It has been more than half a year of time since my last lens review. Finally, I’m not that insanely busy recently so that I can take some free time for lens review. Which lens is going to be review this time? It is the old but excellent prime lens, the Sony E-mount SEL50F18.
As we know, every camera manufacturer will have a legendary 50 mm prime lens for their own camera, and it usually is the cheapest and has excellent optical performance among all the available lenses. So does this apply to the Sony E-mount SEL50F18 as well? Let’s read more about this lens from the following review.
Pros & Cons
+ Large aperture
+ In-lens Optical Steady Shot (OSS) image stabilizer
+ Excellent Sharpness
+ Low price
+ Smooth bokeh effect
– Slightly inaccurate auto-focus in low light situation
– Flare control can be very terrible in few cases
|Focal Length (35mm equivalent)||75mm|
|Filter Diameter : 49mm||49mm|
|Lens Groups-Elements||8 groups, 9 elements (2 aspheric surfaces, 3 ED)|
|Minimum Focus Distance||1.28ft (0.39 m)|
|Aperture Blade||7 blades (Circular aperture)|
|Dimensions (Max. Diameter x Length)||2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ (62 x62 mm)|
|Internal Motor||Yes (Stepping motor)|
|Lens Weight||7.2 oz (202 g)|
Look & Feel
Sony brought us a new black version of the SEL50F18 recently but the lens I got is the original silver version.
The SEL50F18 has the similar size as my favourite SEL24F18Z but it gives me a much lighter feel (it actually does). The lens hood is the normal round shape instead of the petal shape that we saw with SEL24F18Z and SEL35F18.
The aluminium alloy finished on the lens barrel gives the lens a premium look. Holding it in my hand, I feel it is more solid than the plastic-ish SEL35F18 but it is still cannot match with the rock-solid SEL24F18Z.
The image above indicate the area that I cropped for the sharpness comparison.
The corner sharpness of SEL50F18 shows very pleasant result from its widest open until F 16 while the corner sharpness at F 22 has significantly dropped.
The center sharpness of the SEL50F18 also performs similarly to its corner sharpness. Center sharpness does a great job from its widest open until F 16 while the center sharpness at F 22 has dropped significantly.
The SEL50F18 has impressed me for its sharpness performance. It is rare to see a lens that provides so close sharpness performance (in a good way) from its widest open to the end (exclude the F 22).
With a magnification ratio of 0.16 and the minimum focus length of 39 cm, the SEL50F18 is not an ideal marco shoot lens. However, its excellent sharpness performance allows you to crop the shots and make them as a great marco shot. Above is the 100% crop from the close-up shot of my watch.
As an APS-C lens, 50 mm is equivalent to 75 mm in 35 mm format. Lens in this focal length is supposed to have pincushion distortion but I’m not able to spot any difference between the RAW and the after correction JPEG. The SEL50F18 is almost perfect to control its distortion.
Fast prime usually suffered from the vignetting but it does not really apply to the SEL50F18. The SEL50F18 exhibits little dark corners at its widest open at F1.8 and F2, however, stopped down to F 2.8 has almost eliminate all the visible vignetting effect. It amazed me for its vignetting control as even the much expensive Zeiss SEL24F18Z still exhibits minor dark corners at its F 2.8 but not the SEL50F18. Good job!
The shot above indicates the area that I crop for the CA comparison.
The SEL50F18 shows some purple fringing at its widest open and F 2, stopped down to F 2.8 will eliminate all the color fringing and no more color fringing is spotted until F 22.
SEL50F18 center CA performance is same as its corner CA performance. High contrast area in the center exhibits purple fringing at its widest open and F 2 while all the color fringing are gone once it is stopped down to F 2.8 and onward.
The SEL50F18 does a great job for its chromatic aberration control as well. The visible color fringing is minimal and only spotted at its widest open and F 2.
Ghosting and Flare
I had shot many sets of images for the flaring due to the unbelievable well-controlled of flaring by the SEL50F18 (or maybe I shot in the wrong way?) I shot the sunrise, sunset, sun with buildings, and finally I managed to make the SEL50F18 “lost control” for its flare control in the shots below.
It is the worst case that I can hardly produce while in most of the cases the sun will nicely be placed as a bright spot without affecting other subjects in the frame. Therefore, the flare control of SEL50F18 is a mixed result where it depends on how you place the subject in your frame.
As expected, the SEL50F18 shows the beautiful circular bokeh effect at its widest open and the F 2. Some bokeh shown up as polygon from F 2.8 and more obvious in F 4. However, the Bokeh effect is still smooth and buttery.
Handheld Low Light Performance
SEL50F18 has a 75 mm of focal length in 35 mm equivalent which means 1/80 second is the safest shutter speed. So let’s see how effective the Sony in-lens Optical Steady Shot (OSS) does from the comparison below.
Without the OSS on, image shows blurriness from 1/15 second and becomes unusable at 1/10 second.
With the OSS on, it is possible to shoot at 1/6 second and keep the shots usable. In this case, the Sony OSS provides a 3-1/2 stops slower shutter speed which is pretty close to the advertised 4 stops slower.
SEL50F18 is almost a perfect fast prime in my opinion. It is the cheapest among all of its E-mount lenses (SGD 449), built-in with OSS image stabiliser, excellent control in the distortion, vignetting, and CA, smooth and buttery circular Bokeh effect, and the surprisingly good sharpness from its widest open.
If I really have to pick the cons for this lens, then I would say its auto-focusing is not perfect. Don’t take me wrong, its auto-fcousing works silently, fast, and accurately in most of the time where including the low light situation, but not all the time. It just sometimes changed/refused to focus on the subject that you are aiming to, so either have to use the Direct-Manual Focus (DMF) or change to the Manual Focus (MF) to adjust the focusing.
With a price of SGD 449, and the excellent optical performance, the Sony E-mount SEL50F18 is a steal for E-mount users. The SEL5018 is capable to produce lovely portrait shots due to its 75 mm equivalent focal length. It took me some time to get used to the focal length initially but I found that it is so handy in street photography as well once I familiar with it.
Before I end this review, let’s have a look for some shots taken by this amazing SEL50F18 at below.
That’s all for today’s lens review. Did you use this SEL50F18 before or you are going to buy this lens? Welcome to leave your comments and thought here. Hope you enjoy the reading and like it. Cheers.