Sony Carl Zeiss FE 50mm 1.4 ZA Planar T* E-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#46882 date: Sep-9-2022
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
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:Rokinon 45 F1.8 FE
Tamron SP 45 F1.8 USD (VC & non VC)
Minolta MD 45 F2
Sigma 45 F2.8 DG DN C
Lensbaby Sol 45 F3.5
Rokinon 50 F1.2
Samyang AF 50 F1.4 FE II
Rokinon AF 50 F1.4 FE
Sony A 50 F1.4 ZA SSM Planar
Zeiss C/Y 50 F1.4 Planar
Yongnuo YN50 F1.4
Canon EF 50 F1.4 USM
Sigma 50 F1.4 EX DG HSM
Minolta MD 50 F1.4 & AF & Sony (D)
Minolta MD 50 F1.7 & AF & RS
Meike 50 F1.7
Sony FE 50 F1.8
Yongnuo YN50 F1.8S DF DSM
Canon EF 50 F1.8 STM
Konica AR 50 F1.8
Vivitar 50 F1.8
Sony DT 50 F1.8 SAM
Sony E 50 F1.8 OSS
Minolta MD 50 F2
Neewer/Meike/Vivitar 50 F2
Konica AR 52 F1.8
Minolta MC 55 F1.7
Sony FE 55 F1.8 Sonnar
Minolta SR 55 F2
Lensbaby Velvet 56 F1.6
Konica AR 57 F1.4
Minolta MC 58 F1.4
price paid:830 USD (used)
positive:Minimal purple fringing
Extreme corners
Quick, accurate SSM
Low distortion
"Dust and moisture resistant"
negative:Size, weight, price
Tangential resolution
Plastic focus grip and filter threads
Warm color cast
Unflocked hood
comment:This was another purchase from the Fred Miranda forum. The retail packaging was included, but the Sony soft case was missing. "Made in Thailand"

This is a large, heavy prime. The older A-mount ZA Planar felt lighter on the LA-EA5. It is not clear where the mass is located. The front element is rather modest.

It does have significant optical improvements over that older ZA Planar. There is much less distortion and much sharper corners. It is not a very sharp lens, but is sharper than the typical simple planar with under-corrected spherical aberration. Tangential resolution is relatively poor and doesn't improve much stopped down. I was surprised that it has a warm color cast similar to the Samyang lenses.

The aperture only opens fully when focused at infinity. The aperture closes some as the lens is focused closer--maybe a third of a stop. This reduces the amount of background blur compared to other F1.4 primes. It also means the aperture is never actually smooth except at infinity focus. The aperture action also increases the noise while focusing.

This lens uses an old-style ring-type piezo-electric motor that is somewhat noisy--maybe even noisier than the older A-mount lens. While it is not the fastest mechanism, it focuses quicker and more accurately than the "faster" piezo-linear motors in the Rokinon.

Like more recent Sony primes the bokeh is rather neutral. It lacks the background smoothing of under-corrected spherical aberration, but this likely helps the AF speed and accuracy and avoids focus shift. This would have been a bigger benefit on an SLR that had to focus wide-open.

Overall a very decent if overweight normal prime.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 4
  • sharpness: 4.75
  • color: 4.50
  • build: 4.75
  • distortion: 4.75
  • flare control: 4.75
  • overall: 4.70 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania