Hands on with the new Planar 50mm f/1.4 FE and 70-200 f/2.8 GM lens

July, 11th 2016 – I’ve attended in Berlin the launch of the 21st FE lens on the market. 21st lens in a 3 year interval, something I wouldn’t think to be possible when Sony have launched it’s mirrorless full frame camera system, the Alpha 7 series.

Versiunea in limba Romanaclick aici!

Together with Zeiss (they’ve hit 20 years milestone of collaboration), Sony has launched the new Planar T* FE 50mm F1.4 ZA (check availability and price).

Launching the new Planar 50mm f.15

GM Yann Salmon-Legagneur – Product Marketing Europe

You can find all over the Internet technical details about this new lens. I will just tell you about my own hands on experience with it. It was a surprise for us too, because the main invite for the Berlin event was to test the recently announced 70-200 f/2.8 FE GM lens.

How are the lenses?

Anything but small! If for a 70-200 f/2.8 you would expect to be big and heavy, well, this Planar 50mm f/1.4 it’s a beast. The biggest and heaviest 50mm lens I’ve ever lay hand on.

On my A7s it’s completely unbalanced. Things changed a bit on the second generation alpha 7 series, with their bigger grip. Still big but not that front heavy like on my main camera.

Sony Planar 50mm f/1.4 FE

Planar 50 1.4 on Sony A7 mII

The lens was built with videographers in mind. The aperture ring can be either silent, without any noticeable click, or with clear definition for each aperture. Unfortunately, the focusing mechanism is still a drive by wire system, so there is no clear mark for the minimum focusing distance (45 cm to be more clear) or for infinity.

I’m very curious how well this new lens will sell since on market we already have the wonderful Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8, much smaller and with an exemplary IQ. Not to mention the recently launched 50mm f/1.8 FE lens which I still have to test.

It’s still good when there is choice!

Seria 50mm Sony FE

We’ve walked inside the Zoo of Berlin in groups, having at our disposal second generation Alpha 7 cameras (A7s II, A7 II, A7R II) and an impressive amount of both the Planar and G Master lens. Of course everyone wanted to test the tele and not the “normal” lens.

Unfortunately I didn’t rush to get a camera/lens combo from the Sony reps (I won’t stay in the corner next time) so I got an A7 mII and the new Planar 50mm f/1.4. Not that it wasn’t a good combo, but seeing other guys with the A7R II on Auto, made me mad and almost waisted a tear 🙂

In the end he proved to be a nice guy and he accepted to change lenses (he got the 70-200 f/2.8) and finally the camera too.

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

It’s difficult to get a clear impression of a lens after only a few hours of test, especially in a continuous hurry-up, not to get behind the horde and get lost in the Zoo. It’s mostly probable to see the same images on different European blogs/magazines as the one I’ll show you next. Even so, I’ve tried to improvise and be original, photographing only what I’ve wanted.

The 50mm lens is not a focal of my taste and I mean by this that is a lens I don’t feel. I didn’t create any artistic images with it, but I’ve tried to show to my readers something of general interest.

For me, the magical thing about a lens is it’s Bokeh and not it’s sharpness. It matters so much how smooth it is rendered by the lens. The new Planar is so creamy!

Though I’ve noticed in some cases the same problem that arised with the Batis 85 mm f/1.8 (read here the review). I mean by this that in extreme cases, there is some doubling in the out of focus areas, something not so pleasing.

Up from f/2.0 the lens is amazingly sharp. From my point of view 2.0 is already the sweet spot for sharpest images from this lens.

Because of the hurry-up, I’ve only managed to shoot a single series of same scene at different apertures.

I don’t have plenty other things to tell you. I just invite you to test this lens when you have the opportunity and make your own idea about it. I’ll finish this with a gallery of images taken with the Planar.

Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the main attraction was the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS (check availability and price). After my bad start with the combo lens/camera, I’ve managed to get my hands on the new tele and seldom, on the monster Sony A7R II, 42 mpx camera.

Since nobody was curious about it, I’ve pioneered and asked for the teleconverter, the 2x one. Just wow! You simply won’t feel it on camera, either from IQ point of view or from focusing performance. The only thing that changes is the aperture which becomes 5.6 instead of 2.8, and of course, the focal length which doubles: 140-400 mm.

There were some bad shooting conditions. I’ve needed high ISO values to freeze motion, so I’ve lost some of the IQ.

Considering this, I’ve noticed back home that f/5.6 is not a place to stay for long for this combo. Closing the aperture to at least 6.3 you’ll get better and better results. I didn’t have time to thing too much, I just went with the flow. I’ve just wanted to feel this lens!

And I did! It’s not pleasant at all to be back to the heavyweight category, at least not after you get used to “fly” with small lenses and bodies. But physics is there to stay, so you will never get smaller and lighter 70-200 f/2.8 not until other laws will be discovered 🙂

But when you get images like this below, I thing size doesn’t matter anymore:



100% crop from the previous image

Focusing wise everything is spot on with the 2x adapter mounted on lens/camera. Tracking was perfect even with the fast-runing boars.

I won’t write a conclusion right now. I need more hours to test this lens. I won’t expect you would reach one too (even though I know some who did already), but I just want to let you study other images created with this lens, either in combination with the 2x adapter, or only by itself. The EXIF is there for you to read!

See you soon!

Author: Alin Popescu

Inginer ca formare, grafician ca meserie, fotograf ca mod de viata, Alin este pasionat de tot ce inseamna tehnologie si scrie articole detaliate pe intelesul tuturor.

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  1. New 70-200mm GM tests do confirm: Superb image quality and good autofocus quality (althaugh not superb) - sonyalpharumors sonyalpharumors - […] Alin Popescu tested the lens with the 2.0X converter and ther eis good news to report: […]
  2. Hands on cu nou lansatele Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM si Planar 50mm f/1.4 - aLLin Popescu - […] English version – is here! […]

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