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

reviewer#45676 date: Mar-26-2021
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 3
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
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 have experience with 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
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
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 56 F1.6
Konica AR 57 F1.4
Minolta MC 58 F1.4
price paid:677 USD (new)
positive:Quiet focusing
Flat field
Deep petal hood included
Very minor pincushion distortion
No random controls other than focus
Dust and moisture resistant
Len Compensation
Axial CA
Black alloy
Noisy aperture
Forced Distortion Compensation
Focus breathing (normal)
15 FPS
comment:This is the most I've spent so far on a prime lens. I've looked at getting this lens a few times. It hasn't been a priority. I have the old Rokkor-PF 55mm F1.7 which shares the focal length if little else.

Those little blue badges must throw off optical alignments when they get attached to Sony lenses. So far I haven't tried a single FE ZA lens that has not been misaligned. This Sonnar is almost as soft wide-open as the FE 50 F1.8. Though instead of a nice uniform spherical glow, the softness is uneven. My best aligned F1.8 lens seems to be the Rokinon 35mm, but the Sony FE 35mm is very close. It is too bad this lens is so poorly made. "Made in Thailand"

Wide-open this lens is much sharper in the corners than the FE 50 F1.8. Stopped down it is hard to see a difference between it and even the old Planar F1.8s. The FE 50 F1.8 actually has less lateral CA in the extreme corners, but midfield is cleaner on the Sonnar. Both are better landscape options than the Samyang 45 F1.8.

This copy is misaligned which reduces the high resolution contrast wide-open. Both Samyang F1.8's have better alignment. It lacks the purple fringing of the FE 85 F1.8, but the axial CA is staggering.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 26
  • sharpness: 4.88
  • color: 4.96
  • build: 4.73
  • distortion: 4.92
  • flare control: 4.85
  • overall: 4.87 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania