Sony has emerged as a major player within the full-frame mirrorless camera market. This is largely attributable to the company’s trailblazing Alpha 7 range, which since its launch in 2013, has established itself as a serious alternative to high-end full-frame DSLRs. But of course, amazing cameras are nothing without amazing lenses, and in this respect Sony has put a great deal of effort into expanding its ‘FE’ range of full-frame E-mount lenses. In fact, Sony now offers an impressive assortment of 20 FE primes and zooms covering all of the most popular focal lengths and zoom ranges. Some of these belong to Sony’s homegrown ‘G-Master’ range while others, including this lens, have been designed in partnership with Carl Zeiss.
Released in 2016, the Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA is an ultra-fast standard prime. Measuring 108mm in length and 83.5mm in diameter, the lens weighs in at 778g. Build quality is suitably robust, with the metal lens barrel bookended by a deep manual focus ring and a clearly marked aperture ring that allows you to make aperture adjustments in useful 1/3-stop increments. In addition to feeling unmistakably solid and reassuringly weighty, the lens is also splash- and dust-proof.
Focus is driven by an ultrasonic motor that is impressively smooth and quiet. While the Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA is by no means the fastest lens to acquire focus it is nonetheless exceptionally accurate. Image quality is superlative too, with the lens achieving hugely impressive edge-to-edge sharpness regardless of the aperture setting used. Furthermore, the 11 curved aperture blades are capable of producing exquisite bokeh in out-of-focus areas. Distortion and purple fringing are, to all intents and purposes, invisible. Some vignetting is present when the lens is used wide open, however that’s to be expected with a f/1.4 lens.