Cameras and Lenses Tech

Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Lens Review


Launched alongside Sony’s first full-frame mirrorless cameras in 2013, the Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens was the primary fast-aperture, “standard” focal size prime lens obtainable for the FE mount. The 50mm prime lens has seen a resurgence in reputation in recent times, with many new lenses on this focal vary launched by lens producers during the last half-decade. Sony themselves now supply 4 totally different 50mm prime lens choices for the FE mount. Past the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens, there’s the entry-level Sony FE 50mm f/1.8, the premium Sony FE 50mm f/1.four ZA and the Sony FE 50mm f/2.eight Macro lens.


Having 4 totally different choices isn’t shocking given the broad attraction of the 50mm focal size throughout a variety of various photographic disciplines together with portraiture, style, documentary, architectural and journey images. The Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens is located in the midst of the lineup, sitting above the entry-level FE 50mm f/1.8 and under the quicker, greater and costlier FE 50mm f/1.four ZA lens.

Whereas the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA’s aperture isn’t all that quick, particularly given its excessive price ticket, the lens guarantees to ship distinctive picture high quality in a small and light-weight package deal with the lens measuring a compact 64.4mmx70.5mm and weighing simply 281 grams. The straightforward seven parts in 5 teams design with three aspheric parts and Zeiss T* anti-reflective coatings assist the lens in dealing with aberrations and flare. In contrast to the lenses within the GM lineup which make the most of Sony’s implausible Direct Drive SSM focusing, the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA employs a linear focus motor. Based mostly on its specs and Zeiss branding, the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA guarantees to be a excessive performing lens and comes with an identical price ticket of $998.

2. Sheep and Graffiti2. Sheep and GraffitiILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 100, 1/320, f/

1) Lens Specs

Principal Options:

  • Nice focal vary for a lot of totally different photographic purposes
  • Quick f/1.8 max aperture
  • Compact dimensions and light-weight

Technical Specs:

  1. Mount Sort: Sony FE
  2. Focal Size Vary: 55mm
  3. Most Aperture: f/1.8
  4. Minimal Aperture: f/22
  5. Lens (Parts): 7
  6. Lens (Teams): 5
  7. Suitable Format(s): Full Body, APS-C
  8. VR (Vibration Discount) Picture Stabilization: No
  9. Diaphragm Blades: 9
  10. Aspheric Glass Parts: three
  11. Autofocus: Sure
  12. Direct Drive SSM motor: No
  13. Inner Focusing: Sure
  14. Minimal Focus Distance: 19.7 inches (zero.5 m)
  15. Focus Mode: Guide, Guide / Auto
  16. Filter Measurement: 49mm entrance filter
  17. Dimensions: 2.54 in. (64.four mm) x 2.78 in. (70.5 mm) (Diameter x Size),
  18. Weight (Approx.): 9.9 oz (281g)

3. Ljubljana3. LjubljanaILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 100, 1/250, f/2.5

2) Construct High quality

As part of Sony’s Zeiss branded lens lineup, it’s unsurprising that the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA gives knowledgeable grade construct high quality. It encompasses a slick semi-gloss black metallic outer barrel that appears nice and matches the aesthetic of the system. The shiny end is definitely visually interesting however when mixed with its small measurement, the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA is a simple lens to have by accident slip out of your arms in case you are not cautious. Because of this, I might have most popular a extra textured end on the outer barrel like that discovered on the Sony GM lens lineup. Sony claims that the lens is “Dust and moisture resistant”, however a fast take a look at the rear mount exhibits that there isn’t any rubber gasket surrounding the mount. This can be a giant omission given the premium grade designation of the lens. I might be cautious of utilizing the lens and not using a rain cowl when working in inclement climate or a dust-filled surroundings.

