Summary: Having had the SAL50F14 since the beginning, it to me was firmly seated in my general photography lens kit. I must confess that I am enamored of every Zeiss lens I have, and was looking forward to the release of the SAL50F14Z since it was first announced. With its arrival, I put it to work at once, and am pleased to say it is all I've come to expect and more. Yes, it is more weight than the non-Zeiss lens, but it is easily forgotten when shooting.
Summary: Sony/Zeiss have really stepped up the quality with the new 50. I also own the 85 and the 135, plus the 24-70, and this lens is just in a different league altogether. I preordered the lens on faith, and it certainly delivered by revealing just how much detail can be squeezed from the sensor on my a99. In fact, the lens appears to be a perfect match.
Summary: Read all the reviews but in the end the Sony charts said it all. This lens is very well built, fast, high contrast (even at 1.4) and extremely sharp. You would have to enlarge your pics beyond 20x30 to even start finding weaknesses. One review stated you would only use 1.4 in must to low light situations, wrong. Depth of field only problem wide open and still I have already shot some of my most favorite pics on this lens at 1.4.
Summary: Z letter at the end of SAL50F14 does not only add extra $1000 to the price but also significantly improves image quality. Everything - colors, sharpness and bokeh look great. Super fast and accurate AF thanks to SSM, and finally this is the first dust and water proof Sony/Zeiss lens! The last point is especially nice because it's the "standard" 50mm, probably most useful prime.
Pros: Exceptional image clarity, beautiful bokeh, fast and quiet SSM motor, weather proof
Cons: No lens case, no AF-D support in 1.01 firmware
Summary: UPDATE: 17 April 2014 After two months of using this lens in Europe I'm very impressed with the results. The renderings and colors are so 'real' and life-like that's easy to see why this lens cost more than other options. I still need to wait to process the shots but I suspect the adjustments will be minimal. I wasn't sure whether to retire my Alpha 900 and move on, or to add a second ZA to my system.
Summary: I can't say enough about this lens. It's a perfect 50mm. It's very sharp at 1.4, and by f/2, where I almost always leave it, it's perfect. Great balance on the A99, great hood. I sold all of my Canon gear to shoot with this lens and the A99, and it's been amazing. The best part about it, though, is the bokeh and what tends to be called "micro-contrast".
Summary: For a technical review read Kurt Munger's in depth analysis. As for real life analysis it's simply fantastic. I've been an avid shooter of the 50mm 1.4 Sony for over two years. This has all the magic I've come to love in my 135mm 1.8 Zeiss. Smooth diffraction focus and sharpness corner to corner that has to be seen to be believed. I never feel left wanting with Zeiss optics. The cool color rendition seems most natural and has an erie real life quality to it.