Test: 55/1.8 Zeiss FE vs. 50/1.8G Nikkor

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by bargainguy, Jun 30, 2016.

  1. bargainguy

    bargainguy TalkEmount Regular

    Jun 29, 2016
    28008011035_817d4310dd_k. sonya7ii50mmtest by Don, on Flickr

    Time for a completely unscientific lens test. I thought the results were interesting but will probably not surprise anyone here. You might need to download the image to make the full detail available; I've made the image public on flickr.

    My new-to-me a7ii / 55/1.8 FE combo arrived earlier this week, and my Metabones Nikon > FE adapter arrived today. So what better way to kick things off than a test of the 55 Zeiss vs. my 50/1.8G Nikkor. Mind you, the Zeiss retails for about 4x what the Nikkor does, street price around $200 for the Nikkor and $800 for the Zeiss.

    Both images were shot at 1/60 and wide open at f/1.8. The Zeiss shot on the left is a little cooler rendition, the Nikkor a little warmer. I can't see any barrel distortion with the Zeiss while the Nikkor shows a little.

    But the big difference is in the detail. Enlarging the image on my 27" monitor, I can see much better detail in the Zeiss, particularly in the plastic rod and cord; these get a little fuzzy on the Nikkor.

    It's not a bad showing for the Nikkor, but the clear winner is the Zeiss. Already I'm enamored of this little lens. Wondering how the rest of my Nikon glass stacks up at this point.
    • Like Like x 3
  2. sesser

    sesser TalkEmount Regular

    May 21, 2016
    Real Name:
    I wouldn't say the Nikkor is necessarily worse. I kind of like the rendering of the Nikkor and it looks to me like the Zeiss exhibits more CA than the Nikkor. The Zeiss is definitely sharper, but the look of the Nikkor is more, I dunno, natural to me. I guess you could describe it as sterile vs organic. Either way, the A7II does well with adapted lenses and the IBIS helps. I'm acually surprised at how much I prefer manual lenses over native.

    Thanks for the comparison. I've been debating on getting the 55/1.8 but I'm afraid of the focal length as anything greater than 50 makes me feel too confined for a "normal" lens.
  3. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Real Name:
    I realize this wasn't meant to be scientific, but I honestly can't tell much from these shots.
  4. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Real Name:
    I refuse to read such threads because the Zeiss 55mm is next on my buying list and comparisons like that put me into second thoughts whether I should go ahead and buy it or stick with my MF Minolta MD 50mm f/1.4 :D
    • Funny Funny x 1
  5. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Real Name:
    Ad Dieleman
    Don, thanks for sharing.
    When looking at the full-res shot from Flickr, I can clearly see the better resolution of the FE 1.8/55mm.

    Interestingly, words like "clinical", "sterile" come to my mind as well when revisiting the test shots I made with my A7 back in 2013 with the FE 1.8/55mm (Sony show at the local store). Sure, the lens is crazy sharp wide-open but I've never managed to like the rendition in the out-of-focus area, be it background of foreground. Usually I just want more depth of field. And for me 55mm is too restricted a field of view, 40mm is my preference for a prime. If I'd want a fast normal prime, I'd probably go for the FE 1.8/50mm which looks quite good especially stopped down a bit; I'm just guessing it'll look more like the Nikon G 1.8/50 shown here. Sometimes for landscapes I use the Minolta MD 2/50mm which is awesome at f/8 to f/11 across the frame and sits right between the FE 16-35 and 70-200.
  6. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    Nov 24, 2014
    Sony decided that their first "standard" lens for the system should be different from other ones: metal build, tight construction, 9 bladed iris, plus 3 aspheric elements. The Nikon lens would better be compared to the more recent FE 50 f1.8, otherwise it is not fair:)
  7. bargainguy

    bargainguy TalkEmount Regular

    Jun 29, 2016
    My next test of a Zeiss vs Nikon lens might not be for awhile yet. I had to pull a lot together just to get the a7ii/55, and I'm going to take my time accumulating more Zeiss glass. I've never owned a Zeiss lens for any significant period of time, save for a couple Contax 139 Quartz bodies with 50/1.7 Planars about 25 years ago when I was first dealing in used cameras. I can't even remember if I shot anything with those cameras, mostly because I didn't want to be disappointed with my Nikon glass (!) in case the Planars beat the pants off them.

    Now since I have a boatload of Nikon glass, I might wind up testing Nikon vs Nikon in the same focal length. I have at least a dozen 50mm Nikkors of all denominations - 1.4, 1.8, 2, E series. I also have a few 28's, AI and AI-S, as well as a 28-70/2.8 AF ("The Beast") and a 20-35/2.8 AF. The AI-S is supposed to be a favorite of FF shooters, so it'll be interesting to see if there's any noticeable difference there. I'm not sure what the interest in any Nikon vs Nikon would be here, but if enough folks here show interest, I'll be happy to post again with results.

    Edit: Too funny. After all that talk about accumulating more FE lenses slowly, I just bought a Sony 28/2 FE used on a different camera forum for $325 including 2-day fedex and paypal. So now I see a different test in my future: the Sony 28/2 vs. a whole bunch of Nikon contenders. If I understand correctly, however, the Sony is not a Zeiss design, so technically, I didn't buy more Zeiss glass immediately. Ha!
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2016