Tag Archives: Sony

Review: Tamron 35mm F/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2

After the success of their compact and affordable f/2.8 zooms Tamron has released a small family of f/2.8 primes: we already reviewed the Tamron 2.8/24 Di III OSD, this time  I check if the Tamron 2.8/35 Di III OSD is a good performer.

Sample images

Sony A7RIV,Tamron 2.8/35, f5.6
Sony A7RIV,Tamron 2.8/35, f/11
Sony A7RIV,Tamron 2.8/35, f/5.6
Sony A7RIV, Tamron 2.8/35, f/2.8

Most images in this review can be found in full resolution here.

Continue reading Review: Tamron 35mm F/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2

Guide to the best 50mm Lenses for full frame Sony E-mount cameras: A7/A9/A1

zhong yi mitakon 50mm 0.95 m-mount leica m10 sony a7riii a7riv sharpness bokeh resolution contrast review
Sony A7rII | Zhong YI 50mm 0.95 M | f/0.95

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.

We also have a general guide to FE-lenses, 9-18mm ultra wide angle lenses, guide to 20-28mm wide angle lenses, 35mm lenses, 85-135mm portrait lenses and macro lenses.

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-mount but no contacts.

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 or contact us on social media 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.

Last update: February 2023

5 Questions to consider before choosing a 50mm lens

There is no best 50mm lens for everyone, since individual needs are so different. This is why you won’t find any ratings in terms of stars or points out of 5 in this guide. Instead here are 5 questions to help you reflect on what you need in a 50mm lens. Some of you may decide you need more than one: be warned, that can start a very bad habit, as some of us here know well! If you already know what you need you can skip to the lenses discussion directly.

1. What will you use your 50mm lens for, and which performance aspects matter to you?

A lens might perform very well for one application and fail for others. The Voigtländer 50mm f2 APO Lanthar is maybe technically the best performing 50mm lens we have seen. It’ll be great for landscape. But if you want portraits at very wide apertures, it doesn’t have them. If you want autofocus for quick efficient event and wedding work it doesn’t have that either. On the other hand, the Sony Zeiss ZA 1.4/50, probably the best native fast AF 50mm, while it’s relatively compact for a modern design fast AF 50, is a beast in comparison, and not something that any of us would take on a long hike. That covers a couple of fifties that are best in class at certain things: but you may not want one of those either. You may just want a cheaper one, or you may want the best lens you can get that will do everything well even if it isn’t the best at any particular thing (looking at you Sony Zeiss 1.8/55), or you may want something that has a more specialised look.

mitakon 50mm 0.95 zhong yi optical dark knight speedmaster a7 series a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a7s sony e-mount fe
Sony A7s |Zhong Yi Mitakon 50mm 0.95 | f/0.95

Just as we said in our guide to 35s, when shooting a wedding you will probably care most about bokeh, good sharpness across most of the frame from wide open, speed and AF which should be fast and reliable. Price may or may not be an important aspect. Requirements for shooting family are similar with a bigger emphasis on AF-speed for smaller children.

For astro-photography you want a fast lens with good coma correction and as little vignetting as possible. Many people also prefer manual lenses here.

review voigtlander 50mm 1.2 nokton vm leica m mount rangefinder messsucher sony adapted a7rII a7riii a7r3 a7rm3 helicoid 42mp
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander VM 50mm 1.2 Nokton | f/8.0 | panorama from 4 shots

When photographing a landscape or architecture you will probably care about good sharpness stopped down, high contrast, good flare resistance, manual focus experience and maybe nice sunstars or small weight. You probably won’t get all those things in one package!

mitakon 50mm 0.95 zhong yi optical dark knight speedmaster a7 series a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a7s sony e-mount fe
Sony A7s | Zhong Yi Mitakon 50mm 0.95 | f/0.95

If you are shooting portraits of the kind where you don’t have to get the shot – it’s not like a wedding or an event – but it matters a lot what the look of that shot is, you’ll need to delve a bit more deeply into the different looks that lenses create. You may want a modern fast high contrast look, you may prefer a smooth retro sonnar-like look or you may find the slight edge of many classic double gauss lenses at wide aperture what you prefer.

2. What is your budget?

The cheapest AF full frame E-mount lenses are the Sony 1.8/50 and the Samyang 1.8/45. You can also adapt a good legacy 50mm for under $50. From there the sky is the limit. As a rule of thumb more money gets you better optical quality, better build quality, better reliability and faster lenses. There are exceptions to this rule of thumb which is why you need to read our guide.

taken with a $30 Minolta MC 55mm 1:1.7

How much should you spend? If you are on a very tight budget but a competent photographer you will get very good results out of a $50 lens but you will have to deal with a few scenarios where you would have gotten better results with a more expensive lens. And that $50 lens will teach you a lot about photography. If you know what you are doing then spending more – even much more – will sometimes give you better results. There will be situations in which, frankly, it’s only a slightly better result – lenses don’t turn mediocre photographers into good photographers. But there will be images that you couldn’t get with that cheaper lens. Just perhaps not as many situations as the lens makers would have you believe. And a good lens is no substitute at all for good technique; it’s the icing on the cake of good technique. Don’t upgrade you lens because you aren’t satisfied with your pictures. The lens won’t help that. Upgrade you lens only once you are very sure about your technique, and you know exactly what it is that you want and which lens will give it to you, and how it make that happen.

Like we said in the last guide: we all know that guy who reliably gets bad results out of his $4000 Leica lens. Don’t be that guy. So how much should you spend? It depends on what you want to do with the lens, and what you can afford. So perhaps reading this guide will help a little with telling what they different lenses will do for you, and you have to consider the second thing!

When considering the price of a lens also look at the long term cost of it. A cheap $350 lens which breaks after 1 year of usage costs you $350 for a year of use. A more expensive $600 lens you bought used that can be sold after a year for $550 cost you $50 for a year of use. And it was probably more enjoyable to use in that year. A used lens may cost you only a few bucks a year if you sell it after a few years. There is also an effect called “early adopter tax”: the value of newly released lenses usually depreciates rather quickly in the first year. That’s fine, but think carefully: if the new Furtwängler Super Apo Magnifitar costs $2000 when it comes out, and is worth only $1200 at the end of the year, you paid about fifteen bucks a week to basically rent it over that year. You might be fine with that (some of us have knowingly made that choice). But think about it.

3. Size & Weight

The lightest 50mm E-mount lens is the Sony FF 1.8/50 at 186g and the Samyang 1.8/45 is even lighter at 162g, while the heaviest lens, the Sigma Art 1.4/50, weighs 910g. The three most important factors for the weight of a lens are speed, vignetting and the degree of optical correction. The Sigma 1.4/50 is not only half a  stops faster than the Sony: its optical design is also a lot more complex which results in significantly higher sharpness and better correction of aberrations. The Sigma also has a lot less vignetting.

Again needs are very different: If you do a lot of hiking you probably don’t want to carry the very heavy Sigma, but a slower, lighter lens. As a wedding photographer on the other hand performance will usually be more important than weight. Lenses also need to fit into your camera bag.

4. How fast does it need to be?

A faster f/1.4 lens allows you to blur your background more than a slower f/2.8 lens and it also lets in more light, allowing for lower ISO or shorter shutter speeds. Faster lenses are usually bigger, heavier and more expensive than slower lenses but there are exceptions to both rules we mention in the discussion of each lens.

So how fast does your lens need to be? If you chose a f/1.8 lens over a f/1.4 lens this will seldom make the difference between a good and a bad picture but it often is one important factor for the look of your images. Also keep in mind that the quality of the blur (bokeh) can be more important than the amount of blur.

5. Do you prefer AF or manual focus?

voigtlander_50mm_1.2_nokton_e_title

Most users will answer that they want an AF-lens. In that case one needs to consider how fast and how reliable AF needs to be.

Some users prefer to focus manually because it makes photography more enjoyable to them. Even some native lenses are manual focus only and they are a joy to use since they have a proper focus helicoid and a smooth focusing ring. Almost all AF E-mount lenses are less pleasant to focus manually because  they are focus-by-wire designs where there is a small but noticeable lag between the moment you turn the focus-ring and the actual change of focus and, secondly, the focus ring offers the wrong amount of resistance or even has some play. Many also have variable (non-linear) throw, meaning that the amount the focus changes when you turn the focussing right depends not just on how far you turn the focussing ring, but on how fast you turn it. In theory this helps you make big changes quickly, and then focus slowly for fine-tuning. In practice many experienced manual-lens-users find it hard to adjust to and very unpredictable.

Native 50mm Lenses with AF

Samyang 45mm f/1.8 AF

Status: Bought by Jannik and still in use.

  • Very good central sharpness wide open, good midframe and corners, best across frame at f/5.6
  • Very small and extremely light
  • Build quality is below average: lens barrel is completely made of rather cheap feeling plastic but at least the lens mount made of metal
  • Bokeh is neutral with rather high contrast and onion rings
  • LoCA is acceptably controlled, significantly better than the FE 1.8/50 and 1.8/55 ZA.
  • Low barrel distortion (+3)
  • Fast and reliable AF, also for tracking operation (On the A9 with stock firmware, A7RIV needs software update via lens dock for improved reliability)

At first glance, it looks like an expensive alternative to the Sony FE 1.8/50, but it is more than that. Thanks to its virtually silent linear AF drive, is more comparable to the Sony FE 1.8/55 ZA. While it lacks the ultimate corner sharpness already wide open, it is already very good where it matters at f/1.8 and across the frame just a few stops down.

162g | 49mm filter thread | $296 (January 2023)

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Sony A9 | Samyang 1.8/45 | f/4

Sigma Contemporary 45mm f/2.8

Status: Never used ourselves. Reliable information available.

