Sony 50mm F1.4 review
The Sony 50mm F1.4 is the company's current offering in the classic 'fast standard' category, and was introduced at the genesis of the Alpha system in July 2006. Of course its origins go back well before then; this lens is essentially a reworking of the Minolta AF 50mm 1:1.4 RS from 1990, which was itself a restyling of a 1985 design that, alongside the Maxxum/Dynax 7000, formed part of the world's first autofocus SLR system. And that original AF version was itself heir to a long line of manual focus Rokkor lenses dating back many years before. To consumers brought up on the 'use it for a year, throw it away' upgrade cycle which electronics manufacturers (and until recently, credit-card companies) have so encouraged, such longevity may come as a real surprise, making the design seem positively antique. But in truth it really serves to illustrate the maturity of the traditional standard lens formula, which has been refined over many years to a quality level difficult to surpass without a major redesign.
The current Sony 50mm F1.4 has been cosmetically refreshed for the Alpha branding, with smooth rubber grips giving a distinctly minimalist look broken only by a few trademark orange accents. It also adds a couple of useful refinements to the older Minolta design, including modified coatings more suited to the demands of digital SLRs, and the addition of ADI focus distance encoding for improved flash metering. However the underlying design appears to be otherwise the same, and size and weight are identical. It features the classic 50mm F1.4 lens formula of 7 elements in 6 groups, with all-spherical lens surfaces. However there is one standout feature compared to similar lenses, a circular aperture diaphragm using 7 rounded blades, again inherited from Minolta's designers who were concerned about the aesthetics of out-of-focus backgrounds long before the internet popularized 'bokeh' as a buzz-word every savvy on-line photographer needed to know (if not necessarily understand, or even be able to pronounce).
The 50mm F1.4 was obviously designed as a 'standard' lens for 35mm film, and therefore will behave as such on the Alpha 900 full-frame DSLR, with an angle of view offering none of the 'perspective distortion' associated with wideangle or telephoto lenses. However its mainstream usage will now be with APS-C cameras such as the Alpha 700, on which it behaves like a short 'portrait' telephoto, a role requiring subtly different characteristics (including high sharpness at wide apertures and attractive bokeh). But this year we've seen the first genuinely new-design mainstream contender in this lens class for many years, the Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM, which we found to offer precisely these benefits. So how does the Sony fare against such stiff competition?
- 50mm focal length
- F1.4 maximum aperture
- Alpha mount for Sony and Konica Minolta DSLRs
Angle of view
The pictures below illustrate the angles of view on 35mm full frame and APS-C camera bodies:
|50mm (35mm full-frame)||50mm (APS-C; 75mm equivalent)|
Sony 50mm F1.4 specifications
|Street price||• $350 (US)
• £250 (UK)
|Date introduced||July 2006|
|Maximum format size||35mm full frame|
|35mm equivalent focal length(APS-C)||75mm
|Diagonal Angle of view (FF)||47º|
|Diagonal Angle of view (APS-C)||32º|
|Lens Construction||• 7 elements / 6 groups|
|Number of diaphragm blades||7, rounded|
|Minimum focus||0.45m (1.5 ft)|
|AF motor type||'Screw drive’ from camera body|
|Focus method||Unit focus|
|Image stabilization||• None|
|Filter thread||• 55mm
• Does not rotate on focus
|Supplied accessories||• Front and rear caps
• SH0011 lens hood
|Weight||222g (7.8 oz)|
|Dimensions||65.5mm diameter x 43mm length
(2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Lens Mount||Sony Alpha/Minolta MA|
* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area
Dec 18, 2008
Dec 14, 2011
Dec 14, 2011
Dec 15, 2011
|Christine by JP Zanotti|
from Car wreck
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.