Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM Review
The Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM (SEL50F12GM) is a very fast standard prime lens for Sony Alpha full-frame mirrorless cameras. This is the first ever F1.2 Alpha-system lens that Sony have released.
It can also be used on APS-C sensor Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras, where it provides a 75mm equivalent focal length.
It features three extreme aspherical (XA) elements which help to ensure that the image is sharp across the frame and to suppress chromatic aberrations and purple fringing.
There's a Nano AR II coating to minimize internal reflections so that flare and ghosting do not occur and a flourine coating on the front element to prevent fingerprints, dust, oil and other contaminants.
There are four extreme dynamic (XD) linear motors for fast, quiet and precise auto-focusing, while the linear response focusing ring provides fine linear manual focus control.
The Sony 50mm F1.2 GM lens boasts a dust- and moisture-resistant design and has a minimum focusing distance of 40cm with a maximum magnification of 0.17x.
It has a circular 11-blade diaphragm which creates a very attractive blur to out-of-focus areas of the image, two customizable focus hold buttons, and an internal focusing mechanism which means the lens barrel doesn't move.
A traditional aperture ring runs from f/1.4 to f/16 in third-stop increments with an Auto setting also available. The Click On/Off switch changes the aperture ring between 1/3 clicked steps and a smooth clickless movement.
The Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM lens will be available in May 2021 priced at £2100 in the UK, €2300 in Europe, $1999.99 in the USA, and $2599.99 in Canada.
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 778g and measuring 87mm in diameter and 108mm in length, the hybrid metal and engineering plastic bodied Sony 50mm F1.2 GM is relatively light and compact for such a fast, 35mm full-frame lens.
Its overall size is fairly well-suited to a camera like the Sony Alpha 1 that we tested it with, as shown in the photos below, although with the supplied hood attached it is quite imposing for a 50mm lens.
This new lens is exactly the same weight and size as the Sony Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA, which also weighs in at 778 grams and measures 10.8cm in length, but obviously it offers a faster maximum aperture of F1.2.
It is a lot more expensive though, to the tune of around £600 / $500, so you really need to make sure that you'll benefit from the faster maximum aperture to justify the substantial extra cost.
Compared to the Sigma 50mm f1.4 DG HSM Art, which is one of the biggest and heaviest 50mm prime lenses that we've ever tested with a weight of 910 grams and measuring 12.6cm in length, the new Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM is both substantially shorter and lighter, as well as again offering a faster maximum aperture.
The Sony 50mm F1.2 GM's build quality is excellent, certainly up to the high standard of the other flagship G Master lenses in the range.
It has a sealed dust and moisture resistant design, although Sony stops short of saying that it's 100% weather-proof.
The Sony 50mm F1.2 GM lens has a metal lens mount and it accepts 72mm filters via metal threads on the front of the lens.
The lens has two customisable focus hold buttons which keeps the lens locked to the current focusing distance, useful if you're auto-focusing and don't want the lens to try and find focus again. It can also, amongst other options, be usefully set to Eye AF.
The lens doesn't feature built-in optical image stabilisation, relying instead on the camera body's stabilisation system.
The Sony 50mm F1.2 GM lens has a fairly wide, ridged focus ring. Manual focusing is possible by using the focus mode switch to toggle between AF and MF.
There are no hard stops at either end of the range, making it a little more difficult to set focus at infinity. Polariser users should be pleased that the 72mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.
The Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM lens has a whopping four XD linear motors which produce very quiet and smooth focusing, making it well-suited to shooting video, with the overall lens length remaining constant during focusing.
When it comes to auto-focusing, it proved to be an almost silent, very quick performer on the new Sony Alpha 1 camera that we tested it with. We didn't experience very much "hunting" at all, either in good or bad light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time.
Sony's near flawless Eye AF works perfectly with this lens, quickly locking onto and tracking the subject's eye despite the non-telephoto view.
The Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM lens features an aperture ring that has 1/3EV stops ranging from f/1.2 to f/16 and an Auto setting.
The Click switch on the bottom-right of the lens barrel lets you select whether the aperture ring clicks into place at each aperture stop or rotates smoothly for silent operation during movie recording.
The Sony 50mm F1.2 GM lens is commendably supplied with both a soft case and a very good quality, plastic, circular lens hood (ALC-SH163) with a locking button and a rubberized edge to help protect it.
The 50mm focal length provides an angle of view of 47 degrees on a 35mm full-frame camera.
Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as blue or purple fringes along contrasty edges, were not very apparent in our test shots, only appearing in very high contrast areas. The example below shows the worst-case scenario.
With the lens set to its maximum aperture of f/1.2, there is some light fall-off in the corners asyou'd expect, requiring you to stop down by at least 3 f-stops to prevent it completely.
There's just a little barrel distortion evident in the RAW files - the Sony Alpha A7 III automatically and successfully applies corrections to the JPG files.
The Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM is capable of producing quite nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/16, as shown below.
The lens is slightly susceptible to flare when shooting directly into the sun, though, even with the supplied lens hood fitted, but it's mostly well-controlled.
The Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM isn't claimed to be a macro lens, but it does usefully offer a minimum focusing distance of 40cm with a maximum magnification of 0.17x. The following example demonstrates how close you can get to your subject.
Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc.
In the FE 50mm F1.2 GM lens, Sony have employed an iris diaphragm with 11 circular blades, which has resulted in very appealing bokeh for a standard prime lens.
We do realise, however, that bokeh evaluation is subjective, so we've included several examples below for your perusal.
In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.