Andy Westlake tries out Sony's latest premium fast prime designed for Alpha 7 users, the Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA
Sony Planar T* FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA review – Build and handling
Measuring 83.5mm in diameter and 108mm in length while weighing in at 778g, the FE 50mm f/1.4 follows the current fashion of making large lenses with high-quality optics. In this respect, it resembles the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art and the Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4, although all three use very different optical designs. While this bulk won’t go unnoticed when you’re shooting, the lens isn’t awkward to use on the Alpha 7R II body I used for testing, and I doubt it will find its way onto smaller APS-C bodies very often.
In terms of design, the lens is broadly similar to Sony’s existing FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA. Its barrel maintains the same diameter along most of its length, and it is encircled by a broad manual-focus ring at the front with an aperture ring closer to the camera body. Immediately behind the aperture ring, the barrel tapers dramatically towards the mount – a design that’s necessary to give your fingers space to wrap around the handgrips of the relatively small Alpha 7 bodies. The build quality is impeccable, with a robust-feeling metal barrel, and dust- and splash-proof construction.
Stills photographers will be pleased to find that the aperture ring has detents at 1⁄3-stop increments, from f/1.4 to its minimum setting of f/16. In terms of feel they’re just right, being neither too loose nor overly stiff. There’s also an ‘A’ position that passes aperture control to the camera body, allowing you to use its electronic dials if you prefer, as with other lenses. Videographers will be pleased to find a switch on the barrel that allows the aperture ring to be declicked, allowing continuous, silent adjustments to its setting.