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Sony US launches Planar T* 50mm F1.4 and 70-400mm F4.5.6 G SSM II

By dpreview staff on Feb 25, 2013 at 13:00 GMT

Sony US has announced 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. Both have already been announced in Europe. The lenses will ship from May 2013 at retail prices of around $1500, $2200 and $220 respectively.

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Press Release:

Sony Adds Three New-Generation A-Mount Lenses to α Interchangeable Lens Camera System

Sharp New Lenses include Full Frame 70-400mm G Telephoto Zoom, Full Frame 50mm F1.4 Carl Zeiss Prime and DT 18-55mm Standard Zoom

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 22, 2013 – Sony is extending the range of its α A-mount interchangeable lens camera system with the introduction of three new lenses designed to fit the needs of the most demanding photo enthusiasts and professionals.

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

New 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II telephoto zoom (model SAL70400G2)

Ideal for capturing wildlife and action-packed sports, the new, upgraded 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II super-telephoto zoom lens builds on the premium performance of its predecessor with enhanced optics and faster, more responsive autofocus.   The lens features a new LSI drive circuit and faster AF responsiveness, making the ultimate choice for capturing crisp, sharply focused still images and Full HD videos of fast moving subjects.

The new-generation SAL70400G2 lens also features Sony’s proprietary Nano AR Coating on its optical surface.  Offering around five times the efficiency of conventional anti-reflection coatings, it reduces flare and ghosting for exceptionally high-contrast images.

New Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM (model SALF0F14Z)

The new Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM prime lens joins the existing Distagon 24mm, Planar 85mm and Sonnar 135mm in Sony’s A-mount range of prime length optics by Carl Zeiss.  With a fixed 50mm focal length and extra-bright F1.4 aperture, the premium lens is an ideal choice for professional-quality portraiture and low-light shooting.

Featuring eight lens elements in five groups with two aspherical elements, the brand new optical design on the SAL50F14Z lens is optimized for use with Sony’s full-frame α99 camera.   The lens maintains exceptional resolving power and contrast at all apertures, and utilizes a rear-focus system to focus smoothly, quietly and effectively.   It is also dust- and moisture-resistant, extending the appeal to a wide range of outdoor shooting applications. 

New DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM II zoom lens (model SAL18552)

With second-generation styling, the new SEL18552 lens succeeds the popular DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM that was introduced in 2011.  The light, compact 3x zoom lens maintains the same smooth AF motor (SAM) as its predecessor with a quieter AF drive, ideal for continuous AF during video capture.  It also features newly-designed rear lens elements that reduce flare and ghosting, and upgraded mechanical elements for more comfortable operation. 

New Accessories for Sony Cameras and Camcorders

Sony has also introduced two new accessories compatible with a growing range of α A-mount and E-mount, Cyber-shot™ and Handycam® models.

The new HVL-F20M external flash, a new space-saving on-camera flash compatible with all Multi Interface Shoe mounted cameras (includes relevant A-mount, E-mount and Cyber-shot models) is ideal for brightening up portraits, interiors and dimly-lit scenes.  Despite its compact size, the new flash is packed with several pro-style features including wireless control, simple bounce operation and Auto White Balance compensation for more accurate, natural-looking white balance.  The flash can also be turned on and off easily either by raising or lowering the flash head. 

The new RM-VPR1 wired remote commander features convenient controls for zoom (with relevant models) and video recording start/stop, and includes a shutter lock function that’s ideal for long-exposure ‘bulb’ shooting with α cameras.

Pricing and Availability

The new SAL70400G2 telephoto zoom lens will be available this July for about $2200.  The SAL50F14Z prime lens and SAL18552 zoom lens will be available this May for about $1500 and $220 respectively. 

The HVL-F20M compact flash will be available this May for about $150, and the RM-VPR1 wired remote commander will be available this April for about $65.

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: 29
Victor Seryy
By Victor Seryy (Apr 9, 2013)

Sigma lenses are made from bottle glass

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Feb 26, 2013)

with 2 asph elements, this lens looks more like a Sigma and probably it's an OEM from Sigma, and should be as sharp as other Sigma lenses.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 26, 2013)

OEM from Sigma?! You're joking?!
What next - someone suggests Leica OEMs glass from Tamron?

1 upvote
ZZFILM
By ZZFILM (Feb 27, 2013)

I don't think he is too far off. Cosina has made quite a bit for Zeiss, why not Sigma, or maybe Cosina again? And what do you think about the Leica lenses that were made in Canada VS the ones that were made in Europe? I think "Leitz"/ELCan are still making glass for people. Could be wrong.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Feb 27, 2013)

I don't know if Sony can make better lenses than Sigma and I don't know if German brand or make means better quality.

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Feb 26, 2013)

$1500 for a 50 f/1.4? You can get 3 Sigma or 1 Canon f/1.2 for that price.

2 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Feb 26, 2013)

Can people using such lenses explain to me why would anybody prefer 70-400/4-5.6 over 70-200/2.8 plus 2x teleconverter (or even crop, given how unsharp 400mm is on the previous 70-400 I have seen), at the same total price and weight?

0 upvotes
brendon1000
By brendon1000 (Feb 26, 2013)

Who says its so unsharp ?

