Welcome to number 60, the 60th Sony FE lens. Sony made this milestone a memorable one by delivering the first FE lens with an f/1.2 aperture.
Also notable is that with the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens, the ultra-popular 50mm focal length gets the professional-grade Sony G Master treatment. I mentioned in the Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA Lens review that, before reviewing the ZA lens, I found it surprising that a 50mm GM lens was not available long prior. However, after reviewing that high-performing ZA lens, the need for a GM version seemed considerably less urgent, and the 50mm GM lens could be nothing less than incredible to justify its existence.
In addition to having a pro-grade build quality and the widest-available aperture, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens's Quad XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors deliver high-performing AF, and the realized image quality is indeed outstanding. While this lens is premium-priced, it is easily within reach of professionals and serious amateurs. As expected, this lens launched with very high popularity.
When selecting the ideal lens for a particular use, the focal length always becomes a primary consideration. The focal length determines the angle of view, which determines the subject distance required for the desired framing, and the distance from the subject determines the perspective.
On a full-frame body, a 50mm focal length provides an angle of view that seems natural, and that aspect brings great general-purpose usefulness. So useful, and thus, so popular, is this focal length that 50mm (or very similar) focal length prime lenses are found in all major brand lens lineups, with some brands having numerous options. Sony has five FE 50mm prime lenses at review time, plus a 55mm option for those who need just a little more.
Fifty mm lenses are frequently used for fashion, portraiture, weddings, documentary, street, lifestyle, sports, architecture, landscape, commercial, around-the-home, and general studio photography applications, including product photography. As you likely noted, a number of useful applications for this lens include people as subjects. While a 50mm lens used (on a full-frame body) has a modestly too wide angle of view for tightly framed headshot portraits (a too-close perspective is required), but it is excellent for wider portrait framing.
Having a 50mm focal length and f/1.2 aperture available opens many artistic opportunities, including those found in nature.
To visualize where 50mm fits among other common focal lengths, I'll borrow a focal length range example from a zoom lens review.
On an ASP-C/1.5x sensor format body, the 50mm focal length provides an angle of view similar to a 75mm lens on a full-frame sensor format body. Uses for this angle of view coincide with most uses of the 50mm focal length, with modestly tighter framing or modestly longer perspective for the same framing being the difference. The APS-C angle of view favors more-tightly-framed portraits.
The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens's massive f/1.2 aperture opening is unsurpassed in an AF interchangeable lens. Most lens manufacturers offer a 50mm lens with an f/1.4 aperture, but only Canon and Nikon also offer the f/1.2 AF lens option. An f/1.2 aperture has a 17% larger diameter with a 40% larger aperture area over f/1.4 for an additional nearly 0.5-stops of light.
An ultra-wide f/1.2 aperture allowing vast amounts of light to reach the imaging sensor provides tremendous benefits. Use that light to enable action (subject and camera) stopping shutter speeds in very low light levels, along with low ISO settings for reduced noise. It seems there is always enough light for handholding 50mm at f/1.2.
Another advantage of a wide aperture lens is the background blur it can create. F/1.2 with a close subject creates a very shallow DOF, drawing the viewer's eye to the in-focus subject. Longer focal lengths better magnify a background blur, but with an f/1.2 aperture, this 50mm lens can also do that, adding artistic capabilities to this lens's list of highly-desired features.
Here is an aperture comparison example created with this lens.
Compare your current 50mm lens's widest aperture to f/1.2. The above shows the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens's maximum blur capability. Here is another look at this awesomeness.
Here is another:
If you are shooting under a full sun at f/1.2, you will likely need a 1/8000 sec shutter speed at ISO 100 to avoid over-exposure. Positive is that there is little action that a 1/8000 sec shutter speed cannot stop, but if the subject has very bright or reflective colors, even 1/8000 might not be fast enough to avoid blown highlights. Some cameras have an extended ISO setting as low as 50 that can optionally be used in this situation (though dynamic range may be impacted). Optimal is to use a camera offering shutter speeds faster than 1/8000, such as the Sony Alpha a1 used for this review. Using a neutral density filter is a good solution to retaining the use of f/1.2 under direct sunlight when the shutter limitation is exceeded. Stopping down (narrowing) the aperture is always an option for preventing over-exposure, though stopping down negates the need for the wide f/1.2 aperture, and the subject-isolating shallow depth of field is lost.
