Sony FE 50mm F1.2 G Master Image Gallery
September 26th, 2021
The Internet is a repository of the world’s information, but it is also a place where a lot of the world’s wrong information rests. In this industry it is pretty common for someone influential to say something untrue and then it get repeated as Gospel truth without anyone really investigating the truth of the original statement. Case in point: “the Sony E mount was developed for APS-C, and it’s smaller diameter makes it impossible to develop innovative, wide aperture full frame lenses for it. You will never see autofocusing F1.2 lenses on Sony FE.” Hmmm, so why am I holding perhaps the best F1.2 50mm lens ever in my hands…and it’s a Sony with an FE mount? First of all, Sigma proved the fallacy of this in 2020 with the amazing Sigma 35mm F1.2 DN lens, which I reviewed here. It is most likely some Canon fanboy who spread this rumor after testing or using the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L (an amazing lens that I reviewed here), as the early perception was that the size of Canon’s new RF mount allowed for a lot of new and unique development that older mounts did not allow for. It turns out, however, that the RF mount’s advantage is more about additional pins for communication as the mount diameter is the exact same as the decades old EF mount (54mm). Sony’s E-mount is smaller (46.1mm), but it turns out that this really isn’t a hindrance to producing amazing wide aperture glass like the Sony FE 50mm F1.2 G Master that I’m testing today. And the 50mm F1.2 G Master is an amazing lens for portrait work and anything else you would capture with a 50mm lens. *The tests and most of the photos that I share as a part of my review cycle of the 50GM (as we’ll call it for brevity) have been done with the new Sony Alpha 1 which will serve as my benchmark camera for the foreseeable future (my review here).
I purchased the large and expensive Sony Zeiss Planar 50mm F1.4 not long after adding the Sony a7RIII for the simple reason that I tested it and found it to be the best autofocusing 50mm lens that I had tested to that point. It has amazing optics. The optics needed little improvement, frankly, but there were a few areas where it lagged behind the more recent G Master lenses. Autofocus was the most obvious, as the Planar lens delivers mostly good autofocus but isn’t as confident or consistent as the new lenses. The Planar also lacks something like the focus hold button, and the weather sealing isn’t at the level of the G Master series. If Sony had just delivered a 50mm F1.4 G Master, I suspect that few Planar owners would feel the need to upgrade, but the added appeal of that F1.2 aperture may do the trick. That extra bit of light gathering and the softer bokeh that comes with it can really set your photos apart.
One thing that Sony has been doing with the recent G Master lenses is unlocking a way to make them both optically excellent but also smaller than competing lenses. The G Master lens packs more features and a wider maximum aperture into a lens that weighs 2g less than the Planar F1.4 lens, is the same length, and is only 3.5mm wider in diameter. It is definitely smaller and lighter than competing modern 50mm F1.2 lenses from Canon and Nikon on mirrorless. That’s not to say the 50mm F1.2 G Master is small. It’s a fairly large and heavy lens, but you also have to realistically compare such a lens to its true competitors on the market. If your goal is to go very light, there’s always options like the Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sonnar (my review here) or the Samyang AF 45mm F1.8 (my review here). But the 50GM is going up against the heavyweights, and it is smaller and lighter no only than many of the F1.2 options but also many of the pro-grade F1.4 options as well. I continue to be impressed at how Sony is putting out optically incredible lenses that also manage to be a little lighter and more compact than what competitors are fielding. But at the end of the day, the greatest barrier for most particular buyers will be the extravagant $2000 USD price. It’s of little comfort that the competing lenses are more expensive still. So does the Sony FE 50mm F1.2 G Master justify its lofty price? You can find my thoughts in my text or video reviews, or just enjoy the photos below.
Thank you to Sony USA for getting me a loaner copy of this lens. As always, this is a completely independent review. The opinions here are completely my own.
Photos of the Sony FE 50mm F1.2 G Master
Photos taken with the Sony FE 50mm F1.2 G Master
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