Shootout Shootout: Sony FE 55mm Sonnar, Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar, Leica 50mm Summilux-M Compared

Amin Sabet

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Aug 6, 2011
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Today I'm taking a look at three great primes, two native to our system and one adapted:

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Technical details:

  • All images were taken using a sturdy tripod and self-timer. All images processed using Capture One v8.3.2.
  • Weather was slightly breezy and partly cloudy, so I can't rule out some minor blurred foliage due to wind, nor could I keep exposure and white balance entirely fixed.

Suggested method for viewing comparison photos: Click the photo of interest to open the full-resolution version on a new browser tab. Then toggle between tabs to compare full-resolution shots from my A7RII.


Scene 1: DOF/FOV comparison with all lenses wide open

Sony FE 55mm Sonnar:
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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar:
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Leica 50mm Summilux-M:
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Comments: Obviously the Sonnar is the longest lens. The Loxia is a bit wider than the Leica. The Leica has a bit less bokeh color fringing than the other two lenses.


Scene 2: Playground horse at f/2

Sony FE 55mm Sonnar:
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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar:
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Leica 50mm Summilux-M:
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Comments: All three lenses are sharp at the point of focus. All show some purple color in bokeh elements, while the two Zeiss lenses but not the Leica also show some red fringing at the edge of the horse. The Leica shows substantial field curvature.


Scene 3: Park bench at f/5.6

Sony FE 55mm Sonnar:
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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar:
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Leica 50mm Summilux-M:
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Comments: All three lenses are sharp at the point of focus, which is the center of the nearest part of the bench seat. The two Zeiss lenses have good edge to edge sharpness with relatively little field curvature. By contrast, you can again see marked field curvature for the Leica - observe how the area in focus moves further away as you approach the sides of the frame.

Scene 4: Bell at f/4

Sony FE 55mm Sonnar:
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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar:
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Leica 50mm Summilux-M:
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Comments: Strong performance from all three lenses here. Especially the Loxia.


Scene 5: Tree bark at f/2.8

Sony FE 55mm Sonnar:
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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar:
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Leica 50mm Summilux-M:
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Comments: I suspect slight misfocus or vibration affecting the FE55 in this scene.


Scene 6: Backlit tire swing at f/2

Sony FE 55mm Sonnar:
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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar:
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Leica 50mm Summilux-M:
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Comments: The sun was just above and to the left of the frame. The Sonnar shows flare and focal loss of contrast, while the Summilux is slightly washed out across the frame. The Planar retains contrast throughout the frame. All three lenses show bokeh color fringing in the fence highlights, and the Sonnar shows prominent onion skin bokeh as well in this area.


Scene 7A: Town Hall at f/2

Sony FE 55mm Sonnar:
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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar:
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Leica 50mm Summilux-M:
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Comments: Focus was on the column to the right of the door. The FE55 Sonnar puts in the strongest performance here, fairly sharp from edge to edge within the DOF. Due to field curvature, the edges of the Summilux frame are miserable here. All three lenses show some light falloff at f/2 (compare to f/8 below).


Scene 7B: Town Hall at f/8

Sony FE 55mm Sonnar:
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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar:
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Leica 50mm Summilux-M:
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Comments: Here at f/8, the Zeiss Loxia has caught up to and surpassed the sharpness of the Sonnar, while the Leica continues to lag considerably.

Bokeh Series


Leica 50mm Summilux-M at f/1.4:

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Leica 50mm Summilux-M at f/1.7:

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Sony FE 55mm Sonnar at f/1.8:

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Leica 50mm Summilux-M at f/2:

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Sony FE 55mm Sonnar at f/2:

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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar at f/2:

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Leica 50mm Summilux-M at f/2.8:

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Sony FE 55mm Sonnar at f/2.8:

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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar at f/2.8:

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Leica 50mm Summilux-M at f/4:

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Sony FE 55mm Sonnar at f/4:

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Zeiss Loxia 50mm Planar at f/4:

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Comments: The Summilux bokeh is truly lovely at f/1.4 but takes on a 9-sided, pointed appearance as you stop down. The Loxia (Planar) has the least smooth bokeh but the strongest 3D effect throughout the series. The Sonnar bokeh is my personal favorite of the three.

