. Even though the sensor is 24mp, that extra detail won't be sharp

15mp is very good for an APSC camera, that's about equal to the Sigma 35mm Art lens which everyone is raving about. Its better than all my Canon L lenses on crop sensor (but not on FF).

What this means is that having an APSC sensor with more than 16mp has diminishing returns. If you want to resolve more than 16mp, you should really look at getting a FF camera. To make full use of 16mp+ APSC sensors, you need to start looking at expensive lenses like the Zeiss 50mm Otus (21mp on 24mp ASPC, $4k) or the Zeiss 135mm APO (20mp on 24mp APSC, $2k).

I would say that for $1k, you are getting a very good lens.

0 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

@balios. Thank you for explanation. However the otus comparison make it a bit more difficult to comprehend especially if ff camera comparison make it appear otus and fe resolution is very close. My suspicion is nex7 can be culprit. To be sure of result I think nex6 or nex7 successor is used also and see if resolving for nex camera is really limited to 16mp or can be pushed to 20mp. Agree that lens is really excellent and look to be close to art lens. But just wanted to be sure if lens can resolve more with better apsc body. This is because I was not really impressed with nex7 camera eversince. I wait to release of new sigma 50 art.

0 upvotes
zither
By zither (7 months ago)

OK, everybody acknowledges the sharpness (score) is partially because of the A7R 36mp sensor. But what about A7? I think it's more fair to compare this FE 55/f1.8 on A7 with 50/f1.4 on Canon 6D and Nikon D610. They are the most popular (affordable) FF cameras + standard prime lens bundles and the overall prices are in the similar price range as well.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
new boyz
By new boyz (7 months ago)

If it's sharp for a 36mp sensor, it's supposed to be sharp on any sensor.

8 upvotes
Arn
By Arn (7 months ago)

Yes, I too wonder what the performance would look like on the A7. Why didn't they test that?

New boyz - if you select NEX-7 and compare to Otus on the Nikon D7100, you'll see a big difference on favor of the Nikon + Otus, but on the A7R the FE 55 and Otus are about tied. So, it's not as sharp on any sensor.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
noirdesir
By noirdesir (7 months ago)

I think we have to remove the NEX-7 as a reference point, lots and lots of lenses do poorly on it (off-center & wide-open).

3 upvotes
Robert Soderlund
By Robert Soderlund (7 months ago)

It has more to do with pixel density over the area the image itself is cast, smaller circles tend to be sharper (micro 4/3) than full frame image circles. In the end the result is what matters, full frame is less densely populated with pixels (often).

If we would measure purely resolving power, a microscope lens would obviously outresolve a large format lens.

1 upvote
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

Some people seem to forget that 55/1.8 + usable ISO 6,400 is still something like 1 stop brighter than the legendary Canon 50/0.95 - given what sort of film was available back then (and how expensive yet noisy ASA 400-800 could be). And 2-3 stops brighter than f1.2 lenses of the day - that weren't even nearly as usable wide open.

7 upvotes
Stanchung
By Stanchung (7 months ago)

Make it AF!

1 upvote
Almeida
By Almeida (7 months ago)

Already is!

21 upvotes
Heaven is for real
By Heaven is for real (7 months ago)

Already is and it is the SHARPEST AUTO FOCUS lens ever!

2 upvotes
EcoR1
By EcoR1 (7 months ago)

One of the notable things here is the light transmission -> T1.8. It almost equals many 50mm f1.4 lenses that usually have light transmission around T1.7. And this is due to the sonnar-design, that uses very few lens elements. This design is also reason why the lens appear to be a bit longer than traditional 50mm lenses. With DSLR cameras and short focal-length lenses it's actually impossible to use sonnar-design, and you are never going to see this kind of lens with current DSLR's, it's only possible with mirrorless cameras. This lens is an excellent example what optical designers can do when there is no stupid mirror and space that is requires to give limitations in design. Sonnar-design is also very known for creating very pleasing bokeh rendering - something that these charts can't even show.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Zeisschen
By Zeisschen (7 months ago)

I feel Sony is going to release nothing than outstanding lenses for this FF E-mount. The myth that Sony is not good at lenses is truly a myth for people who used A-mount Sony Zeiss and Sony G glass. These new FE lenses are so incredibly lightweight as well, much lighter than they look like. Product design couldn't be better as well in my opinion. This will be a winner system for sure, not for everyone, but for people who want to travel light but don't want to make any compromise with sensor size and picture quality. Pair this with a little RX100 in your pocket and you are set for almost everything...

24 upvotes
mick232
By mick232 (7 months ago)

Go look here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZJry55GRU0&sns=em

The medium format photographer considers the A7R+55/1.8 an alternative for his Hasselblad H3D-31.

