Many of you may have wondered where I have been in the past year. My last review has been published long ago and the dust settles on my blog activities. There is a good reason: I have been out there and had an intense time learning new skills in a totally different field of photography. Now I am ready to share my knowledge in a beginner’s guide for bird photography.
The 50mm lens is what used to be called a “standard” lens, though perhaps a very slightly shorter focal length gives the absolutely most natural perspective. For some of us here at Phillipreeve.net it’s a length we adore, and have more 50s than any other focal length. Others of us are less keen, finding it usually too short or too long. Obviously there is no right answer here, it depends on how each photographer sees the world.
Last update: December 2021
But it is a very versatile focal length with a wide range of applications. It can be used for slightly formal portraits, moderately environmental portraits, landscape, architecture – most things except wildlife or sport. You can also, with a little quality loss, crop down to a more formal portrait angle of view, and you can – with a gain in both quality and hassle – stitch frames to get wider angles of view for certain kinds of landscape.
In this article we summarize our experience with all the native E-mount 50mm lenses to give you a independent resource in one place for choosing the best 50 mm lens for your needs.We will cover AF E mount, MF E mount with electronic contacts, and lenses with the E bayonet but no contacts. There will a separate article about lenses from other mounts you might adapt to E mount.
Unlike most other review sites we have no association with any lens manufacturer apart from occasionally borrowing a lens for a review. We prefer independence over fancy trips and nice meals.
Before discussing each lens, we tell you which of us had or has the lens, and whether it was purchased or borrowed for review. In most cases we have bought the lenses new from retail stores or on the used market.
If we have left any question unanswered please leave a comment and we will do our best to answer it.
If you purchase the lens through one of the affiliate-links in this article we get a small compensation with no additional cost to you.
Manual Lenses on the Sony a7/a7II/a7III
Why should I use manual lenses?
- They can be very cheap, you can get a great 1.4/50 lens for $50. For most applications such a lens will give you 90% of the performance of a $1000 Zeiss 1.8/55 FE. For the $1000 you would have to pay for that Zeiss you can buy an excellent set of five lenses from 20 to 300mm.
- You have a huge choice between thousands of lenses ranging from exotic ones with lots of “character” to some of the very best lenses available.
- There are 30-year-old primes with better image quality than many modern lenses. Of course progress has happened in recent years but still affordable primes are often sharper than very expensive modern zooms.
- Old lenses are usually beautifully built from nothing but metal and glass which makes it a joy to handle them. They can last a lot longer than modern lenses which are full of electronics and very complex designs, both of which make them more likely to fail.
- They also hold their value much better than modern lenses. With some patience you can sell most manual lenses without a loss but with new lenses you can expect to lose 30% in the first year.
- Manual focusing can be very enjoyable. This certainly depends on application but personally I enjoy working with fully manual lenses a lot more than with any AF lens and I would choose a good manual focus lens over an AF lens (almost) any time. Check out our manual photographers series to read other photographers stories who feel similar about this.