Sony FE 50mm G-Master Review – The f1.4 One

On the face of it, the newly released Sony FE 50mm f1.4 GM Lens steps precariously on the toes of the flagship Sony 50mm f1.2 prime, leading to a lot of head-scratching as to what this new Sony E Mount lens is really for. No longer being able to refer simply to ‘the Sony 50mm GM’, the change is surely more than now needing four extra syllables to describe which lens you’ve got in your bag.

Sony 50mm f1.4 vs f1.2 GM Lens

Sony FE 50mm f1.4 (left) vs f1.2 (right)

Brandishing the shiny orange G doesn’t come lightly, and instantly creates a hefty set of expectations for this new offering. Designed more as a replacement to the 2006 Zeiss Planar T* f1.4 ZA option, rather than as a challenger, or successor, to its bigger brother the f1.2, it wouldn’t be beyond the logic for Sony to take the flagship formula and simply shrink it down to this new lens.

To find out, I took both the 50mm f1.2 and f1.4 GM lenses to a Gym Fitness shoot I had lined up.

Tech Specs at a Glance

Lens type

Prime lens

Max Format size

35mm FF

Focal length

50 mm

Image stabilization


Lens mount

Sony E, Sony FE


Maximum aperture


Minimum aperture


Aperture ring


Number of diaphragm blades


Aperture notes

Rounded aperture blades







Minimum focus

0.38 m (14.96″)

Maximum magnification




Motor type

Linear Motor

Focus method


Distance scale


DoF scale




515 g (1.14 lb)


81 mm (3.19″)


96 mm (3.78″)

Filter thread

67 mm

Hood supplied


Tripod collar


The Golden f1.4 Trio

Initial impressions are that this looks and feels like a GM series lens. With the full complement of G Master features – a de-clickable iris ring and 2 focus hold buttons – this is also the first Sony prime lens to receive the iris lock toggle, which adds to the statement that Sony is placing this lens high up in their current roster. 

The 1.4 is certainly smaller and more compact than the 1.2, however, the design choice to mimic the similar 24mm and 35mm f1.4GM sizing is a stroke of genius. With all three f1.4 GM lenses in this mini-series being of similar weight and size, and with the same filter thread too, the cross-compatibility and ease of swapping between three relatively fast wide-angle primes lend itself to videographers who would only need the slightest adjustment if using a balanced gimbal.

The only drawback to this will be distinguishing each lens, no doubt it won’t be long until a 35mm is placed on a camera when intending the 50mm. Subtle design choices like this often go unnoticed in the wider scheme of product launches, however, with this launch, Sony is onto something.

Fitness photography taken on Sony 50mm f1.2 GM

Taken on Sony FE 50mm f1.2 GM Lens - Click to view in full resolution

Undetectably Lightweight

Using this lens on the A7IV (with VG-C4EM Battery Grip) the f1.4 GM was nearly undetectable, having big hands and needing the grip to feel comfortable holding the camera I need a lens that doesn't add to the overall bulk and the f1.4 certainly ticked those boxes.

In contrast, the f1.2 at 778g (versus 515g) did feel a bit slower and heavier when shooting in the gym. There wasn’t a huge amount of needing to track subjects and yet even when manoeuvring into the desired shooting position, the weight difference was notable. 

This isn’t necessarily a problem, and the lens is not often reported as heavy, however, for users looking for speed and quick handling, the 1.4 was effortless.

Fitness photography taken on Sony 50mm f1.4 GM

Taken on Sony FE 50mm f1.4 GM Lens - Click to view in full resolution

Lightning Fast Autofocus

Despite only having two XD Linear Motors in the f1.4, compared to four in the f1.2, the focus speed was still lightning quick. They were both more than capable at keeping up with the impeccable eye-tracking in the a7 IV which is a must when photographing portraiture. AF speed and accuracy were a dead heat between the two, although overall with less glass to move and smaller and lighter elements the f1.4 gets my vote.

Fitness photography taken on Sony 50mm f1.4 GM

Taken on Sony FE 50mm f1.4 GM Lens - Click to view in full resolution

Impeccably Sharp

On review of the photos from this shoot, the first thing that was immediately noticeable was how sharp this lens is. Gone are the days of sacrificing image quality or corner sharpness for better bokeh, which was true on the f1.2, this is virtually non-existent on the f1.4.

From this sharpness, also comes greater subject separation, especially as more often than not, the lens will be set wide open. Subjects really pop out against the backgrounds, with a pleasingly smooth bokeh transition to behind.

Vignetting is present as it always will be on a wide-angle fast-apertured prime like this, however, it looks natural and can always be corrected in an editing software of your choice.

Focus breathing is nicely controlled and doesn’t present itself noticeably when focus pulling, even less so on any Sony body with focus breathing compensation such as the a7 IV or the cine line cameras.

Fitness photography taken on Sony 50mm f1.2 GM

Taken on Sony FE 50mm f1.2 GM Lens - Click to view in full resolution

Is it worth it?

With all this impressive performance of the Sony 50mm f1.4GM lens, it does stem the question of why anyone would pay extra to go for the f1.2 GM. There's no doubt that it was a hugely popular lens for Sony at the time, but they may have priced themselves out of their own market with this cheaper f1.4.

The 1.4 offers 99% of the performance of the flagship in a smaller and more compact body. For a lot of consumers, this will be enough, however, for a select few who strive for the very best of the best, or, have more options in terms of budget, the f1.2 strides into place.

Yes, you do get ever so slightly smoother bokeh on the f1.2 than the f1.4, however, for the day-to-day photographer who sees lenses as tools to complete a job, the f1.4 more than covers the vast majority of case scenarios thrown at it.

Fitness photography taken on Sony 50mm f1.4 GM

Taken on Sony FE 50mm f1.4 GM Lens - Click to view in full resolution

A Nifty Fifty for the People

The new 50mm f1.4 feels like the premium nifty fifty for the people. Although initially a confusing release, having had the time to get hands-on and use the lens, it now makes complete sense. 

It differentiates just enough from the f1.2 that it doesn’t take away from the brilliance of that lens, but also gives options to justify the extra expense over Sigma’s own contender of the 50mm f1.4 DG DN for Sony E Mount. The Sony offers that bit more compact and lightweight features, along with that tie-in to the trio of f1.4 Sony wide-angle primes, a feature that if expanded on further still, really could be a draw for a lot of consumers into the Sony native ecosystem.

      • Fitness photography taken on Sony FE 50mm f1.4 GM Lens
      • Fitness photography taken on Sony FE 50mm f1.4 GM Lens

Taken on Sony FE 50mm f1.4 GM Lens - Click to view in full resolution

Ready to get yours?

The Sony FE 50mm f1.4 GM Lens is available to buy here >

With special thanks to the Personal Trainer and Gym team at Stratford Park Leisure Centre in Stroud for modelling for this test, for more information about personal training and food plans from a friendly team, follow @splcpt on Instagram.

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  • By Aled Phillips
  • 20 Mar 2023

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