Review: Sony 50mm f2.8 Macro (Sony FE)

Sony has a number of 50mm lens offerings for full frame E mount cameras: the 50mm f1.8, 50mm f1.4, and now the company’s 50mm f2.8 Macro. Posited as the company’s budget macro lens offering, it’s designed to be affordable. That means that you’re not going to get the best of anything from a lens like this, but it still is rather usable.

Overall though, I just can’t get excited about it.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Small size
  • Sharp image quality
  • Pretty darn close focusing range
  • Smooth bokeh

Cons

  • Loud focusing motors, so it isn’t so great for autofocusing video

Gear Used

We tested the Sony 50mm f2.8 Macro ($448.00) with the Sony a7 ($798.00), and the Flashpoint Zoom Lion Flash ($161.00)

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the our new post

[SPECIFICATIONS]
Lens Specifications Type Interchangeable lens
Product name FE 50mm F2.8 Macro
Model name SEL50M28
Lens mount Sony E-mount
Format 35mm full frame
Focal-length (mm) 50mm
35mm equivalent focal-length (APS-C) (mm) 75mm
Lens construction (groups-elements) 7 groups / 8 elements
Angle of view (APS-C) *1 32°
Angle of view (35mm) 47°
Maximum aperture (F) F2.8
Minimum aperture (F) F16
Number of aperture blade 7
Circular aperture Yes
Minimum focus distance (m) 0.16m
Minimum focus distance (ft) 0.53′
Maximum magnification ratio (x) 1.0x
Filter diameter (mm) 55mm
Image stabilization (SteadyShot) – (body-integrated)
Teleconverter compatibility (x1.4) Incompatible
Teleconverter compatibility (x2.0) Incompatible
Dimensions dia. x length (mm) 70.8mm x 71mm
Dimensions dia. x length (in.) 2-7/”8 x 2-7/8″
Weight (approx.) (g) 236g
Weight (approx.) (oz.) 8.4 oz
Supplied accessories Lens front cap ALC-F55S
Lens rear cap ALC-R1EM

Ergonomics

If you take a look at the Sony 50mm f2.8 Macro lens, then what you first spot is this big front surface. The front element is pretty recessed which essentially gives the lens its own built in lens hood.

The body itself is nothing too amazing. It’s mostly comprised of a smooth surface with a manual focusing ring towards the front. When you move towards the back, you’ll see the body become slimmer.

On the side of the lens, you’ll find switches and a button. Generally speaking though, you’ll probably just ignore this.

The top of the lens has its name branded straight up and ready for you to look at when pulling it out of your camera bag.

Build Quality

Like most of Sony’s 50mm lenses, this one is pretty affordable and you can tell in its build quality. It’s not weather sealed and even though it doesn’t feel super incredibly cheap, it’s not built anywhere as well Sony’s higher end lenses.

But you have to expect that.

Ease of Use

Luckily, this lens is pretty simple to use. Essentially, it’s all just about pointing and shooting. You’ve got focus limiters on it; but the toughest part to work with may be Sony’s different types of focusing if you’re not used to them. But if you are, then you won’t have any problems.

Autofocus

The focus motors on this lens are pretty loud–so loud that when trying to shoot video with autofocus, the lens will easily be picked up by the camera’s internal microphone or a shotgun mic attached. It’s also pretty slow.

Again though, that’s what you get with a more affordable lens.

Image Quality

The images from the Sony 50mm f2.8 Macro are sharp, but of any of Sony’s 50mm full frame lenses for the E mount this lens is the least sharp. It isn’t bad per se, but Sony has many other absolutely better options available. Still though, I can’t say this is a bad lens but in my opinion it isn’t a super fantastic lens either.

On a very personal level, I hate the 50mm field of view. I’m much more of a 35mm type of guy and even though I’ve been using the 50mm f2.8 Macro to take some really nice photos, in my eyes, I think that you’d be better served with a longer macro lens and the company’s other 50mm lens offerings.

Bokeh

The bokeh from this lens is surely there but even at macro ranges it isn’t anything absolutely mind blowing. It’s creamy and it’s nice. But both the company’s 50mm f1.4 and 50mm f1.8 have nicer bokeh renditions.

Chromatic Aberration

Here’s something that’s always a big problem with macro lenses. However, this lens doesn’t seem to have any sort of major chromatic aberration issues. The images exhibit no purple fringing or major issues involving distortion. So kudos to Sony for that one.

Color Rendition

Here’s where I really am perhaps most pleased with this lens. The colors are very, very nice. They feel almost film-like, but they’re still not really there. Still though, there are better options on the market.

Sharpness

Like all lenses, you’re going to get the absolute sharpest images when you shoot with a flash. In this case, even when shooting with a flash, I still genuinely feel that I’ve seen sharper images from many other options.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

I have to be honest about this one, this isn’t at all Sony’s strongest 50mm lens offering. Their 50mm f1.8 FE does a better job at a more affordable price point. Arguably, just using macro extension tubes with that lens could help more. The 50mm f2.8 Macro feels almost like a bastardized lens. It’s not uber expensive, but I don’t feel like it’s amongst the company’s strongest performers at a budget level. I wouldn’t recommend it for many things. I bought the 50mm f1.8, and feel that it’s a significantly better option. If Sony had made this lens longer, like a 60mm lens, I think that that would have made more sense. But another 50mm?

Meh.

As I typed up these conclusions, I headed over to 500px and Flickr to see if anything majorly jaw dropping has been shot with this lens. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Sony’s 50mm f2.8 Macro receives three out of five stars. It’s not a bad lens, but it isn’t a great one either.