Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens review

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DxOMark Lens

Overall image quality

Specifications

  • FE / E mount for Sony mirrorless
  • F/2.8 to f/16 aperture range
  • ED (extra-low dispersion) element
  • Aspherical element
  • 1:1 magnification with 16cm/6.3-inch minimum focus
  • Focus range limiter for macro autofocus
  • Dust and moisture resistant
  • Rounded 7-blade diaphragm

 

Highlights

  • Lightweight and portable
  • 1:1 macro focusing
  • ED (extra-low dispersion) element
  • Dust- and moisture-resistant
  • Outstanding sharpness from f/4 to f/8
  • Well-controlled chromatic aberration

 

Drawbacks

 

Overall image quality

Achieving its best overall score of 37 points on the Sony A7R II, the Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro achieves 37 P-Mpix of the A7R II’s 42Mp resolution, making this an incredibly sharp lens-camera combination. In fact it’s the third-sharpest lens we’ve tested on the A7R II, just behind the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro with 42 P-Mpix and the Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 with 40 P-Mpix. The FE 50mm f/2.8 costs about half the price of these top two performers, however, making it an attractive option for super-sharp results on the A7R II. Its sharpness on the 36Mp Sony A7R drops to 25P-Mpix, so the Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro doesn’t achieve as much resolution potential on Sony’s first-generation high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera, but it’s still a very good score. The inclusion of an ED glass element keeps chromatic aberrations under control, and there’s minimal distortion, as you’d expect from a 50mm prime. The only real image quality drawback is vignetting, with some noticeable corner shading visible at all apertures, including a heavy –1.9Ev at f/2.8.

 

Specific use case

With exceptional and very nearly uniform sharpness of around 80% acutance at f/2.8, the FE 50mm f/2.8 is a high-quality lens both for shooting portraits and for low-light work on the Sony A7R II. The heavy vignetting at f/2.8 might require some post-production correction depending on the subject and composition, but of course some mild corner shading will often enhance a portrait. For macro photography, the 50mm focal length is slightly wider than many macro lenses, which could be an advantage depending on your subject and background. Sharpness at the minimum f/16 aperture for longer depth-of-field macro shots remains very good with acutance around 70%, too. The Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro hits peak sharpness between f/4 to f/8, at which resolution is phenomenal and uniform.

 

Image quality compared

The Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro’s overall score of 37 points and sharpness score of 37 P-Mpix compares well to the more expensive Zeiss competition and ranks slightly above the cheaper Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 version. The $998 Carl Zeiss 55mm f/1.8’s improved low-light performance puts it ahead of the FE 50mm f/2.8 overall, and the Zeiss is one of the sharpest lenses we’ve tested with 40 P-Mpix, but the cheaper FE 50mm f/2.8 isn’t far behind. Thanks to its wider f/2 maximum aperture, improved light transmission and low-light performance, the $949 Loxia 2/50 FE also ranks above the FE 50mm f/2.8 overall, but the Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro boasts slightly better sharpness (although both are very sharp lenses). The value-option $198 Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 scores very well overall due to excellent low-light performance, and although it’s not quite in the same league as the more expensive FE 50/55mm options when it comes to sharpness, it still offers very good resolution of around 80% at f/8.

 

Conclusion

Shooting full-frame, a 50mm prime is a really handy option for general use and portrait photography, as well as a relatively lightweight and portable lens. Adding 1:1 macro focusing, the Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro offers greater functionality for Sony A7 series owners, making it an even more versatile optic at a sensible $499 price point. Sharpness is outstanding on the Sony A7R II, achieving 37 P-Mpix of the Sony A7R II’s total 42Mp resolution, and it’s the third-sharpest lens we’ve tested on this camera. It’s not as sharp as the Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm f/1.8 and lets in half the amount of light using the maximum aperture, but it’s also half the cost of the $998 Zeiss and offers macro.

 

Also consider

For greater insight into the performance of alternatives to the Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro, please see our Sony FE 50mm f/1.8, Zeiss Loxia 2/50, Mitakon 20mm f/0.95 and Sony A7R II best prime lenses reviews.