Sony 85mm f/1.4

FE Full-Frame GM (2016-)

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Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations

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Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM (77mm filters, 28.9 oz./820g., 2.7'/0.85m close focus, about $1,798). bigger. I got mine at B&H. I'd also get it at Adorama, at Amazon, or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to my personally-approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Sony does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

February 2017   Sony   Sony Lenses   Zeiss   Nikon   Canon   Fuji   LEICA   All Reviews

 

Sample Images

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Compatibility   Specifications   

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

Pretty darn sharp wide open; remember this is a round tree trunk so the sides aren't in focus:

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Sample Image

Canary Island Palm Trunk, 15 February 2017. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at f/1.4 at 1/2,500 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file. The trunk is round and far from flat, so very little is in perfect focus. The color fringes on out-of-focus highlights are spherochromatism.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Sample Image

Canary Island Palm Trunk, 15 February 2017. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at f/8 at 1/100 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file. The trunk is round and far from flat, so very little is in perfect focus. The color fringes on out-of-focus highlights are spherochromatism.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Sample Image

Canary Island Palm Tree, 15 February 2017. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at f/1.4 at 1/6,400 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file. The tree is not flat, so very little is in focus.

This is great for f/1.4; it's super-sharp without any of the usual spherical aberration we'd see with older 85mm f/1.4 designs.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Sample Image

Canary Island Palm Tree, 15 February 2017. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at f/8 at 1/100 at Auto ISO 125. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Introduction

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Compatibility   Specifications   

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

Good   Bad   Missing

Adorama Pays Top Dollar for Used Gear

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I buy only from these approved sources. I can't vouch for ads below.

This Sony 85/1.4 has superb optics in a reasonably well made package, with a high price to match.

Not only does it have wonderful optics, it has a focus lock button right under your left thumb for very handy recomposition.

 

Good

● Ultrasharp at every setting, especially f/1.4.

● Excellent bokeh.

● Fast f/1.4 for low light or very soft backgrounds.

● Very fast and essentially silent autofocus.

● Focus lock button.

● Slider to enable or disable aperture-ring click stops.

 

Bad

● $1,800.

● Big and heavy.

 

Missing

● No image stabilizer — but most Sony cameras do this internally with sensor shifting.

● No focus or depth-of-field scales.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM. bigger.

 

Format

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Compatibility   Specifications   

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

This is a full-frame lens and I'm reviewing it as such.

It works great on APS-C cameras and you may make the usual inferences for them.

 

Compatibility

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Compatibility   Specifications   

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

This works on all Sony E-mount cameras, full-frame and crop-sensor. This includes all the NEX, A7, A6xxx and A5xxx series cameras.

It will not work on any Minolta MAXXUM or Sony 35mm SLRs or DSLRs. Those use the old A mount which was actually the Minolta MAXXUM mount from 1987.

 

Specifications

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Compatibility   Specifications   

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Name

Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Sony 85mm f/1.4. bigger.

Sony calls this the FE85mm F1.4 GM:

    FE: Full-frame coverage, E-mount.

    GM: G Master, which is meaningless other than meaning that the lens is high-priced.

 

Optics

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Lens Construction

Sony 85/1.4 construction. ED and "Extreme" aspherical elements. bigger.

11 elements in 8 groups.

1 aspherical element.

3 extra-low dispersion elements.

Sony Nano AR Coating.

 

Diaphragm

Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Sony 85mm f/1.4. bigger.

11 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/16.

 

Focal Length

85mm.

When used on APS-C, it sees the same angle of view as a 130mm lens sees when used on a full-frame camera.

See also Crop Factor.

 

Angle of View

29º diagonal on full-frame.

19° diagonal on APS-C.

 

Autofocus

Internal focus.

No external movement as focussed, so no air or dust is sucked in.

 

Close Focus

Autofocus: 2.79' (0.85 meters).

Manual Focus: 2.62' (0.8 meters).

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:8.3 (0.12 ×).

 

Stabilizer

None.

 

Filters

77mm filter thread.

 

Hood

Sony ALC-SH142 hood for 85mm f/1.4

Sony ALC-SH142 hood for 85mm f/1.4. bigger.

 

Case

Case, Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Included padded nylon case. bigger.

 

Size

3.54" maximum diameter × 4.23" extension from flange.

89.5 mm maximum diameter × 107.5 mm extension from flange.

 

Weight

28.92 oz. (820 g).

 

Included

Lens (SEL85F14GM).

ALC-F77S front and ALC-R1EM rear cap.

ALC-SH142 hood.

Case & strap.

 

Announced

February 2016.

 

Packaging

Box, Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Box, Sony 85mm f/1.4. bigger.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Box, Sony 85mm f/1.4. bigger.

Corrugated cardboard box.

Lens in bubble wrap inside included padded nylon fabric case.

 

Sony Model Number

SEL85F14GM.

 

Price, USA

$1,798, February 2017.

 

Performance

Top   Sample Images   Intro   Format   

Compatibility   Specifications   

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

 

Overall   Autofocus   Manual Focus   Breathing

Bokeh   Distortion   Ergonomics   Falloff   Filters

Flare & Ghosts   Lateral Color Fringes   Macro

Mechanical Quality   Sharpness

Spherochromatism   Stabilization   Sunstars

 

Overall

Performance          top

This Sony 85 1.4 is the real thing; a modern interpretation of a classic professional staple for your Sony mirrorless camera.

 

Autofocus

Performance          top

Autofocus is fast, and completely silent unless you hold it to your ear.

There is a single focus lock button that's a Godsend; hold it to lock focus.

 

Manual Focus

performance          top

Manual focus is electronic; the focus ring is only connected to the camera's computers.

Slide the switch to MF and you're in Manual Focus.

On most Sony cameras, set "DMF" as the focus mode (usually via your Fn button) and you'll have instant manual override just by turning the ring in what otherwise works like the AFS mode.

 

Focus Breathing

Performance          top

Focus breathing is the image changing size as focused in and out. It's important to cinematographers because it looks funny if the image changes size as focus gets pulled back and forth between actors. If the lens does this, the image "breathes" by growing and contracting slightly as the dialog goes back and forth.

I don't see any breathing, making this ideal for movies — if you can get around the odd electronic focus ring. I doubt you'll get good results with a pro follow-focus rig since the ring isn't actually connected to the focus mechanism and therefore won't reproduce the same focus as you return the ring to the same spot.

 

Bokeh

Performance          top

Bokeh, the feel or quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to how far out of focus they are, is excellent. Backgrounds just melt away, but I expect this as that's the whole purpose of an 85/1.4 today.

Here's a sample from headshot distance:

Sony 85 1.4 Bokeh

Davis 6250 weather station, 15 February 2017. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolutions images properly).

If you look at the camera-original © file you'll see color fringes on the out-of-focus parts of the white plastic housing of the weather station; this is spherochromatism which is typical for 85mm f/1.4 lenses.

 

Distortion

Performance          top

The Sony 85/1.4 GM has no visible distortion, even without most Sony camera's automatic correction.

If you deactivate the camera's automatic correction, there is an invisible amount of pincushion distortion, which is easy to correct with Photoshop's lens distortion filter for scientific uses.

These aren't facts or specifications, they are the results of my research that requires hours of photography and calculations on the resulting data.

Correction factor with uncorrected images, full frame

Correction factor as shot on A7II with its Correction ON, full frame

- 0.60
± 0.00

© 2017 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Ergonomics

Performance          top

This is a big, fat, heavy lens, and works as we expect.

Focus is an electronic encoder ring. It turns freely, and what it does depends on how you have your camera set.

The aperture ring is a mushy electronic ring. It has third-stop clicks, with every click as deep as every other, and there is a slide switch on the bottom to defeat the clicks.

Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Sony 85mm f/1.4. bigger.
Sony 85mm f/1.4. bigger.

 

Falloff

Performance          top

Falloff is invisible with the camera's default "Shading Correction" ON.

 

Filters, use with

performance          top

There's no need for thin filters.

Go ahead and use your standard rotating polarizer and grad filters.

I can use a few standard 77mm filters and get no vignetting on full frame.

 

Flare & Ghosts

Performance          top

In spite of Sony's claimed "nano" coating, ghosting performance is relatively poor. It has more ghosts than other modern lenses, but it won't be a problem unless you're putting the direct disc of the sun in your image mid-day like this.

Many people want ghosts, and even use software to add them back in to modern lenses like this!

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Ghosts

Airy Palm Dawn, 15 February 2017. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at f/1.4 at 1/5,000 at Auto ISO 100. bigger.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Ghosts

Airy Palm Dawn, 15 February 2017. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at f/8 at 1/320 at Auto ISO 100. bigger.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Ghosts

Airy Palm Dawn, 15 February 2017. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at f/16 at 1/100 at Auto ISO 100. bigger.

 

Lateral Color Fringes

Performance          top

There are no color fringes as shot on Sony cameras, most of which by default correct for any that may be there.

 

Macro

Performance          top

Macro performance is relatively poor; it gets no closer than the world's first 85/1.4 from 1981; and that original Nikon 85/1.4 actually has a slightly higher maximum macro magnification ratio than this lens, even if they have the same 0.85 meter close-focus distance. Any kit lens gets closer, but at least this 85/1.4 is sharp at all distances.

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Sample Image

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 15 February 2017. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at close-focus distance at f/8 at 1/640 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Sample Image

1,200 x 900 pixel crop from above. bigger or camera-original © file.

If this crop is about 12" (30cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 40 x 60" (1 x 1.5 meters). You're seeing the actual texture of the watch face and case.

If this crop is about 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 20 x 30" (50 x 75 cm).

At f/1.4 it's pretty sharp, although spherochromatism will cause color fringes on most things, since almost nothing is in perfect focus at macro distances:

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Sample Image

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 31 January 2017. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at close-focus distance at f/1.4 at 1/800 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Sample Image

1,200 x 900 pixel crop from above. bigger or camera-original © file.

Again, if this crop is about 12" (30cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 40 x 60" (1 x 1.5 meters), and if this crop is about 6" (15cm) wide on your screen, then the complete image printed at this same extreme magnification would be about 20 x 30" (50 x 75 cm).

 

Mechanical Quality

Performance          top

Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Sony 85mm f/1.4. bigger.

This Sony 85 is made reasonably well, with both metal and plastic on the outside.

 

Hood

The hood is all plastic, but it's pretty solid and has a dedicated lock button as well as a very thick rubber bumper.

 

Front Bumper

None on the lens itself.

 

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Bayonet Mount

Plastic.

 

Front Barrel

Metal.

 

Focus Ring

Rubber-covered plastic.

 

Mid Barrel

Section with focus lock button: metal.

 

Aperture Ring

Metal.

 

Rear Barrel

Plastic.

 

Identity

Little raised silver-lettered plate glued to top of barrel.

Dark gray paint on bottom rear of barrel.

 

Internals

Seems like mostly metal.

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

Yes.

 

Mount

Dull chromed metal.

 

Markings

Printed.

 

Serial Number

Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Sony 85mm f/1.4. bigger.

A sticker glued to the bottom of the barrel - not an acceptable way to serialize any product that sells for more than $10.

 

Date Code

None found.

 

Noises When Shaken

Almost silent.

 

Made in

Thailand, which is shamefully hidden in black letters molded into the black plastic flare guard at the back of the lens. It's only visible on close inspection with the lens off a camera and no rear cap on the lens.

Sony puts a deceptively legible silver-on-black sticker on the outside of the lens near the certifications and model numbers that says Sony Corp., Japan.

 

Sharpness

Performance          top

This 85 is ultra sharp at every setting everywhere in the image. You pay a premium for this.

The only limitations will be your skill as a photographer.

Sony 85/1.4 MTF

Sony 85/1.4 MTF at f/1.4 and at f/8 (10 cyc/mm and 30 cyc/mm).

 

Spherochromatism

Performance          top

Spherochromatism, also called "color bokeh" by laymen, can cause colored fringes on out-of-focus highlights, usually seen as green fringes on backgrounds and magenta fringes on foregrounds with fast, long lenses shot wide open.

It is an advanced form of chromatic aberration in a different dimension than lateral color. Spherochromatism is most commonly seen in fast lenses of moderate focal length when shooting contrasty items at full aperture. It goes away as stopped down. Most 85mm f/1.4 lenses are loaded with spherochromatism.

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Spherochromatism

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Spherochromatism. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at f/1.4 at 1/500 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Spherochromatism

1,200 x 900 pixel crop from above. See how the white letters take on color fringes when they're out of focus? Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at f/1.4 at 1/500 at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file.

This Sony 85/1.4 has visible spherochromatism, which is very common in 85/1.4 lenses, but oddly instead of the usual green/magenta, background highlights tend to fringe towards cyan and foreground highlights tend towards red.

This is great for portraits since it helps smooth blue sky and foliage, but bad for cinematography since it can lead to weird colored fringes on out-of-focus bright areas and points of light.

 

Image Stabilization

Performance          top

It has no image stabilization, however most Sony cameras have built-in sensor-shift stabilization.

For instance, on a Sony A7 Mk II it works very well down to 1/15 hand-held due to the camera's own internal stabilization.

 

Sunstars

Performance          top

Sony 85mm f/1.4 Ghosts

Airy Palm Dawn, 15 February 2017. Sony A7II, Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM at f/16 at 1/100 at Auto ISO 100. bigger.

Due to its 11 rounded diaphragm blades, this 85/1.4 makes no sunstars on brilliant points of light. Straight blades are much better.

For magnificent sunstars with 11 diaphragm blades, the LEICA APO-SUMMICRON-M ASPH is worlds better.

 

Compared

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Compatibility   Specifications   

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

Nikon vs. Sony 85mm f/1.4

 

Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AI-s and Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM. bigger.

The 85mm f/1.4 has been a professional staple since Nikon invented the world's first 85/1.4 in 1981. Obviously the original Nikon AI-s shown above is smaller and lighter, as well as being much better made out of all metal to much tighter tolerances.

All 85/1.4s I've tested have great bokeh.

The first Nikon and most other 85/1.4s have similar performance, which is exquisite sharpness stopped down a little, but lower contrast wide-open at f/1.4 due to spherical aberration

Newer optical designs like the Nikon 85/1.4G and this Sony are now ultra-sharp even at f/1.4.

There isn't really any comparison if you shoot Sony, since this is the only 85/1.4 that works properly on Sony mirrorless cameras. I don't suggest lens adapters, they usually are flaky.

If you're a cheapskate and don't mind futzing around with multiple manual settings just trying to take each picture, sure, an adapter and the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 AI-s will get you very similar portrait results for less money.

 

Usage

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Compatibility   Specifications   

Performance   Compared

Usage   Recommendations

Sony 85mm f/1.4 FE GM

Sony 85mm f/1.4. bigger.

The unmarked round button is the focus lock button. Hold it to hold focus, for instance, if you want to recompose.

Leave the slide switch at AF (autofocus). Use MF, Manual Focus, only if you want to disable autofocus.

On most Sony cameras, set "DMF" as the focus mode (usually via your Fn button) and you'll have instant manual override just by turning the ring in what otherwise works like the AFS mode.

The CLICK ON/OFF button on the bottom disables or activates the third-stop clicks for the aperture. Leave this ON, except for cine use if you want to make smooth, silent aperture adjustments.

 

Recommendations

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Usage   Recommendations

 

This is a serious lens for people who need either high speed for dim light, or want very soft backgrounds for portraits.

 

Protective Filter

The very best protective filter is the 77mm Hoya multicoated HD3 UV which uses hardened glass and repels dirt and fingerprints, and is also multicoated.

For less money, the B+W 77mm 010 is an excellent filter, as are the multicoated version and the basic multicoated Hoya filters, but the Hoya HD3 is the toughest and the best.

Filters last a lifetime, so you may as well get the best. The Hoya HD3 stays cleaner than the others since it repels oil and dirt.

 

Where I got mine

I got mine at B&H. I'd also get it at Adorama, at Amazon, or at Crutchfield.

 

Thank you!

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Sony does not seal its boxes in any way, so never buy at retail or any other source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, returned, store demo or used camera. I use the stores I do because they ship from secure remote warehouses where no one gets to touch your new camera before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection.

Thanks for helping me help you!

Ken, Mrs. Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

 

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19-20 February 2017