If you are a Sony A7 user then for now this is the only 50mm lens with AF you can use and it's not a 50mm lens to be exact, but it's as close as it gets. It is not cheap and it is not the fastest lens considering the price. So why would you buy it? Easy. Because it is friggin fan-tas-tic! I was a long time Nikon user, and I used some Canon cameras over the years as well. I am familiar with f/1.4 and f/1.8 50mm lenses those companies make, but none of them come even close to the Sony Zeiss. In terms of optical quality this is just a killer - f/1.8 is fully workable, this lens does not need stepping down to produce a really decent image, but if you do step down just a bit the resolution becomes insane. I think it surpasses by far the resolution of my A7 (24mpix). In terms of design the lens amazes as well - it is really minimalistic and elegant, plus it's compact. The body is anodized aluminium - I just love this look.
It's a pity though that the focus ring is not mechanic - it's electronic so for me this reneders it useless, but on the bright side the AF is really fast, silent and accurate. However when there is really little light it becomes kinda lost - sadly I couldn't compare it with Nikon/Canon in the dark. Don't get me wrong, you can and you will get your subject in focus, but compared to how it works in daylight (lightning-fast) it is a little on the slow side. I found out that it works better when you use multiple AF points is such situations.
This lens produces probably the smoothest and most pleasant out-of-focus areas I have ever seen. Really impressive stuff, it's where you begin to realize what you spent your money on. When you step down the bokeh is still a pleasure to look at.
As I said fully workable at f/1.8 (even in corners the resolution is really really good on FF which surprised me). Tack sharp at f/2.2-2.8, and when you step down even more your eyes begin to water.
COLOUR / CHROMATIC ABBERRATION
The lens renders colour really masterfully and I think it's partly down to the fact that it produces really contrastive, vivid images. The chromatic aberrations are corrected nicely. They come out in extreme situations, but are relatively small.
In conclusion, this is not the most affordable lens out there, far from it. But if you save up and buy it, you will not regret. It gives you plenty of bang for your buck.
- sharpness (good corners at wide open)
- bokeh (smooth and pleasant, beautiful light circles)
- low CA
- sturdy aluminium body
- compact and good looking design
- no mechanic focus ring
- low light AF performance could be at least slightly better