Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM Review

June 24, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | |

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#1 David

Thanks for the review, I bought Sony because of the Zeiss connection and have not regretted it, when possible I will acquire the 50 to supplement my 24 and 135 ZA lenses but I am sure the lens will look a lot better on my A900s than the pug ugly A99 , what a mismatch estheticaly.


7:31 pm - Monday, June 24, 2013

#2 emopunk

Nice review ad usual; great lens straight on my wish list!

7:40 pm - Monday, June 24, 2013

#3 Kirby Krieger

I’m sure this isn’t the word you meant to use:
” ... delivering imperious image quality ... “

The meaning is “assuming power or authority without justification; arrogant and domineering: his imperious demands” (New Oxford American Dictionary).

8:52 pm - Monday, June 24, 2013

#4 Gunnar Karlsson

Impeccable, perhaps?

1:33 am - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

#5 kalpurush

Nice review Mark.

Zeiss is only good when I have pockets in my pant!

And one last word: Sony dSLR is only good because of Zeiss!!

5:17 am - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

#6 Ertan

Delivering imperious price :)

7:15 am - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

#7 Jeff Sham

Looks like an excellent lens, one that I’d love to add to my collection. I already have a Sony 50mm f/1.4 though, is there really that much difference to justify the almost 5x cost?

@David - do you really buy lenses and cameras for how they look?? I have an “ugly” A99, but it is an excellent camera and produces great results. Performance is the key,

@Kirby - “imperious” works for me, I have no problem there. Looks like an unrivalled, dominant, lens to me.

9:04 am - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

#8 Dave

So it sounds like the trade-off is that if you want great sharpness at F1.4, you need an imperious size lens.

9:36 am - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

#9 Sean

@Jeff: Just looking at a few some images the Zeiss is much, much better at wide apertures. I tend to shoot mostly at f2 with the Sony 50mm, and still the mid-frame is noticeably soft, especially on faces. The photo of the bike tire at 1.4 on the far edge is the best image to explain how much better the Zeiss it.

11:34 am - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

#10 tornado

five stars?

1:33 am - Wednesday, June 26, 2013

#11 David

Thanks for the great review!

We recently added a a99 and the 135za for weddings and the combination has been stellar. Looking at the sample photos this 50 looks just as good in the centre and a lot better a controlling CA, which the 135 seems to fall short of in very high contrast scenes.

Our pre-order was in the minute the price was announced with BHPhoto… I agree with other comments on price, it is a bit hiigh for consumer/casual use but very inline for professional use/abuse given the weather sealing.

Again, thanks for the review and especially the sample photos. There are so few around on the web. Very helpful!

1:34 pm - Wednesday, June 26, 2013

#12 sharon Baker

This is an excellent review and confirms why such a hefty price tag for this little beauty. I really liked the various shots at 50mm highlighting the power of this lens.

6:02 am - Thursday, June 27, 2013

#13 Steven Baker

Great review of a very nice lens!

6:03 am - Thursday, June 27, 2013

#14 Sean

Going to pick up mine from UPS now to shoot a wedding this weekend. I’ll post some samples when I get back!

8:43 pm - Thursday, June 27, 2013

#15 Rob M.

I think this is an excellent review. Thank you. I own the 135 ZA and I can honestly say it is the best 135 lens I’ve ever owned regarding image quality. Build quality would be perfect if it wasn’t for the weird ‘play’ in the focus ring which I feel is unacceptable for a lens of this price and a ‘Zeiss’ lens but I am very happy with the purchase. .

I’ll take a hard look at the 50mm but even if money was no object, you have to feel like you’re getting what you pay for and when you pay $1500 or more for a 50mm lens the image quality and the build quality need to be stellar.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve read that the filter rings are plastic and the lens hood is plastic as well.  And if there is play in the focus ring that will be a deal breaker for me. I didn’t purchase the 85mm ZA because of the lack of internal focusing, play in the focus ring AND other than the optics, it’s the same lens as the Minolta 85mm.  Now, the optics are stellar, but if Sony/Zeiss wants me to continue to buy their professional products they also need to provide me with a professional Zeiss build.

If you have ever used or even held an actual Zeiss manual focus lens, even the current ones, you know what build quality is.  Give me both and I won’t be able to question the price.  Give me Zeiss build quality and optics and autofocus and I’ll pay $2,000 for a 50mm lens because I know it will last a lifetime.

3:21 pm - Thursday, July 25, 2013

#16 Sean

To anyone who is interested, I have posted a set of photos on Flickr, most of which were taken with the A99 and Zeiss 50mm, usually at 1.4.

Have fun peeping!


3:29 pm - Thursday, July 25, 2013

#17 dave

@ Sean nice pictures thanks for sharing those on flickr.
@Mark thanks for taking the time to do this review it was helpful I suppose. I say that cause Im so new at this whole thing and still trying to follow.
I have the Sony A57 do you think this lens will be good for me or can I just get the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM or Sony 50mm f/2.8 Macro SAL-50M28

Im not a professional by any means and I use my camera for fun take family pics but I want a new lens that has autofocus on it what do you guys think. Im sure the Zeiss lens is a beast I was told to get a better lens more than focusing on buying somethin like the A99… feel free to email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if anyone can or share on this site. Again thanks for your responses and the article.

1:28 pm - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

#18 thomas

hi, just to say that if you call this lens soft at f1.4 then i don’t know which one can be called sharp (!) ok let’s say zeiss otus…

own it for couple of weeks now and this is overall the best of all 50’s. maybe i got a good copy (for once)
good bokeh
stellar contrast at every aperture
great build if you can live with plastic filter attachment
great optical qualities, if not the best
great autofocus, one of the fastest and accurate
weather sealed

and actually the cheaper among its pears: canon 50 1.2L is 200$ more expensive and new nikon 58 1.4G is 400$ more. none are better.

all others are in a total different category at some point. only sigma when they will rebadge their current 50 under the Art line with new build might eventually become the overall best deal.

if you have the cash, i’d say indeed that you’d not want to use anything else

9:13 pm - Saturday, December 14, 2013

#19 lc1

Some time is passed trough after this interesting Test , and there is now a strong anc competitive other 50: the Sigma Art. It seems to be very near to Zeiss Otus, but with a cost of less the half and cheaper of this Zeiss. Unfortunatly no serious test around between Sony Zeiss 50 ZA and Sigma Art, but I think many will prefer to save some hundred of dollars and to have exquisite performance wiht the ART.

3:38 pm - Friday, August 8, 2014

#20 nocomment

everything looks good.
except one thing disappoint me most is the distortion of the lens, which we can notice obviously from the sample images.

9:12 am - Friday, February 27, 2015

Entry Tags

review, samples, photos, test, images, lens, dslr, full-frame, prime, standard, 50mm, alpha, f1.4, normal, f 1.4, a-mount, Carl Zeiss 50mm, slt camera, Sony 50mm, Sony Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50mm F1.4 ZA SSM

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