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Sony has revealed the Planar T* 50mm F1.4 and 70-400mm F4.5.6 G SSM II

By dpreview staff on Feb 20, 2013 at 04:01 GMT

Sony has revealed the Zeiss-branded Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM and 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II A-mount lenses, alongside a redesigned DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II entry-level kit zoom. The redesigned 70-400mm telephoto zoom offers faster autofocus than the existing version and comes in a white body that matches the recent 70-200mm and 500mm G lenses. Meanwhile, the 50mm F1.4 features a dust and moisture resistant design and quiet autofocus.

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Press Release:

Full-frame G Lens 70-400mm telephoto zoom; Full-frame Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm F1.4; DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 standard zoom; compact add-on flash and remote commander

  • New-generation 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II telephoto zoom – with 4x faster autofocus and improved optical performance
  • Full-frame, wide-aperture, single-focal-length Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM – high-end image quality with renowned resolving power and contrast
  • Light, compact, newly-styled DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II standard 3x zoom lens – designed for APS-C cameras
  • HVL-F20M flash – space-saving design with wireless control and bounce flash
  • RM-VPR1 wired remote – easily control shutter release, video start/stop and zoom

Sony extends the range of A-mount interchangeable lenses with three new models to satisfy the most demanding enthusiasts and photo professionals.

The 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II and Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM lenses complement the impressive imaging capabilities of Sony’s full-frame α99 SLT (Translucent Mirror) camera. The DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II is a light, compact 3x zoom that’s an ideal partner for A-mount cameras with APS-C sensors.

They’re joined by a compact new on-camera flash and a wired remote that’s ideal for advanced shooting.

“70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II” telephoto zoom

Sony’s G lens line-up is strengthened for 2013 with the revised 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II. Ideal for capturing wildlife and action-packed sports, the upgraded super-telephoto zoom builds further on the premium performance of its predecessor with enhanced optics and faster, more responsive autofocus. Thanks to a new LSI drive circuit, autofocus speed of the SSM (Super Sonic Wave Motor) is around four times quicker than before. Teamed with enhanced tracking AF, the upgraded lens is now even more suitable for capturing stills and Full HD video of fast-moving subjects.

While its optical design is carried over from the previous-generation model, the new-generation lens features Sony’s proprietary Nano AR Coating on optical surfaces. Offering around five times the efficiency of conventional anti-reflection coatings, this advanced technology reduces flare and ghosting for exceptionally high-contrast images.

Carl Zeiss “Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM”

The new Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM joins the existing Distagon 24mm, Planar 85mm and Sonnar 135mm in the A-mount range of prime length optics by Carl Zeiss. Offering a fixed 50mm focal length and extra-bright F1.4 aperture, the premium lens is an ideal choice for quality-critical portraiture and low-light shooting.

Featuring 8 elements in 5 groups with two aspherical elements, the brand new optical design is optimised for superb results with Sony’s full-frame α99. Exceptional resolving power and contrast at all apertures are teamed with smooth, quiet autofocusing and a rear-focus system that maintains the same lens body length during AF. The dust- and moisture-resistant design extends the appeal of the new lens to a wide range of outdoor shooting applications.

“DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II” zoom

Boasting second-generation styling, this new lens succeeds the popular DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM that was introduced in 2011. The light, compact 3x zoom lens covers a frequently-used range of focal lengths from wide-angle 18mm to standard 55mm (35mm camera equivalent range: 27-82.5mm). While retaining the same smooth AF motor (SAM) as its predecessor, newly-designed rear lens elements suppresses flare and ghost, while mechanical elements have been upgraded for more positive, comfortable operation.

New accessories for Sony cameras and camcorders

The HVL-F20M is a space-saving, easy to carry new flash for Multi Interface Shoe mounted cameras, that’s ideal for brightening up portraits, interiors and dimly-lit scenes. Despite its compact size, it’s packed with pro-style features like wireless control for fuss-free multi flash set-ups, simple bounce operation and Auto White Balance compensation for more accurate, natural-looking white balance. It’s refreshingly easy to use: just raise the flash head to switch on… then turn off again by lowering when the flash isn’t needed.

Compatible with a growing range of ‘α’ A-mount and E-mount, Cyber-shot™ and Handycam® models that feature the versatile Multi Terminal interface, the RM-VPR1 wired remote commander features handy controls for zoom and video recording start/stop. It also includes a shutter lock function that’s ideal for long-exposure ‘bulb’ shooting with ‘α’ cameras. The remote comes supplied with two cables. One is for use with Multi Terminal-equipped cameras/camcorders, while the other allows simple shutter release with ‘α’ A-mount cameras that only include a REMOTE terminal.

Please see http://www.sony.co.uk/hub/lenses for full details on new lens and accessories.

The new lenses and accessories will start to become available in Europe from March 2013.

Sony Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM, 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II, DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II lens specifications

 Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSMSony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM IISony DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II
Principal specifications
Lens typePrime lensZoom lens
Max Format size35mm FFAPS-C / DX
Focal length50 mm70–400 mm18–55 mm
Lens mountSony Alpha
Aperture
Maximum apertureF1.4F4.0 - F5.6F3.5 - F5.6
Aperture ringNo
Optics
Elements8188
Groups5127
Focus
Minimum focus0.45 m (17.72)1.50 m (59.06)0.25 m (9.84)
Maximum magnification0.14×0.27×0.34×
AutofocusYes
Motor typeUltrasonicMicromotor
Full time manualYesUnknown
Focus methodInternalExtending front
Distance scaleYesNo
DoF scaleYesNo
Physical
Weight518 g (1.14 lb)1500 g (3.31 lb)222 g (0.49 lb)
Diameter81 mm (3.19)95 mm (3.72)72 mm (2.83)
Length72 mm (2.83)196 mm (7.72)69 mm (2.72)
SealingYesNo
ColourBlack
Zoom methodRotary (extending)
Filter thread72 mm77 mm55 mm
Hood suppliedYesNo
Hood product codeALC-SH126
Tripod collarYesNo
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Comments

Total comments: 57
Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (Feb 24, 2013)

I'm sure that these will both be excellent products if only Sony could sell a few upmarket DSLR's for them to fit on to ! All joking apart - would love to see how the 50 1.4 Sony/Zeiss stacks up against the older manual focus 50 1.4 Zeiss (with its well known CA issues) - bring the test on DPREview!

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
rallyfan
By rallyfan (Feb 23, 2013)

The 70-400 looks very interesting. I hope it has good AF and optics; at this stage I'd trade some of the latter to gain some of the former, frankly. Looking forward to a full test.

0 upvotes
Ubilam
By Ubilam (Feb 22, 2013)

I don't care what you say because its so obvious, but they are copying Canon's L stuff! What a blunder...

0 upvotes
PatrickP
By PatrickP (Feb 20, 2013)

Poor Nikon users. Sony is already onto their 2nd generation 70-400mm with SSM. The first version of the Nikon AF-S 70/80-400 is still yet to be found!

7 upvotes
Benarm
By Benarm (Feb 20, 2013)

Two major advantages of using Zeiss lens on Sony:
- Autofocus with SSM
- In-body image stabilization

5 upvotes
oselimg
By oselimg (Feb 20, 2013)

Since it's meaningless to pass premature comments on these two lenses I think that it's equally meaningless to call lenses of this type full frame. Are the other sensor formats half/quarter frame. Aren't there bigger formats than 35mm format then, what should we call them? I know this term's found it's way in everyday photographic language but many people who own cameras of any kind don't even know what it stands for. It's non-descriptive. At least, when 35mm film ruled everybody(almost) knew what it was and how big it was. What now called full frame is same size as single 35mm film frame. Can you guys at the Dpreview at least start to challenge the current misleading and non-descriptive trend, may I kindly ask?

1 upvote
Zhivko Yakimov
By Zhivko Yakimov (Feb 20, 2013)

Actually, there is a term for sensors larger than 35mm - medium format (most frequently 4x6cm or 6x6cm) and large format (no common format, but something like 10x15cm). The term "full frame" came when there were no larger sensors, implying that this was a "true" sensor, like what people were used when shooting on film. Back then, no one believed that digital backs for medium format were possible, and that 35mm digital sensors were the maximum technology could reach.

It may be not the best term that has been devised, but it has stuck, so there isn't really much point in trying to re-invent the wheel. Of course, this is only my opinion, and it is hardly gospel.

0 upvotes
oselimg
By oselimg (Feb 20, 2013)

When Medium and Large format were called what they were called 35mm format was called 35mm. if now 35mm is the full frame what should 6X4,5 and 6X6 be called. Larger than 35mm formats in film form co-existed when when 35mm digital was produced even 35mm film co-habited the photography world in digital age. Also thank you for informing me about the names of other/bigger formats. Perhaps I should've mentioned my age.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
jwkphoto
By jwkphoto (Feb 22, 2013)

Way back in the olden times, nearly 125 years ago, Thomas Edison was inventing a motion picture camera. He needed film for it so he went to his friend, George Eastman, who had just invented the Kodak camera. Eastman said his only roll film was 70mm wide and he could split it down the center and make it 35mm wide. Also he would put holes along the side to transport the film through the camera. The holes took up space so the usable image size would be 24mm wide and about 16mm deep. This is the original 35mm frame size.

2 upvotes
jwkphoto
By jwkphoto (Feb 22, 2013)

Continued - A few years later, Leitz invented a camera for testing the movie film for proper exposure. This is how the Leica camera came about. When it came on the market, it had a frame size, 24x35mm, double the original movie film. It was called double frame. After a while it became full frame and the original size became half frame. Many other film sizes came and went and today nearly all consumer roll film is either 35mm or 60mm wide. When the term full frame is mentioned it means 24x35mm film or sensor size. There was never, as far as I know, any other film size that used that term.

1 upvote
jwkphoto
By jwkphoto (Feb 22, 2013)

Edit- I should have said, 24x36mm frame size!

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Feb 20, 2013)

The decision to make lenses in white is dumb - everybody looking from far enough will think people shoot with Canon L glass - free ad for Canon, no ad for Sony. At least silver was distinctive.
And I have seen what white paint on Canons looks like after many hours in the sun and handling without squeaky-clean gloves - dirty yellowish shouting "I am old and tired, please replace me" - an expensive message to make.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
moimoi
By moimoi (Feb 20, 2013)

I do have one white lens, but I tend to agree with you. I much prefer black overall. You get less attention, and the black paint does not get as dirty as the black one unless you have been very careful how to handle the lens. Anyhow...that's the way it is...

0 upvotes
Juck
By Juck (Feb 20, 2013)

They're white to reflect heat, genius.

13 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Feb 20, 2013)

Minolta did white lenses in the 80s.

3 upvotes
EinsteinsGhost
By EinsteinsGhost (Feb 21, 2013)

Obviously, many aren't aware that Minolta was making white lenses in 1980s... I have one: http://i678.photobucket.com/albums/vv141/robertsmx/2012/77541de9.jpg

3 upvotes
Sad Joe
By Sad Joe (Feb 24, 2013)

Yep - well done Sony - everyone knows that telephone glass in WHITE means only one brand - CANON! Having VERY BIG blue Zeiss stickers might help a little. Perhaps Sony HQ has kept that upgrade for the Mark Two versions ?

1 upvote
T3
By T3 (Feb 25, 2013)

You clearly don't know what you're talking about. First of all, as others have mentioned, Minolta made white lenses. Secondly, the "dirty yellowish old tired" Canon white lens color you are referring to is actually how they look fresh out of the box! Canon's "white" lenses only look white in photos, but in really life they are actually a dull "dirty" putty color. I know because I've been a lifelong Canon user with several Canon white lenses.

And thirdly, the white, off-white, and putty color of a lot of these larger lenses serves a functional purpose: they don't absorb heat like a big black lens would.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Feb 26, 2013)

Silver reflects heat also. And if they care about heat as much, why don't they make their cameras (containing much more sensitive electronics to be overheated) in white?
And yes, nobody remembers Minolta, and white lens color is associated with Canon now. Unfair, but it is as it is.

0 upvotes
Dave Oddie
By Dave Oddie (Feb 20, 2013)

From the press release:

"Sony extends the range of A-mount interchangeable lenses with three new models to satisfy the most demanding enthusiasts and photo professionals."

Extends the range? They already have lenses of these exact focal lengths in the range. The two zooms replace existing lenses and even if they keep the existing Sony 50mm 1.4 in production (which I doubt they will) then having two 50mm F1.4 lenses doesn't count as extending the range.

If they has introduced a F2.8-F4 standard FF zoom or 35mm F2 or whatever then they would be extending the range.

At least it shows some commitment to the A mount but they really do need to start actually extending the range not just replace existing lenses.

2 upvotes
moimoi
By moimoi (Feb 20, 2013)

I really can't agree more with your statement. A 35 mm f/2 is clearly lacking in the lens lineup. Zoom f/4 lenses as well. I really don't understand Sony strategy to be honest. If they have the desire to compete with Canon and Nikon, they MUST provide an extensive lens lineup. At the moment, they can't do this unless they rely on older Minolta lenses, but that's not a long-term strategy. Time will tell if the alpha mount would disappear or not. I wish not!!!

0 upvotes
ageha
By ageha (Feb 20, 2013)

There is a 35 mm f/2...

1 upvote
Klipsen
By Klipsen (Feb 20, 2013)

I'd grab that new 70-400 if only because it isn't silver any more. But I'm reluctant to buy more lenses after Sony changed their hotshoe.

If they think they can persuade me to change with them, they may find that I change from them.

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Feb 20, 2013)

Sony changed the hotshoe back to a standard.

0 upvotes
texascbx
By texascbx (Feb 20, 2013)

Why do Canon trolls come here and tell us how good their overpriced lenses are compared to Sony's overpriced lenses? It looks like they should have no interest in how bad Sony lenses are if they shoot Canon. It makes no sense. Shoo, go away troll.

Back to the bridge.

11 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Feb 20, 2013)

I shoot Canon and I think this 70-400 is a very desirable lens.

3 upvotes
ZAnton
By ZAnton (Feb 20, 2013)

Please, correct the name
"F4.5.6 G SSM" to "F4-5.6 G SSM"
Concerning lenses: Sony sells non IS lenses at the price of Canon/Nikon IS/VR lenses. Inbody IS gives at best - 2 stop, usually 0,5-1 Stop, whereas optical IS - at least 3 stop. So I don't think it is wise to get Sony at least at current prices.

0 upvotes
hippo84
By hippo84 (Feb 20, 2013)

Don't forget, that optical IS reduces max.aperture.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 20, 2013)

And corner sharpness.

1 upvote
maximuscr
By maximuscr (Feb 20, 2013)

You're wrong about the effiency of the Body IS, for the A77 and A99 make it 2 to 4 stops.

Comment edited 13 seconds after posting
7 upvotes
Karroly
By Karroly (Feb 20, 2013)

@hippo84 and Plastek,

Any theory behind your statements ?

I own the following kit lenses :
- Canon EF-S 18-55mm 3.5 5.6 II
- Canon EF-S 18-55mm 3.5 5.6 IS
- Pentax DA 18-55mm 3.5 5.6 AL
- Pentax DA 18-55mm 3.5 5.6 AL II
- Samsung 18-55mm 3.5 5.6 OIS
- Samsung 18-55mm 3.5 5.6 OIS II

The Canon IS version beats the non IS version in border/corner sharpness, what all Canon users know, but my Samsung lenses beat my Canon and Pentax ones in every aspects of corner sharpness, CA and purple fringing. I do not feel the need to enable lens distortion correction in my Samsung body... Moreover, for the same max. aperture, the Samsung kit lenses are not bigger (thanks to the mirrorless design maybe...)
I can also confirm what ZAnton wrote. The IS of my Pentax K-x with kit lens is not as efficient as my Canon and Samsung kit lens IS. I gain about 1 stop with Pentax, 3 stops with Canon/ Samsung.

0 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (Feb 20, 2013)

@ Karroly :

But Pentax isn't the best reference since their in body IS is not as efficient as the others (Sony, Olympus).

You're also comparing different lens designs. I remember tests between Tamron or Sigma lenses with and without the VC/OS working (elements fixed for certain Sony versions where the VC/OS system was removed), with positive optical effects in the latter case beyond sample variation.

3 upvotes
The Lotus Eater
By The Lotus Eater (Feb 20, 2013)

"Inbody IS gives at best - 2 stop, usually 0,5-1 Stop, whereas optical IS - at least 3 stop"

Wrong, I have experienced over 3 stops.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 20, 2013)

Karroly - theory is simple: http://www.cameratechnica.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/image-stabilized-lens-diagram.png - as you see (and probably: know) Image stabilization is made by shifting the location of the lens. This causes a lens to be decentered and that introduces flaws in image quality - http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/05/testing-for-a-decentered-lens-an-old-technique-gets-a-makeover

Zeiss gave this as a major reason why none of Zeiss lenses have build-in optical image stabilization.

2 upvotes
Klipsen
By Klipsen (Feb 20, 2013)

Dream on, ZAnton. And move on.

0 upvotes
Nathaniel George Weir
By Nathaniel George Weir (Feb 20, 2013)

Oh yeah image stabilization definitely reduces maximum aperture. That's why when canon releases IS versions of their lenses like the 70-200mm they have such smaller maximum apertures. Think for less than 5 seconds about that comment. And with all this flack on how image stabilization reduces corner sharpness. Name a working professional who gives a crap about how the corner sharpness of their photo is reduced when they use IS. It is so irrelevant to people who actually count on their lenses to make money.

0 upvotes
ageha
By ageha (Feb 20, 2013)

Nice collection of low end lenses...

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Feb 20, 2013)

Got a feeling Sigma's 50 f/1.4 is going to be better than the Zeiss.... hmm. Zeiss aren't that impressive lately.

3 upvotes
RTIMD
By RTIMD (Feb 20, 2013)

Name a modern Zeiss that isn't "impressive" compared to Sigma.

7 upvotes
Emopunk
By Emopunk (Feb 20, 2013)

Peiasdf, are you joking, right?

6 upvotes
JIMIX PHOTO
By JIMIX PHOTO (Feb 20, 2013)

@ RTIMD: Zeiss 35/1.4 T* Distagon vs. the new Sigma 35/1.4 (A). The very name Zeiss still causes lots of "ooohs" and "aaahs" these days, but let's face it: while some of them perform splendidly, most of them are just good and average. It's just the legendary name in the business, and an unquestionable leader in optics for all who never used one. See, I use a lot of Zeiss lenses at work, and they are medium format Zeiss-Hasselblads. Supposed to be the very top. It's not, believe me. There is this thing called progress and yet another thing called physical limitation. Some manufacturers, like Sigma lately, progressed significantly, while others, like Zeiss, can't beat the rock-solid laws of physics. And so, if Zeiss ever made a Zeiss 50-500/4.5-6.3, it would have the same flaws as the Bigma, and it would not have an AF motor, or stabilisation (but if it was made for Sony, it would autofocus though) :)))

Comment edited 4 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
ZAnton
By ZAnton (Feb 20, 2013)

The new Zeiss 55 f/1,4 is very good indeed, but at price of 3000 Euro - forget about it.

0 upvotes
noegd
By noegd (Feb 20, 2013)

The Sigma 35 1,4 is impressive and seems better than every other 35mm 1,4 out there, apart maybe from the current Leica M Summilux.

But the Sigma 50 1,4 is a slightly older design. It has its strengths and supporters, but it is not the technological breakthrough the 35mm 1,4 is. In particular, corners are nothing to write home about. See here: http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/sigma_50_1p4_c16/5

One thing the CZ and Sigma 50 1.4 share is a huge filter size for a 50mm prime (72 and 77mm respectively).

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Feb 20, 2013)

Leica or Zeiss mean third-class Japanese.

Sigma is just one among many third-class Japanese makers who made better German brand lenses than Germans could.

only third-class Japanese makers are willing to take foreign brands and Minolta was one. a camera made by Minolta went into the space exactly 50 years ago bearing a brand of an American company in New York.

well, third-class Japanese makers can make better glasses than first-class ones elsewhere so they are still good.

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 20, 2013)

yabokkie - what the heck are you talking about?

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Feb 20, 2013)

these Japanese makers (used to) manufacture Zeiss lenses:
Cosina,
Kyocera,
Minolta,
Sigma,
Sony,
Tomioka,
Yashica.

Zeiss once tried to make same lenses themselves but quality not as good as Japanese. they haven't had a chance to compete for generations, and the Zeiss brand now means no more than third-class Japanese.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Feb 21, 2013)

I know Sigma's 50 f/1.4 is an older design but arguably it was the one that started the Sigma high-quality trend. If you follow Sigma's trend of updating a lens every 6/7 years and next one is almost ready and should be very good while reasonably priced.

0 upvotes
Gionni Dorelli
By Gionni Dorelli (Feb 23, 2013)

Images coming from Sigma lenses lack carachter, never mind how sharp they can be. Zeiss lenses regardless by who are manufactured have carachter.
Haselblad Zeiss lenses were manufactured 10 to 20 years previous these Sony Zeiss, which are significantly better.
The only AF Zeiss that can approach the level of these new Zeiss are the one from the 645 Contax.

0 upvotes
burnaby
By burnaby (Feb 20, 2013)

no anti-vibration?

0 upvotes
RTIMD
By RTIMD (Feb 20, 2013)

Sony has In body image stab.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
The Lotus Eater
By The Lotus Eater (Feb 20, 2013)

Not to mention that Zeiss refuse to stabilise their lenses, as it compromises image quality.

2 upvotes
pureaxis
By pureaxis (Feb 20, 2013)

The Sony 70-400mm G is absolutely the best lens in its class, too bad Sony didn't update it with weather-sealing

5 upvotes
futile32
By futile32 (Feb 20, 2013)

curious why the 70-200mm hasn't been updated yet.

would the 70-200mm + 2x teleconverter be a better setup than simply a slower 70-400mm?

1 upvote
brendon1000
By brendon1000 (Feb 20, 2013)

^^ Not for IQ or AF performance.

But the 70-200mm without TC will offer better bokeh and of course a much faster aperture.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 20, 2013)

It is weather-sealed.

2 upvotes
digifan
By digifan (Feb 20, 2013)

No weather sealing on such a lens ... come on.
Typical Sony.

0 upvotes
hippo84
By hippo84 (Feb 20, 2013)

Zeiss is 1.4, not 1.8

0 upvotes
Total comments: 57