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Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens Review

John Riley has been exploring an aviation museum with the Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens, capturing sample photos and finding out how it performs.

| Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM in Interchangeable Lenses

Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens Review: Sony FE 50mm F1,4 GM On A7RIII On Location 3 | 1/8 sec | f/4.5 | 21.0 mm | ISO 640

50mm lenses, considered the standard for the 35mm "full frame" format, continue to develop and progress and the latest is Sony's new G Master version. The path of the 50mm is increasingly one of quality, as we find larger, heavier lenses that deliver stunning performance. Of course, this does not come cheap, and the cost of the new 50mm lenses is far higher than even the quality lenses of the past. There have always been quality optics, but they have been much more compact, having a totally different design ethos. Let's have a close look at the new lens, coupling it up with the 42MP Sony A7R III full-frame mirrorless camera body and see if it can justify its price tag.


Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Handling and Features

Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens Review: Sony FE 50mm F1,4 GM Front Element View | 0.5 sec | f/16.0 | 60.0 mm | ISO 100
Although considerably larger than traditional 50mm f/1.4 lenses, this new Sony lens is relatively light and compact within its group, weighing in at just 516g and measuring a svelte 80.6mm diameter and 96.0mm length. There is a provided round, bayonet-fit lens hood and this clicks positively into place. There is no indication that the hood is likely to become loosened in use, and even if it were, being round there would be no vignetting, unlike with a petal-shaped hood. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a standard 67mm filter thread.

The front element has a Fluorine coating that repels dust, grease and moisture and the whole lens is dust and moisture-resistant.

The manual focus ring is smooth and slick in operation, being electronic in its action. The lens is compatible with all the usual Sony focusing modes, including DMF (Direct Manual Focus) where the lens can be manually tweaked whilst in AF mode. The focusing modes are set in the camera menus, in the usual way.

Focusing in AF mode is down to 0.41m (1.35 feet) for a maximum magnification of 0.16x. Focusing in MF mode is down to a slightly closer 0.38m (1.25 feet) for a maximum magnification of 0.18x. Both these figures are closer than the traditional 0.45m for a 50mm lens, still not down to macro distances but nonetheless a welcome bonus. AF is virtually silent, very fast and very accurate. It is driven by High Thrust XD Linear motors. It also supports high movie frame rates of up to 120 fps.


Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens Review: Sony FE 50mm F1,4 GM Rear Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100

Next up are a number of switches around the lens barrel, plus two focus hold buttons. The buttons can also be programmed via the camera menus. The AF/MF button is self-explanatory. The Iris Lock can be used to lock the aperture ring in the A position, or conversely to lock it out of the A position for when the aperture ring is being used. The click on/off button switches the click stops on the aperture ring on or off. The latter setting might well be desirable for videographers to enable silent aperture changes whilst filming.

The aperture ring itself is a beautifully engineered affair, with an A position plus a full range of settings in one-third of a stop intervals. If switched in, the click stops are positive but not too strong. Even if the clicks are switched off, there is a click stop when entering the A position, quite firm so a good indicator in practical use.

Optical construction is 14 elements in 11 groups, including 2 XA (Extreme Aspherical) and 1 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 11 blades, the aim being to create a circular aperture for the smoothest bokeh. Reflections are effectively suppressed using Sony's Nano AR Coating II.


Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens Review: Sony FE 50mm F1,4 GM On A7RIII On Location 1 |

Although it is a given that zoom lenses have a huge advantage in terms of versatility, and also that they perform extremely well, it can still be said that there is a solid place left for the standard 50mm lens. It is usually fast (bright) and f/1.4 is a typical norm. We can take advantage of the slim depth of field to highlight our main subject, and a typical example of images suitable would be portraits. Low light shots at high shutter speeds are also possible, remembering that if we use apertures like f/1.4 or f/2 then the depth of field involved will be very slim.

Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Lens Review: Sony FE 50mm F1,4 GM Rear Element View | 1.6 sec | f/16.0 | 88.0 mm | ISO 100

Whereas older 50mm lenses would be happy with almost all add-on optics, the Sony AF 50mm f/1.4 GM lens is not compatible with teleconverters. It can of course be used on the APS-C crop sensor cameras, with a “35mm equivalent” field of view similar to a 75mm lens; in other words, it becomes a short telephoto lens.

It is also true that having just the one lens with one focal length can be very freeing to the imagination and we are forced to change the “zoom” by using our feet and walking nearer or further away. This of course results in different perspectives than just standing still and zooming. It can be a refreshing change, perhaps creating a different mindset to our photography.

Sony's new lens makes all of this straightforward, and the stunning results are hopefully due reward. So let's now have a close look at the technical performance and see if that matches up with the excellent handling.


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8 Mar 2023 5:53PM
Hi, for some reason this review contains CA graph of Sigma AF 50mm F1,4 DG DN Art lens instead of Sony FE 50mm F1,4 GM lens. Could you please check that out. Thank you.
8 Mar 2023 8:51PM
We'll get that sorted, many thanks for pointing it out.
9 Mar 2023 8:00AM
This should now be updated

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