  • Very good resolution and contrast
  • Smooth bokeh rendering
  • High vignetting, especially wide open
  • High distortion (correction profile built in)
  • Metal casing and metal lens hood
  • Aperture ring and dampened focus ring
  • reports of AF inconsistencies at medium distances
  • Small and lightweight

A small and lightweight prime lens with great build quality. It is not as fast as many other lenses on this list, but the bokeh is pretty smooth and undistracting so in the end you might even prefer it to that of some of the faster lenses. Performance at wide apertures appears to be somewhat lower at shorter distances. There seem to have been some AF inconsistencies at medium distances, so if you want to buy it make sure it fits your needs within the return period.

Weight: 215g | Filter Thread: 55mm | Price: $549 (January 2023)
Opticallimits Review

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Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM

Status: Bought by David and still in use.

The half-a-stop faster successor to the Sony FE 50mm 1.4 ZA. If you are looking for a lens with these parameters this one won’t disappoint. Just like the Sony FE 35mm 1.4 GM a lens with hardly any flaws, but that comes at a very substantial price.

Length: 108mm | Diameter: 87mm | Weight: 778g | Filter Thread: 72mm | Price (January 2023): $1998
Lenstip Review

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©Simeon Kolev

Sony Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.4 ZA

Status: Bought by David and still in use. Bought and sold by Jannik

  • Amazing central and corner sharpness from wide open.
  • Very high contrast and rich saturated colour.
  • Decent bokeh
  • Above average correction of of axial colour for a fast lens
  • Much better build quality than other ZA lenses, better finish and alloys, nice damped aperture ring.
  • Fairly low distortion
  • Reduced (but still decent) midfield resolution for the first few apertures
  • Reasonable AF, accurate and reliable but not among the fastest.
  • Fairly big and heavy, and quite expensive

If you don’t care too much about size and price this lens delivers and exceptional peformance and a rather distinctive look. Now the Sony FE 50mm 1.2 GM may offer the more appealing package for most though and the Samyang 50mm 1.4 AF II is a very good alternative when looking for something more affordable

Length: 108mm | Diameter: 84mm | Weight: 778g | Filter Thread: 72mm | Price (January 2023): $1498
Review (admiringlight) | MTF chart at lensrentals

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Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 FE

Status: Never used ourselves. Reliable information available.

  • Very smooth bokeh
  • Below average sharpness: Okay in the center, soft outside of it unless stopped down to f/5.6
  • Below average CA correction
  • Annoying manual focus and some AF-issues
  • Large size and weight
  • Moderate Vignetting

Overall we find it hard to recommend the Samyang. Maybe consider it if you care a lot about smooth bokeh and less about sharpness and CA. The MK II version is much better.

Weight: 585g | Filter Thread: 67mm | Price (January 2023): $449
Opticallimits Review | Sample images 

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©Simeon Kolev

Samyang AF 50mm f/1.4 FE II

Status: Never used ourselves. Reliable information available.

  • smooth, very nice bokeh
  • good sharpness
  • programmable switch and button
  • below average CA correction
  • AF a bit on the slow side
  • low weight

Compared to the predecessor this MK II version is noticeably lighter, a bit smaller and has improved sharpness while maintaining really nice bokeh. The cheaper alternative to the Sony FE 50mm 1.2 GM.

Weight: 420g | Filter Thread: 72mm | Price (January 2023): $558
Bokeh comparison to Sony FE 50mm 1.2 GM by Simeon Kolev

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©Simeon Kolev

Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4 DG DN

This lens has just been announced and we don’t know much about it yet. It is similarly sized as the Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art DG DN so much smaller and lighter than the former DSLR version of the 50mm 1.4. The DSLR version was famous for its very low vignetting, this is not the case with this improved version anymore.

Length: 112mm | Diameter: 78mm | Weight: 660g | Filter Thread: 72mm | Price (February 2023): $849

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Sigma Art 50mm f/1.4

Status: Bought and sold by Bastian in his Nikon days.

  • Very good sharpness from wide open across the frame, excellent stopped down
  • Bokeh can be a bit nervous
  • Above average CA correction
  • Low vignetting and very good coma correction
  • AF/MF-Switch and nice manual focus ring
  • The biggest and heaviest AF lens on this list
  • Good price/performance ratio

If you don’t care about the size/weight of a lens and high sharpness is more important to you than an “as smooth as possible” bokeh rendering this lens might be for you.
And if you are into astrophotography to do some stitching this is the best 50 thanks to low light falloff and very good coma correction.

Length: 126mm | Diameter: 85mm | Weight: 910g | Filter Thread: 77mm | Price (December 2021): $849

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Sony FE 50mm f/1.8

Status: Bought and sold by Phillip and Jannik.

