A question that will last until the end of time is “What is the best lens for my camera?” Even after that question, you’ll have to look at all the different options for that particular type of lens or focal length. One such example is the recently expanded collection of 50mm lenses for the mature Sony E mount. With years of normal lenses to look at its a good question if you are hunting for your next optic.
The creators of Play by Pause have collected some of the best options currently available for a comparison of the lot and hopefully to find out which is the “best.”
What on the list for today?
Ergonomics & Design
Up first is the design. A big consideration is size and weight. The newest f/1.2 G Master whens the most with the Mitakon f/0.85 as a close follow up. Things drop significantly with the FE 55mm sitting at just over a third of the G Master’s weight and the 50mm f/1.8 shaving another 100 grams off of that.
All have solid construction, except perhaps the affordable f/1.8 as it has a fairly lightweight plastic construction. Another benefit of the bigger Mitakon and G Master are more tactile controls. For manual work the Mitakon is a good choice, however the G Master has good manual controls and a variety of automatic functions and switches and dials to go along with them.
The 55mm and f/1.8 both are limited to just focus rings and they aren’t necessarily the best since they have an older response system that isn’t linear. If you want something basic and affordable the 50mm f/1.8 is the clear winner by far.
Autofocus is the initial test for performance and all the lenses perform surprisingly close—except the Mitakon which is manual focus only. There is a difference in AF and that is motor noise. The G Master is the best and the 55mm is very good. However, the 50mm f/1.8 can have some noise be picked up if you have sensitive audio equipment close to the camera.
Manual focus pops up again. Mitakon is nice and smooth since it is all mechanically linked. The 55mm and 50mm from Sony are focus by wire and somewhat tough to use. The G Master solved a lot of the issues with focus by wire and has a linear response.
A final note for this section is that even though they are all just about 50mm, there are slight differences in the field of view. Obviously, the 55mm punches in a tad, but even the 50mm f/1.8 seems to be a little longer than a standard 50mm. An interesting comparison to check out.
Checking out sharpness they start off at f/5.6 and slowly open it up until you hit the widest aperture. At f/5.6 things look even in the center, though the G Master appears to have a slight edge. At the edges the G Master is still the leader, though Mitakon takes a major hit.
Going to f/4 things tend to remain the same and then at f/2.8 some fringing appears to be introduced. Going to f/1.8 the separation is a bit clearer. The G Master is obviously the winner by far while the 55mm takes second, the 50mm f/1.8 comes up next, and then the Mitakon at the very end. Going farther, the G Master continues to shine even at its widest of f/1.2.
Aberrations & Vignetting
Chromatic aberration is common with fast aperture lenses. Starting at f/1.8 the G Master again takes a clear victory without any noticeable aberrations. Interestingly, the f/1.8 comes in second with Mitakon after that and the 55mm pulling in last. For photos this isn’t a big deal but for video it is a lot harder to work with.
Distortion is not a huge issue with any of these lenses. Vignetting on the other hand does start to show up, though it’s not too bad on many in my opinion.
Bokeh is a fun one as always. No real surprises. The G Master is great and the 55mm is also very good. Mitakon shows off its aperture blade until you get wide open, but then you got some seriously shallow depth of field. The 50mm f/1.8 is fairly average.
Flare is the last up and it is where the more stylized look of the Mitakon comes into play. It casts a soft light over the image which could be what you are looking for. On the other side, the G Master retains the most contrast and sharpness even with light shining directly into the lens.
Obviously, a lot is going to come down to budget. If you want the best and can deal with some size and weight the 50mm f/1.2 G Master is the best. For something more stylized the Mitakon 50mm has a distinct look that is hard to replicate. On a super slim budget?
The 50mm f/1.8 is a solid performer and worth the money. The 55mm is an interesting one, as it isn’t cheap and isn’t quite the best. I’m not sure quite where it sits today unless you want something better than the f/1.8 and definitely need good autofocus.
I definitely have a G Master on my wish list. What about you?
[source: Play by Pause]
- Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens (B&H, Adorama)
- Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)
- Mitakon Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm f/0.95 III Lens (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)
- Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 Lens (B&H, Amazon, Adorama)
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