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Sony's Nifty-Fifty seems to work in UV (FE 50mm f1.8)

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#1 Timber

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 08:28

On my APS-C NEX-6 I really liked the Sigma 30mm f2.8 as it was Autofocus and starting at f2.8 aperture and had a viable UV transmission. Unfortunately since I moved to full frame in UV/IR I could not use that lens anymore. Back then I got the Sony FE 50mm f1.8 lens as my walk around, street lens as the Samyang 50mm f1.4 is way too heavy to carry it a whole day (even though that lens has amazing picture quality and one of the best Bokeh I've ever seen). The NiftyFifity is not really praised among Sony shooters as it has a bit sluggish and very noisy AF, wide open it's slightly soft and there is the Zeiss 55mm f1.8 which is just a tad heavier but much better in every aspect. Yet I believe this lens is just amazing as it is. It's cheap and lightweight. At f2.0 it is very decent and f2.8 it's sharp. Even f1.8 is usable for portraits as you will soften the image anyway :D
So just out of curiosity I snapped the UV-Pass stack on it to see how it performs and I can say it's a very pleasant surprise! It is very similar in performance to the Sigma 30mm, which I loved. I don't have the Nikon Series-E 50mm f1.8 anymore, but from my memories it performed very similarly to this lens. Compared to the EL-Nikkor 80mm at f8 it requires significantly longer exposure times (I'd say around 2 stops), but let's not forget that it has f1.8 aperture! I believe it's usable for a 360nm setup, but obviously it won't be your best kit.

Advantages:
+ has AF
+ f1.8 aperture
+ cheap and cheerful
+ very light
+ pretty sharp from f2.8
Negatives:
- UV transmission is usable but limited
- noisy AF
- soft wide open

Would I recommend this lens? Definitely :) Apart from the quite usable UV performance and overall good IQ, the negatives are balanced out with it's price and weight. And let's be honest, everyone has to have a nifty-fifty!

First here's a comparison to the EL-Nikkor 80mm. As you can see the image is noticeably blue, which is a sign of weaker and not as deep UV transmission. This is backed up by the difference in exposure (the EL-Nikkor 80mm was at f8.0)
(there are no flowers around here, so I could not offer you a better test subject than the one always with me: myself)
Attached Image: 50strip.jpg

Here are the images, white balanced. Notice that my freckles are almost as visible as with the EL-Nikkor 80mm!
Wide open, at f1.8
Attached Image: DSC00428.jpg

Stopped down to f8.0 to match the EL-Nikkor (due to long shutter speed there is a bit of motion blur)
Attached Image: DSC00435.jpg

And finally the EL-Nikkor 80mm at f8.0
Attached Image: DSC00434.jpg

#2 Andy Perrin

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 15:48

I have the Sony Zeiss FE 55mm/1.8 lens (different than the above) and I really like that one for visible and IR photos. It passes some UV but the autofocus does not work in UV.

Edited by Andy Perrin, 03 July 2019 - 15:49.


#3 Timber

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Posted 03 July 2019 - 19:20

View PostAndy Perrin, on 03 July 2019 - 15:48, said:

I have the Sony Zeiss FE 55mm/1.8 lens (different than the above) and I really like that one for visible and IR photos. It passes some UV but the autofocus does not work in UV.
I went for the Samyang 50mm f1.4 which has amazing Bokeh and pretty sharp. AF is not the best but for static objects works properly. Favourite lens is FE85 f1.8 :)

#4 Andrea B.

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Posted 08 July 2019 - 14:19

Thankee for this lens test, Timber.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#5 Timber

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Posted 09 July 2019 - 06:45

View PostAndrea B., on 08 July 2019 - 14:19, said:

Thankee for this lens test, Timber.
I will try to add a bit more to the test as I just dusted off my full spectrum flashes and found a few flowers in the garden... so once I can guarantee controlled lighting for the shots I can do a bit better comparison... in the meantime I just won a STEINHEIL MUNCHEN CASSARIT 1:2.8 F=50mm lens so it will be cool to compare my 50mm lenses (So far the line up is: Sony FE, Meritar*, Cassarit, Zebra Tessar, Pentacon and enlarger lenses: Dixon*, Jessops, both EL-Nikkor, Phago*, Meopta) (the ones I marked with a * I already know to be quite good for UV).
So far Meritar is my favourite as it starts at f2.9, stopped down to f4 it's sharp and has really good transmission with U360/S8612. :)