Sony Carl Zeiss FE 55mm F1.8 ZA Sonnar T* E-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#45676 date: Mar-26-2021
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.5
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:Pentax-FA 43 F1.8 Limited
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
Rokinon 50 F1.2
Sony A 50 F1.4 Planar SSM
Yongnuo 50 F1.4
Zeiss C/Y 50 F1.4 Planar
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
Yongnuo YN50 F1.8S DF DSM
Sony FE 50 F1.8
Canon EF 50 F1.8 STM
Fotasy 50 F1.8
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
Minolta SR 55 F2
Lensbaby Velvet 56 F1.6
Konica AR 57 F1.4
Minolta MC 58 F1.4
price paid:498 USD (used)
positive:Quiet, quick focusing
Flat field
Deep petal hood included
Very minor pincushion distortion
No random controls other than focus
Dust and moisture resistant
Len Compensation
negative:Alignment/variation
Chromatic aberrations
Black alloy
Noisy aperture
Forced Distortion Compensation
Focus breathing (normal)
15 FPS
comment:I've looked at getting this lens a few times. It hasn't been a priority. I have had an old repaired Rokkor-PF 55mm F1.7 for a few years which shares the focal length if little else. The first copy of this lens was claimed to have been new, but was probably a customer return. It cost the most I'd spent on a prime lens. The second copy was purchased used from an individual on Fred Miranda and has much better alignment.

Those little blue badges must throw off optics when they get attached to Sony lenses. In reality it is probably the piezo-based linear AF system which supposedly attaches partly by glue. The first copy was almost as soft wide-open as my repaired FE 50 F1.8. Though instead of a nice uniform spherical glow, the glow was uneven. "Made in Thailand"

Wide-open this lens is sharper in the corners than the FE 50 F1.8 and most of the older planars I've used. However the native Samyang 45 F1.8 and Yongnuo 50 F1.8 DF are very similar. The well-aligned copy doesn't show any glow. It does have some lateral chromatic aberration and a similar amount of axial CA. It shows less purple fringing than the FE 85 F1.8.

The background rendering is smoother than the Samyang or Yongnuo.

Overall the second well-aligned copy is one of the best normal primes I've used so far.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 26
  • sharpness: 4.90
  • color: 4.96
  • build: 4.77
  • distortion: 4.92
  • flare control: 4.85
  • overall: 4.88
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