The notable drawbacks to lenses that feature very wide maximum apertures relate to the larger, heavier lens elements required by design. Those larger elements translate directly into larger, heavier, and more expensive lenses. Impressive is that the FE 50mm f/1.2 lens weighs the same as the FE f/1.4 lens and measures only slightly wider, though the price is, as expected, moderately higher.
Many Sony prime lenses, including this one, feature an aperture ring that enables a manually-selected aperture. With the ring in the A (Auto) position, the camera controls the aperture setting. All other settings electronically force the aperture to the chosen opening, and a 2-position switch on the bottom right side of the lens toggles the aperture ring between 1/3 stop clicks and smooth, quiet, non-clicked adjustments, ideal for video recording.
Aside from a slightly more complicated design, the primary disadvantage of an aperture ring is that inadvertent aperture changes can be made. Making the A click stop firm reduces this concern.
For most photographers, the benefits of a wide max aperture prime lens far outweigh the drawbacks. Wide apertures are a highly-desired lens feature. Usually, no flash is required.
The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens is not optically stabilized. The good news is that Sony takes care of this omission with Steady Shot or IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization) in their mirrorless cameras. In addition to reducing camera shake, the stabilized imaging sensor provides a still viewfinder image, enabling careful composition. Sensor-based AF takes advantage of the stabilized view for improved accuracy.
With no IS switch on the lens, the camera menu must be used to enable or disable IBIS, a slight impediment to working quickly, going from tripod to handholding, for example.
Having an ultra-wide f/1.2 aperture is one thing, and producing image quality that invites using that aperture is another. The expectation was that the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens would produce incredible image quality. The Sony MTF chart shows the lines pushed very high, backed up that premise. The lens in hand verifies that expectations have been met.
This lens delivers excellent center of the frame image sharpness with a wide-open aperture. At f/1.4, still a very wide aperture, resolution and contrast increase slightly, and stopping down to f/2 brings on slight additional improvement with razor-sharp image quality being produced.
In general, lenses are not as sharp in the periphery, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center. The good news is that this lens's corner sharpness is not far behind the impressive center of the frame performance. Primarily, stopping down decreases the peripheral shading's contrast impact. By f/2, the corner performance is remarkable.
Below you will find sets of 100% resolution center of the frame crops captured in uncompressed RAW format using a Sony Alpha 1. The images were processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method with the sharpening amount set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.
The depth of field is shallow at f/1.2, so be sure to find details in the plane of sharp focus to base your evaluations on.
If present, focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA), is often made apparent in such a comparison. That issue is not exhibited by this lens (many modern lenses automatically correct for it).
Next, we'll look at a comparison showing 100% extreme-top-left corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.
Samples taken from the outer extreme of the image circle, full-frame corners, can be counted on to show a lens's weakest performance. Even tiny details are visible in the f/1.2 crops.
Corner sharpness does not always matter, and corner sharpness is often not important for portraiture. However, I always prefer my lenses to be razor-sharp in the corners in case that feature is needed, and this lens checks that box.
When used on a camera that utilizes a lens's entire image circle, peripheral shading can be expected at the widest aperture settings. Ultra-wide aperture lenses tend to show strong peripheral shading wide open, and the about-3.5 stops are going to be visible in most images. At f/1.4, the shading drops below 3 stops and below 2 stops at f/2. The about 1.3 stops of corner shading at f/2.8 is the end of the decreasing, with a similar amount of shading present at f/16.
APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the just-over one-stop of shading showing at f/1.2 may be visible in some images, especially those with a solid color (such as a blue sky) showing in the corners.
One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing with increased noise in the brightened areas being the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern showing in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.
Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to colors of the spectrum being magnified differently. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.
With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.
Color misalignment can easily be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a worst-case example. The image below is a 100% crop from the extreme top left corner of an ultra-high-resolution Sony a1 frame showing diagonal black and white lines.
There should only be black and white colors in these images, with the additional colors in this sample indicating a mild amount of lateral CA.
A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.
In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.
The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally-colored subjects.
There is a moderate amount of color separation showing at f/1.2. The blur amount is reduced as the aperture is narrowed.
Bright light reflecting off of lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare in an image are variable, dependant on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Sony utilizes Nano AR Coating II to combat flare, and this lens produced practically no flare effects even at narrow apertures in our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test, reflecting excellent performance.
Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Removal is sometimes very challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can be quite destructive to image quality. High flare resistance is a welcomed trait of this lens.
Two lens aberrations are particularly evident when shooting images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either meridional (radiating from the center of the image) or sagittal (perpendicular to meridional). Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.
The image below is a 100% crop taken from the top-left corner of an a1 frame.
The brightest stars are not rendered as perfectly shaped tiny dots, but this result is good relative to other lenses.
This lens has slight pincushion distortion, with the effect appearing most strongly near the corners. Most modern lenses have lens correction profiles available (including in-camera), and distortion can easily be removed using these. Still, distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level as some portion of the image must be stretched or the overall dimensions reduced.
As seen earlier in the review, the amount of blur a lens can produce is easy to illustrate. Assessing the bokeh quality is more challenging due to the infinite number of variables present among all available scenes. Here are some f/8 (for diaphragm blade interaction) examples.
The first example shows defocused highlights being rendered beautifully, nicely rounded and smoothly filled. The next two examples, full images reduced in size, look very nice.
Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round, and that is the shape seen here.
The truncation at f/1.2 is moderate (as expected) at f/1.2. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting absolves with the shapes becoming rounder. The f/2 corner effects are mild, and the f/2.8 result shows circular shapes in the extreme corners.
With an 11-blade count diaphragm, point light sources captured with a narrow aperture setting and showing a sunstar effect will have 22 points. In general, the more a lens is stopped down, the larger and better-shaped the sunstars tend to be. Wide aperture lenses tend to have an advantage in this regard, and this lens is capable of producing outstanding stars.
The example above was captured at f/16. Note that every other point is shorter. Looking closely at the defocused highlight example in the bokeh test, slightly shorter sides alternate with slightly longer sides, suggesting the source of this attribute.
Have you noticed the concave shape of the front element in the product images and this diagram?
"XA (extreme aspherical) elements and other advanced technologies combine to achieve extraordinary resolution and contrast from the image center right out to the edges." [Sony]
In an interview, Atsuo Kikuchi, Product Leader and Optical Design Lead, shared some interesting information.
"Essentially, increasing optical performance is all about how you reduce aberrations.
Historically, 50‑mm lenses have typically used a Gauss-type layout. The Gauss layout has groups of lens elements distributed symmetrically on either side of a central aperture, which causes aberrations from each side of the aperture to cancel each other out. It is particularly well suited to the 50‑mm angle of view, so the majority of 50‑mm lenses in the past have utilized this arrangement.
However, this symmetrical structure by itself only compensates for distortion and curvature of field aberrations, and does not, for example, efficiently compensate for spherical aberration or sagittal flare. In short, this optical design choice wouldn't have allowed us to achieve the high aberration compensation performance that we were aiming for."
"Our aim with this lens was a level of optical performance where one can be absolutely comfortable shooting at maximum aperture. To achieve that, our optical arrangement partially "breaks" the symmetrical design and thoroughly suppresses aberrations difficult to suppress with a symmetrical lens design."
"Our new optical arrangement uses just three XA (extreme aspherical) lenses, avoids enlarging the diameter of the front element, and keeps the number of lens elements to a minimum—achieving a compact overall size."
"As you may know, the surface accuracy of the XA lenses used in the G Master series is adjusted down to submicron level. The large F1.2 aperture and large outer element diameter of this lens demanded a substantial increase in the precision of each step of the manufacturing process of the three XA lenses used, in order to achieve the increased surface accuracy required. It was the highest manufacturing hurdle we've ever faced. But integrating the design and manufacturing processes improved each step, and facing the new technological challenges head-on helped us to attain both a large diameter and high precision.
