Sony Carl Zeiss 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM Planar T* A-mount lens review by Saber

reviewer#11600 date: Jan-11-2014
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
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:ZA 135/1,8
price paid:$1,499.99
positive:Excellent build, well-balanced, beautiful colors, very sharp focus, and near silent operation.
negative:Small amount of CA and flimsy pathetic lens hood with weak locking to the lens.
comment:UPDATE 17 April 2014: I'm still on vacation in Italy and this is my primary lens alongside the ZA135. I use it a lot more since the 135 is simply too restricting and heavy. The ZA50 renders great although for the street, it too can fall short on the view I need. The streets here are bustling with people (some of them are skilled pick-pockets) so you don't really have a lot of time or reasonable security to swap-out lenses. My lens hood fell-off twice so far due to the flaky lockup on the lens. Lots of narrow streets in the villages so a fast wide zoom or the ZA24 is now on my wish list.

Original Review: I wasn’t sure whether to retire my Alpha 900 and move on, or to add a second ZA to my system. I’ve been using the ZA 135/1,8 for about 2-years without ever removing it, so I have done just about everything one could do with that lens. Anyway, I decided to roll-the-dice when I ordered this lens and I have no regrets. This lens is so good that it inspired me to stick with the Alpha mount and forgo the FE-mount frenzy. In fact, this lens has resurrected my passion for the A900 so I’m not even considering the newer model for sometime to come.

The Good: Once I installed the B+W 72mm XS-Pro Clear with Multi-Resistant Nano Coat (007M) that’s when this lens started to shine! The colors and tones are phenomenal and the focusing is sharp and dead silent. As others have mentioned, there is a degree of CA with high-contrast zones so you simply have to use the lens accordingly.

The Bad: As for the remarkably cheap flimsy lens hood I couldn’t agree more, whereby Sony and Carl Zeiss have unwittingly embarrassed themselves. I hated this hood so bad that I special ordered the premium hood from the ZA 85mm and it’s a match made in heaven! Of course you will pay through the nose for this hood although I feel it was money well spent. Heck, I even went a step further and added the Sony 4-yr service/accident warranty for piece-of-mind.

Cost vs. Value: I feel the retail price of this lens is on par with others ZA lenses of equal quality, with the exception of the miserable lens hood. Had they included the same hood as provisioned for the ZA 85mm I would have considered it a true bargain. No, it doesn’t come with a lens pouch but I never use the stock pouches so that didn’t bother me.

Summary: If you like the quality of the Carl Zeiss line of ZA lenses, then this new offering it's unlikely to disappoint.

Dan Ortego

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 30
  • sharpness: 4.97
  • color: 5.00
  • build: 4.97
  • distortion: 4.80
  • flare control: 4.90
  • overall: 4.93 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania