couple embracing in front of a mountain

Setting New Standards: Shooting portraits with the new Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM

The Quirky

For many photographers a 50mm lens is an essential component of their camera kit. The focal length has been seen as a standard lens for decades with it being just as capable of shooting documentary and street images as it is portraits and events.

The new Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 G Master is the next evolution in 50mm lenses. It is the first f/1.2 lens made by Sony and photographer Beatrice de Guigne, part of photography and filmmaker duo, The Quirky, has been amongst the first people in the world to use it.

bride looking away from the camera © Beatrice / The Quirky | Sony α1 + FE 50mm f/1.2 GM | 1/1250s @ f/1.2, ISO 200
I was surprised at first,” says Beatrice, “people have been talking about other lenses and camera systems and I don’t think anyone was expecting that Sony would produce a lens with an aperture this large! It is really impressive!

Shooting weddings and events, Beatrice relies on ambient light to capture her images, so squeezing every last possible bit of light from a scene is vital.

couple facing each other bathed in red and blue light © Beatrice / The Quirky | Sony α1 + FE 50mm f/1.2 GM | 1/250s @ f/1.2, ISO 400

“The bride and groom could be getting ready in a small room, with just a single window,” she describes, “so having a lens that allows me capture as much of that light as possible is very important to me.”

Whilst the f/1.2 aperture is the obvious headline feature, the advanced optical design means that the lens is quite compact, despite the f/1.2 aperture.

“I was expecting a bigger lens, something more like the 85mm f/1.4 lens. But the new 50mm f/1.2 lens is the same size and weight as the existing 50mm f/1.4 Zeiss lens – I was so surprised,” Beatrice enthuses, “the filter thread is just 72mm, and of course the front element is smaller still. We’ve been using it on the Sony Alpha 1 and the lens is so well balanced. I really was expecting something bigger, and heavier. Its construction is really amazing!”

couple holding hands smiling at each other © Beatrice / The Quirky | Sony α1 + FE 50mm f/1.2 GM | 1/500s @ f/1.2, ISO 200

The size of the lens is down to the way it employs a number of advanced lens elements. It features 14 elements in 10 groups in its construction, and three of these elements are Extreme Aspherical (XA) lenses. These produce the highest definition and lowest distortion possible, even at the very edges of the frames.

Beatrice describes her experience with the lens: “I’ve been looking at the images that I’ve shot and the bokeh is perfectly round and smooth, there are no hotspots – it is really beautiful. And all of the images are super sharp, especially when combined with the 50 mega-pixel resolution of the Alpha 1. I shot almost all the images at f/1.2, and every time the focus is pin sharp. I’ve used it indoors in low-light, under red light, blue light, outdoors and everything is sharp. What I found interesting was that when shooting couples, and obviously standing a little further away, even at f/1.2 the depth of field is deep enough to get both their faces in focus.”

side profile of a lady with red light behind her © Beatrice / The Quirky | Sony α1 + FE 50mm f/1.2 GM | 1/200s @ f/1.2, ISO 250

When Beatrice is shooting a wedding or event it is vital that her camera can focus the lens quickly so that she doesn’t miss a moment. To this end, the 50mm f/1.2 lens employs four linear Extreme Dynamic (XD) motors for extremely fast and smooth autofocus tracking: “I was using Eye AF and the Alpha 1 and 50mm f/1.2 was able to focus on a subject’s eye, even from around 8m away,” recalls Beatrice.

couple embracing by a lake with a mountain behind © Beatrice / The Quirky | Sony α1 + FE 50mm f/1.2 GM | 1/160s @ f/5.6, ISO 200

“And it works brilliantly when shooting 8K video too!” says Jeremie, Beatrice’s partner who is the video side of the duo. He continues, “I usually use manual focus, but because the focusing of the Alpha 7S III is so good I have found myself using autofocus more. The 50mm f/1.2 lens focuses perfectly. The motors are quiet and smooth, and it has a linear focus ring, rather than constantly turning, so it is great for when I do want to switch to manual focus. In addition, there are two custom buttons on the lens, which I can use for things like turning Zebra patterns on or off. For videographers there are a lot of possibilities with this lens.”

The FE 50mm f/1.2 G Master lens is going to be an important lens for Beatrice and many others photographers, and videographers, with Beatrice concluding: “having used it for the last few days, I would recommend it for people who shoot portraits. It is a really, really, cool lens!”

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Béatrice de Guigné

Béatrice de Guigné | France

"Let's go on an adventure and forget our limits"
Jérémie Pennequin

Jérémie Pennequin | France

"My camera is my pen, my movies their novel"

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