Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 ( SEL50F18F ) - Full Format Review / Test
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published June 2016

Introduction

Following Fujifilm's strategy Sony started the FE system by releasing mostly high priced lenses first. Regarding their comparatively expensive full-format cameras, this was certainly a sensible approach. However, now that the initial quality rush is over, Sony is beginning to offer more affordable lenses for the rest of us. The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 is one of them. That being said, Sony lenses have never been really cheap. In this case we are talking about the double price tag of its Canon/Nikon counterparts or about 300US$/EUR. That's quite a bit considering the fact that the lens has a simple optical and mechanical design. However, it is 3(!) times cheaper than its in-house mate, the Zeiss FE Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 ZA, so there's still a certain point for Sony users.

The build quality of the Sony lens is pretty good. The lens body is made of the good quality plastics based on a metal mount. Typical for its species it is very light-weight at just 186g. The focus ring operates smoothly. The inner lens tube extends by about 1cm when focusing to the minimum focus distance (0.45m) - thus rather than using an inner focusing mechanism, it uses a so-called "linear extension" approach. A barrel-shaped lens hood is also part of the package.

Regarding the AF system - let me cite Sony first: "A new DC motor drive system has been carefully designed and implemented for optimum focus precision and speed as well as quiet operation.". My turn: it's crap! I'm sorry to say but there is no other word for that. Upon first contact I thought Sony made a joke there. These days AF motors are usually noiseless and pretty speedy but the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 just isn't. The (admittedly moderate) noise level may be acceptable but the AF speed is downright dismal. Some accountant in Sony seems to have thought that spending 5 dollars more for a decent AF motor was just not worth it. Message to Sony - at least certain key aspects should not be left to accounting really. As usual manual focusing works "by wire" thus you are driving the (slow!) autofocus motor by turning the focus ring (did I mentioned it's slow?).

Specifications
Optical construction6 elements in 5 groups inc. 1x aspherical element
Number of aperture blades7 (circular)
min. focus distance0.45m (1:7.1)
Dimensions68.6x59.5 mm
Weight186g
Filter size49mm
Hoodsupplied, barrel-style, bayonet mount
Other features-