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Sony 50mm f1.2 GM Lens Review

If you crave an ultra fast 50mm lens with high speed focusing and beautifully smooth bokeh, then the Sony 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens ticks all the boxes with obsessive certainty. Read our 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens review here, which compares existing 50mm full frame E Mount lenses and includes sample images from portraits to landscapes, as well as our own video review. Read on to learn more about this new highly desirable premium G Master lens.

Sony 50mm f 1.2 GM Lens Review - mounted on A7R IV

Who is the Sony 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens For?

All GM lenses are designed to provide the pinnacle of Sony’s optical engineering which they have available at the time of manufacture. With this in mind we can say with some certainty that this prime lens is aimed at professionals and advanced enthusiasts who need speed for their photography or videography. Speed of course refers to the bright f/1.2 aperture, which is the brightest currently available for any 50mm Sony user. But that’s not the only speedy aspect of this model, as it also incorporates four linear XD focus motors. This means anyone using AF will find this extremely responsive, fast and accurate, making full use of Sony’s advanced Eye and Face Phase Detect systems, even more so than other lenses. In practice it is noticeably quick, with minimal hunting and razor sharp results time and time again. Film makers will also appreciate the internal nature of the focus system, which reduces any signs of focus breathing dramatically.

Sony 50mm GM lens for video cameras

Which cameras will see the best results from the 50mm f/1.2 GM?

Any Sony full frame camera will yield superb results from this lens, regardless of whether you shoot high resolution stills or 4K+ video and higher. It has been designed to be as fast and bright as possible, whilst also rendering extremely fine detail.

The optics include three extreme aspherical lenses providing the ultimate performance in terms of sharpness and contrast which Sony are capable of. This standard prime delivers these attributes across the entire spectrum of Sony cameras, including the ultra high resolution Sony a7R IV (Take a look at our blog post here reviewing the A7R IV camera).

Hybrid mirrorless users also benefit from its' capabilities when mounted on the likes of the A7S III and Sony A1, where video capability is as important as stills. We can also see it being equally at home on professional video cameras including the recently released Sony FX3 and FX6 video camera. For those considering a new video-body why not take a look at our review which compares the FX3 Vs A7S III Vs FX6.

Of course users of any older camera model (I have an A7R Mark III), which is not the very latest release will find it more than capable, with the 50mm f/1.2 GM even fitting APS-C models where it provides a 32° field of view rather than 47° on full frame bodies. Whichever body employed the resulting images and movies are impeccable.

Image sample our own Gareth Evans self portrait

Sample 1 Portrait. Mounted on Sony a7R IV. Focal length: 50mm. Exposure: 1/2500. f/1.2 ISO 320

Sony 50mm full frame lens comparison

We’ve included this table which compares three Sony 50mm lenses to get a better idea of the quality that the new f/1.2 GM provides. We can see that it boasts the brightest aperture by one EV stop, more glass elements, the highest number of aperture blades (rounded) as well as a comparable weight with the ZEISS f/1.4. There really is a lot to like about this latest GM model if we want the fastest, brightest and most advanced optics available today at this focal width.

Whilst the lens does not offer macro capabilities it does have a close-focus distance of 40cm which enables users to create pretty dynamic compositions, getting close to their subjects. This can be particularly useful when filming extremely tight scenes or capturing detail images.

 

Sony 50mm f/1.2 GM

Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA Zeiss Planar T*

ZEISS Touit 2.8/50M

Lens Groups / Elements

10/14

9/12

8/8

Aperture range

f/1.2 - f/16

f/1.4 – f/16

f/2.8 – f/16

Aperture blades

11

9

7

Minimum Focus Distance

40cm

45cm

16cm

Maximum Magnification ratio

0.17

0.15

1.0

Filter thread

72mm

72mm

52mm

Dimensions (diameter x length)

87×108mm

84 x 108mm

71 x 71mm

Weight

778g

778g

236g

Sample 2 landscape image

Sample 2 Landscape. Mounted on Sony a7R IV. Focal length: 50mm. Exposure: 1/500. f/5.6 ISO 320

Other notable features and benefits

Including 11 rounded aperture blades in the GM model creates particularly dreamy bokeh, which complement the excruciatingly sharp focal plane perfectly. Whilst this combination of focal plane and bokeh is perhaps most noticeable with the human eye when shooting portraits, it also benefits wedding and fashion photographers for example, who might be capturing detail shots of clothing and rings. Isolating the subject in this manner also lends itself to street photographers and documentary photographers, where the eye might be lead by a subject-driven composition. Whatever you shoot the results can be dreamy as ever, particularly as the lens acquires focus so readily.

As a GM lens we of course see high quality weather sealing, with a mount rubber ring reducing the impact of water and dust on the mount. This will appeal to photographers and videographers who find themselves working outdoors. Much as we might love some of our lenses, any lack of weather sealing does diminish their use when the weather turns bad. Similarly the inclusion of a new Nano AR Coating version II is designed to minimise flare and ghosting when using this lens. This is most useful under direct sunlight or when the subject is backlit, allowing users to get better results when shooting into light sources during videos or when shooting stills. of course there’s a Fluorine coating too, although at this price we’d be tempted to add a lens protecter or UV filter (72mm) for anything stronger than a greasy fingerprint.

Portrait sample with the 50mm Sony GM lens

Sample 3 Portrait. Mounted on Sony a7R IV. Focal length: 50mm. Exposure: 1/4000. f/51.2 ISO 250

What the 50mm lens does not deliver

At this focal length Sony has left off any optical stabilisation (OSS), leaving it to the camera body to do the hard work of keeping a shot stable. In real world use this presents no issues, with in-camera 5-axis body stabilisation working well to provide around 4-5 EV stops of compensation. There aren’t many lenses under 100mm (and just 108mm in length) which do include this feature for E mount, so this comes as no great surprise.

Users who must have macro capabilities might want to look elsewhere too. Whilst 40cm close-focus distance is useful, this is definitely no macro lens. This isn’t too surprising and less of an omission but rather an expression of what the lens is not meant for. There is the excellent ZEISS Touit model available for extreme 1:1 macro, and the new 50mm is destined for other purposes.

Teleconverters will also not work with the 50mm lens. It is extremely rare for focal distances of this standard range to be extended. We would rather not see a TC on a standard range lens such as this anyway as it would be bound to compromise the performance, not least by reducing the aperture which is so delightfully bright.

Another portrait sample outdoors natural light

Sample 4 Portrait. Mounted on Sony a7R IV. Focal length: 50mm. Exposure: 1/3200. f/51.2 ISO 100

Sony 50mm f/1.2 GM Lens Video Review

Gareth got his hands on this new lens and gives us a full rundown here in his video. Why not grab a coffee and settle down for 10 minutes!

Summary

Sample five image close-up

50mm is a popular prime focal width suitable for a wide range of subjects including general shooting, which is demonstrated by the sheer number of options available for any system. Camera manufacturers will often use this focal width to demonstrate their optical prowess, and that is just what Sony has done here with the new 50mm f/1.2 GM. It is the fastest, brightest and most capable option for full frame users and results are a delight for both videos and photographs. The lens can capture even the highest resolutions which the A7R IV is capable of, it also focuses lightning fast and renders beautiful defocus effects to boot. If you are in the market for all of these features and shoot at 50mm on a regular basis then there is no better choice available to you. Let us know how you get on.

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By Nick Dautlich on 16/03/2021

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