Since I switched from DSLR to full frame mirrorless camera, I spend a lot of time searching and comparing lenses. So, I’ve decided to share my work with you in the form of articles. After helping you choose your 24mm lens for your Sony camera, we’re going to talk now about the best 50mm lenses.
A 50mm is considered as a standard focal length in photography, a versatile lens. It’s not wide-angle, so it’s less suited for landscape or architecture, for example, but it’s not long enough to be able to shoot details at a distance like a 200mm telephoto lens could. Like a 35mm, it is a bit of an all-purpose lens, even if the field of view will be narrower on a 50mm lens. Indeed, it all depends on your sensor. On a Sony APS-C camera, a 50mm will give an equivalent focal length of about 75mm. On a full frame camera, you will still have a classic 50mm. If you are looking for a narrower view on an APS-C camera, you will have to go for a 35mm or so.
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I wanted to briefly discuss the 50mm focal length. We are talking about a focal length obviously longer than a 35mm, but not as long as that. Many claim that you can shoot anything with a 50mm. Well, that’s true enough, but some fields are more suitable. I am particularly thinking of portrait photography, pretty tight (especially on an APS-C). But you will obviously be able to take a lot of pictures with it: close-up details, pets, flora, night shots and low light (thanks to the large aperture of this type of lens) or Street photography. The focal length will obviously yet be too short to capture wildlife pictures.
In most cases, 50mm lenses have relatively large to very large apertures (f/2.8 to f/1.2). This will make it easier for you to take pictures in low light conditions, avoid increasing ISO too much and shoot faster to limit motion blur.
If you are currently thinking about what lenses are available for Sony mirrorless cameras, you should have a look at this page detailing, for each brand, all the available lenses!
If you are interested in buying one of the lenses mentioned here, then you will be redirected to Amazon. Within the article, you will find several summary tables.
As mentioned in my article on the best 24mm and 35mm lenses for Sony cameras, I will not repeat everything I wrote in the one about choosing a lens. However, it seemed obvious to me to mention the technical elements to take into account when choosing this type of lens.
Here, I’ll present what I consider as the best 50mm lenses to think about if you own a Sony camera. I will distinguish between 50mm dedicated to APS-C sensors (75mm equivalent on full frame) and those initially built for full frame (Yes, sensor size matters). I took into account all the elements that seemed necessary: image quality, construction, optical flaws, compactness, and of course the price. According to your budget and your specific needs or desires, it’s then up to you to look at what might suit you! So what’s the best lens?
Below is what I consider as the best 50mm for Sony APS-C cameras. As explained above, with the crop factor between APS-C and full frame cameras, you will get the equivalent of a 75mm angle of view on full frame, so a small telephoto lens. Simply put, this will provide a fairly tight framing for portraits. If you want the equivalent of a classic 50mm focal length, I invite you (if you have a Sony APS-C camera) to have a look at our article on the best 35mm lenses for Sony.
Here are the 4 lenses I think you should take a closer look at:
- Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary
- Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 STM
- Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS
- Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 Macro
You can compare the characteristics of these lenses in the table below.
|Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contempo.||Amazon B&H|
|Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 STM||Amazon B&H|
|Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS||Amazon B&H|
|Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 Macro||Amazon B&H|
Would you like to know the existing lenses for a Sony APS-C camera? Don’t hesitate, it’s right here!
According to all my research, this Sigma 56mm (sold with the lens hood) is the best on a Sony APS-C sensor. This lens comes in line with three other lenses of the “Contemporary” range with large apertures dedicated to the Sony APS-C sensor: 16mm and 30mm, both with f/1.4 max. aperture. It is one of the only 50mm (or so) with such a large aperture, along with the Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 which I discuss below.
This Sigma is not the lightest one for APS-C, but with its weight (280g) and relative size (66.5 x 59.5mm), it is still a very compact lens. With a focusing distance of 50cm, an all-weather construction (on the mount only) and a correct lens construction, it is in my opinion the best for portrait photography on an APS-C camera, with an 85mm equivalent on full frame. However, the lens only has a single wide manual focus ring (which is said to be very good) and no AF/MF type buttons. Feedback on autofocus is very good.
