With the 50mm 1.4 G-Master, Sony adds another pro lens to its large lens portfolio and closes the gap between the cheaper entry-level lenses and the absolute top class. While a 50mm 1.4 Sony Zeiss has been around since 2016, it is due for a few updates.
The new 50mm 1.4 GM comes with the usual new design. At just 516g, it's a full 33% lighter than the old Zeiss variant. It also measures just 9.6 x 8cm, so it's not quite as chunky as its big brother. Added here are the two function buttons, placed for shooting in landscape and portrait mode, and the function to lock the manual aperture ring. The focus ring is much lighter and smoother than on the Zeiss, which makes focusing much easier when filming and taking pictures.
Sony has already added two other 1.4 aperture focal lengths to the G-Master series in recent years with the 24mm and 35mm , and the new 50mm 1.4 completes the Trinity. All three lenses are so similar in size and weight that they are a perfect matchâ¦ This is especially interesting for filmmakers who, for example, don't need to recalibrate their gimbal or disassemble their rig every time they change lenses.
A lot has happened since 2016, especially in terms of autofocus, and on the latest cameras, the 50mm Zeiss simply can't keep up. With the new G-Master, Sony has almost doubled the speed and reliability of the autofocus. Built in here are two XD linear motors that we already know from the other new G-Master lenses. They are not only ultra fast, but also almost silent and vibration-free. The autofocus leaves absolutely nothing to be desired and should be one of the main selling points, especially for video. Focus breathing has also been significantly improved compared to the old Zeiss and we also see better performance here compared to the 1.2 GM.
Of course, Sony has also raised the optical quality to G-Master level. Although the old 1.4 Sony Zeiss was already really sharp, a clear difference in imaging performance is still visible (especially at the high resolution of the Alpha 7R V). Both in the center of the image and in the peripheral areas, the new 1.4 is sharper. The 50mm 1.2 GM is slightly softer at 1.2, stopped down to 1.4, but then again a bit sharper. Even when we stopped down both lenses to 2.8, the 1.2 GM is a tiny bit sharper in the peripheral areas. Chromatic aberrations are also handled quite well by the new 1.4 G master. The little bit that is visible here at f/1.4 quickly disappears when stopped down. The bokeh is nice and soft, and the 11 aperture blades also make it nice and round. You can see noticeable cat-eye in the peripheral areas, but it's very constant. The old Zeiss is much less uniform in comparison.
So who is this lens for? The focal length of 50mm is considered particularly "natural" because it is closest to the human visual habit. Looking through a lens with a focal length of 50mm results in a perspective that is very similar to our natural vision. The captured image composition is not too distorted, neither by a strong wide-angle distortion, nor by a strong telecompression.
In addition to portrait photographers, filmmakers will also be pleased with the new 50, because especially for video, the difference between 1.2 and 1.4 is less relevant than size and weight. Especially because you want to keep the shutter speed low when filming, the aperture is often the only way to get your image darker. Alternatively, ND filters can be used, and since the three 1.4 G-Masters all have the same filter diameter of 67mm, you have a lot of flexibility here. In terms of price, the new 1.4 is also better than the 1.2, so the new 50mm 1.4 G-Master is probably the better choice for many people.