Sony Sony FE 50mm f 1.8

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Regular
Location
Somerset, UK
Name
Ovi
This is my very first experience with my brand new Sony FE 50mm f 1.8. It was not my first or second choice as a lens, but I had the chance to buy it without affecting me financially right now (finally was in stock on Argos with 6 months pay later interest-free). I picked it up yesterday from the store and I had a spin with it in the park and on my way home, so my usage is about 2-3 hours with it so far.

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The first image I made ... love the rendition. The ducks are about 4-5 meters away and still got a bit of blurry background. The lens did have some really nasty purple and green fringing, LoCA, but I wasn't surprised given that it's one of the cheapest lenses you can get.

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I was very surprised that the centre sharpness hold up to pretty strong overexposure and the chromatic aberrations were not significantly bad, only 4-6 pixels deep to correct. PS. I framed the gull in the middle because it is as intrusive and noticeable in the frame as they are in our lives.


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The centre sharpness, once again, is actually quite good (though I have never used a 1.000-2.000 £ prime before to be able to say yeah that's so much better).

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For some reason the SooC output of this lens reminds me a lot of my Yashica ML 50mm f 2 and not in a bad way, it has similar flaws/limitations but it has AF and it's a bit bigger. And I love my Yashica ML 50mm f 2.

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Now, this is one of the cutest pictures I have ever made of my little Yorky-Jack Russel Nuggie ... barking at the people on the bridge as if she's the biggest dog in the world (in her imagination).

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At f 5.6 the lens is very very sharp and I would have no issue using it for landscapes or architecture.

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The minimum focus distance is okayu but not amazing, at f 5.6 the bokeh turns quite hexagonal shaped so not particularly ideal for specular highlights/bokeh squares.

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Originally I wanted the Samyang AF 45mm f 1.8 because of the interesting rendition and review from Dustin Abbott but I can trade in this one at a later date when I have more cash flow to swap the lenses.

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Now THIS, this was the money shot for me. The separation between the background, Nuggie and the foreground is just ... magically is the only way I can describe it. Yes, it's only f 1.8 and I am sure that f 1.4 or even f 1.2 can make it even better but for me, at least, this is the first time I have used a 50mm at f 1.8 with AF on 35mm FF. This image will absolutely go on a large print on my living room wall.


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Now, this is where my first and biggest disappointment with this lens hit me. The autofocus, while I know that my Sony a7R II is/was never the greatest camera for AF speed even when it came out, of this lens is very very painful, at least on the first try. The camera was in AF-C with spot AF at the centre and for some reason, the camera thought that that fly is more interesting than my dog. Well, congrats on seeing a flying fly that I didn't even notice but it's not what I wanted it to track and focus on. I had the camera in the, limiting, 5 FPS burst with AF-C and, to be honest, I struggled to get even one image in focus out of 2-3 burst sequences. I am really hoping it's the lens more at fault than the almost 10-year-old camera.

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Pretty heavy crop because this was the 2nd image in the burst and past this image as she got closer all the images were out of focus, not slightly, not a little, the focus was always on her butt/tail and not because they are big but because the combo was always lagging behind the action.

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I do wonder if my previously owned Sony a7C would drive this lens better but I don't think I can give up on high resolution for 24 MegaPickleRicks anymore (yus, there's the Sony a7R IV but I would prefer the Sony a1 instead if it wasn't for the price). Dustin Abbott mentioned that the alternative Samyang AF 45mm f 1.8 seems to be very fast (and faster than the Sony FE 50mmf 1.8) lens for Eye AF and Tracking.

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This lens is sharp enough at f 5.6 to have moire issues on the waves on the river and the railing on the bridge, it is fixable though.

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I wasn't sure if I was a fan of nifty fifty for street photography but I am liking it so far. Not sure about the edit on this image because all the trees end up on the same brightness with the shadows boosted and it looks pretty flat and one-dimensional. Probably because of the flat light of a cloudy English day.

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Whether I am shooting at f 1.8 or f 2.8 or f 5.6 I am not disappointed with the sharpness of the lens, Sony a7Rs can be quite demanding on lenses but so far I'm quitting Mikey D's more than the clown himself:
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(Upsy ... wrong clown Georgi)

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I am also getting excited about trying out some cheap macro extension rings, with AF, to get a bit closer.

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With the fixed Daylight WB on the camera, the images do seem to aim towards a bit cooler side, I usually change the tint from 4.250 K to 5.000 K (personal preference) but I am happy with the colour accuracy and rendition.

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Using the APS-C crop mode on the camera got me a bit "closer" to the framing that I wanted (output but as well as easier to frame) as I waited for the gentleman to come out of the bushes on the right side.

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The Urban Beauty, f 5.6 is easier to use up close if the background is more solid to avoid the hexagonal bokeh.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Regular
Location
Somerset, UK
Name
Ovi
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There's no escape from nature. Quite happy with the rendition of the colour green and the different shades of it.

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Is this something that normally grows on bushes or was it an adoption?

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That was a very very tall tree, probably hundreds of years old, cut down because of the recent storms.

