Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens (model SEL50F14GM)

      Photo Review 9.0

      In summary

      The FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens provides a winning combination of size, weight, price and performance that will appeal to photo enthusiasts and professional photographers who are looking to add a fast 50mm prime lens to their kit. Add in very fast and accurate autofocusing and weather-resistant construction and you have a versatile ‘take anywhere’ lens.

      Full review

      Announced in February 2023, just ahead of the CP+ Trade Show in Yokohama, the Sony FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens fills a gap in Sony’s ‘nifty fifty’ line-up, slotting in between its more expensive 50mm f/1.2 GM and much more affordable 50mm f/1.8 and Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA lenses. Like other recent Sony lenses this lens is equally suitable for stills and video shooters and comes with an easy-to-read aperture ring that can be quickly de-clicked plus an iris lock that can prevent aperture settings from being changed accidentally. Two focus hold buttons on the lens barrel allow intuitive control and rapid access to select settings, while the manual focus ring provides precise fine linear focus control.

      Angled view of the FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens. (Source: Sony.)

      The optical design of this lens consists of 14 elements in 11 groups. Among them are two XA (extreme aspherical) elements that effectively correct field curvature and one ED (extra-low dispersion) glass element that suppresses chromatic aberration. Their positions are shown in the diagram below.

      This diagram shows the positions of the exotic elements in the design of the FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens. (Source: Sony.)

      Eleven iris diaphragm blades produce a circular aperture, which contributes to beautiful bokeh. Sony’s proprietary Nano AR Coating II has been applied to suppress ghosting and flare, while the front lens element has a fluorine coating that repels dust, water, oil and other contaminants and makes the lens easy to keep free of fingerprints. Weather resistant sealing provides extra reliability for outdoor use in challenging conditions.

      This diagram shows the positions of the weather-resistant seals in the FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens. (Source: Sony.)

      Autofocusing is driven by Sony’s high-thrust XD linear motors which are controlled by an advanced algorithm to provide smooth, responsive focusing. Sony claims this lens will focus up to 1.9x faster than ‘conventional models with the same specifications’. This lens also features the latest technology to reduce focus breathing and supports the breathing compensation function provided in compatible Sony Alpha cameras.

      This diagram shows the positions of the XD linear motors that move the focusing elements in the lens. (Source: Sony.)

      The lens is supplied with the ALC-F67S front cap, ALC-R1EM rear cap, ALC-SH173 lens hood and a soft carrying case.

      Who’s it For?
      ‘Nifty fifty’ lenses have been popular since the birth of 35mm photography and the FE 50mm f/1.4 GM lens will suit a wide variety of stills photographers and videographers. Its relatively compact size makes it usable with gimbals and larger drones, while it’s also a good ‘take everywhere’ lens that can be used for genres as diverse as portraiture, landscapes, weddings and travel photography. It’s also small and light enough to be used for street photography.
      The fast, f/1.4 maximum aperture adds versatility for use in low light levels as well as depth of field control for selective focusing. This lens accepts 67 mm screw-in filters, the same as used with the FE 24mm f/1.4 G Master and FE 35mm f/1.4 G Master lenses.

      Customisable focus hold buttons provide a variety of options for selecting camera functions to access quickly, while the focus mode switch makes it easy to switch between autofocus and manual focus on the fly in changing shooting conditions. The minimum focusing distance of 41 cm in AF mode can be reduced a little to 38 cm with manual focus. But neither is exactly ideal for close-up work, unless you’re shooting relatively large subjects.

      Build and Ergonomics
      Like all of Sony’s GM lenses, the FE 50mm f/1.4 GM is solidly constructed, even though much of it is made from industrial-quality plastic. It’s attached to a robust base with a very solid, chromed metal mounting plate.

      The front element of the lens is approximately 40mm in diameter and surrounded by a series of rings that extend outwards by roughly 12 mm to the outer rim, which has threading on its inner edge for attaching filters and a bayonet mount for the lens hood on the outer rim.

      The focusing ring begins roughly 11 mm back from the front rim of the lens. It’s almost 19 mm wide, with most of its surface clad in fine rubber ribbing. Because focusing is driven from the camera, this ring turns through 360 degrees with power off. But even with the camera powered-up there are no hard stops to delineate the focus range.

      Behind the focusing ring is a 17 mm side section of the barrel that carries the main controls. On the top and around the left side of the barrel you’ll find the two focus hold buttons, with the AF/MF slider just beyond the lower one.

      On the right side you’ll find the iris lock, with the click on/off slider further around. The aperture ring is located just behind this section of the barrel. It’s roughly 13 mm wide, with its front half clad in rubber ribbing and the rear half carrying aperture markings in one-stop increments, starting with 16 on the left hand end and ending with 1.4 on the right. A red ‘A’ left of the 16 mark sets the lens to auto aperture control, while a narrow band behind the ring carries a white index line for selecting the selected aperture setting.