  • Very Affordable compared to other E-mount lenses
  • Good sharpness in the center, corners need f/8
  • Slow AF on A7II and other older models. Fast on A7III and other newer cameras. AF is also a bit noisy.
  • Average bokeh: Smooth up closer, more nervous at longer distances
  • Very light
  • Cheaper build quality
  • Below average flare resistance

The Sony FE is an obvious choice if you are on a tight budget. Yes, you will have to compromise a bit in every area from sharpness over bokeh to build quality but the end result will be pleasing none the less. Most of the time. 

Weight: 186g | Filter Thread: 49mm | Price (January 2023): $248
Review

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Sony FE 50mm f/2.5 G

Status: Never used ourselves. Reliable information available.

A solid small lens that looks quite expensive next to the Samyang 45mm 1.8 AF or the Sony FE 50mm 1.8.

Length: 45mm | Diameter: 60mm | Weight: 174g | Filter Thread: 49mm | Price (January 2023): $598
Lenstip Review

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Sony FE Macro 50mm f/2.8

Status: Bought and sold by Phillip, bought and still in use by David.

  • Excellent sharpness at all apertures and distances
  • Moderate high to high contrast
  • Outstanding macro performance
  • Good colour correction
  • Affordable
  • Very light
  • Poor bokeh in many conditions at portrait distance
  • Sluggish autofocus though better on recent bodies
  • shape of OOF highlights in some situations a bit angular.

This is not the all-round fifty you want; nor is it the best at anything. If you want a normal macro lens for actual macro work go for it. It’s excellent: truly excellent, as in as good as many far more famous ones, even if it feels a bit cheap. But it is cheap, so that’s fair enough. Should anyone who is not a macro enthusiast buy it? The other use case we recommend it for is hiking. It is much sharper at infinity than most macros, and unless you care about sunstars and so on will give you excellent landscape images, and the macro focussing will allow to to close up nature photography.

Length: 71mm | Diameter: 72mm | Weight: 236g | Filter Thread: 55mm | Price (January 2023): $548
Review 

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Sony Zeiss Sonnar 55mm f/1.8 ZA

Status: Bought and sold by Phillip and Jannik. Bought and still in use by David.

  • Very sharp wide open and good across frame stopped down.
  • Very fast and accurate focus
  • Shows onion ring structures in out of focus highlights
  • More axial colour (LoCA, PF, spherochromatism) than you would like in a premium lens
  • Decent bokeh (though look above)
  • Slightly less contrasty than you might expect
  • Average coma correction and average vignetting
  • Slightly below average sample variation by current standards
  • Lowish distortion, fully correctible.
  • No aperture ring or button.
  • Poor manual focus experience: non linear fly-by-wire

The Sony FE 55mm 1.8 ZA is a real allrounder. Need to carry a lens easily for hiking? Forget the GM 1.2/50 or ZA 1.4/50. Need an unobtrusive fast AF lens for an event or somewhere where a big lens will stick out? This lens is your choice. It can do great sharp landscapes (but not as well as some of the best manual options.)  It can do wide aperture AF portraits (but not as well as the ZA, GM or Samyang MK II). It can follow action. It travels well. It’s good for hiking. These are all reasons why many of you may want to own this lens, even if it isn’t the top choice at any particular thing, and has a few flaws.
Compared to the recent offerings from third party manufacturers (especially the Samyang 50mm 1.4 AF II) this is too expensive when bought new, better look for a used one.

Length: 70.5mm | Diameter: 64.4mm | Weight: 281g | Filter Thread: 49mm | Price (January 2023): $998
Review | aperture series

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Native manual focus 50mm lenses with contacts

Voigtlander 50mm f/1.2 Nokton E/SE

Status: Loaner reviewed by Bastian.

  • Very smooth SA-bokeh (similar to Sony FE 85mm 1.4 GM)
  • Slightly dreamy at f/1.2, but more than sharp enough
  • High contrast and good sharpness stopped down (in the center always)
  • Very good flare resistance
  • Okay to fair coma correction, vignetting and CA correction
  • Nice sunstars stopped down
  • Not so great near minimum focus distance, also shows slight focus shift
  • Very compact considering its performance

Great portrait lens if you can live without AF. Good as a dual use lens for portrait/landscapes if you don’t need great corner resolution at wider apertures.
More expensive than legacy f/1.2 lenses, but also a clear step up in terms of image quality.
Also comes in a lighter and cheaper “SE” edition with the same optics (SE version has been discontinued in January 2023).

Weight: 440g | Filter Thread: 58mm | Price (January 2023): $799/$749 for SE
Review | Sample images

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voigtlander 50mm 1.2 e nokton sony fast 50 bokeh sharpness 42mp resolution a7rii a7riii review
Sony A7rII | Voigtlander 50mm 1.2 Nokton E | f/1.2

Zeiss Loxia Planar 50mm f/2.0

Status: Borrowed for Review by Phillip, bought by David and Juriaan and still in use. Bought and sold by Jannik.