When comparing the image quality of different 50mm, you’ll realize how good the one produced by this Sigma 56mm f/1.4 is. Indeed, it is just extraordinary at full aperture, both in the center and on the edges, which are almost as good (sharper than all lenses after). Closing to f/2 and then f/2.8 does not improve or very little the image quality produced. Regarding optical defects, we can note a strong pincushion distortion and a significant vignetting at full aperture, but which are easily corrected in post-processing. Few chromatic aberrations are to be noted.
In the end, Sigma offers an almost perfect lens, compact, well-built and in a price range that remains affordable (379€) – a little more expensive than the Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS which is still overall well behind, in my opinion.
Viltrox is a less famous brand, but which produces more and more interesting lenses for Sony APS-C sensors (and now also Fuji), like this 56mm f/1.4 STM. It is, with the Sigma mentioned above, the only lenses mainly dedicated to portraits with such a large aperture (f/1.4).
This lens has a very good construction (better than the Sigma), all metal, for a weight almost identical to the Sigma (369g), but with a slightly larger size (71mm). It does not have an all-weather construction, but has a click-free aperture ring which may be appreciated by those who want to shoot mainly video. The focusing distance is also much larger (60cm vs 50cm on the Sigma).
Regarding the image quality produced with this lens, it is very good, especially in the center and at full aperture. On the edges and corners, it’s still a bit behind. By closing to f/2.8, you get very consistent images and very good quality. About optical defaults, the Viltrox has less distortion than the Sigma, but this can be corrected in post-processing, so no worries! However, chromatic aberrations are very present. Vignetting and flare are rather well controlled. The AF is considered as being as good as the Sigma one’s.
In the end, Viltrox offers a very nice lens for owners of a Sony APS-C camera. If you are into video, you should consider this one rather than the Sigma. Finally, the Viltrox is about 30% cheaper than the Sigma, which could make a difference if you are on a more limited budget (under 300€). We actually decided to buy this lens for our Sony APS-C camera. Here is our complete review of the Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 STM.
Among the best 50mm for a Sony APS-C body, the Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS also is an option to closely look at. In terms of features, the lens is lighter than the Sigma f/1.4 and offers a featherweight of only 208g for 62mm in length. It has a smaller aperture than the first two mentioned above.
The lens is stabilized, sold with a lens hood, and has a very good build quality. The autofocus is reputed to be very fast. However, the image quality offered by this 50mm f/1.8 remains well behind the two f/1.4 lenses mentioned above. At full aperture, it is quite good in the center, but really far behind on the edges. Closing at f/2.8 improves the quality, but if you want your image to be really uniform, you’ll have to close at f/4-5.6.
This lens is becoming a bit outdated (2011) and shows some optical flaws, including pronounced chromatic aberrations at full aperture and a very visible vignetting. However, all this can be corrected in post processing.
Finally, it has the advantage of being stabilized (ideal on non-stabilized cameras from A6000 to A6300, for example) and having a very good construction, but considering the image quality and the price, I would rather go for the Sigma or the Viltrox, for not much more expensive.
I wanted to include a fourth option for portrait photographers on Sony APS-C. This lens offers the smallest aperture (f/2.8) of the four lenses presented here for APS-C cameras. It has a very good weight but is longer than the 50mm mentioned above (91mm long). Like many Zeiss lenses, the build quality is excellent, even if feedback often points out the manual focus ring as attracting too much dust.
This lens has the distinctive feature of having the acronym “macro”. And this is indeed a “real” macro lens, with a magnification ratio of 1:1 and a focusing distance of only 11cm. Image quality is judged as really excellent at full aperture in the center and remains very good in the corners. Many consider it as a truly sharp lens.
Optical defects are almost non-existent on this lens. However, the autofocus is considered as average by many users, especially in video (noise).
In the end, this Zeiss is a superb lens, well-built, and with a wonderful image quality, but a price which is really too high (almost 900€) and clearly hard to explain (admittedly, it is also a “real macro”). At this price, you can almost have a full frame lens like the Sony 55mm f/1.8 ZA Sonnar T*.
