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Sony adds affordable 50mm full-frame macro lens to lineup

Sony today unveiled its latest lens for E-mount cameras, the FE 50mm F2.8 Macro. The full-frame lens features a compact and lightweight design with comprehensive focus control right on the lens body itself, including a mode switch, range limiter, and focus-hold button. With a minimum focusing distance of 6.25 inches, it promises a 1:1 maximum magnification ratio on full-frame bodies (the A7-series), but is also compatible on Sony’s APS-C cameras like the A6300.

The 50mm macro fills a void in Sony’s lens lineup, which until now only included one other macro lens that was compatible with the company’s full-frame bodies. That lens, a 90mm, costs $1,100, putting it well out of range for many photographers. The new lens comes in at just $500 – nearly half the price – although still more expensive than the FE 50mm F1.8 at just $250 (which is not a macro lens).

Related: Tamron’s 90mm f/2.8 macro comes to Sony A-mount cameras

While the price isn’t inexpensive by 50mm standards, this is a high-end lens. It uses ED glass elements optimized to combat chromatic aberration at close focus distances and a rounded aperture diaphragm for pleasing out-of-focus blur patterns (or bokeh). It is also built to be dust and moisture resistant, making it a good match for Sony’s professional, weather-sealed camera bodies like the A7 II.

While an f/2.8 aperture is not that fast for a 50mm prime, it allows for a more compact design. Sony sees this lens as providing maximum versatility for photographers, something that can capture portraits, scenery, and details in one. Sony says the lens is also compatible with its recently introduced 1.4x and 2x teleconverter lenses.

For photographers who don’t need the macro capabilities, the 50mm F1.8 likely still makes a better choice. But for those who have been holding off on buying a Sony macro lens due to the cost, the new 50mm F2.8 Macro is an attractive option. The lens should begin shipping by the end of September, with preorders starting on the first.