  • Great build quality
  • High contrast and decent flare resistance
  • Beautiful, well defined sunstars
  • Very sharp stopped down
  • Mediocre bokeh, especially at longer distances bokeh can be busy
  • Obvious midzone dip, for best across the frame sharpness stopping down to f/8 is recommended.
  • Above average amount of vignetting

Before we had the Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-Lanthar that performs better in every regard, the Loxia 50mm f/2 was the best native option for landscape enthusiasts. Good flare resistance, beautiful sunstars, high contrast and good across the frame sharpness stopped down combined with its small dimensions make it a very good option for shooting landscapes. Still worth considering for that purpose since used prices have come down.

Length: 60mm | Diameter: 62mm | Weight: 320g | Filter Thread: 52mm | Price (January 2023): $999
Review

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Sony a7II | Zeiss Loxia 2/50 | f/8

Voigtländer 50mm f/2.0 APO-Lanthar

Status: Borrowed by Phillip for his review, bought by David and in use.

  • Best in class sharpness and contrast from wide open
  • Best in class CA-correction
  • Neutral bokeh with only slightly nervous corners at longer distances
  • High contrast and very good flare resistance
  • Well defined sunstars stopped down
  • Very compact considering its performance
  • Above average amount of vignetting
  • Excellent handling

Going by technical performance alone this is the best 50mm lens you can buy with Sony E-mount. It is also a pleasure to handle thanks to its compact size and nice mechanical design. At the same time it is a relatively slow lens and not that cheap in absolute terms. A good choice if your focus is on landscape photography and you want ultimate image quality.

Length: 61mm | Diameter: 63mm | Weight: 364g | Filter Thread: 49mm | Price (January 2023): $879
Review | Sample images

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Native Manual Focus Lenses without contacts

Laowa 45mm f/0.95 Argus

Status: Borrowed by Bastian for his review.

  • surprisingly sharp for an f/0.95 lens, also usable for landscape shooting stopped down
  • nice bokeh at close to mid distances
  • 15 rounded aperture blades for undistracting bokeh stopped down
  • good build quality and handling
  • big and heavy lens, but reasonable considering the specifications

The sharpest of the f/0.95 lenses listed here. Unfortunately the bokeh in the corners at longer distances suffers from a combination of optical vignetting and field curvature, so best used for half body portraits or closer.

Length: 104mm | Diameter: 77mm | Weight: 865g | Filter Thread: 72mm | Price (January 2023): $599
Review | Sample images

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laowa 45mm 0.95 world's fastest lens e-mount review contrast sharpness resolution bokeh vignetting coma
Sony A7III | Laowa 45mm 0.95 | f/0.95

Zhong Yi Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 MKII and MKIII

Status: MKII bought and sold by Bastian and David.  Loaner of MKIII reviewed by Bastian.

  • Extremely smooth (and plenty) bokeh
  • Dreamy look at wide apertures, especially at close distances
  • Sharpness and contrast ok, stopped down pretty good
  • bad flare resistance, high loCA, high coma
  • MK III has smoother bokeh but straight aperture blades
  • Heavy

Special purpose portrait lens if you look for that dreamy bokeh. If you don’t intend to shoot at f/0.95 often better have a look at the other options though.

Length: 87mm | Diameter: 72mm | Weight: 780g | Filter Thread: 67mm | Price (January 2023): $499
Review of MKII | Review of MK III | Sample images

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mitakon 50mm 0.95 zhong yi optical dark knight speedmaster a7 series a7rii a7r2 a7rm2 a7s sony e-mount fe
Sony A7s |Zhong Yi Mitakon 50mm 0.95 | f/0.95

Brightin Star 50mm f/0.95 FE

Status: Borrowed by Bastian for his review.

  • decently sharp at portrait distances, also usable for landscape shooting stopped down
  • nice bokeh at close to mid distances
  • high vignetting
  • bad flare resistance
  • good build quality and handling
  • average CA correction
  • bad Coma correction at wider apertures
  • cheapest f/0.95 lens

The cheapest of the f/0.95 lenses. Flare resistance is bad and vignetting is high, but it sharpens up nicely when you stop down so unlike the Zhong Yi lenses can even be used as a general purpose 50mm lens. Unfortunately – similar to the Laowa 45mm 0.95 – the bokeh in the corners at longer distances suffers from a combination of optical vignetting and field curvature, so again this is best be used for half body portraits or closer.

Length: 84mm | Diameter: 71mm | Weight: 750g | Filter Thread: 62mm | Price (January 2023): $419
Review | Sample images

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BRIGHTIN STAR 50mm 0.95 e-mount fe sony a7rii a7riv review comparison contrast sharpness bokeh vignetting fast
Sony A7III | Brightin Star 50mm 0.95 | f/0.95

Zenitar 50mm f/0.95 E

Status: lens loaned by a reader reviewed by Bastian who never looked back after he returned it

  • nervous bokeh with lots of outlining
  • black corners stopped down
  • bad sharpness at maximum aperture
  • really bad flare resistance, really high loCA, really high coma
  • huge field curvature
  • mediocre build quality
  • huge and heavy

Considering this is a modern lens that hit the market in 2019 it is extra disappointing that it’s the worst lens I have ever reviewed. When I saw the dimensions I was hoping it might improve on the Zhong Yi Mitakon. It didn’t. Don’t buy it.