In particular, the XA lens positioned second from the front in the above Lens Configuration Chart contributes greatly to reducing the number of lens elements required in the front assembly, and also reducing its size and weight. Being able to use, in this position, a large-diameter aspherical lens with a manufacturing precision that only Sony can achieve was a huge advantage that underpins the whole optical design of the compact F1.2 lens."
Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens optical performance short of outstanding seemed extremely unlikely, and testing shows that "outstanding" has been achieved.
"Fast, accurate focus is assured, even with extremely shallow 50 mm F1.2 depth of field. Four XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors smoothly deliver high thrust to position the large, heavy focus groups for fast, accurate AF." [Sony] Sony's first and only other lens utilizing quad XD motors driving AF is the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM Lens, a very high-performing lens.
The FE 50 f/1.2 GM lens internally focuses very fast. Remember that (at least some) cameras, including the Sony a1 and a7R IV, defocus the image slightly before final focusing in AF-S mode even if the subject was initially in focus, a process that adds to the focus lock time. Sony camera autofocus lock speed is noticeably faster in AF-C mode.
During AF, only a faint buzz is audible — but only by an ear next to the lens in a quiet environment. The AF accuracy from this lens is excellent as expected, and low light AF performance from a lens with capabilities approaching night vision is outstanding.
Two customizable AFL buttons are provided, ready for easy access in vertical and horizontal camera positions. While in continuous focus mode, this button can be pressed to lock focus at the currently selected focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. This button also acts as a custom button and can be programmed to another function using the camera's menu.
FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode. This lens has an AF/MF switch, allowing this frequently used camera setting to be changed without diving into the menu system.
Normal is for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other, referred to as focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing negatively impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus, and anyone very critically framing while adjusting focus. This lens shows a moderate (normal) amount of focus breathing. Images illustrating this behavior are shared below
The nicely sized ribbed-rubber manual focus ring smoothly turns with light resistance. The adjustment rate is slightly fast.
"Linear Response MF ensures the focus ring responds to subtle control when focusing manually and is ideal for creative focusing effects when shooting video. The focus ring rotation translates directly to a corresponding change in focus, so control feels immediate and precise." [Sony]
As usual, I'm happy to see linear response featured in this lens. Electronic focusing (vs. gear driven) AF can enable a variable rate of focus adjustment based on the focus ring rotation speed. However, this feature must be tuned precisely to avoid frustration when rocking the ring back and force to obtain a precise focus setting. As Sony mentioned, the variable rate can be problematic when pulling focus during video capture.
The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens's 15.8" (400mm) minimum focus distance spec generates a 0.17x maximum magnification spec. While that spec will be thought remarkable by no one, it is normal for the class and adequate for the common uses for this type of lens.
|Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens||15.7"||(400mm)||0.19x|
|Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens||17.7"||(450mm)||0.15x|
|Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM Lens||11.8"||(300mm)||0.25x|
|Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens||18.0"||(457mm)||0.15x|
|Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S Lens||15.7"||(400mm)||0.15x|
|Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||15.7"||(400mm)||0.15x|
|Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||15.7"||(400mm)||0.18x|
|Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Lens||9.8"||(250mm)||0.26x|
|Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens||15.8"||(400mm)||0.17x|
|Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA Lens||17.7"||(450mm)||0.15x|
|Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 Lens||17.7"||(450mm)||0.14x|
|Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens||6.3"||(160mm)||1.00x|
|Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens||19.7"||(500mm)||0.14x|
|Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens||31.5"||(800mm)||0.12x|
|Tamron 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens||11.4"||(290mm)||0.29x|
|Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Milvus Lens||17.7"||(450mm)||0.15x|
|Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Lens||19.7"||(500mm)||0.14x|
A subject measuring approximately 7.6 x 5.1" (193 x 129mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum focus distance.
Need a shorter minimum focus distance and higher magnification? An extension tube mounted behind this lens should provide a very significant decrease and increase, respectively. Extension tubes are hollow lens barrels that shift a lens farther from the camera, allowing shorter focusing distances at the expense of long-distance focusing. Electronic connections in extension tubes permit the lens and camera to communicate and otherwise function as normal. As of review time, Sony does not publish extension tube specs, nor do they manufacture these items, but third-party Sony compatible extension tubes are available.
