Although kit zooms are a skillful way to begin your photography journeying due to their versatile focal range, it doesn’t take long to abound frustrated with their inferior optics and slow aperture range. A good companion for the kit zoom is the prime lens: not but do they provide better optical quality and a faster maximum discontinuity, but they tin also be quite affordable.
Two such primes for the Sony APS-C system are the E 35mm f/one.8 OSS (a standard lens) and the E 50mm f/1.8 OSS (a mid-telephoto lens). With ane or both in hand, y’all tin can experiment with low-low-cal photography and shallow depth of field cheers to the fast 1.8 aperture, and savour the total resolving potential of your camera’due south sensor thanks to the sharpness of the optics.
Nosotros bought the Sony 35mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.8 for our personal use. Nosotros were not asked to write annihilation well-nigh the lenses nor were we provided with any sort of compensation. Inside the article, there are affiliate links. If you purchase something subsequently clicking the link, we will receive a modest commission. To know more about our ethics, yous can visit our total disclosure folio. Give thanks you!
Sony 35mm f/1.8 OSS
35mm (52.5mm in 35mm equivalent terms)
8 elements in 6 groups
Bending of view:
Minimum focusing distance:
7 round blades
1.8 to 22
Yep (Optical SteadyShot)
63 10 45mm
Sony 50mm f/1.8 OSS
50mm (75mm in 35mm equivalent terms)
9 elements in 8 groups
Angle of view:
Minimum focusing distance:
vii circular blades
1.viii to 22
Yes (Optical SteadyShot)
62 x 62mm
Pattern and Ease of Use
Despite the 50mm beingness taller and slightly heavier than the 35mm, the ii lenses are actually very similar in terms of their design. Their barrels are synthetic from high quality plastics encased in a smooth metal shell that comes in either black or silver. The only external feature is a ribbed fly-by-wire focus ring.
Both have 7 round aperture blades, an aperture range of 1.8 to 22, a 49mm filter thread, and Sony’south optical stabilisation arrangement (Optical SteadyShot). Because they are so small-scale and lite, they are an splendid lucifer for any camera in Sony’s APS-C range, from the high-end a6500 to the tiny NEX 3N, and can easily fit inside a jacket pocket.
Both lenses come up with a lens hood that screws onto the stop of the barrel. That of the 35mm is petal-shaped while the 50mm’s is round and noticeably longer.
Neither lens is weather condition-sealed, then information technology is worth protecting your gear in anything heavier than calorie-free rain.
Optical Quality – Through the lens
Our first set of images were taken from the same spot at a distance.
In this case, nosotros can see that the 50mm displays better sharpness, detail and micro contrast at the heart when ready to their shared maximum aperture of f/one.8. This tin can partly exist attributed to the increased magnification of the 50mm.
Stop downwardly to f/two.8 and we see a noticeable jump in sharpness and contrast from the 35mm. The 50mm also shows an improvement but it isn’t equally perceptible as with the 35mm. Between the 2, the 50mm remains slightly sharper.
At f/4 and f/five.half dozen, the 35mm continues to better while the results from the 50mm remain more than or less the aforementioned as f/two.eight. At these values, the lenses reach their peak performance and are quite comparable if we exclude the difference in magnification.
Starting at f/8, both lenses begin to show some very slight signs of diffraction which intensify across f/xi. While the results at f/16 are still usable, f/22 is far besides soft.
Turning to the corners, the 35mm is very soft at all values except f/five.6, f/8 and f/11. The 50mm, on the other paw, is only slightly soft up until around f/4.
Though the 35mm’s lack of corner sharpness up until f/5.6 may seem similar a negative signal on the surface, it matters less for street and landscapes where you’d be using a wearisome discontinuity anyway, or environmental portraits, where the field of study at the eye is the main focus.
Our 2nd ready of images was taken at a close working distance. Since the difference in field of view is even more accentuated at a close range, I decided to use a similar limerick then that I could more easily observe the differences.
At this distance, both lenses are somewhat soft at their fastest aperture of f/ane.8 but sharpness visibly improves past f/two.8. Between the ii, the 50mm appears e’er-and then-slightly sharper than the 35mm at both values.
Both lenses are at their sharpest betwixt f/five.6 and f/11 and the results are quite similar.
Both the 35mm and 50mm are capable of producing a pleasant out-of-focus rendering, or bokeh. At their shared fastest aperture of 1.eight, both lenses produce circular specular highlights (bokeh balls) at the centre of the frame. At the corners and edges, this symmetry gives way to a “cat’s eye” shape.
Beyond f/2, the cat’s center shape almost entirely disappears but shape of the seven-blade discontinuity becomes more apparent.
The 50mm, being a longer focal length, is non only capable of better subject separation and a smoother out-of-focus rendering but it also produces larger bokeh balls than the 35mm. And whereas the 35mm’s bokeh balls are speckled and characteristic noticeable “onion rings”, the 50mm’s are clean and practically featureless.
Flare, Chromatic Aberration and Baloney
Both lenses are vulnerable to flare, only information technology rarely poses an outcome in a real-earth situation unless you shoot into direct sunlight. This is because the lens hood does a skillful task of mitigating flare and ghosting in most situations, and when information technology does appear, it isn’t especially invasive. Below you tin can find examples of the worst flare I encountered during my testing catamenia. Had I slightly adapted my limerick, I could have reduced its intensity.
Chromatic aberration can be more problematic, as it is very visible at the fastest apertures (f/one.8 and f/two) and doesn’t completely disappear until f/iv (with the 35mm) or f/v.6 (with the 50mm). Appearing at both at the center of the frame and the edges, information technology isn’t e’er easy to remove, even with the dedicated lens correction tool in Lightroom.
The 50mm produces very picayune native baloney and that which does be is either corrected in-photographic camera (JPGs) or in a mail service-production software such as Lightroom with the native lens profile (RAW). In fact, if yous disable the profile corrections in Lightroom, there is hardly any difference betwixt the corrected and uncorrected versions. Do the aforementioned with images taken with the 35mm and you’ll detect a small adjustment to the extreme corners.
Taken with the 35mm f/ane.8 at f/8.
Taken with the 50mm f/1.8 at f/8. Slide to the right to see corrected version / to the left to see uncorrected version.
Vignetting is also perfectly corrected past the lens profile. Deactivating it volition reveal some corner shading at all apertures on the 35mm or upward to around f/five.6 on the 50mm.
Field of View
The reason we’ve labeled this an “apples vs. oranges” comparison is because the 35mm and 50mm have completely different fields of view and are, as such, intended for different photographic genres. The former is a standard lens that can be used for almost whatever genre, from street and documentary to environmental portraits, travel and landscapes, while the latter’s medium telephoto length is ideal for upper body portraits. Below you lot can see the deviation in field of view.
Of grade, if you want to experiment, there is null stopping you lot from tackling other genres with the 50mm, or using the 35mm for portraits taken at a close distance. All the same, be aware that in the case of the latter, distortion might exaggerate certain facial features. A good example is the two portraits below where Mat’s nose looks a lilliputian bigger in the epitome taken with the 35mm.
Interestingly, when ready to their minimum focus distance (30mm for the 35mm / 39mm for the 50mm), they really produce a very like limerick. This is due to the magnification beingness almost identical (0.15x for the 35mm / 0.16x for the 50mm).
Both lenses characteristic Optical SteadyShot, which is Sony’due south version of optical stabilisation. Coupled with the fastest apertures, it allows you to piece of work in less than ideal light weather without having to raise your ISO values too high. To test its effectiveness, we used information technology on both the stabilised Sony a6500 and non-stabilised Sony a6300.
With the 35mm on the a6300, I was able to utilise speeds as slow as 1/three of a second. With the 50mm, which is a longer focal length, I managed a precipitous shot at 1/5 of a 2nd following a few attempts but my success rate was higher between 1/x and 1/15 of a second.
When mounted on the stabilised a6500, the camera uses 3 axes on the sensor and two axes on the optically stabilised lens to produce a combined 5-centrality stabilisation system. Curiously, this updated organization didn’t appear to provide a tangible advantage at slow shutter speeds. With the 35mm, the slowest I could become was ane/3 of a second, which is identical to the event I achieved with the optical stabilisation on its own. The 50mm, on the other hand, gave me a slightly improve result of one/4 of a 2nd post-obit a couple of attempts.
Compared to the optical stabilisation of other lenses we’ve tried, Sony’s OSS isn’t the best, but we discover it sufficient for nearly low-low-cal situations where some ambient light is nowadays.
There is little to say against the autofocus mechanism of these two lenses: it is quick in proficient light in both single AF and continuous AF, especially when combined with the hybrid autofocus organization of the latest Sony bodies, and only slows down a petty in poor light conditions or scenes with little dissimilarity. The AF mechanism is also very quiet, making these lenses useful for video work as well.
Although both lenses utilise a wing-by-wire manual focus ring, we’ve constitute that they are smooth, accurate and easy to turn thanks to their ribbed design. Still, to become from the minimum focus altitude to infinity, you must perform a full plough of the focus ring with the 35mm, or two full turns with the 50mm, which is somewhat cumbersome if y’all are in a bustle to focus.
We too noticed that in that location is a visible gap between the focus ring and the lens barrel on the 50mm, which could become a dust trap over time. Every bit such, we suggest giving the lens a frequent clean to proceed it in tip-meridian shape.
Even though the 35mm and 50mm are ii very different focal lengths, either would make a worthy “first prime” for anyone just starting to build a lens collection for their Sony APS-C camera. Non only do they deliver skillful sharpness and a pleasant bokeh, but the combination of the relatively fast 1.8 discontinuity and built-in OSS besides allows you to easily work in difficult light conditions. Whether you choose to invest in one or the other commencement mainly depends on your photographic interests.
The 35mm f/i.8 is a standard lens with a field of view close to that of the man eye. As such, it is suitable for those who bask dabbling in a variety of genres, from street photography to ecology portraits to travel.
Though the 50mm f/1.viii can also be used for these genres, its main calling is portraiture due to its mid-telephoto length. This makes information technology an ideal selection for those who are partial to photographing people, exist they family members, models, or strangers on the street.
Information technology is also worth mentioning that Sony APS-C users aren’t limited to the 35mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.8. Sigma, for example, has produced two 30mm lenses and one 60mm lens which, while not identical in focal length, can fulfil a similar part to the 35mm and 50mm. Y’all tin can read more about these prime lenses and how they compare to the Sony versions past following the links below.
- Sony 35mm f/1.8 vs. Sigma 30mm f/1.iv DC vs. Sigma 30mm f/2.8 DN
- Sony 50mm f/1.eight vs. Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN
Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS
Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS