Complete Review of the Sony 50mm f1.8
Review by Joshua Lam @j.k.filmslimited
To begin with, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 is one of the most affordable native full-frame lens offered by Sony themselves. It is extremely compact and lightweight, adding only 186g to your grip. The lens features a rubberised manual focus ring, but lacks a physical AF/MF switch. Sony full-frame mirrorless users, with the exception of Sony A9, will have to select MF in the function menu. The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 is not optically stabilised, but it should not be a problem as most modern Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras have built in in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), in which eliminates the need to create a heavier and bulkier lens with IS (Sony full-frame mirrorless with IBIS includes: A7ii, A7Rii, A7Sii, A7iii, A7Riii, A9).
At 50mm, it is one of the most common focal range, suitable for basically any type of photography.
Despite its entry level price-tag, the image quality this lens delivers is top-notch. It completely blew me away with how crisp photos look coming from a budget lens. A side-note for landscape shooters, at f/1.8, centre image still remains sharp, however, corners appear to be soft consistently til around f/5.6. Vignetting also comes as an issue for this lens at wide open f/1.8, but stopping it down to around f/2.8 will be barely noticeable as shown in the image above. If you do shoot wide open at f/1.8, vignetting can be easily removed through post-processing (profile correction).
Bokeh is very subjective, personally, I am not a fan of the bokeh generated from this lens. The Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 has a minimum focus range of 0.45m (around the same distance from where I got the shot from above), allowing it to create enough separation for decent depth of field. The shape of the bokeh is what we describe as cat’s-eye bokeh. This is due to this specific lens only having 7 circular aperture blades, in theory, the higher in number of circular blades will result in rounder bokeh balls (in comparison, most GMaster lenses houses 11 circular blades for extreme defocus rendering). The good side though, is that the bokeh balls coming out from this lens have very minimal onion effect, which is often apparent on budget lenses.
Autofocus is the biggest downside of this lens. In situations with enough light, autofocus speed is fairly acceptable as long as you are shooting still objects or models. At insufficient lighting environments however, this lens will focus hunt (focus breathing) A LOT. The autofocus motor in this lens is noticeably loud, which is fine for photography, but definitely a no-go for videographers as the sound of the motor will definitely be recorded. One thing I had to praise Sony though, would be how precise the autofocus works. I’ve used a lot of budget lens when I first started photography, and none of them could focus properly through glass. In the image above, I tested the autofocus performance by switching focus continuously from the foreground, to the pile of bags in the background, and it worked like a champ. As a budget lens, its autofocus performance is decent at best, but generally speaking, it is very acceptable for its price.
One thing to note, I tested this lens on the Sony A9, the fastest autofocus performing Sony full-frame mirrorless period, results may vary depending on which camera you use.
To sum it up, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 is definitely a great lens for beginners, and it is an extremely versatile lens to accommodate most types of photography. It is in fact, one of the best budget lens in the market for Sony FE with a similar price range. I highly recommend it to photography beginners of any kind or any type of enthusiast looking for a good affordable lens, but for professional use, there are better options in the market.