Sony AF DT 50mm F1.8 SAM A-mount lens review by MinoltaMaxxum

reviewer#11658 date: Feb-1-2014
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 2
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:* Sony 35mm f/1.8 DT SAM
* Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DT SAM II
* Sony 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DT SAM II
* Minolta 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 (Original)
* Minolta 70-210mm f/4 (Beercan)
* Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX-II
price paid:140 AUD
positive:* Sharp at f/2.2, reaches close to peak sharpness at f/2.8
* Excellent colours and good flare control
* Good contrast with sun in the frame
* Very light and small
* Small 49mm filter thread
* Front element is recessed, does not require lens hood
* Cheap, price has dropped to around 100 AUD at some stores
negative:* Soft image quality wide open at f/1.8
* Average focus speed and focus hunts in low light
* Front rubber manual focus ring is uncomfortably tiny and also starting to show wear after six months of use
* Plastic fantastic build quality
comment:Compared to the Minolta 50mm f/1.7, the Sony is not full frame compatible and the build quality is plastic fantastic and rubber. I would not expect this lens to last as long or the internal lens elements to stay centered as the Minolta, however in every other respect it is better and now the price has come down closer to $100 AUD it makes it more attractive to those on a budget.

First generation Minolta AF lens suffer from heavy loss of contrast and lack of flare control however this newer Sony lens has newer optical coatings and the benefits show in very bright summer conditions.

The lens shows average image quality wide open at f/1.8 however it sharpens up considerably at f/2.2 and it only gets better from there to f/2.8.

Bokeh is pleasant and at smaller apertures takes on a hexagonal shape.

On Sony APS-C cameras it is cropped to the 75mm equivalent which can be narrow for both indoor and some outdoor street photography situations. On the other hand, it produces a more isolated look to the subject and compressed background blur compared to the 35mm f/1.8 DT.

For beginners using the basic kit lens who are interested in developing their photography skills, I would suggest considering this lens or the Sony 85mm f/2.8 as one of your first upgrades especially if you are interested in street and portrait photography and are on a budget.

The wider aperture has an almost three stop advantage over the Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DT at the equivalent focal length or in other words about six hundred percent more light. This will allow you to shoot at faster shutter speeds and/or lower ISO settings in low light conditions than the zoom kit can and along with the sharpness it makes for a fantastic bang for buck lens.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 89
  • sharpness: 4.58
  • color: 4.52
  • build: 3.53
  • distortion: 4.61
  • flare control: 4.48
  • overall: 4.34 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania