The following is a guest post from Enrico Heller (http://eh-photo.de/blog/80). He reviewed the brand new 85mm f/1.4 GM lens that will start shipping the coming days at BHphoto, Amazon, Adorama, BestBuy. Amazon Germany. Calumetphoto.de. WexUK. Jessops.
I recently received my Sony G-Master FE85mm F1.4 and want to share my impressions and testing results with you. I tested the lens on a Sony A7RM2. My mainscope is on rendering and bokeh quality, but I do always begin with checkout the optical quality of a lens. I hope my results will help you.
A 85mm lens is my prefered lens for studio work and on location shoots. I also use it on weddings.
One weak point in the Sony E-Mount system was the missing of a 85mm F1.4. I hope the new G-Master lens will solve this point. I used a Zeiss Batis 1.8/85 on location and the Sony G OSS 90mm F2.8 in studio before. The Batis was a very good lens, but no F1.4 so I sold my Batis. If you interesstet in the Zeiss Batis 1.8/85 you can checkout my comparision with the Sony G OSS 90mm F2.8 (click HERE).
Build Quality and AF
The Sony FE85 F1.4 GM is a very heavy and bulky lens like most other 85mm F1.4 lenses out there. It’s made very solid and feels like a professional lens what it is. There is a very useful focus hold button and aperture ring. For filmer there is also a declick button to make the aperture clickless.
As I unboxed the lens the focus ring sounds a bit scratchy. Like if metal scratches on metal. I read in several forums that there are scratches inside lens so I was a bit afraid. After 500 shots the scratching sound is gone. And there are no scratches inside the lense. I’m sure that is something like oil or lubricant and this wasn’t all over the contact area. Puhh…
The autofocus was the next challenge. The AF was very loud and was bumping all the time. Continuous AF wasn’t useable for me. The solution and a very IMPORTEND point is to update you camera to the latest firmware! After I updated to v3.1 the AF worked very well. In normal working conditions it nails the focus in AF-S / AF-C and Eye-AF very preceise.
The AF isn’t that fast but fast enough for portrait work. I would not expect more for this kind of lens.
As usally I test new lenses on my testing wall. It is very helpful to find quality issues like with my Sony Distagon T* FE 35 mm F1,4 ZA (check out my test HERE). It also help me to find strength and weak points of my lenses. I always test three zones.
- A – Center
- B – Edge
- C – Corner
The focus distance for the Sony FE85mm F1.4 GM is 2.69m (8.82 ft).
It is always helpful if there is a compentitor to compare and rank the results. I used my Sony G OSS 90mm F2.8 to compare the lenes. The focus distance of the G 90 was 2.99m (9.8ft) to compensate the different focal lenght. The macro lens is the sharpest native lens in the Sony E-Mount, so it is a strong compentitor in this kind of testing.
Zone A – the Center
The results are really good. The G-Master is razor sharp even at F1.4. The lens is sightly better than the Sony G OSS 90mm F2.8 over the full range.
Zone B – the Edge
The good results are shown in the edge again. Even at F1.4 is the edge crisp an clear. The macro lens loses over the full F-Stop range.
Zone C – the Corner
As I have seen the corner I was a bit flashed. This lens is at F1.4 razor sharp even in the Corner. Thats are really amazing results. Sony did a very good job!
The lens is sharper over the full frame than the Sony G OSS 90mm F2.8
Shooting charts worth nothing at the end of the day if you can’t confirm them in real live shots. My cat is a very good vitim to check the lens sharpness in studio.
Both lenses are tak sharp and I’m sure you won’t see a different even at large prints. But you can see the Sony G-Master FE85mm F1.4 is sightly sharper than the macro lens.
You can see one Shot of the same szene at F1.4 in Example Images
As usual I get asked for focus at infinity shots. So I made a landscape comparision shot. I need to say it was a bit windy at this day but I think this shot is good enough to show the performance.
I see more details in the shot from the Sony FE85mm F1.4 GM. It has also more punshy colors.
With disabling the light falloff correction in the A7RM2 there is a noticeable vignetting at F1.4. At F2.8 it is mostly gone. I expected this vignetting wide open like other 85mm F1.4 lenses. Per default I correct this in the camera.
Its mostly the same like vignetting. There is a very sigtly distorsion if you disable the correction inside the camera. But its so minor that you wont see this in a real live picture even if you have the correction disabled. This was one weakness of my Zeiss Batis 1.8/85. Ok this is a portrait lens and distorsion isn’t a problem there but so it’s possible to use the lense for other kind of work too.
Flares and Chromatic Aberrations
In test chart environment you can find well controlled Longitudinal Chormatic Aberrations (LoCA) chromatic aberration.
Here you can see a real live shot with minor LoCa.
I couldn’t found lateral chromatic aberrations on my test charts.
And I also couldn’t see lateral CA on real live images.
Till now I couldn’t see any flares. So I think the lens has no problem with it. But if I get any problems with it, I will update it later.
Rendering and Bokeh
The Bokeh can be rated very various. What one person likes do another person hates. So rank my results for your self. As usally a creamy, smooth bokeh with decent pointed lights is more often prefered.
Sony 85 F1.4 GM Bokeh Balls
The bokeh balls are importend for the rendering because it can redirect the viewers focus from the motive to the out of focus (OOF) area, if the bokeh balls are asymmetric or have markings (onion rings). It also can makes the OOF area more nervous.
Many modern lenes suffering by onion rings as a result of the usage of aspherical elements. For my self I dislike onion rings more than cat eyes (unround bokeh balls). For example the Zeiss Batis 1.8/85 shows a lot of cat eyes but it has no or rarely onion rings. The Sony G OSS 90mm F2.8 shows visible onion rings. That was one reason why I used the G 90mm just in studio.
To test the bokeh balls of the Sony 85 1.4 GM I shot some LED lights with differen apertures. The used focus distance was the minimal focus distance of the lens (0.8m | 2,6 ft), the distance to the lights was 1.5m (4,92ft).
Here you can see the overview:
Here you can see the results:
The Sony G-Master 85 F1.4 produce circular bokeh balls, even diagonally light getting’s almost round bokeh balls. In bright big lights you can see slightly onion rings. I think this amout of onion rings you could not see in real images. Thats a very good result in my eyes. Smaller lights are mostly circular without marking. Stopped down and focus to the LED’s, the lights getting nice sun stars.
I used a difficult szene with leafs and a lot of highlights and shot images from F1.4 until F8
I really like the background blur of the Sony FE85mm F1.4 GM it is very soft, smooth and silky. Pointed lights are not getting a nervous bokeh.
I was a bit afraid to get another “clinical” modern lens, but now I think that lens has it own character. It renders very pleasant and I feel it has a nice three-dimensional look.
I can’t offer final conclusions in that short testing period, but I’m very impressed how good the optical performance of this lens is. There is literaly no real downside for this lens at the moment. The weight and size is what physical can be expected and the AF is fast enough for the task. Sure if I should improve something on this lens it would be the AF speed but I see there no issue.
I will update my conclusions when my testing for rendering and bokeh are done.
Original article and images can be read at http://eh-photo.de/blog/80
Gm lens store links:
85mm f/1.4 GM FE at BHphoto, Amazon, Adorama, BestBuy. Amazon Germany. Calumetphoto.de. WexUK. Jessops.
24-70mm f/2.8 GM FE at BHphoto, Amazon, Adorama, BestBuy. Amazon Germany. Calumetphoto.de. WexUK. Jessops.