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"Attitude?"

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I always loved this field but it's annoying to shoot through a window on the bus because of the reflections, one of these days I will walk the hour it would take to get there on foot and get a better image .... one day.

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Doesn't it make you just want to cuddle it ... hopefully not at high speed?

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It took a lot of tries to get this one because the AF-C couldn't keep up and 5 FPS wasn't fast enough to fix focus and wing it. This was the first time I noticed that the foreground can get a bit swirly with the Sony FE 50mm f 1.8 ... need to investigate further what conditions are needed for that to happen (though it will never replace the trusty and rusty old Helios 44-2).

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Trying out other colours, the greenish-yellow came out interesting.

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I wonder if someone's going to bee there? .... any lady bugging around? ... I haven't noticed any fly-ing around. (I really do apologize, I just can't help myself)

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I spent half an hour lying on my tummy in the grass trying to catch some nice running action and this was the only image that came out perfectly in focus out of over 100 images ... I can blame user error for only so much.
 
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I do wonder if my previously owned Sony a7C would drive this lens better but I don't think I can give up on high resolution for 24 MegaPickleRicks anymore (yus, there's the Sony a7R IV but I would prefer the Sony a1 instead if it wasn't for the price). Dustin Abbott mentioned that the alternative Samyang AF 45mm f 1.8 seems to be very fast (and faster than the Sony FE 50mmf 1.8) lens for Eye AF and Tracking.
The difference between that old Sony 'nifty fifty' and Samyang's 45mm in autofocus is yuuuuge. I've had the 50/1.8, and I currently own the Sonnar 55/1.8 and the Samyang 45/1.8. We also have a three-year-old in the house, and tracking his erratic movement the Samyang actually gives me the best hit rate! And with a margin, as well. The difference between the Sonnar and the 'nifty' is already cavernous, so I'm a bit surprised at how much more often the Samyang hits perfect focus compared to the Zeiss. Neither are flawless, of course, but the more pedestrian DC-motor in the 'nifty' just can't keep up with movement like the more contemporary linear motors do.

Otherwise, yeah, it does have OK rendering. But it can show quite wild LoCA wide open, and the sharpness pattern is typical of a basic double gauss design. Not sure that that is a bad thing always, since many of those lenses render quite nicely having more 'character' than most of the more modern lenses.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Regular
Location
Somerset, UK
Name
Ovi
The difference between that old Sony 'nifty fifty' and Samyang's 45mm in autofocus is yuuuuge. I've had the 50/1.8, and I currently own the Sonnar 55/1.8 and the Samyang 45/1.8. We also have a three-year-old in the house, and tracking his erratic movement the Samyang actually gives me the best hit rate! And with a margin, as well. The difference between the Sonnar and the 'nifty' is already cavernous, so I'm a bit surprised at how much more often the Samyang hits perfect focus compared to the Zeiss. Neither are flawless, of course, but the more pedestrian DC-motor in the 'nifty' just can't keep up with movement like the more contemporary linear motors do.

Otherwise, yeah, it does have OK rendering. But it can show quite wild LoCA wide open, and the sharpness pattern is typical of a basic double gauss design. Not sure that that is a bad thing always, since many of those lenses render quite nicely having more 'character' than most of the more modern lenses.
This lens made me rethink about "trying"/owning more modern type lenses/lens mounts like Canon FD, and Minolta MD/A because of the price difference and similarity in the rendering/optical formulae. Though I won't get rid of vintage lenses with no lens coating or single lens coating as they have a very interesting look to them that you don't find in modern lenses (post-1980s) and I don't want to fiddle with presets and effects in post to simulate that kind of look. I do love the Double Gauss optics.

PS. I got the Samyang Lens Station of CEX for 45 quid because I have a feeling I will be picking Samyang lenses more than the other brands. I would still recommend this lens for anyone who does not take portrait/event photography very serious (like professionally) AND is on a small budget (like me). But if you do want some pets and little kids action, go for Samyang instead, even used it's only 25% more expensive.
 
This lens made me rethink about "trying"/owning more modern type lenses/lens mounts like Canon FD, and Minolta MD/A because of the price difference and similarity in the rendering/optical formulae. Though I won't get rid of vintage lenses with no lens coating or single lens coating as they have a very interesting look to them that you don't find in modern lenses (post-1980s) and I don't want to fiddle with presets and effects in post to simulate that kind of look. I do love the Double Gauss optics.
Canon's RF 50/1.8 was scoffed at when it was introduced for being a simple, old fashioned double gauss design. And to be honest, it does have it's demonstrable optical problems with astigmatism and "soap bubble bokeh" for example. But now that I look at images I took with it, I still love it's rendering.

I didn't fall in love with the Sony nifty that much though. For me it was the AF and LoCA that wrote it off for me.
 
And just for reference, here's that LoCA stuff what I'm on about:

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I actually really like this image from last autumn. But that purple fringing in the hanging plant:

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It doesn't look all that bad on screen at first, but sticks out like a sore thumb on a print even at A4-size. To be fair, this is a challenging situation for any lens, and part of the problem is the heavy postprocessing required here to bring the inside and outside lighting in to balance. So this isn't something to manifest itself in any and every image taken with the lens. But it's still there, and it's a real weakness of the FE 50/1.8.
 