Weight: 1110g | Filter Thread: 72mm | Price (June 2019): 880€
Review

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zenitar 50mm 0.95 noctilux zhong yi mitakon SLRmagic sharpness resolution 42mp e-mount a7rIII a7rII bokeh
Sony A7III | Zenitar 50mm 0.95 E | f/0.95

7Artisans 50mm 1.05 E

Status: Borrowed by Bastian for his review.

  • nice bokeh
  • good sharpness and contrast over most of the frame, even at f/1.05, but corner sharpness is never great
  • comarably low (optical) vignetting
  • average CA correction, Coma correction and distortion
  • bad flare resistance
  • average size, weight and build quality (no click-stops on aperture ring)

The 7Artisan’s bokeh will appeal to those that like the high contrast look that we also know from the Leica Asph lenses and many of the fast modern Zeiss lenses. If you felt lenses like the Voigtländer 50mm 1.2 or Mr. Ding 50mm 1.1 (see next entry on the list) were too soft for you this one might be what you are looking for.

Length: 81mm | Diameter: 65mm | Weight: 590g | Filter Thread: 58mm | Price (January 2023): $399
Review | Sample images

buy from B.I.G. Photo (DE) | amazon.com | amazon.de | ebay.com | ebay.de | B&H (affiliate links)

7artisans 7artisan ttartisan 50mm 1.05 1.1 0.95 noctilux leica nokton voigtländer review m10 42mp 24mp sony a7rii contrast resolution bokeh
Sony A7III | 7Artisans 50mm 1.05 | f/1.05

Mr. Ding 50mm 1.1

Status: bought and reviewed by Bastian, still in use.

  • really nice bokeh
  • good sharpness at portrait distances and also at infinity when stopped down
  • average CA correction and vignetting
  • low distortion
  • bad flare resistance
  • noticeable focus shift
  • likable build quality and handling
  • small and lightweight construction
  • very attractively priced
  • M-mount works equally well on M and E-mount cameras and also great with the Techart LM-EA9 AF adapter

Afaik the “official” version is the one sold under the Mr. Ding Optics/Studio branding but I initially reviewed an Syoptic branded lens and I heard in some countries these are also sold under the name Vlogmagic.
The Mr. Ding version only comes in M-mount, whereas some of the OEM ones are also available for E-mount, but this is one of the very few lenses where the M-mount version works equally well on M-mount and E-mount cameras. You can even combine it with a TTArtisan 6-bit adapter to get Exif data or with the Techart LM-EA9 to turn it into an AF lens.
This is also one of the few lenses where the rendering qualities stand out to me as aesthetically very pleasing

Length: 61mm | Diameter: 62mm | Weight: 389g | Filter Thread: 52mm | M-mount, needs adapter |Price (January 2023): $399
Review Mr. Ding | Review SYoptic | Sample images

buy from official Mr. Ding Studio shop (M-mount only), can also be found on ebay.com, but here you may get an OEM lens without product support (affiliate links)

mr. ding optics studio 50mm 1.1 noctilux leica nokton voigtländer review m10 42mp 24mp sony a7rii contrast resolution bokeh coma noxlux
Sony A7III | Mr. Ding 50mm 1.1 | f/1.1 | LM-EA9

AstrHori 50mm 1.4 Tilt

Status: Borrowed by Bastian for his review.

  • sharpness at infinity leaves something to be desired
  • good flare resistance
  • surprisingly nice suntars
  • average bokeh quality
  • average flare resistance
  • average distortion
  • average build quality
  • untilted average vignetting, but tilted completely black corners
  • unintuitive and annoying handling

The image circle of the lens simply isn’t big enough – or there is a problem with the mechanical design – as there are completely black areas when fully tilting. The mechanical execution of the whole tilt mechanism also leaves a lot to be desired, as it is almost impossible to properly center the lens. Make sure to also have a look at the following two lenses before pulling the trigger.

Length: 67mm | Diameter: 65mm | Weight: 320g | Filter Thread: 46mm | Price (January 2023): $199
Review | Sample images

buy from amazon.com | amazon.de | ebay.com | ebay.de (affiliate links)

astrhori rockstar rockster 50mm 1.4 review sharpness tilt conclusion bokeh sony a7riv a7riii a7riv 42mp 61mp bokeh ca vignetting
Sony A7III | AstrHori 50mm 1.4 Tilt | f/1.4 | untilted

TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 E

Status: Borrowed by Bastian for his review.