Measuring simply 64.4mmx70.5mm, the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA is a really small and light-weight lens which completely captures the unique intent of compactness of Sony’s mirrorless digital camera system. In use, the lens makes for an ideal companion to the Sony A7 collection of cameras and is a pleasure to make use of throughout prolonged capturing periods as you not often really feel you’re even carrying a digital camera with you. On the entrance of the lens is a non-rotating 49mm filter thread, surrounded by a bayonet mount for the lens hood provided with the lens. The petal formed hood is properly made and attaches firmly. It’s fairly giant and almost doubles the general size of the lens however does an excellent job of defending the entrance aspect. The 55mm f/1.8 has three aspherical parts, however its inner design is in any other case fairly easy, serving to to make for such a small lens.

Sony 55mm f1.8 Lens Construction

Sony 55mm f1.8 Lens Construction

Prime lenses on this focal vary don’t often function an ideal assortment of buttons and switches on their lens barrel, however with the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA, Sony has determined to forgo exterior switches altogether. This minimalist design definitely has its appeal, however I personally choose having switches (comparable to an AF/MF change) fairly than having to dig by way of the menu to vary easy settings. The lens includes a properly sized 1-inch broad guide focus ring that’s properly dampened. As a result of the lens operates utilizing a focus-by-wire guide focus implementation, the velocity at which you flip the main target ring dictates the quantity of focus distance adjustment. I discover that it’s well-implemented thanks partially to the well-balanced price of change as you flip the main target ring. A fast and deliberate rotation of the ring is all that’s wanted to undergo the complete vary (From the minimal focus distance of 50cm to Infinity) whereas a sluggish rotation permits for exact adjustment.

General, the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA is a well-made lens with a light-weight construct and easy design. All of the elements are tightly assembled, and the main target ring is properly dampened. The latter is particularly essential given the digital guide focus design which does take some getting used too however when you’re acquainted with its perform it really works fairly properly. Whereas the minimalist aesthetic is a part of the lens’s allure, the shortage of exterior switches forces you to enter the menu to vary easy settings like AF/MF toggle. This strategy is way too cumbersome for conditions that dictate a quick response and Sony would have accomplished properly to have at the very least included an AF/MF toggle change. In all probability probably the most obvious concern with the construct high quality is the shortage of a correct rubber gasket on the rear mount of the lens which is a real disappointment for a lens on this worth vary.

5. Ljublijana Market5. Ljublijana MarketILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 200, 1/500, f/1.8

three) Focus Efficiency and Accuracy

The FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens encompasses a linear autofocus motor that focuses internally and makes little or no noise. General, focus speeds are good however an necessary facet to think about when judging a lens focusing capability is that the digital camera physique performs an integral position within the high quality of the autofocus and due to this, it’s important to match your lenses with high-quality our bodies that may ship good focusing efficiency. I used to be capable of check the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens alongside the excellent Sony Alpha A7III physique whose focusing capabilities take advantage of the lens.

6. Cheese Seller of Pag Island6. Cheese Seller of Pag IslandILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 400, 1/3200, f/1.8

When capturing in AF-S single shot mode, the digital camera must de-focus the lens earlier than specializing in the topic which results in a noticeable slowdown. However, general focus velocity is sweet sufficient for many makes use of and accuracy is great for static topics together with good accuracy in low-light circumstances.

Switching to AF-C steady focus mode considerably hurries up focus acquisition however the consistency of frame-to-frame focus accuracy is decreased. When utilizing this lens in good mild, I discovered the main target monitoring capabilities to be fairly strong and it really works very properly with Sony’s face-detection autofocus. In low mild, the main target monitoring efficiency of the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA is a little bit of a combined bag, with extra searching than I might have favored whereas making an attempt to trace shifting topics and faces indoors.

four) Picture High quality

With the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA that includes the Zeiss model emblem on its lens barrel and a price ticket to match (being 3 times costlier than the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8), I anticipated the lens to supply very sharp pictures and to take action with out the necessity to cease down from its native aperture. Fortunately, the lens doesn’t disappoint with a really robust efficiency proper from the get-go at f/1.8 the place sharpness and distinction are on a excessive degree. At this aperture, sharpness within the middle of the body is excellent with the corners displaying a great if an unimpressive degree of sharpness. Dramatic enhancements may be seen at f/2 and particularly so at f/2.eight, with the lens now extraordinarily sharp over a lot of the picture body with the corners enhancing progressively enhancing as you cease down. Within the middle of the body, you the lens is jaw-droppingly sharp from f/2.eight till f/5.6 the place it begins to really feel the consequences of diffraction. The corners attain peak sharpness on the f/5.6 settings the place the efficiency is actually excellent. General, the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA is extraordinarily sharp with a very excellent efficiency that rivals one of the best 50mm large aperture lenses available on the market.

