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First Look at the Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens (SEL50F18)

We recently discussed Sony's plans for expanding the E-mount lineup of lenses for Sony's NEX camera system. At the time of this discussion the Sony E-mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS (Optical SteadyShot Stabilization) lens had already been announced. Now, at that time, although the 50mm f/1.8 had been announced, it had not yet been released and shipped. We just received our first shipment of the Sony E-mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens a few days ago, and were curious how it performed. We decided to slap it on a Sony NEX-7 and take the 50mm f/1.8 for a stroll.

Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens on Sony NEX-7 Digital Camera

Sony E-mount 50mm f/1.8 mounted on Sony NEX-7

Sony 50mm f/1.8 Build and Construction

The Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens construction feels solid, and the design is minimal and elegant. The lens has a good weight in the hand, and it feels like Sony used a good amount of metal in the construction. Although this lens is more expensive than 50mm f/1.8 lenses from other manufacturers, the construction feels nicer than some of those other lenses. Where other manufacturers are building lenses with plastic lens mounts to cut costs, Sony's 50mm f/1.8 has a metal bayonet mount. This is nice to see as many of our customers's lens repairs involve broken plastic bayonet lens mounts. The focus ring is set flush in the lens barrel, but still gnarled with a good feel for accurate manual focusing.

The first thing that struck us was the size of the lens. This 50mm f/1.8 lens is larger than similar lenses from other manufacturers. The Sony 50mm f/1.8 is approximately the same size as the Sony E-mount 18-55mm zoom lens.

Sony 50mm f/1.8 and 18-55mm zoom lenses side-by-side

50mm f/1.8 and 18-55mm lenses side-by-side

The size of the lens is a little perplexing considering that it is designed for the Sony NEX camera system, which are small cameras by design.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 compared to Sony E-mount 50mm f/1.8

Compared to Nikon 50mm f/1.8

Sony 50mm f/1.8 Image Samples

The Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 lens and the Sony NEX-7 make for a great pair. Except for a slow, hunt-and-peck autofocus in low-light or dark subjects, the image quality is superb. The Sony 50mm f/1.8 is able to take advantage of the high, 24 megapixel count of the NEX-7. Take a look at the image of Charlie below:

Sample of Charlie taken with the Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens and NEX-7

If you zoom in on the eye and take a look at the image at 100% , the detail is all there:

Cropped image sample of Sony 50mm f/1.8 and NEX-7

100% crop of eye

Sony NEX camera users have been waiting for an affordable, fast-aperture lens. The Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 was the first to come out, but at $1000 is a little out of reach for most users. In addition, the Zeiss 24mm is a wide-angle lens, and, although good for low-light, does not make a good lens for portraits. The Sony 50mm f/1.8 is effectively a 75mm lens on the current NEX cameras, and, therefore, makes for a better portrait lens. The fast F1.8 aperture creates nice, soft out-of-focus backgrounds:

Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens Image Sample with out-of-focus background

Although the 50mm f/1.8 has a fairly close focus of 1.28 feet, it is not a macro lens. The above image was cropped from its original composition to make this image look like a macro shot. The 24 megapixel NEX-7 sensor provides plenty of resolution to be able to crop images, even this close.

The Optical SteadyShot Stabilization in conjunction with the fast F1.8 aperture allows for hand-held, low-light shooting:

Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS low-light image sample
Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS low-light image sample

Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS low-light image sample

Even in low-light and hand-held, the Sony 50mm f/1.8 is able to produce sharp images with the NEX-7:

Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS low-light image sample detail

Here are some other images taken with the Sony E-mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens on the Sony NEX-7:

Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS image sample
Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS image sample
Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS image sample
Sony E-Mount 50mm f/1.8 OSS image sample

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