Steele’s word is the best in the photography review business:
In all, one thing is clear: the 50mm f/1.4 is an optical powerhouse. It’s exceptionally sharp while maintaining very good bokeh. Sony and Zeiss have done something truly special, managing to best their already outstanding 55mm f/1.8. That said, the question of which you should buy is much harder to answer. The 50mm f/1.4 is the choice for uncompromising optical quality, but the much smaller size and lower weight, combined with very similar light transmission at the widest apertures makes the 55mm f/1.8 still an outstanding choice for a lot of shooters. Whichever you choose, you’ll gain a great lens.
It’s hard to believe the f/1.4 bests the f/1.8. The f/1.8 is my most used lens, bar none.
After a full year of shooting with the Sony a7II and the Sony FE system, I have my sights set on the newest full-frame Sony camera (presumably coming in 2017). As a whole, I’m disappointed in the camera body. The a7II’s button layout and shooting experience is poor in comparison to competing brands and I think the EVF, SD card slot, and battery life could all use some improvement.
I’ve said it countless times, though: The Sony a7II’s image quality is breathtaking. I love how the files work and I love the overall look and feel of the images. I chalk this up to the a7II’s sensor and, perhaps just as importantly, (Sony) Zeiss lenses. Both Batis primes and the 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar are fantastic lenses and have somehow found a way to silence most of my gear lust.
Except for this 50mm f/1.4. I want this lens more than any other.
The 50mm is an expensive lens and I’m not sure I’d see between $750 and $1,000 of improvement. But to know the 50mm is actually superior to the 55mm in almost every aspect (except size) means Sony has its head screwed on straight.
If you need more 50mm goodness, Steele’s review is great, as usual.