Small, light & affordable: Sony FE 50mm F2.8 Macro lens offers 1:1 shooting for fans of getting up close


posted Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 8:00 AM EST


For fans of prime lenses, the 50mm focal length is a popular choice. And for those who're shooting on a full-frame Sony E-mount camera, its a choice which will now bear a little more consideration, because the company has just taken the wraps off its third 50mm full-frame, E-mount optic: The FE 50mm F2.8 Macro.

Of course, you can use the Sony FE 50mm F2.8 Macro lens on sub-frame APS-C bodies, as well, and if you chose to use it in this manner it will yield a nice portrait-friendly 75mm focal length. For full-frame shooters, though, Sony's new FE 50mm F2.8 lens offers a normal focal length that will yield natural-looking images without the perspective distortions of wider or more telephoto optics. And it will also provide a 1:1 macro, as an added bonus.


That macro capability, incidentally, is one of the key differences from Sony's existing two full-frame, E-mount 50mm primes, the FE 50mm F1.8 and PLANAR T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA. Neither of these lenses is designed for macro shooting, with maximum magnification ratios of 0.14x and 0.15x respectively, versus the 1x magnification of the new optic.


To achieve its 1:1 macro, the Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro lens focuses down to just 6.3 inches, far closer than the 17.7 inch minimum focusing distance of the preexisting 50mm full-frame FE primes. And to help you set focus right where you need it, the Sony FE 50mm F2.8 Macro features not just a auto / manual focus mode switch, but also a three-position focus range limiter switch and a focus hold button.


But other than its macro capability, where does this new lens sit in Sony's lineup compared to existing optics? Well, we've yet to shoot with this new optic and nor do we have full specifications, so can't speak directly to its image quality. (You can see an optical formula diagram courtesy of Sony above, however, and an MTF chart below.) But the answer to that question can likely be read in the tea leaves somewhat, both from a look at pricing and the physical design of the lens, which is said to be dust and moisture-resistant and which features extra-low dispersion glass in its design.


With list pricing of around US$500 (CA$650 north of the border), the Sony FE 50mm F2.8 Macro prime lens will sit in between the FE 50mm F1.8 and PLANAR T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA in terms of cost, priced at about twice as much as the consumer-oriented FE 50mm F1.8, and one-third as much as the higher-end PLANAR optic.


And with a weight of just 8.4 ounces, the Sony FE 50mm F2.8 Macro is also much closer to the 6.6-ounce weight of the FE 50MM F1.8 than to the 27.5-ounce heft of the PLANAR T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA.

The Sony FE 50mm F2.8 Macro prime lens is set to reach retail in the US market from September 2016.