Sony 85mm f/1.8

Full-Frame E-Mount FE

Sample Images   Intro   Format   Compatibility

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Sony 85mm f/1.8

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 (covers full-frame and APS-C, 67mm filters, 13.1 oz./372g, 2.6'/0.8m close focus, about $598) 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, non-USA, store demo or used lens. Get yours only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

 

September 2017   Sony   Sony Lenses   Minolta Lenses   Zeiss   Canon   Nikon   All Reviews

Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM

Why Fixed Lenses Take Better Pictures

 

Sample Images

(more throughout the review)

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Quiet Green Grass

Quiet Green Grass, 01 August 2017, 6:30PM. Sony A9, Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 at f/8 at 1/50 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger or full-resolution file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display the full resolution files properly).

 

Katie Sleeping

Katie sleeping, 22 September 2017, 7:03AM. Sony A9, Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 at f/1.8 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 3,200, Perfectly Clear. bigger or full-resolution file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display the full resolution files properly).

 

Katie Sleeping

1,200 × 900 pixel crop from above. Sharp enough for you?

 

Introduction

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This Sony 85mm f/1.8 is a flyweight full-frame normal lens. It's great for people who want to carry as little as possible. it weighs less than one-quarter as much as the beastly ZEISS T✻ FE 85mm f/1.4, costs one-sixth as much, and takes the same pictures under real-world conditions.

It's also a fast f/1.8 for great results in low light. It's ideal for people who understand that the whole point of a mirrorless camera is small size and light weight. This is a small, non-imposing lens for great grab shots.

It's sharp, fast, has no distortion and has great bokeh.

 

Good

● Weightless.

● Small.

● Autofocuses over the entre frame on an A9.

● Fast f/1.8 aperture for really low light.

 

Bad

● Auto focus isn't that fast and it makes a little bit of noise.

● Manual focus ring is electronic, not direct mechanical.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.8

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. bigger.

 

Format

Top   Samples   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specifications   USA Version   Performance

Recommendations

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

It also works great APS-C cameras, on which you may make the usual inferences.

 

Compatibility

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Specifications   USA Version   Performance

Recommendations

This works on all Sony E-mount cameras, full-frame and APS-C crop-sensor. This includes all the variations of NEX, A9-, A7-, A6xxx and A5xxx series cameras.

It will not work on any Sony A-mount DSLR or any Minolta MAXXUM 35mm SLR of any kind. Those use the old A mount which was actually the Minolta MAXXUM mount from 1987.

 

Specifications

Top   Samples   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specifications   USA Version   Performance

Recommendations

rated 13.1 oz./371g,

13.140 oz. (372.5g) actual measured.

 

Name

Sony 85mm f/1.8

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. bigger.

Sony calls this the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8:

    FE: Full-frame coverage, E-mount.

It's also model number SEL50F18F.

 

Optics

Sony 85mm f/1.8 internal construction

Sony 50/1.8 internal construction. Aspherical element. bigger.

6 elements in 5 groups.

1 aspherical element.

Mutlicoated.

 

Diaphragm

Sony 85mm f/1.8 internal construction

Sony 50/1.8. bigger.

7 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/22.

The diaphragm is silent as it operates on a silent camera.

 

Aperture Ring

No.

 

Focal Length

85mm.

When used on APS-C, it sees the same angle of view as a 75mm lens sees when used on a full-frame or 35mm camera, which is actually a perfect normal lens on APS-C.

See also Crop Factor.

 

Angle of View

47º diagonal on full-frame.

32º diagonal on APS-C.

 

Autofocus

Unit focus; the optical tube moves in and out inside the outer barrel.

The filter ring moves in and out as focussed, but it doesn't rotate.

No focus-lock button.

 

Focus Scale

No.

 

Infinity Focus Stop

No.

 

Depth of Field Scale

No.

 

Infrared Focus Index

No.

 

Close Focus

1.5 feet (0.45 meters).

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:7.1 (0.14×).

 

Filters

Plastic 49 mm filter thread.

 

Hood

Sony ALC-DH146 hood

Sony ALC-SH146 hood for 85mm f/1.8. bigger.

Plastic bayonet ALC-SH146 hood included.

 

Size

2.70" maximum diameter × 2.34" extension from flange.

68.5 mm maximum diameter × 59.5 mm extension from flange.

 

Weight

6.6 oz. (186g).

 

Quality

Made in China.

 

Announced

March 2016.

 

Included

Lens.

ALC-F49S front and ALC-R1EM rear cap.

ALC-SH146 hood.

 

Packaging

Sony 85mm f/1.8

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. bigger.

Bubble-wrapped lens in corrugated cardboard box.

 

Sony's Model Number

SEL50F18F.

 

Price, USA

$248, September 2017.

 

Performance

Top   Samples   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specifications   USA Version   Performance

Recommendations

 

Overall   Autofocus   Manual Focus

Breathing   Bokeh   Distortion   Ergonomics

Falloff   Filters   Flare & Ghosts

Lateral Color Fringes    Macro   Mechanics

Sharpness   Spherochromatism

Stabilization   Sunstars

 

Overall

Performance          top

The Sony 85mm f/1.8 feels dinky because it is, but it's also super light weight and gives great images for a lot less money than other lenses.

Its only vices are that it makes funny noises as it autofocuses, and that autofocus is slower than with other lenses.

Optically it's superb, as most 85mm f/1.8 lenses are.

 

Autofocus

Performance          top

Autofocus isn't very fast compared to other Sony lenses that cost many times more.

It makes a slight motor noise as it focuses; it's not silent as more expensive lenses tend to be. It brings back memories of Canon's 1980s lenses.

My A9 autofocuses over the entire frame.

The DNF mode for instant manual override in AFS mode works great on an A9.

 

Manual Focus

performance          top

Manual focus is with an electronic ring on the front half of the lens.

It's moderately damped. A fingertip will move it.

 

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.

The image from this 50/1.8 gets bigger as focussed more closely.

 

Bokeh

Performance          top

Bokeh, the feel or quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to how far out of focus they are, is beautiful. Nothing distracts:

Ryan at lunch, El Ranchito, La Quinta

Ryan at El Ranchito, 03 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 85mm f/1.8 wide-open at f/1.8 at 1/125 at Auto ISO 800, Perfectly Clear. bigger.

As always, if you want to throw the background as far out of focus as possible, shoot at f/1.8 and get as close as possible.

 

Distortion

Performance          top

The Sony 50/1.8 has no visible distortion, even uncorrected.

For critical use if shot without distortion correction, use a value of -0.7 in Photoshop's lens distortion filter at 3 meters to correct its tiny bit of barrel distortion

Most Sony cameras can correct distortion if you turn it on.

Distortion correction is OFF by default on my Sony A9, and I have the option to turn it on (MENU > Camera 1 > page 2/13 > Lens Comp. > Distortion Comp. > ON).

 

Ergonomics

Performance          top

Sony 85mm f/1.8

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. bigger.

No mysteries here: it's a small lens with but one control: an electronic focus ring.

This is not as good as a mechanical focus ring as on the 70-200/2.8 GM, but if you set your camera controls well, it works fine. It only works in certain modes.

 

Falloff

Performance          top

There is no significant falloff at any aperture, at least on most Sony cameras which correct it by default.

If you deliberately turn off the correction and there is a little bit of smooth falloff at f/1.8, and it's gone by f/2.8.

I've greatly exaggerated it by shooting a gray field and shown them against a gray background here; as you'll see at the f/1.8 images at Bokeh, Macro, Sharpness and Spherochromatism, it's invisible in actual shooting.

 

Sony 50/1.8 falloff on full-frame at infinity.

 
f/1.8
f/2.8
f/4
Corrected by default Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 falloff Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 falloff Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 falloff
Uncorrected if you deactivate the automatic correction Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 falloff Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 falloff Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 falloff

© 2017 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

Filters, use with

performance          top

No problem; 49mm is a more than an ample filter size for the tiny optics of this lens. Even on full-frame you can stack several 49mm filters before you see any vignetting.

Go ahead and use any normal filters and thick rotating polarizer and grad filters; there's no problem.

 

Flare & Ghosts

Performance          top

I can't see any ghosts. See samples at Sunstars.

It has less flare and fewer ghosts than the Sony Zeiss FE 85mm f/1.4 because this is a simpler optical design with fewer air-glass surfaces.

 

Lateral Color Fringes

Performance          top

There are no color fringes as shot on my Sony A9, which corrects them by default.

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Sunstars

No lateral color. bigger or camera-original file.

 

Macro

Performance          top

This lens gets exactly as close as every other standard 85mm lens since the 1970s. It also gets as close as the $1,500 Sony ZEISS FE 85mm f/1.4.

It's not close, but it is sharp:

 

At f/8

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Macro Performance

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 21 September 2017. Full-frame Sony A9, Sony 85mm f/1.8 at f/8 at close focus distance at Auto ISO 100. bigger or full-resolution © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolution images properly).

 

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Macro Performance

1,200 × 900 pixel crop from above. bigger or full-resolution © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolution images properly).

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 × 30" (50 × 75cm).

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 × 60" (1 × 1.5 meters).

 

Wide-open at f/1.8

It loses a lot of contrast at the close-focus distance at f/1.8, and spherochromatism makes it tough to get good real-world results due to the colored fringes on anything not in perfect focus:

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Macro Performance

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 21 September 2017. Full-frame Sony A9, Sony 85mm f/1.8 wide-open at f/1.8 at 1/2,000 at close focus distance at Auto ISO 100. bigger or full-resolution © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolution images properly).

 

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Macro Performance

1,200 × 900 pixel crop from above. bigger or full-resolution © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolution images properly).

This is great performance for a 85mm lens this close at f/1.8; it's super sharp and has no spherical aberration to lower contrast.

If you get perfect focus, spherochromatism isn't visible.

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 × 30" (50 × 75cm).

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 × 60" (1 × 1.5 meters).

 

Mechanical Quality

Performance          top

 

Sony 85mm f/1.8

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. bigger.

It's a mostly plastic lens with glass glass and a metal mount.

 

Included Hood

Plastic bayonet.

 

Front Bumper

None.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Bayonet Mount

Plastic.

 

Front Barrel

Moving part that draws forward as focussed more closely: plastic.

 

Second Barrel

Fixed part in front of focus ring: metal.

 

Focus Ring

Plastic.

 

Rear Barrel

Plastic.

 

Identity & Markings

Printed inside filter ring, printed on top of barrel and sticker on bottom.

 

Internals

Plastic.

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

No.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Serial Number

Printed on sticker glued on bottom of barrel.

 

Date Code

None found on lens, but it is marked on the box. Be sure the serial number in the middle of the number below the second bar code on the box matches the serial number printed on the sticker on the bottom of the lens.

Sony 85mm f/1.8

Box, Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. bigger.

 

Noises When Shaken

Strong clattering.

It sounds like a lot is floating around, which is odd because it's a much simpler lens than the Sony Zeiss FE 85mm f/1.4 which is as solid as a rock. I suspect this is simply because this lens is made to sloppier tolerances.

 

Made in

Sony 85mm f/1.8

Sony FE 85mm f/1.8. bigger.

China.

 

Sharpness

Performance          top

It's sharp and contrasty from edge-to-edge at every aperture, which is better than most other 85mm f/1.8 lenses. This is because this lens uses a newer aspherical design compared to most other 50/1.8s which have uses the same classic double-Gauss design since the 1970s.