  • nice bokeh
  • very good sharpness and especially contrast
  • average CA correction, Coma correction, vignetting and distortion
  • not so great flare resistance and coma correction
  • nice sunstars
  • small size but has some heft to it
  • very fair price, especially considering the great build quality

The TTArtisan offers surprisingly good bokeh for a small 50mm lens as well as good sharpness where it matters.
It manages to accomplish something where even some of the more expensive lenses fail: stopped down it is plenty of sharp across all of the frame, too.
This makes it a great allround 50mm lens that can be used for portraiture as well as landscape and infinity shooting.

Length: 68mm | Diameter: 60mm | Weight: 432g | Filter Thread: 49mm | Price (January 2023): $225
Review | Sample images

buy from the manufacturer’s shop | amazon.com | amazon.de | B&H | ebay.com | ebay.de (affiliate links)

ttartisan 50mm 1.4 sony a7riii a7riv sharpness bokeh resolution contrast review e-mount
Sony A7III | TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 E | f/1.4

TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 Tilt

Status: Borrowed by Bastian for his review.

  • sharpness leaves something to be desired
  • surprisingly nice suntars
  • average bokeh quality
  • average flare resistance
  • average distortion
  • average vignetting
  • cannot be tilted in every direction
  • light leaks when fully tilted

The TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 Tilt can be bought for $199, same as the AstrHori 50mm 1.4 Tilt. Which is the better lens? I honestly fail to see a clear winner. The AstrHori was a pain to use due to its mechanical design, but the optics were mostly fine. The TTArtisan on the other hand was more fun to use, but its optical performance simply isn’t good and there are several mechanical design flaws.
If you don’t need the tilt function the TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 E non tilt is a much better lens and similarly priced.

Length: 70mm | Diameter: 67mm | Weight: 451g | Filter Thread: 62mm | Price (January 2023): $199
Review | Sample images

buy from official TTArtisan online shop | amazon.com | amazon.de | B&H | ebay.com | ebay.de (affiliate links)

ttartisan 50mm 1.4 tilt review e-mount sony a7riv a7rv a7rii a7riii 42mp 61mp sharpness resolution contrast bokeh review sunstar sunstars starburst
Sony A7III | TTArtisan 50mm 1.4 Tilt | f/1.4 | tilted

TTArtisan 50mm 2.0 E

Status: Borrowed by Bastian for his review.

  • smallest 50mm for E-mount
  • super affordable
  • decent bokeh
  • surprisingly good loCA correction
  • nice sharpness from f/2.8, good enough for landscape shooting stopped down
  • average CA correction, vignetting figures and distortion
  • not so great flare resistance and coma correction
  • build quality better than it should be at this pricepoint

This lens doesn’t offer record breaking performance, but the price/performance ratio is simply stellar, as this lens only sets you back $69. This is less than you usually pay for a semi-decent 40 years old SLR 50mm f/1.8 lens with bulky adapter these days and less than some people pay for a lens hood only.
For that price it is also a great option to bring next to your big zoom lens, if you want to travel light or need a bit more speed every now and then.

Length: 35mm | Diameter: 60mm | Weight: 189g | Filter Thread: 43mm | Price (January 2023): $64
Review | Sample images

buy from TTArtisan | Amazon | ebay.com | B&H (affiliate links)

TTartisan 50mm 2.0 e-mount fe sony a7rii a7riv review comparison contrast sharpness vignetting pancake small
Sony A7rII | TTArtisan 50mm 2.0 | f/2.0

Brigthin Star 55mm f/1.8

Status: bought by Phillip.

  • Good sharpness in the center from f/1.8, midframe needs f/4, corners f/8 for very good sharpness
  • smooth bokeh up close, somewhat nervous at longer distances
  • Well defined 12-pointed sunstars from f/8
  • Small Size and ok build quality
  • No aperture stops
  • Bad flare resistance
  • Affordable

Though it has small size and a good aperture design going for it, the BrightinStar 1.8/55 is a bit hard to recommend since it isn’t much cheaper than a used Sony FE 1.8/50 which is a better performer for most applications, and many somewhat larger legacy lenses perform as well in most areas for half the price.

Weight: 272g | Filter Thread: 49mm | Price: (January 2023): $80

buy from Amazon.com | ebay.com (affiliate links)


Editor’s Choices

All of us have used many lenses and we all have bought and sold some of them for whatever reason. Nevertheless there are a few lenses that simply stick, so we decided to let each of us pick one of the aforementioned lenses and tell you why we like it and/or keep using it.

Bastian’s Choice: Mr. Ding 50mm 1.1

mr. ding optics studio 50mm 1.1 noctilux leica nokton voigtländer review m10 42mp 24mp sony a7rii contrast resolution bokeh coma noxlux
Sony A7III | Mr. Ding 50mm 1.1 | f/1.1 | LM-EA9

I always try to put my money where my mouth is so I am changing my personal recommendation from the Voigtländer 50mm 1.2 to the Mr. Ding 50mm 1.1, as that is the 50mm I bought and I am using myself. In the flare resistance it cannot keep up with the Voigtländer lens and it doesn’t have electronic contacts but in works equally well on the Sony sensor as it does on a Leica one and can be combined with a TTArtisan 6-bit adapter to get Exif data or with the Techart LM-EA9 to turn it into an AF lens – the latter is what I am doing very often.