Tili

Regular
I am not sure what it is about the rendering, but the out of focus elements seem very distracting to me. Also what examples of bokeh balls I did see were very polygonal. Very interesting lens for sure, looks very sharp.
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Regular
Location
Somerset, UK
Name
Ovi
I am not sure what it is about the rendering, but the out of focus elements seem very distracting to me. Also what examples of bokeh balls I did see were very polygonal. Very interesting lens for sure, looks very sharp.
The nervousness of the background is more because of the Double Gauss optical design because it tends to swirly the foreground and the background the closer you are to your subject and from the mechanical vignetting where the edges of the frame turn specular highlights cat's eye-shaped. The bokeh balls stay round at f 1.8 and f 2 but at f 2.8 it's starting to form hexagonal and at f 5.6 is very obvious, from the 7 aperture blades the lens has. For rounder bokeh at a smaller aperture, it's better to have 8+ aperture blades to keep the shape rounder.
And just for reference, here's that LoCA stuff what I'm on about:

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I actually really like this image from last autumn. But that purple fringing in the hanging plant:

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It doesn't look all that bad on screen at first, but sticks out like a sore thumb on a print even at A4-size. To be fair, this is a challenging situation for any lens, and part of the problem is the heavy postprocessing required here to bring the inside and outside lighting in to balance. So this isn't something to manifest itself in any and every image taken with the lens. But it's still there, and it's a real weakness of the FE 50/1.8.
Understandable. I've had worse fringing from Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f 1.7 ASPH and Panasonic G Lumix 20mm f 1.7 and in very high contrast situations even the Olympus Pro lense. So far, but I haven't tested the lens enough, the fringing I encounter can be reduced with the automatic lens correction in Lightroom, as well as manual correction and if it's still a problem I do a brush adjustment with +100 on Defringing on the area. But, for me, the only reasons fringing bothers me are OCD and noticeability in print.
(I would be happy with a medium compromise, above the cheapest lens option but below the Professional line because I ain't making money ... and 2nd hand/used to save a quid or two).
 
One of my main objections with the Sony 'nifty' has actually very little to do with the lens itself. It's the pricing! I mean, Canon could sell a very similar 'plastic fantastic' for 99€ with the DC motor and 129€ with the later stepper motor for it's DSLR's. So how come Sony is asking over a double of that for it's 'nifty fifty'? Prices new have been hovering around 280€ here in Finland, and that's just too much. And too close to the Samyang 45mm.

But the great thing about the Sony ecosystem is that it's been around long enough to have competition. Unlike Canon's RF mount, which has exactly two 50mm lens options, one for 250€ and one for 2500€, there's a plethora of stuff for FE-mount. And it's spread more evenly between those ends of the scale.
 

Brownie

Top Veteran
I think your photos prove what most of us already know: Good photos can be made with almost any lens, and naysayers are just that.

When I'm evaluating a lens I try to ignore reviewers and look for image samples from as many different sources as possible. Guys like us posting examples are the best resource, away from the you-tubers. I do like to look at a chart if one is available just to get an idea, but the samples will carry more weigh that anything else. As a rule this works well for me. I've made a few mistakes in purchases but they've been few and far between. I've also found so nice lenses that others blew off.

Nicely done!
 

L0n3Gr3yW0lf

Regular
Location
Somerset, UK
Name
Ovi
I think your photos prove what most of us already know: Good photos can be made with almost any lens, and naysayers are just that.

When I'm evaluating a lens I try to ignore reviewers and look for image samples from as many different sources as possible. Guys like us posting examples are the best resource, away from the you-tubers. I do like to look at a chart if one is available just to get an idea, but the samples will carry more weigh that anything else. As a rule this works well for me. I've made a few mistakes in purchases but they've been few and far between. I've also found so nice lenses that others blew off.

Nicely done!
Thanks, I've been sing this lens quite a lot for the last 2 weeks and my impression of it has become a bit more complex if not bipolar. The lens is pretty great on cloudy, overcast and low light (of all things?) because the LoCA and all other aberrations are less noticeable from the lower contrast.
On sunny and bright days this lens is a lot more difficult to work with in post because the green and purple fringing is pretty deep. An I mean it's not a lot of pixels but it's very saturated colours and edges. They are fixable but will leave a noticeable gap of colours on the edges. If you are not cropping to much or print to big it should be very noticeable but if you are it might be even a deal breaker.

Like others, the AF works best in AF-C (I know, it sounds weird) then AF-S and best of all if it can make the initial lock it will track pretty well IF the subject doesn't change the distance to much (like coming towards you) or it gets to small (going away from you).

At the moment I'm sticking with the lens out of necessity but if I get the chance I would swap with a different 40-60mm lens because I spent to much time trying to correct the aberrations with a brush in Lightroom because lens profile and the dropped is not enough. I will post some examples later.
 
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