This lens is not compatible with Sony teleconverters.
The G Master lens series represents Sony's best available lenses. They are the complete pro-ready package, and the FE 50 GM's family resemblance is obvious.
The Sony GM prime lenses shown above, from left to right, are the 14mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 135mm.
Sony FE lenses have a relatively narrow mount with an obvious diameter increase occurring not far in from the mount end. Once the wider diameter is reached, the lens maintains a mostly straight design with a slight diameter increase at the rubber-covered focus ring, making it easy to tactilely find. The outer lens barrel construction is engineering plastic.
Overall, this lens's build quality is high, with all rings and switches having a precision feel to them. The AF/MF switch is again recessed, making it hard to inadvertently change and forcing a bit more effort to intentionally change it, especially with gloves on.
"Effective dust and moisture resistance." [Sony] This is a great lens to use outdoors, and its dust and moisture-resistant design, including a gasketed mount, can save the day out there.
According to Yuki Mizuno, Actuator Control Lead, "We also considered environmental temperature variations. The properties of mechanical and electrical components—such as the thrust power of actuators—vary with environment and temperature. The lens contains software that constantly optimizes performance by autonomously calculating various control parameters to maintain accuracy even under severe conditions. As a result, creators can be assured of high performance even when shooting under harsh conditions in the field, such as extremely cold or hot environments."
The front element is fluorine-coated to resist dust, moisture, and fingerprints and for easier cleaning.
The FE 50 F1.2 GM is only slightly longer than the FE 35 GM, a relatively compact lens. However, the 50's similar size addition to the diameter (0.4", 11mm) yields a wide feel in this comparison. That wider diameter increasing the 50's weight by nearly 50% over the 35 f/1.4 GM is even more noticeable. Still, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens is easy to carry and use.
Perhaps most remarkable is the FE 50mm F1.2 GM lens having a size and weight nearly equivalent to those of the FE 50mm F1.4 ZA (and FE 85mm F1.4 GM) lens.
|Model||Weight oz(g)||Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)||Filter||Year|
|Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens||33.5||(950)||3.5 x 4.3||(89.8 x 108.0)||77||2018|
|Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens||10.2||(290)||2.9 x 2.0||(74.0 x 51.0)||58||1993|
|Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM Lens||5.6||(160)||2.7 x 1.6||(69.2 x 40.5)||43||2020|
|Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S Lens||9.9||(280)||2.9 x 2.1||(73.5 x 54.2)||58||2008|
|Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S Lens||14.6||(415)||3.0 x 3.4||(76.0 x 86.5)||62||2018|
|Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||42.4||(1200)||3.5 x 5.2||(87.8 x 131.0)||82||2018|
|Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens||28.8||(815)||3.4 x 3.9||(85.4 x 99.9)||77||2014|
|Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 GM Lens||18.5||(524)||3.0 x 3.8||(76.0 x 96.0)||67||2021|
|Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens||27.5||(778)||3.4 x 4.3||(87.0 x 108.0)||72||2021|
|Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA Lens||27.5||(778)||3.3 x 4.3||(83.5 x 108.0)||72||2016|
|Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 Lens||6.6||(186)||2.7 x 2.3||(68.6 x 59.5)||49||2016|
|Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens||8.3||(236)||2.8 x 2.8||(70.8 x 71.0)||55||2016|
|Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens||9.9||(281)||2.5 x 2.8||(64.4 x 70.5)||49||2013|
|Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens||28.9||(820)||3.5 x 4.2||(89.5 x 107.5)||77||2016|
|Tamron 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens||19.2||(544)||3.2 x 3.6||(80.4 x 91.4)||67||2015|
|Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Milvus Lens||32.5||(922)||3.2 x 3.8||(82.5 x 97.5)||67||2015|
|Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Lens||36.4||(1030)||3.6 x 5.7||(92.4 x 144.0)||77||2013|
For many more comparisons, review the complete Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.
Expect knuckles to uncomfortably contact the barrel of this lens when tightly gripping the Sony a1, a7R III, and a7R IV.
