It’s difficult to call it a real test, but more a 2h hands on at an event I’ve attended last week in Amsterdam, where Sony held the launch event of the new Sony A6300 (see the hands on) camera and the 3 G Master lenses.
In this short article I’ll write about the Sony 85mm f 1.4, a lens I’ve waited so much, and I got a feeling I wasn’t the only one. I’ve bought in the past the Batis 85mm f 1.8 but my experience was not that good and I had it returned, so I was left again with no 85 mm prime for my portrait work.
What G Master stands for
Sony produced in the past the G series lenses for the A mount camera, but also for the mirrorless systems in E mount. They’ve also collaborated with Zeiss (and this will continue in the future too) to produce the Sony Zeiss series (mostly for full frame FE mount, but also APS-C crop lenses).
Sony introduce in 2016 their flagship G Master™ brand of interchangeable lenses, for now consisting of 3 lenses and two teleconverter adapters:
- 24-70mm constant f/2.8 standard zoom
- 85mm f/1.4 prime
- 70-200mm constant f/2.8 telephoto zoom (plus its two teleconverters 2.0x and 1.4x)
The new G Master™ range represents the ultimate blend of high resolution and beautiful bokeh.
The new lenses feature Sony’s innovative optical element technology (the XA lens), design and calibration. This allows them to produce still image and video content with a level of detail and expression/bokeh that has never before been possible.
The new extreme aspherical optical element is made of a glass constructed with a precision of 0.01 micro-meter! That’s nuts. Our mind can’t comprehend such small dimensions, but to make an ideea, take a look at this “zoom-in”. Read from right to left 🙂
This kind of precision helps in image quality and especially on bokeh quality. Sony says goodbye to onion-ring like bokeh.
Let’s take a closer look at Sony 85mm f 1.4 lens
This long awaited lens it’s smaller than other 85mm 1.4 out there, but by no means it is the small lens we are expecting for our mirrorless systems. It’s physics we can blame on for its size.
The lens main specs are:
|Lens configuration (group / element)||8 / 11|
|35mm-equivalent focal length (APS-C)* (mm)||127.5|
|Angle of view (APS-C)*||19°|
|Angle of view (35mm full frame)||29°|
|No. of aperture blade||11|
|Min. aperture (F)||16|
|Max. magnification ratio (x)||0.12|
|Min. focus (m)||AF 0.85 m, MF 0.8 m|
|Filter dia. (mm)||77|
|Dimensions: Dia. x L (mm)||89.5 x 107.5|
|Weight: (approx.) (g)||820|
Out of those 11 elements, we have the following configuration:
- 1 XA lens element
- 3 ED glass elements
The autofocusing in this lens is the Ring-Drive SSM and not the new Direct Drive SSM (found in the 24-70 f/2.8) because of the heavy front elements needed to be moved with precision. That means slower autofocusing than the all around 24-70mm f/2.8, but more precise for this shallow DOF you get a f/1.4.
New for the alpha lenses is the new circular 11 blade diaphragm, for beautiful circular bokeh.
Shooting the Sony 85mm f 1.4
After the conference, we had at our disposal 3 setups to test the 85 mm and the 24-70mm, the only final products at the event. I grabbed the highest resolution camera available, of course the A7R II (see review here) and mounted on it the 85, because the 24-70 focal length is not “my type” and I’ve played around with it for a couple of hours, mostly shooting wide open 🙂
Oh what a treat of lens! Eye-AF works wonders in this combination, and combined with the incredible resolution of the A7R II this might be the Supreme Portrait combo.
All this while the model was changing poses continuously for the horde of journalists and photographers in front of her. I was sooting in Continuous High and using the Eye-AF tracking in AF-C, wide open.
Lens is amazing for video too except the fact that the focus is drive by wire and might be a problem for some videographers. The aperture ring on the lens can be set to make clicks or not by using the available switch, and there is also present a focus lock button.
I had no tripod available with me but still, I took a series of photos of the same scene at different apertures, just to get an idea how things looks.
It is impossible to find something not to like about this new Sony 85mm f 1.4, except it’s size, maybe. But it felt quite nice on the A7R II, and looking through the images, its size it’s easy to be looked over 🙂
Chromatic aberrations are at minimum even wide open. Lightroom didn’t support this lens at the time of this review, so there is no correction for this kind of aberrations.
Noting else to add, I’ll leave you with a gallery of photos created with this lens. Enjoy!
PS: Exif is intact