6 upvotes
slncezgsi
By slncezgsi (7 months ago)

It is to be remembered that while Sony produces the lenses mentioned here, the optical design comes from Zeiss, as do the requirements for quality control. And on top of that - Sony really is expected to produce excellent lenses on their own too - after all they have taken over the Minolta which had some excellent lenses in their line.

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
Mark K
By Mark K (7 months ago)

I have the same feelings. I have invested huge on Sony and Minolta made lenses but only recent two FE primes shine

0 upvotes
MediaArchivist
By MediaArchivist (7 months ago)

My "best" a-mount lenses are the Sony 135[STF], Sony CZ24/2, Minolta beercan, and Minolta 85/1.4G. I do not feel that I am lacking high end lenses!

I would add the SAL16-50 but it is APS and I primarily use an a99 now.

1 upvote
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (7 months ago)

Hooray for Sony.
A brilliantly sharp and well made lens for a small amount more than Canon's 2.8 IS offerings. Granted they are not a 50/55 but they are comparable prime configurations.

I hope this signals the beginning of a number of premium lenses from Sony. Considering that Fuji is currently setting the standard for optical excellence and fair pricing for their quality, I am sure that Sony have noticed the accolades for Fuji's line

8 upvotes
Shield3
By Shield3 (7 months ago)

The Canon 24/28 IS lenses are about half the price of this lens now. $549. Used, $470 range.

0 upvotes
Emacs23
By Emacs23 (7 months ago)

More careful observation of results should dump down initial enthusiasm. In fact this lens is only great on FF. It is quite mediocre on APS-C and there's something in optical design or coatings which spoils color reproduction with filters (at least UV).

0 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (7 months ago)

How do you come to the conclusion that it is only so-so for APS-C? The center is the sweet spot of highest performance and is what is used by the smaller sensor.
The resolving power of the lens is measured to be extremely high in absolute terms..

In addition, DPR and DxO say the is one of the sharpest lenses they have ever tested so how does that make it mediocre?

Color reproduction? Lets see some facts that go beyond the typical color signatures of different lenses.

7 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

the center resolution is about 2400 at open, which translates to about 1550 on APS-C. it's about 1200 for Canon 50/1.8II tested on 7D which has about 8% higher pixel count per PH (than A7R cropped to APS-C).

so this is more like 1550 vs 1100 (ignoring many other factors so with error). the Sony one still wins by a large margin, not as large as many may think though.

and if center resolution translates directly into value, the new Sony should be 1550^2 / 1100^2 = 2 times more valuable than Canon or worth about 220 US.

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 10 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Emacs23
By Emacs23 (7 months ago)

This way: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12196364/gallery/different/fe55isnotthatgreat.png
You can check it for yourself: http://www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Compare/Side-by-side/Sony-E-50mm-F18-OSS-versus-Sony-FE-Carl-Zeiss-Sonnar-T-STAR-55mm-F18-on-Sony-NEX-7-versus-Zeiss-Carl-Zeiss-Distagon-T-STAR-Otus-55mm-F14-ZF2-Nikon-on-Nikon-D3200___745_0_1252_736_1242_801

As you can check, this FE doesn't seem better than SEL 50. In fact, I would prefer to have better central sharpness and not quite good edges to mediocre everything of FE 55 (on APS-C).

0 upvotes
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

I don't think you understand the term 'mediocre'. Second sharpest lens on NEX-7 isn't poor, when the winner is a f2.8 lens.

I've actually owned both the SEL50 and FE55. Guess which one I sold!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
Richt2000
By Richt2000 (7 months ago)

Anyone who buys this lens and then puts more unneccessary glass in fromt of it clearly isn't after the best IQ they can get.

Stick to Canon I would mate!

0 upvotes
Emacs23
By Emacs23 (7 months ago)

> I don't think you understand the term 'mediocre'.

I do, and you not. See the screenshot above: Otus is close to excellent. If the center part of FE 55 was about as good as Otus I would call it very good. But, it is not. And it is even worse than SEL 50. FF glass needs less sharpness to be very good and it is the case: FE 55 has flat field of view and quite good resolution WO, which makes it a very good performer for FF. But, its resolution is not enough for APS-C, where it loses in practice to even SEL 50, not to mention the Otus, which is in its own league.
So, switching from MF to A7r+FE 55 is not the best ever idea. On the other hand, switching from MF to A7r+Otus is quite reasonable (more reasonable than to D800+Otus IMO, thanks to EVF and much better LV implementation).

0 upvotes
technotic
By technotic (7 months ago)

Cost does not increase linearly with quality does it yab? So your mathematics are some way off as usual. Don't become a math or economics teacher. We seem to be running out of things you might be good at don't we yab?

0 upvotes
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

Emacs, are you seriously suggesting the Otus is the only lens that is 'good' and all other lenses are mediocre? The SEL50 is worse in the corners, and fractionally better in the centre. I can tell the difference in sharpness in the corners with either mounted on my 5N, I certainly cannot tell the difference in the centre - they are both superb. You are looking at a paper specification and equating 'slightly less' with 'mediocre' which is ludicrous. Get both lenses and shoot some actual photos and get your head unstuck from your theory bowl.

I do enjoy how people who were insisting on finding fault with NEX lenses are suddenly praising them when realising how good they actually are.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (7 months ago)

It is excellent on FF while the still besting the lenses purpose made for APS-C. This is a specious comparison. Much like saying your motorcycle is better than a car because it is faster and gets better mileage.
This lens covers FF and thumps the competition. An APS-C lens can't cover FF and thus loses on the "edge resolution" front.

People always laud MF IQ. The truth is that many MF lenses were not as sharp as 35 lenses but then they never had to cover MF. This is precisely the case here but the lens in question still trounces the budget lens used in this false comparison.

@Yabokkie, this lens beats the others optically irrespective of whatever camera you put it on IF you can put it on
In the end, everyone wants great construction and excellent IQ and then wants to pick nits. The truth is that the new lens is superb but also the lenses we already have are fairly decent.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

> cost does not increase linearly with quality

to be specific, there is no clear trend between cost and resolution that higher resolution can be achieved at no extra cost (there are some factors affect cost like very different design using more lens elements or more expensive ED glass that we can add to the final cost).

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

problem of 55/1.8 is tested on poor and problematic camera named NEX7.

1 upvote
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (7 months ago)

This looks like a "best in class" performance, probably better in just about every way than any of my about 20 old "fast 50s". It is just a pitty that it costs about 2.5X the combined total cost of all my old fast 50s (including a Canon FL 55mm f/1.2). The f/1.8 aperture isn't super fast, but old lenses don't have the greatest transmissivity, so I wouldn't be surprised if it lets more light pass than a lot of old f/1.4 lenses... especially old lenses with radioactive yellowing.

There are plenty of inferior fast 50s that people pay $600 or more for, and I think this lens should make reasonable people much more hesitant to do that....

7 upvotes
km25
By km25 (7 months ago)

Wow. Great lens. I like a 35mm much better. It's $1k price tag is worth it. Just think a Leica APO is $8K. It's just that 35mm is a little for me in 135.

2 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

this is DPReview but I think DxOMark should test all the lenses on one camera as far as possible for better comparison. say every lens on A7 or A7R besides its native mount cameras. should keep using the same camera even higher resolution ones are available.

0 upvotes
completelyrandomstuff
By completelyrandomstuff (7 months ago)

This lens has only 0.1EV less transmission than the F1.4 otus, according to DXO. It's probably one of the best (the best?) low light setups out there - you get slightly more depth of focus, with practically the same transmission as F1.4 lenses, superb sharpness wide open and lack of mirror slap means you can get use shutter speeds (like in rangefinders). Then add a rather good high ISO performance on top of that. Looks fantastic.

4 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

what's the error range at DxOMark for light level?
they could be the same (within error) or, say, 0.5 EV apart.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Revenant
By Revenant (7 months ago)

I don't know about the lens tests, but if it's the same as their sensor tests, the margin of error is 1/3 EV.

1 upvote
wherearemyshorts
By wherearemyshorts (7 months ago)

Vignetting is kept pretty well under control, at 1.6 stops wide open, which is perfectly respectable for a fast prime.

So when is a 1.8 lens a fast prime?

1 upvote
ZhanMInG12
By ZhanMInG12 (7 months ago)

When is it not a fast prime?

For the vast majority of photographic history a f2.8 50mm is "fast" and a f2 50mm prime is "very fast"

8 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (7 months ago)

currently on 35mm format, fast prime <= f/2 and fast zoom <= f/2.8, but larger f-numbers were considered fast in the past, so they may go smaller in the future, or may not.

0 upvotes
wherearemyshorts
By wherearemyshorts (7 months ago)

.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
whiteheat
By whiteheat (7 months ago)

"For the vast majority of photographic history a f2.8 50mm is "fast" and a f2 50mm prime is "very fast""

I think the recent technological lens and camera developments has made this sort definition a little outdated as the idea of "fast" as in a fast prime lens has now dropped, where the term "fast" is more aptly applied to lenses of F2 or greater aperture on primes. F2.8 just doesn't seem to be that "fast" anymore for a prime. Anything with a max aperture greater than F1.2, now goes in to the "super fast" category for primes. Of course, for zooms, F2.8 or better is still "fast".