Summary:

The Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH is sharp and renders in a lovely way wide open, but its strong field curvature makes it a poor performer on the A7RII for flat subjects. I use it regularly for photos of people and find it to be an outstanding lens for that.

The Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar is sharp wide open and the best stopped down performance of the group. It's a fantastic lens for general use on the A7RII provided that one is willing to use manual focus. The wide open bokeh can at times be harsh, but it shows the most 3D pop of the three lenses tested.

The Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar is my all around favorite "50" of all time. It shows excellent sharpness across the frame at all apertures and lovely bokeh. It's just an incredibly well behaved lens with pleasing character at all times. Plus it autofocuses!


Link to download all raw files from this shootout (1.32GB!): Sony 50mm Shootout raws.zip
 

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robbie36

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It probably ought to be illegal to buy a Sony A7 camera without the 55 f1.8.

The bokeh of the Planar is surprisingly harsh/busy compared to the others - very noticeable in the first shots of the whole series.
 

Jefenator

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The Summilux would be nice if you like BOKEH... a lot!!
Would be nice to have the Loxia for landscapes and/or manual focus.
For a variety of purposes, I do enjoy owning the Sonnar. :cool:
 

Alex66

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Dec 23, 2014
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I have the Sonnar and well its a sonnar and I have a long standing love of the design, I even have a tattoo of the formula. I am very satisfied with the 55mm I don't think I have liked a lens more.
 

christilou

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Love my 55 1.8 Sonnar but I also like the ZM50 1.5 and the above Zeiss Contax G 45mm Planar. I've never liked the Summilux oddly shaped bokeh at certain apertures.
 

Amin Sabet

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I have the Sonnar and well its a sonnar and I have a long standing love of the design, I even have a tattoo of the formula. I am very satisfied with the 55mm I don't think I have liked a lens more.
Wow, you really love that design! Can we see a picture of your tattoo?
 

Alex66

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Wow, you really love that design! Can we see a picture of your tattoo?
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There you are.
 

tomO2013

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Dec 11, 2014
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Agreed - the Sonnar 55 is an autofocusing mini-Otus. It's fantastic technically what they have achieved. My favourite bokeh etc....
Sharpest image and the most contrasty of the bunch. Most pop too - although the zeiss 50mm isn't far off.
I actually like it's harsher bokeh!
 
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GabrielPhoto

TalkEmount Top Veteran
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Jul 3, 2013
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Ah guess that means it didnt quite match the FE since you kept that one instead. :)
 
P

pbizarro

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Thanks for the good comparison. Indeed the 55 Sonnar is the "best" for multi applications.

But the Leica is truly excellent for what is intended: reportage and people shots. The field curvature helps to enhance/isolate the subject more.
 

SamSS

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Oct 11, 2014
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Very nice comparisons, Amin. I've read quiet a few raving about the Loxia 50mm and almost bought it too. But for some reasons...didn't fit my liking.
Though, I've read since the beginning of time and still coming back for some more reading occasionally of the Sigma Art 50mm f1.4
I know I shouldn't be buying any more A-mount lens but who knows.
Has anyone tried the Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art A-mount before?
 
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tomO2013

TalkEmount Veteran
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Dec 11, 2014
Messages
384
Sigma 50 on nikon is simply amazing. Optically superb. It compares favorably with the lenses in the comparison here. Really at this level personal preference is going to come into it. Personally I prefer the colours and skin tones from zeiss loxia and zony 55 (although 55 can be quite clinical too) . There is a little more character to the rendering that I'm willing to pay extra for.
 

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