Arguably the 50mm f1.8 is one of the least glamorous lenses in any maker’s line-up, however, there is a lot to like about this offering from Sony. Although extremely light in weight it has a metal lens mount and, even with an outer shell made mainly from plastic, it’s relatively well made. Focusing on the a7 II we used for the review isn’t perhaps quite as fast as the equivalent Canon, and as a unit-focusing model there’s some noise, hunting and barrel extension. Still, the extending barrel feels firm and secure.
More of an issue is that the lens stops down to focus, so it can be slow to focus in low light. Manual focusing is responsive however, and it has a long focus throw of around 200 degrees. While that’s good for things like portraiture and still life, it can be a little restrictive for other genres, and like others in the FE range that are designed to accommodate the tolerances between bodies, there are no hard stops and the lens resets after powering off. The most impressive thing about this lens, though, is the optical quality. It’s not just that the sharpness and fine detail rendering are high, but the fact that it delivers this throughout the aperture range. Even wide open it’s very good, though like many others at this price you’ll have to stop down to f5.6 to get corner-tocorner sharpness. Other issues we’re likely to see in lenses like this (such as distortion and chromatic aberration) are low, which is intriguing at this price.