DxOMark Rates Zeiss 55mm FE for Sony A7/A7R as Best Autofocus Lens Ever


Camera weenies can argue until they drop about subjective qualities like bokeh yumminess or ergonomics. For the folks who like to stick with numbers, however, there’s software maker and testing titan DxOMark, which recently declared the Zeiss 55mm FE the best autofocus lens it’s ever tested.

The $1,000 lens, which was launched last October to accompany Sony’s Alpha A7 and A7R full-frame mirrorless cameras, came out with a DxOMark score of 42 (tested on an A7R). That puts it second overall only to the Zeiss Distagon Otus 55mm (tested on a Nikon D800), which costs four times as much and is manual focus-only.

ScreenHunter_311 Jan. 30 11.41

The FE scored particularly well for sharpness, with drop-off of less than 5 percent throughout the lens’ aperture range.

The tester’s conclusion:

On paper at least the Zeiss Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA may seem somewhat unadventurous and over-priced given the f/1.8 maximum aperture. In reality the lens is a bright 1.8TStops, and image quality is outstanding. Even the $1,000 price seems quite reasonable. If you wanted an Otus 55mm f/1.4 and Nikon D800 but couldn’t stretch to it, you could do a lot worse than buying an A7R and the Zeiss Sonnar 55mm f/1.8 ZA.

Alright, are you ready? Let the mirrorless vs. DSLR sniping begin.

(via DxOMark via sonyalpharumors)

  • Sean Cook Weddings

    I just find it exciting that they can make a lens that nice that small, and for relatively little cost (compare to the Leica 50mm 1.4). I’m excited to see watch what comes next.

  • lord eels

    but it’s a worthless focal length

  • bob

    Yes, the standard focal length that’s been around for as long as the 35mm format has been around is worthless.

  • Arthur Nazarian

    Goddamit, it’s sharp! And they’re telling “the Otus is manual focus to achieve maximum sharpness”! But good anyway, otherwise I would have sold my kidney for that Otus. Anyway, outstanding performance of this 55mm Sonnar!

  • Swade

    About as worthless as gold, that valueless metal.

  • Gav

    How can a focal length be worthless?? You do realise if you don’t like the frame on a fixed focal length, you can move towards the subject or away from it….

  • CW

    Probably one of those photographers who only thinks 300mm zoom lenses are worth buying. God forbid you get within ten feet of your subject, just spy on them from across the street.

  • mike

    How can it both be f/1.8 and t/1.8? That glass has to eat up some light. Anyone else heard of a lens that has identical max f and t stops?

  • JoeNoName

    Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 :)

  • JoeNoName

    Test now the 35 2.8, ohhhhhh, the sweetness! Love my 4-hour-new A7, sweet baby. Worth just having 2 initial lenses that are supremely sharp, we can wait for more HQ glass >:)

  • lord eels

    55mm a worthless boring perspective. 36-84mm is worthless to me.

  • lord eels

    the 50mm perspectives are for low skill photographers who do not know how to use wide and tele perspectives. unless I’m pinned down (and thus should be using a zoom), why ON EARTH would I want to be at 50/55mm when I have a 35 or an 85 in my bag? 50mm is boring and cheap for a reason. perspective is a paint brush. 50mm is for house painters.

  • Syuaip

    “low skill”? you now sound like a troll..

  • XWheme1937

    мʏ вυɖɖʏ’ѕ ѕιѕт­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀ мαĸ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ѕ $84/нօυʀ օɴ тн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ ƈօмքυт­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀ. ѕн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ нαѕ в­­­­­­e­­­­­­­­­­­­e­­­­­­ɴ օυт օғ α ʝօв ғօʀ т­­­­­­e­­­­­­ɴ мօɴтнѕ вυт ʟαѕт мօɴтн н­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀ ιɴƈօм­­­­­­e­­­­­­ աαѕ $192зз ʝυѕт աօʀĸιɴɢ օɴ тн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ ƈօмքυт­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀ ғօʀ α ғ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ա нօυʀѕ. мʏ ­­­­­­e­­­­­­хքʟαɴαтιօɴ fox800&#46­com

  • R O

    Full body studio photography. Couples. Groups. Too much distortion in a 35mm for this kind of work and the 85mm becomes needlessly distant from your subject and impossible in a small spaces. East Asian subjects also often look better in headshots with a 50mm lens versus the 85mm.

    For an all-around street/documentary/photojournalistic lens, I do prefer the 35mm over the 50mm, but the 50mm always has a place for me in-studio.

  • Kyle Clements

    35mm and 85mm are for low skill photographers who do not know know how to use wide and tele perspectives.

    why ON EARTH would I want to be at 35/85mm when I have a 28mm and a 105 in my bag?

  • R O

    How about we all just carry a fish-eye and a 600mm and call it a day =)

  • Kyle Clements

    I do carry a 14mm in my bag, so I’m halfway there.

  • RadPhoto

    So are you saying that Cartier Bresson was a “low skilled” photographer, after all the vast majority of his work was shot with the “boring” 50mm lens your referring to. Try looking at images shot with a 50mm wide open, F.95 Leica or F1.2L Canon. Not cheap, but possibly left to be used by those who know how to use them creatively.