In the table below, you will find the characteristics of the 4 lenses mentioned above.
|Lens||Focal length||Max. aperture||Filter||Dimension (D / L)||Weight||Min. focus distance||Best Price|
|Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary||56mm||f/1.4||55mm||66,5 x 59,5mm||280g||50cm||Amazon B&H|
|Viltrox 56mm f/1.4 STM||56mm||f/1.4||52mm||65 x 71mm||290g||60cm||Amazon B&H|
|Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS||50mm||f/1.8||49mm||62 x 62mm||202g||39cm||Amazon B&H|
|Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 Macro||50mm||f/2.8||52mm||65 x 91mm||290g||15cm||Amazon B&H|
For those of you with a full frame Sony sensor, I summarize below what I consider being the best 50mm options.
- Sony 50mm f/1.2 GM FE
- Sony 50mm f/1.4 ZA Planar T*
- Sony 55mm f/1.8 ZA Sonnar T*
- Samyang 45mm f/1.8 FE AF
You can refer to the table below to compare the lenses’ characteristics.
|Sony 50mm f/1.2 GM FE||Amazon B&H|
|Sony 50mm f/1.4 ZA Planar T*||Amazon B&H|
|Sony 55mm f/1.8 ZA Sonnar T*||Amazon B&H|
|Samyang 45mm f/1.8 FE AF||Amazon B&H|
|Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AF II||Amazon B&H|
Late for some time compared to Canon/Nikon who had both already released a 50mm f/1.2, respectively in RF and Z mount, Sony offers since March 2021 this beautiful Sony 50mm f/1.2 GM FE. As a reminder, the acronym “GM” refers to the very high-end lenses of the brand.
This lens, sold with the lens hood, offers an incredible compact size (for an f/1.2 aperture), especially in comparison with its competitors. It is indeed the lightest (778g) and the shortest (10.8cm) one. The lens enjoys an all-weather construction but is not stabilized. As on Sony GM lenses, there are two adjustment rings: a notched aperture ring that can be set for video, and a manual focus ring. There is also a button allowing you to switch from AF/MF as well as two customizable buttons (to lock the focus, for example).
Regarding image quality, it is obviously close to excellence, but we would expect no less for the price. Sharpness is excellent in the center at full aperture, and only a little behind in the edges/corners, but still very good. It gets better by closing at f/1.8, and the image becomes perfectly homogeneous at f/2.8. As for optical defaults, there is some vignetting at full aperture as well as chromatic aberrations in very complex conditions, but all this can be easily managed in post processing.
The high-quality bokeh offered with this large aperture is just amazing. Note that Sony decided to integrate 3 XA lenses (to improve the rendering of the background) in this lens, as well as a special coating with Nano and fluorine, reducing flare, ghosting, fingerprints, etc…
In the end, Sony offers in my opinion what’s best for anyone looking for an excellent 50mm for a full frame Sony camera. Obviously, there is a price to pay for all of that, and only the wealthy amateurs or professionals will be able to afford this beautiful product! As an alternative, and for 800€ less, you can have a look at the fabulous lens below!
Released in 2016 and priced at around €800 less than the Sony 50mm f/1.2 GM FE mentioned above, this Sony 50mm f/1.4 ZA Planar T* is clearly a lens you should think about! It has almost the same weight and size as the Sony 50mm f/1.2, which, between us, says a lot about Sony’s work to produce such a compact f/1.2. Like the f/1.2, the lens has an all-weather construction but is not stabilized. It also enjoys a superb construction, with both rings (aperture and manual focus).
Image quality is remarkable, even in the center, at full aperture. The edges/corners remain excellent. Closing at f/2 allows you to obtain a homogeneous and quality image. The optical defaults are almost non-existent, and the little there is can be very well corrected in post processing.
It will depend on the camera you have, but even on an A7RIV, the result is excellent. You will hardly see the difference between this lens and the Sony 55mm f/1.8 ZA Sonnar T* on a less pixelated sensor, for example.
