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Thread: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

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    Super Duper
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    Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Looking for honest user opinions on this new lens.

    At $1,500, it is no small decision ... and the reviews so far seem a bit lack-luster.

    However, I'm interested in the X factors of AF speed, character and color (especially wide open), which is more important criteria to me than something like corner-to-corner performance.

    Any input would be most welcome!

    Thanks,

    -Marc

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    Senior Member Malina DZ's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    I have no first hand experience but from the RAW files I saw it has a much better corner to corner resolution and contrast than Sony 50/1.4 at f/1.4. Users say it has a typical Zeiss color/character and a very fast AF. It's no doubt one of the best 50mm on the market. Wish it had a better distortion and CA control though - the reason why I'm going to pass on this ZA and enjoy the old Sony version a little longer.

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    Member msadat's Avatar
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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Hi mark, i ordered this lens when it was announced, used it in a bbq party with stunning results mostly wide open. i also have the sigma 50mm sony mount and when i get a chance i will compare them. i have used the sigma 50 on both canon and nikon with great results. size wise it is also very big especially when u put the hood on. the big question as you pointed out the is price.

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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Quote Originally Posted by msadat View Post
    Hi mark, i ordered this lens when it was announced, used it in a bbq party with stunning results mostly wide open. i also have the sigma 50mm sony mount and when i get a chance i will compare them. i have used the sigma 50 on both canon and nikon with great results. size wise it is also very big especially when u put the hood on. the big question as you pointed out the is price.




    Marc

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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Hi Mark, sorry for the long delay, here are some sample shots from my office windows all shot @ 1.4 with the a99 and ziess 50mm/1.4
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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Quote Originally Posted by msadat View Post
    Hi Mark, sorry for the long delay, here are some sample shots from my office windows all shot @ 1.4 with the a99 and ziess 50mm/1.4
    Thanks for taking the trouble to post these!

    Well, it looks pretty darned good IMO.

    My main concern was whether it would exhibit the type of wormy bokeh of the Zeiss N50/1.4 made for Contax/Kyorcera N cameras. It seems not.

    Has some of the feel of the Leica R50/1.4 ... so in that respect, the high price seems a lot more reasonable

    - Marc

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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Just ordered this lens!

    Thanks for the help

    I like the 50mm perspective a lot, and this lens now adds that to the Zeiss ZA AF lens array that I already have (16-35/2.8, 24/2, 24-70/2.8, this new 50/1.4, 85/1.4, 135/1.8).

    Now we just need a ZA 35/1.4

    - Marc

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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Marc,

    How do you like the ZA 50/1.4? Thanks!

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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ocean View Post
    Marc,

    How do you like the ZA 50/1.4? Thanks!
    Haven't had enough time to give it a good work-out ... when I have something worthy of showing I'll post some comments.

    Initial shots look promising.

    - marc

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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Thanks Marc. Look forward to reading your evaluation.

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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    My original opinion about the lens has been confirmed after a couple days of shooting with 50/1.4 ZA. It's an overall improvement over Minolta designed 50/1.4 but by a small margin, imo.
    You can find some comparison shots here: Sony or Zeiss 50/1.4?

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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Decent comparison Dzmitry. Doing comparisons is tough.

    I have both lenses also, but tend to take in the aggregate point-of-view when comparing lenses.

    In the aggregate, I think the new Sony ZA 50/1.4 is better by more than a small margin. Whether it is worth 3X the price depends on how much one uses a 50mm and what they expect from it. Personally, I would have liked to see this lens more in the $1,000 range.

    Over-all comparison: the ZA is a sealed lens; has SSM AF which is both faster and smoother, has the DMF button and is nicer to use manually, and has the focus hold button. The metal lens has a better build quality, a rear focusing group for better close-up performance, and takes a 72mm filter like other ZA lenses (the Sony 50/1.4 uses a 55mm). Over-all I find it very well balanced on the A99, and is now my most used Sony lens (at least for now ... LOL!).

    IQ: This is always a tough evaluation because the differences are often subtile between a less expensive lens and a more expensive one. Frequently, you have to pay a lot to get incremental gains. Which is why I look at the aggregate to see what else is gained.

    In your test shots, I see certain image characteristics I tend to expect from a ZA lens: Assuming care was exercised when matching focus points, the f/1.4 Teddy Bear images shows a clear acuteness on the bear's face that is missing in the Sony 50/1.4.

    The bunny figurines show a bit more crisp contrast and subtile color separation evident in the painted flowers with the ZA, and if you look at the glass topper in the background the ZA's specular highlights are rounder/cleaner than the Sony 50/1.4 ... and over-all tonal roll-off of OOF areas being more gradual and smooth in a typical Zeiss manner.

    I couldn't really evaluate the Espresso machine image as the focus points and exposures were different.

    The Tiny Toys shot is also revealing ... while the center areas of the two comparisons read out almost exactly the same, the vignetting from the Sony 50 is quite obvious.

    Although I've use the lens quite a bit already, I have no definitive opinion on the ZA50/1.4 and need to use it in more situations. I do like that it seems to produce images that look seamless when included in with other ZA focal length images ... especially skin tones that have a very nice tonal spread and less artifacts than my experiences with the Sony 50/1.4.

    Not that the Sony version is a slouch ... I was going to sell it, but since have reconsidered, and will try it on the A7R when I get it since it is the smaller of the two Sony 50/1.4 lenses.

    - Marc
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    Re: Anyone using the new ZA50/1.4?

    Good to learn another photographer's experience about this lens. Thank you for sharing yours, Marc.

    I'd argue about Zeiss' faster AF speed or better manual use with only a 90 degree focus throw and a tough rotation feeling. Videographers may enjoys silent and smooth AF.

    My comparison shots were taken using manual focus. I can't say it was easier to work with ZA. It's a pity manual focus is so much neglected by manufactures with AF lenses.

    50/1.4 ZA does look well built like 85/1.4 ZA, time will tell how durable and sealed it really is. My Sony 50/1.4 took abuse for about 5 years with neither mechanical issues nor dust/salt inside even though I shoot a lot on the beach.
    I had high hopes for this 50mm from Zeiss, but amount of LoCA it produces is on par or slightly more than Sony version even stopped down, frustrates me.
    It shows better sharpness at f/1.4 across the image frame but it's tough to get things away from the center point in focus at this aperture. Capable lens at f1.4, but OVF (it's bright & clear but not quite suitable for faster than f/2.8 lens ) and side AF points don't allow to take a full advantage of this new Zeiss lens. The image of the espresso machine shows a focal plane error margin with manual focusing handheld

    Zeiss renders OOF areas much smoother, with no pronounced highlight outlining like Sony does. I do like ZA's bokeh more. It may be worth a price premium to some people.

    Overall, it's a very capable 50/1.4 lens but after 3 days of shooting with it I haven't convinced myself in spending the asking price. Maybe, because I'm quite happy with my plain Sony 50mm and its IQ starting from f/2; or other better lens options on the market...

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