 

At f/1.8

Here's a shot wide-open at f/1.8, which is sharp corner-to-corner. Remember of course that very little is in focus at f/1.8:

Seven Palms Oasis, La Quinta

Seven Palms Oasis, 01 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 85mm f/1.8 wide-open at f/1.8 at 1/1,600 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger, full-resolution © file or camera-original © file.

 

Laguna Beach, CA

Laguna Beach, California, 20 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 85mm f/1.8 at f/1.8 at 1/1,600 at ISO 50, as shot. bigger or camera-original © file.

Look at the camera-original © file at 100% on your computer and you will see that everything is super-sharp from corner-to-corner, but that the left side is softer. This is simply sloppy Chinese manufacturing (poor centering). Every sample will vary; don't worry about it. In this case, this lens is a little off-center and the field isn't perfectly flat. For normal use you'll never notice, like in the palm shot above, because real subjects aren't flat. If you want to split hairs, then get the Sony Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8 or Sony Zeiss FE 85mm f/1.4 which are better made, but cost many times more. Dollar for dollar, this is a sharper lens.

Of course only fools shoot in daylight at f/1.8 when they want everything sharp. Shoot at f/8 as you usually will and it's magnificent:

 

At f/8

There isn't anything sharper than a 85mm lens at f/8:

Seven Palms Oasis, La Quinta

Seven Palms Oasis, 01 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 85mm f/1.8 at f/8 at 1/80 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Seven Palms Oasis, La Quinta

Laguna Beach, California, 20 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 85mm f/1.8 at f/8 at 1/80 at ISO 50, as shot. bigger or camera-original © file.

 

Sony 85mm f/1.8 MTF

MTF at f/1.8 at 10 cyc/mm and 30 cyc/mm. bigger.

 

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's 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.

The Sony 50 1.8 has a moderate amount of spherochromatism, seen as greenish-cyan fringes on the far (left) side and red fringes on the near (right) side of focus on this watch face:

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Macro Performance

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 21 September 2017. Full-frame Sony A9, Sony 85mm f/1.8 wide-open at f/1.8 at 1/3,200 at close focus distance at Auto ISO 100. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolution images properly).

 

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Macro Performance

1,200 × 900 pixel crop from above. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolution images properly).

The red and cyan color fringes are from spherochromatism in areas that aren't in perfect focus.

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 × 30" (50 × 75cm).

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 × 60" (1 × 1.5 meters).

 

Image Stabilization

Performance          top

It has no built-in optical stabilizer, but with sensor-shift stabilization in my A9 I easily can hand-hold it at 1/8:

Bar, El Ranchito, La Quinta

Bar, El Ranchito, 03 August 2017. Sony A9, Sony 85mm f/1.8 at f/7.1 at 1/8 at ISO 400, Perfectly Clear. bigger or full-resolution or camera-original © file.

 

Sunstars

Performance          top

The rounded blades thankfully are only rounded at large apertures, and reasonably straight at smaller apertures so we can get sunstars. Click any to enlarge:

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Sunstars

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Sunstars

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Sunstars

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Sunstars

Sony 85mm f/1.8 Sunstars

Click any to enlarge.

 

Recommendations

Top   Samples   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specifications   USA Version   Performance

Recommendations

This is a swell little lens for just about anything. You can pay more, but you won't get better pictures. This is the difference between wanting great pictures (get this lens) or wanting a great camera to show your friends. The Sony Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8 and Sony Zeiss FE 85mm f/1.4 are better lenses in the lab, but cost much more and take the same pictures when you actually take them out of the lab and into the real word.

The very best protective filter is the Multicoated Hoya HD3 49mm UV which uses hardened glass and repels dirt and fingerprints.

For less money, the BW 49mm 010 is an excellent filter, as are the multicoated B+W 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.

I got my 50 1.8 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 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, non-USA, store demo or used lens. 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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Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

 

 

10-21 Sep 2017