1 upvote
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

I buy A7, 55/1.8 and 24-70 f2.8 for budget I have for Otus. sorry Otus. but body with 2 lens is better deal.

20 upvotes
jennyrae
By jennyrae (7 months ago)

this like Otus killer and Otus cheap sister. very good work by Zeiss here with absence of e-mount for otus. excellent lens to bring with RX1.

6 upvotes
lost_in_utah
By lost_in_utah (7 months ago)

This lens needs to be in its own category. This is very very impressive by the sharpness only.

5 upvotes
Heaven is for real
By Heaven is for real (7 months ago)

Score 95% and GOLD AWARD, anything less is _____________ (you feel in the blanks)!

2 upvotes
Daniel from Bavaria
By Daniel from Bavaria (7 months ago)

Ok, that's optically absolute impressive. Great lens.

3 upvotes
ulfie
By ulfie (7 months ago)

71 mm (2.8″) long make it a bit long for steady, low-light, hand-held shooting considering these two full-frame Sonys have no IBIS unless you're willing to pump up the ISO. The price for a "normal" lens is, IMHO, ridiculous.

1 upvote
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (7 months ago)

All else being equal, I find physically longer lenses easier to hold stable for having more feel and control over the angle of the camera. Longer FL's/larger magnification is a different matter of course.

As a whole, it's comparable in length/depth to a DF plus 50mm f/1.8. Just a smaller diameter of the lens itself (and obviously a body that is less tall and wide):
http://camerasize.com/compact/#488.395,495.353,ha,t

5 upvotes
dead eyes open
By dead eyes open (7 months ago)

Ridiculous?! You've obviously never priced a Leica...

5 upvotes
EthanP99
By EthanP99 (7 months ago)

It doesnt matter since the OTUS also has no OS.

So does this mean the best FF is the a99 with otus?

0 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (7 months ago)

Price too high? So everybody clamors for razor sharp optics but seem to think they should be priced like kit lenses? Maybe you need a cheaper hobby or softer lenses.

3 upvotes
Emacs23
By Emacs23 (7 months ago)

@EthanP99, there is no Otus for A-mount: somehow Sony and Zeiss agreed they (zeiss) will leave A-mount for fake Sony "zeisses"

0 upvotes
MediaArchivist
By MediaArchivist (7 months ago)

That is correct: this is not a Zeiss lens, it is a Sony lens.

In other news, according to both DPreview *and* DxO, Sony has just released the second sharpest lens ever. Not Zeiss, or Canon, or Nikon, or Leica— Sony.

4 upvotes
Emacs23
By Emacs23 (7 months ago)

The didn't test APO-Summicron, and, based on its MTF from Leica site, Cron is better (must be for this price). And it is not the second best performer for sure: take a look at NEX-7 chart, it's uniformly acceptable, even in the center, where it should be good or very good.
BTW, 55mm is an FL of oddish side. It looks like they had troubles making fair 50.

0 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (7 months ago)

"BTW, 55mm is an FL of oddish side. It looks like they had troubles making fair 50"

Yeah, just like they had troubles with the Otus doing the same. *shakes head*.

1 upvote
Emacs23
By Emacs23 (7 months ago)

> Yeah, just like they had troubles with the Otus doing the same. *shakes head*.

My thoughts exactly :) Same problems, same cheat solution.

0 upvotes
Flashback
By Flashback (7 months ago)

'The 55mm F1.8 is quite sharp and also enjoyable to use'

It's actually from the A7 review, 'Handling and shooting Experience' page

It made me smile when I read that. Talk about damned with faint praise!

11 upvotes
dynaxx
By dynaxx (7 months ago)

Hear, Hear !

Perfect Will' Shakespeare quotation ( Merchant of Venice, I think ) to summarise how bleak and downcast the A7 review was. Please, oh please give Andy Westlake some input into the A7R review if you want to minimise the damage.

Comment edited 54 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
quezra
By quezra (7 months ago)

DPR, like tons of DPR readers, never could get over the prejudice of reading the paper specifications and concluding it was overpriced. Don't judge a lens by its f-stop! (judge it by its sharpness, bokeh, contrast and T-stop)

3 upvotes
Heaven is for real
By Heaven is for real (7 months ago)

Wow, time to sell your gear and switch people...Sony is non stop innovating and adding more impressive lens like this one. Nothing compare, this lens blew away best of Canon and Nikon....

10 upvotes
Total comments: 306
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