Sony Carl Zeiss 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM Planar T* A-mount lens review by radi9red

reviewer#27599 date: Jun-7-2016
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:sony SAL 50mm f1.4 , Sony 50mm f2.8 macro
price paid:good price
positive:+ Superb built quality (similar to sony zeiss 85mm f1.4 ZA ssm) - robust and minimalist modern design. No silly rubber focusing grips that attract dusts - just plain metallic body.
+ amazing colours and resolution even @ wide open at f1.4
+ smooth rounded bokeh rendering
+ SSM - lightning fast and smooth . Did not hunt even in low lighting condition.
negative:- Included hood comes free with lens is plastic. scratches easily
- size bigger than sony 50mm f1.4
comment:Read plenty of reviews before I commit to buying this lens. This lens is sold for approximately 4-5X the price of Sony / Minolta 50mm f1.4 AF. First couple of shots @f1.4 , I'm already seeing the differences between this lens and the other sony/Minolta 50mm.

(1) The lens shines and perform superbly wide open , excellent contrast and centre sharpness. Bokeh is perfect and smooth rendering.

(2) the cheaper sony 50mm f1.4 has the loss of contrast and the image appears to have coma glow, whereas the zeiss 50mm f1.4 resolve well under all circumstances.

(3)The ssm focus is incredibly smooth and quiet and quick to focus.

(4) stop down to f2.8 , the zeiss 50mm still outperforms the other sony 50mm f1.4 and sony 50mm macro f2.8 - that proves that the optical quality of the zeiss 50mm is amazing.

Summary : This lens is worth 5X the price tag IF you love taking shots at f1.4 to F2.8 - at wide apertures this lens rivals any top end lens above USD$1500. If you are buying it for street photography where you are planning to stop down to F4 and above , then consider getting the cheaper Sony / Minolta 50mm lens - where the differences are only marginal even pixel peep at 100%.

I don't own a sigma 50mm f1.4 ART to compare , but the zeiss is shorter and weighs lighter than the Sigma counterpart - and more importantly, if you buy the sony zeiss on resale - the value will hold better. I trust original SSM focusing motors better than sigma's.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 31
  • sharpness: 4.95
  • color: 5.00
  • build: 4.94
  • distortion: 4.77
  • flare control: 4.87
  • overall: 4.91 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania