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I have a Sony SLT A58 and the standard 18-55mm zoom, and am thinking to go for a 50mm prime — but I am not sure which is the best one for me.

Are there other manufacturers besides Sony which develop 50mm lenses for Sony cameras too, and how do they differ?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The best 50mm lens is the best one you can afford and are willing to buy.
You knew that :-).

Your budget affects the answer substantially.
The Sony A58 SLT is an excellent camera but is several steps down from the top of the Sony SLT APSC range). That plus your statement re having a kit lens suggests a low to moderate budget.

You can notionally obtain 50mm lenses that are not from Sony that would be able to be made to work with the Sony A-mount lens mounting, but they would be liable to be high spec and high cost compared to Sony versions.

An excellent start is the Sony 50mm, f/1.8. While this is about the lowest spec new 50mm A-mount lens that you can buy, the difference between that and the much more costly f/1.8 and f/1.4 is far less than the price difference might lead you to expect.

Lenstip review here

enter image description here

Most major SLR makers produce a 50mm prime low cost lens as a 'gateway drug' to high performance high cost lenses. Sony is no exception. The Sony 50mm f/1.8 prime can be bought new for well under $200 and is superb value for money. I've seen it estimated that to get a zoom lens of equivalent quality to the entry level primes from major manufacturers you'd need to spend around $1800 or more.

By all means look at reviews and sample photos for the Sony A mount 50mm f/1.7 and f/1.4, but it's unlikely that for you the difference would be justified.


The table below shows user opinions of a number of 50mm A mount lenses - the 3 current Sony ones (one of which is from a Sony / Carl Zeiss cooperation), plus 4 old long discontinued Minolta ones - which will also fit your camera. (I've ignored the 'specialised' lens baby offering).
These review summaries are from the Dyxum lens pages. While the two f/1.4 lenses are usefully better than the f/1.7 (as would be expected) - ALL the old Minolta lenses also score higher. This is not to say that the f/1.7 is bad - it's not - it's just that the old lenses are also very good. The 4.37 score fro 81 users indicates a very capable lens - but a good condition used Minolta lens may suit you just as well, and for even less than the new lenses bargain basement price. The Minolta lenses have the advantage of being full-frame, so when you upgrade to an A99-MkIV they can still be used.

enter image description here


Here's an inexplicably strange DxO labs comparison between the Sony 50mm f/1.8 SAM and the 50mm f/1.4 - both on an SLT A77.

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The f/1.8 is an APS-C only lens, the f/1.4 is a FF lens. That can have a large effect on test scores at DxO since the APS-C lens is only tested out to about 65% of the field (angle of view) that the full frame lens is tested. It appears the significantly higher amounts of CA from the f/1.4 (primarily manifested between the edge of where an APS-C camera would crop and the edge of a FF) also affects its sharpness score which is based on the entire field, not just center sharpness. That and the fairly large difference in transmission that is heavily weighted in DxO Mark's overall score. –  Michael Clark Feb 6 at 14:23
    
Very nicely explained and exactly what I was looking for. Thank you :) –  Amritpal Feb 7 at 5:39
    
@MichaelClark Yes, I was aware of the FF/APSC difference in the two lenses. The old argument used to go that lenses tended to be superior in spec on the centre for technical reasons and .... . That was when film was king. APSC cameras with FF lenses seem to have made a nonsense of this "wisdom" in many cases. It is common enough to find people reporting quite variable results between FF and APSC for the same lens (as here). What is interesting is that the relative differences can change markedly with APSC camera (if you believe eg DxO). Use there comparison system and vary 'bodies'.Interesting –  Russell McMahon Feb 7 at 10:21

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