The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 is the fifth standard lens for the full-frame Sony E-mount (excluding the 50mm f/2.8 macro) and it is also one of the least expensive at just shy of $250. Since there currently aren’t many affordable lenses for the system, it is certain to appeal to beginners or those who want to start building up a lens collection but find themselves on a tight budget.
As with all our most recent reviews, we’ve summarised our thoughts in video format below. You’ll also find a bullet point list of our main findings and a series of sample images. Enjoy!
Ethics statement: We purchased the FE 50mm f/1.8 to test on our Sony A7r II. We were not asked to write anything about the lens nor were we provided with any other compensation of any kind. Within the article, there are affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission that helps support the site. Don’t worry – prices remain the same for you. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!
- Mount: Sony E-mount
- Format: full-frame
- Focal length: 50mm (50mm in 35mm equivalent terms)
- Lens configuration: 6 elements in 5 groups
- Angle of view: 47°
- Minimum focusing distance: 45cm
- Magnification: 0.14x
- Aperture blades: 7 circular blades
- Aperture range: 1.8 to 22
- Filter diameter: 49mm
- Weather-sealing: No
- Optical stabilisation: No
- Dimensions: 68.6 x 59.5mm
- Weight: 186g
Table of contents:
- 0:34 – Design and Build Quality
- 1:41 – Optical Quality
- 3:19 – Autofocus
- 3:45 – Conclusion
Summary of our findings
- with the exception of the metal mount, it has a fully plastic barrel and doesn’t feature any sort of weather sealing
- the optical unit moves back and forth as you focus and is also quite noisy
- it comes with a round plastic lens hood, a 49mm filter thread, and a ribbed focus ring
- sharpness in the centre is very good from f/2.8 to f/11 and although f/1.8 and f/2 are softer, they are quite useable
- the best performance in the corners can be found at around f/8 but all values between f/5.6 and f/11 are good
- the bokeh is attractive and very well-suited to portrait work
- thanks to the relatively fast maximum aperture of f/1.8, you can easily isolate your subject while throwing the background or foreground out of focus
- chromatic aberration appears frequently at the fastest apertures
- flare can appear if you shoot directly into strong light sources
- barrel distortion is well controlled and there is only some slight vignetting at the fastest apertures
- because the minimum focus distance is only 45cm, you can’t really use it for close-up work
- the autofocus is good when shooting static subjects but can easily mis-focus or hunt back and forth when following moving subjects or subjects that lack contrast, even if you use a Sony camera with PDAF
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the overall performance of the 50mm, especially in terms of its optical quality.
Its sharpness is very close to the FE 55mm f/1.8 at the centre, and the corners are only softer at the fastest apertures. The quality of the bokeh is good, flare isn’t too invasive, and issues such as chromatic aberration at the fastest apertures can easily be fixed quite easily in post production.
The only real fly in the ointment is the slow autofocus performance which could prove problematic if you often shooting moving subjects.
Otherwise it is a very good lens and by choosing it over some of the more expensive options such as the FE 55mm, you could easily have enough money left over to invest in additional gear such as another lens or even a second camera body.
Check price of the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 on