As with any new product there are always some reports about annoyances and possible issues. The 85mm GM lens first was “under suspicion” for a possible mechanical issue causing scratches inside the autotofus ring. But it turned out that what you see is just the lubricant (article here). Now we got another possible autofocus issue we have to investigate. Diglloyd claims:
“Right away with the Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM, I noticed a disturbing tendency for Sony A7R II autofocus to be off enough to seriously degrade results at f/1.4, enough to call it a “2 stop error” in some cases, meaning at least f/2.8 would be needed to obtain the quality that ought to have been captured wide open at f/1.4. Or put another way, an error that turns a 42 megapixel camera into a ~12 megapixel camera. Or something akin to that.”
Let’s see if that will turn out to be a real issue on all lenses…
David Clifford posted the image you above (lens in the snow). He used the new Batis 18mm in harsh conditions and writes:
It was an amazingly sharp, well built, weather sealed, fast and accurate auto focus which was a dream to use. 18mm is one of my favorite focal lengths. It’s super wide with minimal distortion. In fact when I was using Canon I picked up a Zeiss 18mm 3.5 lens because my 16-35 was not very sharp at all. I quickly replaced my 16-35 with an 18mm and a 28mm. I felt much better carrying 2 small light fast primes than risking soft shots wide open in late light for clients. With 5 axis image stabilizer and the 42 mega pixel files it’s rivaling medium format for a fraction of the cost. Thank Zeiss for constant pushing to make superior lenses that do exactly what I need.
Just as photography is a very diverse field, so too are the applications for which the ZEISS Batis 2.8/18 can be used. For example, thanks to its large field of vision with extremely low distortion, it’s perfect for architectural photography. The ZEISS Batis 2.8/18 fulfilled a long-held wish he had had for a wide angle with excellent imaging performance.
Diglloyd posted a full review of the lens (for subscribers only). And his conclusion is:
The Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon is the finest 18mm lens ever to be produced for full frame cameras.
All in all, I was exceptionally impressed with the performance of this lens and the image quality it produced.
I know those are Zeiss ambassadors reviewing the lens. So some may have concerns about the value of such reviews. But I am 100% confident the new Batis 18mm is as good as all four photographers are saying it is!
Lensrentals dismantled the Sony 85mm GM lens to see if the autofocus noise is there because of some construction issue. Some readers reported about scratches but the good news is that those aren’t:
Barrel Markings: About half of these lenses have some visible lubricant on the inner focusing barrel that looks like scratches but isn’t. It is not scratches. It may be that over some time every single one of these lenses will have some lubricant show up on the inner barrel. Or it may smooth out over time to a beautiful, lustrous sheen that makes your bokeh glow like a sunrise in Yosemite. Sony may change assembly procedures or lubricant in future batches and it won’t be there anymore. But for right now, if you buy this lens you may see some lubricant in the inner barrel that looks like scratches.
It might be that 6 months from now we find out that all of these lenses should be absolutely silent when focusing. I’ve looked at lots of them, but they obviously were all early production run lenses. There may be a fix Sony comes up with. I suspect, though, that a firmware fix will be slowing down AF to make it quieter. In the meantime, optically this is a superb lens and a lot of people are making great images with it.
At the same time Lensrentals also published the full 85mm GM review and here there is only very good news to report:
The Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 G Master lens is pricey, but not much different than the price of other top-quality 85mm f/1.4 lenses. It delivers the image quality you would expect for the price and copy-to-copy variation is reassuringly low. Sony has definitely taken strides to fix the variation problem that we saw in some of the earlier FE lenses. Give them credit, and also give them some understanding. They are turning out lots of new lenses in a new mount with a bunch of new technology. There are always going to be some growing pains when a company does that.
Personal message: Sorry for the error in yesterdays 85m GM post title (I wrote” Batis” instead of “Sony” because of a freudian lapsus). It took almost 12 hours before I corrected the mistake because I was travelling accross Europe and had no Internet connection.
Sony GM 85mm f1/4 FE Focus Noise: AF-S, Manual, AF-C not touching button
Owners of the 85mm GM lens reported about a strange autofocus noise issue (Read reports at SonyAlphaForum, Fredmiranda and Dpreview). In at least a few cases this seems to have caused some scratches inside the lens. This is a picture from Enrico Heller:
It’s always good to get a comparison to get a real feeling of how bad this is. So look at that video from Chris Peterson where he compares the Sony 85mm GM vs Sigma 50mm Art
Roger Cicala posted that useful information at Dpreview:
OK, this is preliminary, but it’s what I have at the moment and all I’ll have until we can tear one down which won’t be until tomorrow probably.
1: All (40) of them make a noise when focusing if you listen. Some are louder than others. I think it’s Piezo motor noise but I can see where some people consider that a scraping sound. 2: Most (over half) have some markings in the inner barrel when you retract the focusing element all the way toward the mount. These vary in location around the lens and whether they are full length of the barrel or simply part way. To me it looks like lube, but it could also be scrapings in the plastic (I don’t think that inner barrel is metal). 2a: In those where the barrel marks only go part way I listened carefully to focus noise throughout the full range. There was no difference. There was also no difference in noise in lenses with, or without, markings on the inner barrel. So again, I don’t think the noise is from scraping, I think it’s from the motor. But, hey, I’m wrong sometimes. 3: I have not seen any lube streaks on inner elements, but that’s fairly common in many lenses so I suspect reports of those are real. 4: Like every wide aperture 85mm I’ve ever seen, all of these have some specs of dust inside if you look with a bright enough light. The glass in an 85 wise aperture really magnifies dust. I don’t see this as any different than what I see in new Canon, Nikon, or Zeiss lenses. Yes, I’m sure your whatever is dust free — if that’s the case I’ve just got brighter lights than you. 5: Just looking I don’t see any dust particles that look like they reflect light like metal shavings would. And again, pending disassembly, the inner barrel doesn’t look like metal to me. 6: I did take one, and only one, lens and focused it back and forth 500 times. I didn’t note a change in noise. That doesn’t mean it might not happen, just didn’t happen on the one I did. And no, I’ve got more to do than another 500 focuses.
Quite a few readers sent back their lens to Sony. But they still did not get any answer from Sony Service (it’s normal as they need some time to evaluate this). Note that this happens with the 85mm GM lens only. The 24-70mm GM lens has no issue at all.
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