All in all, this lens offers a really superb image quality and a much softer price (admittedly, everything is relative) compared to the new 50mm f/1.2. If you choose this lens, you won’t be disappointed either!
Here is the third “50mm” from Sony, the smallest one, with a smaller aperture at f/1.8. Regarding characteristics, this is also a light (281g) and quite short (7cm) lens. The minimum focusing distance is 55cm. Its construction quality is very good (all metal). However, the lens has only one focusing ring (no aperture ring for videographers) and no button on the lens barrel. It is therefore a more discreet and simpler lens.
The image quality is almost identical to the Sony 50mm f/1.4 ZA Planar T*. You will only be able to perceive the difference in sharpness of these two on a very pixelated camera, as on the Sony A7R IV of 61MP. Optical defects are also almost non-existent. The bokeh quality of this lens released in 2013 is sometimes a bit criticized, but in practice, you’ll be hard pressed to see any difference with other lenses.
In the end, this 55mm f/1.8 is still a beautiful lens, offering incredible image quality, all in a much more compact package than the f/1.4 and f/1.2 shown above. If you don’t need an aperture ring for video, for example, and if you shoot on a full-frame sensor like the A7III, this lens will probably be perfect, and for a much lower price (under 900€).
Last lens in this focal length range, this Samyang 45mm f/1.8 FE AF is worth a look! This very compact lens (only 162g for 5,6cm long) is part of the new “Tiny Series” from Samyang. Compared to the three lenses above, this one is really much more compact. The build quality is quite good, made of metal and quality plastic. It’s worth noting that the lens, not tropicalized, has no buttons on the lens barrel. Only a quality focus ring is present.
Regarding image quality, this small 45mm is not outdone. From full aperture, at f/1.8, the image quality is really good in the center. From what I could see, we are not far from the sharpness of the Sony 50mm f/1.4 ZA Planar T*, at f/1.4. Closing to f/2 and then f/2.8, the image quality improves again over the whole image, but still remains a bit behind in the corners/angles. The 50mm f/1.4 is better, but I remind you, at a price 4 times higher! The lens has some optical defects (chromatic aberrations), but nothing that can’t be corrected in post-processing.
To conclude on this very nice 45mm, you are dealing here with a nice lens, admittedly without an all-weather construction, but with a very good autofocus, a nice bokeh thanks to the f/1.8 aperture, a very good image quality in the center (although a little behind on the edges, but it all depends on your use), all for a price more than correct, around 350€. In my opinion, this is an excellent value for money!
At the end of 2021, Samyang decided to renew its 50mm f/1.4. To be honest, it was needed, as the 1st version was not very good regarding performances and not worthy of the 85mm of the same range. Let’s hope that Samyang will also renew its 35mm f/1.4 which is not very good either, even if we can find other references for now, at Sigma for example.
Indeed, there is not much choice for a 50mm lens at Sony, even less of good quality without costing a fortune like the Sony 50 f/1.2 or the Zeiss f/1.4. This new version of the Samyang has it al:l better optical and AF performance, lighter and more compact, with a closer minimum focusing distance and an all-weather construction. It keeps however the flaw of displaying a lot of chromatic aberrations, but it is not the most annoying since they can be corrected easily.
The price is higher than the previous version, 750€, but it is clearly worth the price difference, especially considering that the only (currently) better quality option at this focal length is the Sony Zeiss at 1500€.
You can compare the characteristics of the 5 lenses mentioned above in the table below:
|Lens||Focal length||Max. aperture||Filter||Dimension (D / L)||Weight||Min. focus distance||Best Price|
|Sony 50mm f/1.2 GM FE||50mm||f/1.2||72mm||87 x 108mm||778g||40cm||Amazon B&H|
|Sony 50mm f/1.4 ZA Planar T*||50mm||f/1.4||72mm||83,5 x 108mm||778g||45cm||Amazon B&H|
|Sony 55mm f/1.8 ZA Sonnar T*||55mm||f/1.8||49mm||64,5 x 70,5mm||281g||50cm||Amazon B&H|
|Samyang 45mm f/1.8 FE AF||45mm||f/1.8||49mm||56 x 62mm||162g||45cm||Amazon B&H|
|Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AF II||50mm||f/1.4||72mm||80 x 89mm||420g||40cm||Amazon B&H|
For those wishing to go further and considering a longer focal length, we wrote a complete article on the best Sony 85mm lenses!
