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Sony NEX 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens Review

Sony NEX 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens Review - Gary Wolstenholme reviews this bright NEX 50mm lens from Sony with optical image stabilisation.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
Product : Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS
Price : £215
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Handling and features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Sony E 50mm F18 Oss (1)

This medium telephoto lens for Sony NEX cameras provides an angle of view equivalent to a 75mm lens used on a 35mm camera, which should be ideal for portraits. It also sports a bright maximum aperture of f/1.8, Optical Stabilisation, silent focusing and can be picked up for around £170.

Sony NEX 50mm f/1.8 OSS Handling and features

The lens barrel is constructed from high quality plastics with a chrome finish applied to the out surfaces and the lens mount is metal. Weighing only 202g, this isn't a heavy lens, which makes it a perfect partner for the Sony NEX-5R used for testing.

Sony E 50mm F18 Oss (3)

Auto focus is very fast and accurate, which helps to inspire confidence when using the lens at fast apertures, even in low light conditions.  The manual focus ring is smooth to operate and is well damped, which makes applying manual focus adjustments a pleasure. Minimum focus is 39cm from the sensor plane, which is fairly typical for a lens of this focal length.

The 49mm filter ring does not rotate or extend as focusing is performed internally, which makes this lens ideal for use with graduated an polarising filters. A deep circular hood is supplied as standard with the lens, which does an excellent job of shading the lens.

Sony E 50mm F18 Oss (4)

This 50mm lens is currently the fastest lens on any system to include optical stabilisation. With care, allowing time for the optical stabilisation to kick in properly, sharp hand held images can be taken around half the time with shutter speeds as low as 1/10sec. This is around three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb for taking sharp hand held images would dictate possible.

Sony NEX 50mm f/1.8 OSS Performance

At f/1.8, sharpness in the centre of the frame is already very good, although the clarity towards the edges of the frame falls behind somewhat, only achieving fairly good levels. Stopping down improves sharpness across the frame, although the clarity towards the edges of the frame doesn't achieve good levels until the lens is stopped down to f/4, continuing to f/5.6 results in excellent sharpness towards the edges of the frame with outstanding sharpness in the centre.

Sony50mmOSS MTF
Resolution at 50mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony NEX-5R using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are more prominent than you may expect from a 50mm lens, especially at fast apertures and towards the edges of the frame. Fringing of 0.94 pixel widths can be seen towards the edges at f/1.8, which will become visible along high contrast edges near the edges of the frame.

Sony50mmOSS CA
Chromatic aberration at 50mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony NEX-5R using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners of the frame is extremely well controlled for a fast aperture lens. At f/1.8 the corners are 1.08 stops darker than the centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the aperture stopped down to f/2.8 or beyond.

Moderate levels of pincushion distortion are present, which should pose too many issues during normal picture taking. If absolutely straight lines are of the utmost importance, then the 1.76% pincushion distortion should be relatively easy to correct as the distortion pattern is uniform across the frame.

The supplied lens hood does an excellent job of shielding the lens from extraneous light that may cause issues with flare. Even without the hood this lens is very resistant to flare and produces good contrast, even when shooting into the light.

Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS Other sample images


Value for money

With prices for this lens ranging between £170 and £240 at the time of writing, even at the top end this lens represents good value for money due to its excellent features and good optical performance.

Sony NEX 50mm f/1.8 OSS Verdict

Sony have created a belter here with this 50mm lens. It's reasonably priced, produces sharp, contrasty images and has the added luxury of optical stabilisation and a fast maximum aperture.

The only fly in the ointment is the high level of CA towards the edges of the frame at fast apertures, still even this flaw is easily overlooked taking into account this lens' positive attributes.


 
  This 50mm lens is reasonably priced, produces sharp, contrasty images and has optical stabilisation and a fast aperture.

Sony NEX 50mm f/1.8 OSS Pros

Good build quality
Sharp
Lightweight
Optical stabilisation

Sony NEX 50mm f/1.8 OSS Cons

CA levels towards the edges of the frame at fast apertures

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
OVERALL  

Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS Specifications

ManufacturerSony
General
Lens Mounts
  • Sony E Mount
Lens
Focal Length50mm
Angle of View32
Max Aperturef/1.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size49mm
35mm equivalent85mm
Internal focusingYes
Focusing
Min Focus39cm
StabilisedYes
Construction
Blades7
Elements9
Groups8
Box Contents
Box ContentsFront and rear caps, lens hood
Dimensions
Weight202g
Height62mm

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Comments


30 Apr 2014 7:32PM
I'd like to know if it's dog or a cat (my guess) hair below the watch on the jeans. Pretty impressive and clear.

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