Photozone has tested the lens and the sharpness figures seemed pretty good.

You have a look at the resolution figures of a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR I (which is better than the Sony version of that lens) with a Nikon branded TC.

http://www.photozone.de/nikon_ff/457-nikkor_afs_70200_28_ff?start=1

Zoom lenses aren't really good candidates of TCs

Another issue is that AF speed will reduce quite a bit and you really need to stop down to get even decent contrast.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Feb 26, 2013)

Sony doesn't have a good 70-200/2.8, yet.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Feb 26, 2013)

"Sony doesn't have a good 70-200/2.8"

Oops, true. Did not know that.

I was thinking along the lines of Canon L II and Nikon VR II - both are so much sharper (at 200/2.8) in the central part of the frame compared to the SAL-70400G (prev version) at 400/5.6 that even straight 2x crop (without a teleconverter) should be as sharp or sharper (at the same shutter speed - and 4x lower ISO). And with Sony's digital zoom and EVF it must be even convenient, and no issues with AF or stabilization, as it is the same 70-200.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 26, 2013)

"that even straight 2x crop should be as sharp or sharper" - Riiiiiggghhhttt....

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (Feb 26, 2013)

What is with the repetition of the news?

0 upvotes
Mssimo
By Mssimo (Feb 26, 2013)

MTF charts can now be located on sony site. http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666536155

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Feb 26, 2013)

looks better than current Canon and Nikon but I think new Canon 50/1.4 and Nikon 50/1.2 should be around the corner, and maybe yet another Sigma.

0 upvotes
Rooru S
By Rooru S (Feb 26, 2013)

Weathersealed? Good.. SSM AF? Great! Now I just want to see some reviews of this lens, because I was expecting 1200USD or a little bit less...let's not forget it's a 50mm lens..

now all I need is something like the a850, with all the photographic features and the sensor of the a99. Not interested in video features at all. Just the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4, and a SLT-a85 offered in a bunddle for... 2750USD? Sounds good, right?

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 25, 2013)

@dPreview:
Data for Zeiss 50 f/1.4 you missed:
Full time manual: Yes
Focus method: Internal
Distance scale: Yes
DoF scale: Yes
Hood supplied: No
Tripod collar: No

0 upvotes
chiumeister
By chiumeister (Feb 25, 2013)

no way the 50 1.4 can be $1500, unless it's a 1.2

3 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Feb 25, 2013)

I'd prefer a high quality 50/1.4 over f/1.2,
at up to 1.4 times the price of current Canon one.
0.7 times if there is an ugly Zeiss mark that I have to remove.

1 upvote
raducdz
By raducdz (Feb 25, 2013)

Zeiss 55mm 1.4 (with manual focus) for Nikon is what... 3000 EUR? Comparing to that, it's... much better...
Leica's 50 1.4 is also over 3000...
And this is aimed to be in the same high-end category.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
brendon1000
By brendon1000 (Feb 26, 2013)

My main concern is the price. There hasn't been too many 50mm lenses that were much noticeably better than the Canon 50mm f1.4 so I dunno how well this one would fare especially in the face of the high price.

0 upvotes
Smartypants
By Smartypants (Feb 25, 2013)

A year ago I would have pre-ordered both the Zeiss 50 d the white 70-400 G without question.
As a happy a850 shooter I really didn’t have plans to replace the 850 with the a99 but was interested in the rumored second, or follow-on, higher MP body that was to be released this year. Alas that rumor turned-out to be wrong.
I would love to be buying both of these new lenses and the new Sigma 35 as well, but without a clear Sony A-Mount upgrade path past the a99 I worry that next year there still won’t be a new Sony full-frame besides the a99 SLT camera and I’ll have even more A-Mount gear to unload on eBay than I have now.
Decisions, decisions………….

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 25, 2013)

Then A99 mkII comes out and people will worry if mkIII comes. Then mkIII comes and people will worry if mkIV comes. Jeez... less worrying more shooting!

6 upvotes
Lux Painter
By Lux Painter (Feb 25, 2013)

Is this a typo? $1500 for a 50mmf1.4 lens....

3 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Feb 25, 2013)

$150 doesn't sound right either. the right price may be about 350. no way I buy a Zeiss lens at higher prices than Canon or Nikon.

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 25, 2013)

yabokkie - lol. I should note that down and show to my friends each time I'll want to make them laugh.

3 upvotes
carlosdelbianco
By carlosdelbianco (Feb 27, 2013)

That was pretty funny...

1 upvote
NorthwestF
By NorthwestF (Feb 25, 2013)

Would DPR move to using that Zeiss 50mm as a stock lens to test Sony APSC cameras in studio shots?

Comment edited 30 seconds after posting
9 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Feb 25, 2013)

It'd be about time. Hope they'll make a switch to Zeiss as soon as possible! :)

1 upvote
Wally626
By Wally626 (Feb 25, 2013)

Will be interesting to see how good the Zeiss 50mm is. The new Zeiss 55mm looked extremely good, at least in the Zeiss video about them. The 50mm is a different optical design and is cheaper so I would expect lesser performance but should still be better than current Sony 50mm f1.4. $1500 for a 50mm f/1.4 is pretty pricy, not sure how well this is gong to sell.

1 upvote
Total comments: 29