Right here is the type of sharpness you possibly can anticipate at f/1.8:

7. Church Door7. Church DoorILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA (SEL55F18Z) @ 55mm, ISO 250, 1/1600, f/2.28. Church Center Crop8. Church Center Cropf/1.8, middle crop9. Church Door Corner Crop9. Church Door Corner Cropf/1.8, nook crop

A crop from the photograph of the cheese vendor of Pag Island, taken at f/1.8:

10. Cheese Seller of Pag Center Crop10. Cheese Seller of Pag Center Cropf/1.8 middle crop

And a crop at f/2.eight (close to middle of picture):

12. Church Interior Crop12. Church Interior Cropf/2.eight close to middle crop

And right here is a picture at f/5.6, adopted by middle, mid-frame, and nook crops:

13. Ljubljana13. LjubljanaILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 2000, 1/60, f/5.614. Center Crop14. Center Cropf/5.6, middle crop15. Midframe Crop15. Midframe Cropf/5.6, mid-frame crop16. Corner Crop16. Corner Cropf/5.6, nook crop

5) Vibration Discount

Because of the inclusion of In-body stabilization or IBIS in Sony’s mirrorless digital camera our bodies, their lenses don’t have to have built-in picture stabilization to be stabilized. As such, the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA isn’t optically stabilized nevertheless it does profit from the IBIS system of the Sony digital camera it’s mounted on and I discovered that I might obtain persistently sharp photographs at shutter speeds of round 1/10 of a second whereas hand-holding the lens. This quantity dramatically drops at decrease shutter speeds. Nonetheless, having picture stabilization in such a small lens is a unbelievable function and one of many principal promoting factors of the Sony system.

6) Bokeh

The standard of the bokeh is a vital attribute of a 50mm portrait prime lens and right here the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 delivers a really good end result. Because the lens employs three aspherical lens parts in its design, it isn’t shocking that the “onion ring” impact is sort of noticeable with out-of-focus highlights displaying moderately nervously. Within the corners, these round discs flip into “cat-eyes” and the lens exhibits this impact in fairly a pronounced method. The excellent news is that the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA does an exquisite job of rendering a clean focus transition and displaying a comparatively buttery picture background.

17. Flower on Street17. Flower on StreetILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 250, 1/1250, f/1.8

7) Vignetting

The lens reveals a robust quantity of vignetting, with mild falloff reaching round 2.5 stops with the lens used broad open at f/1.8. One cease down, issues tremendously enhance with there now being about 1.5 stops of nook shading. By f/5.6, this quantity additional improves with the lens exhibiting lower than one cease of darkening within the corners.

18. Produce in Market18. Produce in MarketILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 250, 1/500, f/1.8

eight) Flaring

The Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA handles flare very nicely because of the Zeiss T* anti-reflective coatings and its easy optical design which helps to attenuate inner reflections. It’s potential to introduce some ghosting throughout night time photographs or with robust backlighting however general the lens does an exquisite job on this division.

Discover the very minor flaring on the underside of the picture body:

19. Ljubljana Sunset19. Ljubljana SunsetILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 320, 1/200, f/

9) Chromatic Aberration

In terms of dealing with chromatic aberrations the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA turns in a combined end result. On one hand, lateral chromatic aberration could be very nicely managed with little or no of it displaying at f/1.8 and virtually none displaying two stops down. Sadly, the lens reveals a big quantity of bokeh fringing (colour fringing in entrance of and behind the targeted space) with this particularly outstanding with the lens used broad open at f/1.8. The fringing stays fairly noticeable till the lens is stopped right down to f/four the place issues enhance markedly. By f/5.6 the lens reveals solely a small quantity of fringing. That is definitely one of many FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA’s largest optical weaknesses although it isn’t all that troublesome to right in post-processing.

20. Example of Bokeh Fringing20. Example of Bokeh FringingILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 125, 1/320, f/1.8

10) Comparisons

Given the recognition of this focal size, customers of the FE mount have some choices out there to them that compete immediately with the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lens.

For many who are extra price range acutely aware there’s a direct competitor within the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 lens. The FE 50mm f/1.8 prices simply one-fourth of the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA and shares the identical max aperture. Whereas they’re each f/1.8 lenses, the Zeiss branded lens is significantly sharper than the Sony FE 50 f/1.8 when they’re each used large open. That is particularly noticeable within the periphery of the body the place the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA is a lot better. The hole between the 2 closes at f/2.eight however the edge clearly stays with the costlier lens. The FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA can also be a lot better constructed and encompasses a a lot better focusing system. General, the 2 lenses aren’t genuinely comparable, with the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8 offering a strong budget-oriented efficiency whereas the FE 55mm f/1.8 stays knowledgeable grade choice.

21. Street Paint21. Street PaintILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 250, 1/2000, f/1.8

One other various within the Sony FE lineup is one other Zeiss branded lens: the Sony FE 50mm f/1.four ZA. The FE 50mm f/1.four ZA is definitely quicker, nevertheless it comes with a dramatic distinction in weight with the FE 50mm f/1.four ZA weighing in at 800 grams vs the 281 grams of the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA. Each lenses are comparably sharp whereas the FE 50mm f/1.four ZA has lots much less bokeh fringing. The FE 50mm f/1.four ZA additionally prices $498 greater than the f/1.8 variant.

22. Flower Pot In The Window22. Flower Pot In The WindowILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 250, 1/640, f/three.2

A 3rd choice is the Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2. This Zeiss providing is a guide focusing lens and the shortage of autofocus might flip some individuals off. When you can stay with out autofocus, the Loxia 50mm f/2 options an incredible guide focusing ring and competes strongly with the FE 55mm f/1.8 lens in lots of respects.

11) Abstract

23. Church Interior23. Church InteriorILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 800, 1/80, f/2.eight

It may be a comparatively older design (In comparison with different FE lenses) however the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA stays a unbelievable lens and among the best commonplace prime lens choices for Sony’s mirrorless digital camera system. Optically, it’s wonderful with excellent sharpness within the middle of the body when used at f/1.8 and really unimaginable nook to nook sharpness simply a few stops down. The lens additionally has a really pleasing bokeh, excellent distinction and performs extremely properly towards brilliant sources of sunshine. The one real optical flaw is the excessive quantities of bokeh fringing at f/1.8 and this doesn’t actually disappear till the lens is stopped right down to f/5.6.

The FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA contains a very good construct high quality however the lack of correct climate sealing is a real oversight on Sony’s half and weakens the lens’s attraction for photographers who predominantly shoot outdoor and depend on their gear to face up to inclement climate circumstances. One other weak spot is the lens’s minimalist design and lack of buttons which makes it quite a bit more durable to vary easy settings on the fly. 5 years since its introduction, the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA continues to be a superb if barely flawed performer that merges a light-weight, top quality construct with distinctive picture high quality and good autofocus. It won’t be the most cost effective 50mm prime lens choice obtainable for the FE mount, however you principally get what you pay for and people presently available on the market for a excessive performing 50 to 55mm prime lens for his or her Sony mirrorless digital camera ought to give this one an extended look.

23. Fox On The Street23. Fox On The StreetILCE-7M3 + Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.eight ZA @ 55mm, ISO 8000, 1/20, f/5.6

Auto Draft
  • Optical Efficiency
  • Options
  • Bokeh High quality
  • Construct High quality
  • Focus Velocity and Accuracy
  • Dealing with
  • Measurement and Weight
  • Worth

Images Life General Score