As you might have expected, there are many other 50mm lenses available for the Sony mount. I won’t go into detail of all the possible alternatives, but I give you 4 other choices that you can look at if you were not convinced by the ones at the top of the page. You will find their characteristics in the table below.
Here are the four lenses:
Let’s quickly talk about the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary. This lens is part of the new “I” series from Sigma, characterized by light (235g) and compact (4.8cm long) lenses. The quality of construction all metal is great, especially since the lens has an all-weather construction. There is an aperture ring (not retractable for video) and a manual focus ring (that many find too thin). The image quality is said to be good at full aperture at f/2.8, without being exceptional. In the end, this is a very well-built lens (better than the Samyang 45mm), but the image quality and autofocus being a little bit lower and the price higher, I would rather recommend the Samyang 45mm f/1.8 FE AF.
Another lens you can consider is the Sony 50mm f/2.5 G FE. It is one of the new compact (4.5cm long) and light (only 174g) lenses. Its build quality is said to be very good, and the presence of two rings is worth noting (one for manual focus and the other for aperture, which can be unclicked for video). The image quality is also great at full aperture, quite like the Samyang 45mm. In the end, this lens is an excellent alternative, but I find the price too high to consider it (around 700€). For half this price, an extra aperture, a similar weight (and certainly a more plastic construction), I’d opt for the Samyang 45mm f/1.8 FE AF.
Another possibility, but even less interesting in my opinion, is the Sony 50mm f/1.8. We are here on a light (186g) and rather compact lens (6cm long). The build quality is correct (no stabilization nor all-weather construction). The autofocus is known to be average. Sharpness is quite soft at full aperture but improves to become very good at f/4. If you are on a budget and looking for an entry-level 50mm, this is still an option to think about, for under 200€.
The last lens I wanted to say a few words about is the Samyang 50mm f/1.4. The result is the same on all the tests I could read. Even if the build quality is good (without all-weather construction), the image quality is not that great at full aperture, and you will have to close to at least f/2.8 to get good results. Added to a very average autofocus, an important weight and size and some optical defects (chromatic aberrations), I would not particularly recommend this lens. For cheaper and much lighter, you can find better, like the Samyang 45mm f/1.8 FE AF.
As with Sony’s 24mm and 35mm lenses, you’ll find a whole range of 50mm manual focus lenses. Some of them are of very nice quality, and some a little less!
I’ll let you have a detailed look at the different manual alternatives to consider in the table below.
|Lens||Max. aperture||Filter||Best Price|
|Samyang 50mm f/1.4 AS UMC||f/1.4||77mm||Amazon B&H|
|Zeiss 50mm f/2 Loxia Planar T*||f/2||52mm||Amazon B&H|
|Kamlan 55mm f/1.2||f/1.2||67mm||Amazon|
|KIPON Iberit 50mm f/2.4||f/2.4||49mm||Amazon B&H|
|Meike MK-50mm f/1.7||f/1.7||52mm||Amazon B&H|
|Voigtlander 50mm f/1.2 Nokton ASPH||f/1.2||58mm||Amazon B&H|
|Voigtlander 50mm f/2 APO-LANTHAR ASPH||f/2||49mm||Amazon B&H|
|7artisans 50mm f/1.05||f/1.05||58mm||Amazon B&H|
I’m coming to the end of this article about the best 50mm for Sony. I hope you are now able to see more clearly for your future choice! Feel free to tell me what you thought of my rankings and/or to give me feedback on your daily use of a 50mm!
See you soon for a new article on Sony lenses. In the meantime, we have written one about the best Sony wide angle lenses of the moment!