Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM Review

February 21, 2023 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


Does the world, and Alpha full-frame users in particular, really need another 50mm prime lens?

Sony certainly seems to think so with the launch of the new FE 50mm F1.4 GM, despite already offering the even faster flagship FE 50mm F1.2 GM, the older Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA which this new lens effectively replaces, the smaller and lighter FE 50mm F1.8, and the FE 50mm F2.8 Macro.

And that's not even mentioning the multitude of third-party options on offer from the likes of Sigma, Tamron and Samyang, perhaps most notably the similarly fast Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM. It's fair to say that you're certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a 50mm prime for your Alpha camera.

So the Sony FE 50mm F1.4 GM really has to excel to stand out from the crowd and justify its rather eye-watering £1500 / €1700 / $1600 price-tag, and thankfully it does that by almost matching the feature-set, performance and image quality of the F1.2 GM lens in a smaller and lighter format, just with a slightly slower maximum aperture.

If you can't quite stretch financially to the FE 50mm F1.2 GM or you just don't need the headline-grabbing F1.2 aperture, than rest assured that this new lens is almost its equal in every way.

This incredibly lightweight and compact, yet still well-built and weather-proof optic, delivers excellent sharpness in the centre of the frame throughout its aperture range, even performing really well wide-open at f/1.4, although you'll need to stop down a little more to get similar quality at the edges of the frame.

Despite the standard 50mm focal length, the 11-bladed aperture, f/1.4 maximum aperture and 38cm minimum focusing distance combine to produce some lovely bokeh effects.

This lens delivered fast, near-silent, reliable auto-focusing on the Alpha 7R IV camera that we tested it with, with the Click and Iris Lock switches for the aperture ring making it well-suited to both stills and movies.

In summary, this new lens could be viewed as the more sensible version of the flagship FE 50mm F1.2 GM, offering virtually all of the things that we loved about that lens in a physically and financially smaller package. It's well worth considering if you still, somehow, don't own a 50mm prime for your Sony full-frame camera...

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 5
Value for money 4.5