Here is a visual comparison:
Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:
The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.
Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens to other lenses.
The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens accepts common 72mm-sized filters. Note that the front element of this lens is surely very expensive, meriting use of a protection filter.
Sony includes the semi-rigid, round-shaped plastic hood in the box. The Sony ALC-SH163 lens hood's shape permits standing the lens on the hood, and the rubber-coated end of the hood is helpful in that regard (and it looks cool).
The hood has a flocked interior for superior reflection avoidance, and a push-button release makes the bayonet mount easy to use. The size of this hood is adequate to protect the front lens element from contrast-robbing, flare-inducing light and from impact, including from light rain.
A soft lens case is included in the box.
While the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM is an expensive lens, the price is in line with the major competitors' offerings (and less expensive than Canon's RF 50 F1.2). Combined with the performance of this lens, the FE 50 GM is an excellent value for those looking for the ultimate image quality.
As an "FE" lens, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including full-frame and APS-C sensor format models. Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.
The reviewed Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens was purchased online-retail.
As I hinted at the beginning of this review, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA Lens performs so well that developing a GM lens in the 50mm focal length seemed of low urgency, and I would have been happy if the GM lens matched the ZA lens from an image quality perspective.
In the image quality comparison equalized at f/1.4, the two lenses perform similarly in the center of the frame, and the GM lens is slightly sharper mid-frame and in the corners. The ZA lens creates modestly more vignetting at f/1.4 but less at narrow apertures. Neither lens has a flare problem, but the GM lens shows slightly fewer effects at narrow apertures. The ZA lens has less geometric distortion.
The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens vs. Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA Lens comparison shows these lenses remarkably similar in many regards, including identical weight. The GM lens has a very slightly larger diameter and a slightly higher maximum magnification (0.17x vs. 0.15x). The GM lens is priced moderately higher, but don't forget about the noticeable nearly-0.5-stops of aperture advantage that lens has. If the f/1.2 option is in the budget, it is the preferred option.
If evaluating between camera brands, the Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens becomes the obvious comparison lens.
In the image quality comparison at f/1.2, the Sony lens may have a slight center of the frame advantage. Keep in mind the Sony camera produces a slightly sharper image, but moiré (false color) comes with that aspect. Discerning a peripheral sharpness difference, aside from the Sony lens's moiré, is challenging. The Sony lens has less peripheral shading wide open and slightly more at narrow apertures. The Sony lens shows fewer flare effects at narrow apertures, while the Canon lens has less geometric distortion, less lateral CA, and modestly less color blur.
The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens vs. Canon RF 50mm F1.2 L USM Lens comparison shows these two lenses sharing a length spec. The Sony lens shaves about 3mm from the Canon lens's diameter, but overall, the size of the lenses is not differentiating. From a weight perspective, the Sony is 18% lighter, and the 6 oz (172g) difference will be modestly noticeable.
The Sony lens has 11 diaphragm blades vs. 10. The Sony lens's odd (vs. even) blade count number will generate 22-point starbursts when used at narrow apertures vs. 10 stronger points from the Canon lens. Which count is preferable is a matter of taste. All else equal, more blades result in rounder bokeh effects at narrow apertures.
The Canon lens features a focus limiter switch, enabling a shortened focus distance range for potentially less focus hunting in some scenarios. The Canon lens has a slightly higher maximum magnification capability, 0.19x vs. 0.17x.
The Canon lens is more expensive — $300.00 more expensive as I write this. In this case, choosing the lens to match the favored camera brand is the wisest option.
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It was only a matter of time until Sony included a 50mm lens in the GM family. Offering that focal length and an ultra-wide aperture combination in the flagship lineup seemed a no-brainer.
"Speaking as an optical designer, it's no exaggeration to call this lens the pinnacle of the G Master series, with the ultimate in resolution and bokeh." [Atsuo Kikuchi, Sony]
I expect that price will be the only hurdle keeping the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens from joining most Sony lens kits.
Because this focal length and aperture are so useful, it makes sense to ensure the best quality lens providing such is in the kit. The Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens is that lens.
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