I have used many lenses over the years, but this is one of the few where the lens’ rendering stands out to me as aesthetically very pleasing. At half to full body portrait distances sharpness and contrast are there and at the same time bokeh is simply very good. The degree of correction of optical aberrations is just right to give a clean, but at the same time not overcorrected, clinical look. A balance rarely being achieved, especially in such a fairly priced lens.

mr. ding optics studio 50mm 1.1 noctilux leica nokton voigtländer review m10 42mp 24mp sony a7rii contrast resolution bokeh coma noxlux
Sony A7III | Mr. Ding 50mm 1.1 | f/1.1 | LM-EA9

David’s Choice: Sony FE 50mm 1.2 GM and Voigtländer Apo Lanthar 50mm f2

“The king is dead, long live the king!” As a long time user of the Sony FE 50mm 1.4 ZA David replaced it with the simply better Sony FE 50mm 1.2 GM.

But I wouldn’t take it around with me on the off-chance, and wouldn’t take it hiking (please don’t write in and tell me how you would. I know many people aren’t as weight obsessed on hikes as me). It also doesn’t have a nice manual brass helicoid, and I’m a sucker for the pleasure of using one of those. Until recently I would pair the big ZA with the Zeisss Loxia Planar, but now I’ve switched the the Voigtländer Apo-Lanthar 2/50. It’s as good or better than the Loxia at smaller apertures, and quite a bit better at wide ones, for a very small sacrifice in weight. The Loxia though sometimes sells used at very attractive prices, so it might make still make sense  for many. And, like I said in the review if I couldn’t have both these lenses and could have only one, it would probably be the ZA 55mm f1.8!

Jannik’s Choice: Samyang 1.8/45 and Voigtländer APO-Lanthar 2/50

Like David, I’m choosing two lenses here. One that is my current workhorse and one that is my subject of desire.

Sony A9 | Samyang 1.8/45 | f/5.6

The Samyang 1.8/45 never lets my heart beat faster when I use it, but it also never disappoints me – neither on the camera nor on my pc screen. It is a very decent performer without substantial weaknesses in a great form factor and at a very low price. In contrast to the FE 1.8/55 ZA (and it’s painful LoCA), I never had a love/hate relationship to the Samyang 1.8/45. It just sits in the cupboard without costing me much and delivers whenever I use it.

Sony A7RIV | Samyang 1.8/45 | f/8

On the other hand, the Voigtländer APO-Lanthar 2/50 is the lens that I dreamed of since I first used its bigger 65mm macro brother. That level of correction, that breathtaking sharpness and that pleasing rendering despite of it’s contrast was stunning from the first moment I used it. Unfortunately I didn’t use it much because I didn’t enjoy the size and weight and didn’t need the macro feature. The APO-Lanthar 2/50 delivers everything that I loved about the 2/65 in the shape I prefer greatly. I can’t wait to put my hands on it.

Juriaans Choice: Zeiss Loxia 2/50

I have a weakness for 50mm lenses and therefore there are quite some in my cabinet. Despite that, the Zeiss Loxia 2/50 is my only native fifty and my favorite one for landscape photography.
I really like the focus ring, the high contrast and very good sharpness stopped down a lot. The bokeh of the Loxia is in many situations not up to my taste and can be harsh, luckily have other fifties for those situations.

Sony a7II | Zeiss Loxia 2/50 | f/8

However if budget was no objection I would probably get the Voigtlander APO-Lanthar 2/50. The bokeh of the Voigtlander is calmer and sharpness is better. The Voigtlander does not suffer from a midzone dip and outperforms the Loxia in almost every regard.

Sony a7S | Zeiss Loxia 2/50 | f/2

Phillip’s choice: Voigtländer 50mm F1.2

Since the Voigtländer 1.2/40 is my standard lens I currently don’t own a modern 50mm lens. If I would own one it would be the Voigtländer 1.2/50, which has all the characteristics I like so much in the 1.2/40 but a bit better bokeh and sharpness. Recently I reviewed the remarkable 2/50 APO which is way better corrected than the 1.2/50 but the smoother bokeh and especially the 1.5 stops of separation are more important to more than the correction of aberrations which I find unproblematic in the first place.

Closing Remarks

We hope that this guide can help you in your purchase decision. If any questions are left unanswered don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Articles like this require many hours of work. If you found it helpful, you can support us by:

  • Using one of our affiliate links if you buy a lens (or anything else, diapers for example), won’t cost you anything extra but helps us a lot.
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Thanks! Juriaan, David, Jannik, Bastian and Phillip

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