  • lord mackerel

    Be gone, troll!

  • lord mackerel

    Be gone, troll!!

  • lord mackerel

    Be gone, troll!!!

  • ElectricShunt

    Gather around, folks, this guy actually believes focal length equates the skill of the photographer! No need to point and laugh, he’s suffered enough embarrassment already. Let’s give him all the pity we can muster, for he deserves all of it!

  • Cynical Bloke

    I am a little dubious about this, especially with sony sample variation. I tested this lens and saw CA at the edges which I don’t think it should have for a 55mm. Maybe Sony sent DXO the best version they could find of the bunch.

  • Cynical Bloke

    The 35mm is dissapointing. CA as bad as the kit zoom.

  • Daniel Hine

    I think it’s just his preference with regards to dramatic photos, no need to label as a troll

  • Lord Hipster

    Great, I love my 35-80 zoom very much.

  • Chris Durnin

    Dang, good thing Bresson can’t hear you say that (I highly doubt you have any idea who that is). Almost all of his images were shot with a 50mm lens on a boring rangefinder.

  • Steven Solidarios

    A cameras lens focal length is only worthless as its photographers’ imagination.

  • Peter

    yeah because they didnt test fuji lens… FUJI lens are so good that you dslr users can nail the coffin!

  • Gavin Lister

    actually this is a normal way of thinking in a photographers evolution. I think most experienced photographers have been thru this stage. It’s the discovery of realising wide and zooms produce a different perspective, getting excited about this and then thinking 50 is boring. Eventually people like lord eels will get enough experience to realise the merits of each focal length and use them as a tool to meet a requirement rather than going thru a fad. The reality is that 50mm photography requires a mature approach and perspective to make outstanding prints rather than the other way around. Give him a year or two and he will look back at this narrow minded opinion as part of a learning and growing experience

  • 435345345


  • Patrik


  • Valery

    Yes, I do think that the Fuji 56mm f1,2 XF will do as well at f1,8 as the zeiss 55mm f1,8 ;)

    But DxO ans Fuji …. :(

  • madmax

    Ridiculous and bizarre post. What DxO (that is not the best site in the web for lens reviews) really say is this lens is very good optically speaking, not the “best autofocus lens ever”. And it is second only in their ranking, but how many lenses have they tested till now? Last but not least, a lens is more than only good optical performance.

  • Zos Xavius

    I use a 28mm on a crop sensor quite a bit. I find the perspective a bit tight as it is the equivalent of 42mm or so. Often I wish I had 35mm instead. That said, I love the 40ish perspective because it matches the eye very well and becomes a swiss army knife. I found that I rarely had to take the lens off and that framing shots in my mind became very natural due to the similar perspective to the human eye. I still love ultra wide angles and teles because of the compressed perspectives. I like certain looks, but I was very surprised to find that all I really needed in the end was one lens nearly everything.

  • harumph

    You wouldn’t say that if you could see his post history. He’s definitely the classic definition of a troll.

  • fsjal

    Well, to me the point is that this lens is only slightly worse than 4000$ Otus.

  • fsjal

    Fuji lenses are good… but we are talking about lens being sharp at 36MP, not 16 ;)

    >inb4 muh megapickels

  • Breeze

    All lenses have variations unless it was manufactured for NASA.

  • Leo

    what is disappointing about it?

  • Able Lawrence

    Good way to go will be to think of the perspective and then decide on the focal length that would give that particular angular view.

  • Ivan Zimnukhov

    We’re not yet at the point where zooms can match optical quality, size/weight and price of primes all at the same time. It doesn’t seem so far away now, sure, but it’s still somewhere in the future. So there’s a place in the world for so-called ‘normal’ primes.

  • DxWho?

    Well as usual the DxO test results are not the empirical conclusion that the ‘pay-for-score’ company would have everyone believe. At least in the sensor tests they are using the same subject, same lighting, and at least the same lenses across any one camera brand. All in all making as many of the inherent variables the same, except where there is no option to do so (you cannot run a Nikon sensor in your Canon camera for example).
    However when it comes to lenses the testing methods are not even remotely equal, given that you can very well use other brand lenses on other brand cameras – and therefore the true performance of the lens is not being judged, only how well a lens performs using ‘this’ or ‘that’ camera body – not the real performance of the lens itself. Even if all sensors were the same, there would still be differences such as Nikon performing ca correction in camera (a category of lens performance scored btw) where other manufactures do not, or only with certain/newest bodies.
    DxO went to great effort explaining to the world how the D800 sensor had a substantial impact on lens performance due to its dr and resolution, and was therefore relevant to use that body in determining the true performance of a lens. If that is true, if one can even rationalize that thinking, then all lenses need to be tested on the same sensor so the true capabilities of the lens can be shown and measured against other lenses.
    Here we have a perfect example of a body that could be used to test ALL lenses, and test them evenly, as virtually every lens in production can be adapted to something like the A7R body… So how about it DxO, when are you going to exhibit a little of the integrity you praise yourself for and level the measurement equipment to truly test a capabilities of a lens, its design, quality, and performance as simply a lens????

  • ms

    either you didn’t use the lens or got a lemon.

  • froyomuffin