      The lens barrel remains flat behind this section and carries the name of the lens: FE 1.4/50 GM. It then slopes gently inwards for just over 10 mm behind this band and then flattens out for a further 10 mm to meet the metal lens mount.

      You can feel the narrow rubber flange around this intersection, which keeps out moisture and dust. Ten gold-plated contact points inside the lens mount carry signals between the lens and the camera.

      The review lens turned in a stellar performance in our Imatest tests, comfortably exceeding expectations for the test camera’s 33-megapixel resolution at most aperture settings for centre, mid-range and edge measurements with ARW.RAW files, which we converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw. Similar (though slightly lower) resolutions were recorded in our JPEG tests, although the edge-of-frame measurements fell a little short of expectations, as shown in the graph of our test results below.

      With all in-camera corrections switched off, lateral chromatic aberration remained mainly within the ‘negligible’ range, as shown in the graph of our test results below in which the red line marks the border between negligible and low CA. We found no signs of coloured fringing in test shots.

      Because Sony cameras apply corrections for vignetting and distortion by default we switched them off in the camera and based our test results on converted ARW.RAW files. We found some visible vignetting at f/1.4, which gradually lessened as the lens was stopped down, becoming largely irrelevant by f/2.5.

      Rectilinear distortions were limited to very slight pincushion distortion, which was addressed effectively by the in-camera corrections. Most raw file converters will also correct it by default.

      The review lens handled backlit subjects quite well and resisted flaring under most conditions. Sharp 22-pointed sunstars were possible at f/16, although we found they were often associated with one or two flare artefacts.

      The minimum focus distance of 41 is only suitable for close-ups of larger flora and fauna. As usual, bokeh in wide-aperture shots is influenced by the selected lens aperture as well as the background lighting.

      With evenly-lit backgrounds, the f/1.4 maximum aperture produced some nice, softly-blurred backgrounds, although brighter highlights had discernible edges. There was pronounced outlining around very bright highlights in some of the close-ups we shot as you can see in the Samples section of this review.

      Autofocusing performance with the α7 C II camera was generally excellent and the lens had no issues focusing in very low light levels. Focus breathing can be an issue when this lens is used for shooting videos but recent Sony cameras offer effective in-camera correction so it shouldn’t be a serious issue. We found subject tracking to be essentially faultless.


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      Picture angle: 47 degrees diagonal
      Minimum aperture:  f/16
      Lens construction: 14 elements in 11 groups (including 2 XA aspherical and 1 ED elements)
      Lens mount: Sony E-mount
      Diaphragm Blades: 11 (circular aperture)
      Weather resistance: Dust and weather-resistant sealing plus fluorine coating on front element
      Focus drive: XD (extreme dynamic) Linear Motors
      Stabilisation: No (relies on body-integrated in camera)
      Minimum focus: 41 cm
      Maximum magnification: 0.16x (AF), 0.18 (MF)
      Filter size: 67 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 80.6 x 96  mm
      Weight: 516 grams
      Standard Accessories: ALC-F67S front cap, ALC-R1EM rear cap, ALC-SH173 lens hood, soft case

      Distributor: Sony Australia



      Based on JPEG files taken with the Sony α7C II camera.

      Based on ARW.RAW recorded simultaneously and converted into 16-bit format with Adobe Camera Raw.



      Vignetting at f/1.4.

      Rectilinear distortion

      ISO 100, 1/50 second at f/8.

      Close-up at f/1.4, 1/2500 second at ISO 100.

      Close-up at f/1.4, 1/2000 second at ISO 100.

      Backlit subject close-up at f/1.4 showing circular rendition of specular highlights; ISO 100, 1/800 second.

      Sunstar with flare artefact; ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/16.

      ISO 50, 1/25 second at f/5.6.

      ISO 100, 1/40 second at f/6.3.

      ISO 50, 1/20 second at f/5.6.

      ISO 50, 1/60 second at f/9.

      ISO 100, 1/15 second at f/10.

      ISO 400, 1/25 second at f/2.2.

      ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/6.3.

      ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/2.8.

      ISO 200, 1/60 second at f/2.5.

      ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/4.5.

      ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/2.8.

      ISO 100, 1/100 second at f/3.2.

      ISO 400, 1/50 second at f/4.5.

      ISO 400, 1/125 second at f/3.5.

      ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/7.1.

      ISO 100, 1/640 second at f/7.1.

      Additional image samples can be found with our review of the Sony α7C II camera.



      RRP: AU$2098

      • Build: 9.0
      • Handling: 9.0
      • Image quality: 9.0
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Versatility: 9.0