Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro

FE G OSS Full-Frame E-Mount

Sample Images   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specifications   Performance   Recommendations

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Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 G OSS (covers full-frame and APS-C, 62mm filters, 21.3 oz./603g, 1:1 macro close focus at 0.9'/0.28m, about $998) 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.

 

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

Why Fixed Lenses Take Better Pictures

 

Sample Images

(more throughout the review)

Top   Samples   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specs   Performance   Recommendations

 

At f/9:

Sony 90 2.8 Macro Sample Image File

Spanish Tile, 10 November 2017. Sony A9, Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 at f/9 at 1/250 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger, full-resolution © file or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display the full resolution files properly).

 

Wide-open at f/2.8:

Sony 90 2.8 Macro Sample Image File

Spanish Tile, 10 November 2017. Sony A9, Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 at f/9 at 1/2,000 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger, full-resolution © file or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display the full resolution files properly).

As we expect for a macro lens, it's flawlessly sharp even wide-open. If any of the sides seem less sharp it's because I'm hand-holding this and my image plane isn't parallel to the tile - so some parts are out of focus.

 

Sony 90 2.8 Macro Sample Image File

Palm Tree, 10 November 2017. Sony A9, Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 at f/2.8 at 1/800 at Auto ISO 100, Perfectly Clear. bigger, full-resolution © file or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely can display the full resolution files properly).

Even wide-open at f/2.8 it's sharp corner to corner, so long as it's in perfect focus (this is a three-dimensional tree).

 

Introduction

Top   Samples   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specs   Performance   Recommendations

Good   Bad

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This Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS is the most user-friendly macro lens ever made. Its unique autofocus system is specifically designed for use on mirrorless cameras, and its push-pull AF/MF switching system and AF lock button make it a dream to use, unlike other macro lenses which are usually cumbersome to focus and to handle.

There is no AF/MF switch — just push the focus ring forward or back to go from one mode to the other. It works much better than any of the Tokina lenses that invented this switching mechanism. In this Sony lens the focus and switching are all electronic, and super fast and smooth and completely free of the mechanical glitches that always plague Tokina's ATX-PRO AF/MF switching system.

This Sony lens' internal focus system is super-fast and it's silent — although it's not instantaneous if you have to go from one end of the focus range to the other.

There is a manual focus scale which tells you the exact distance and magnification ratio. Brilliant!

This 90 2.8 has flawless optics — but we expect that since every 90mm f/2.8 macro lens has had extraordinary optics for the past 40 years. If you want to see just how sharp a prime lens can be, a 90mm macro is the way to see it.

 

Good

Fast and silent autofocus.

Optical Image Stabilizer.

Silent diaphragm operation.

Autofocuses over the entire frame on an A9.

The world's best macro lens autofocus system.

The world's best macro lens auto/manual focus switching system.

Spectacularly sharp optics.

Great bokeh.

No distortion.

Focus Lock button.

 

Bad

Only stops down to f/22, which is a pity as the best macro shots of most things other than test charts are made at f/32.

Non-compensating aperture display: displays the same aperture as focussed to 1:1 instead of the effective apertures. This is not a problem with Auto exposure and prevents Sony from getting returns from inexperienced users wondering why their f/2.8 lens only goes to f/5 at 1:1.

You'll never see any problems shot normally, but if you manually meter and set ambient or manual flash exposures externally you will get less exposure as focussed more closely.

 

Format

Top   Samples   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specs   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

Top   Samples   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specs   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

Specs   Performance   Recommendations

 

Name

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8. bigger.

Sony calls this the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 G OSS.

    FE: Full-frame coverage, E-mount.

    G: One of Sony's "Good" lenses for E-mount cameras.

    OSS: Optical Steady Shot Image Stabilization.

It's Sony model number SEL90M28G.

 

Optics

Sony 90 2.8 construction

Sony 90 2.8 internal construction. ED, Aspherical and Super ED elements. bigger.

15 elements in 11 groups.

2 elements made of ED extra-low dispersion glass to help reduce secondary axial chromatic aberration. One of these two is what Sony calls "Super ED" glass.

1 aspherical element.

Mutlicoated.

 

Diaphragm

9 rounded blades.

Stops down to f/22.

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

 

Aperture Ring

No.

 

Focal Length

90mm.

When used on APS-C, it sees the same angle of view as a 135mm lens sees when used on a full-frame or 35mm camera.

See also Crop Factor.

 

Angle of View

27º diagonal on full-frame.

17º diagonal on APS-C.

 

Autofocus

Focus is internal. Nothing moves externally as focussed.

Soy says it uses a "Dual DDSSM (Direct Drive Super Sonic wave Motor) drive.

Focus is entirely electronic; both auto and manual focus work with a genuinely silent internal motor.

Focus-lock button.

 

Focus Scale

Yes!

 

Infinity Focus Stop

No.

 

Depth of Field Scale

No.

 

Infrared Focus Index

No.

 

Close Focus

0.92 feet (0.28 meters).

 

Maximum Reproduction Ratio

1:1 (1.0×).

 

Filters

Plastic 62 mm filter thread.

 

Hood

Sony 90 2.8 case

Included ALC-SH138 hood. bigger.

Plastic bayonet ALC-SH138 hood included.

 

Case

Sony 90 2.8 case

Included sack. bigger.

Unpadded vinyl drawstring sack included.

 

Size

3.11" maximum diameter × 5.14" extension from flange.

79 mm maximum diameter × 130.5 mm extension from flange.

 

Weight

21.257 oz. (602.65g), actual measured.

Rated 21.3 oz. (602g).

 

Quality

Made in China.

 

Announced

04 March 2015.

 

Included

Lens.

ALC-F62S front and ALC-R1EM rear cap.

ALC-SH138 hood.

 

Packaging

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8. bigger.

Bubble-wrapped lens in vinyl sack in corrugated cardboard box.

 

Sony's Model Number

SEL90M28G.

 

Price, USA

$998, 21 November 2017.

$1,098, 16 November 2017.

 

Performance

Top   Samples   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specs   Performance   Recommendations

 

Overall   Autofocus   Manual Focus

Breathing   Bokeh   Distortion   Ergonomics

Exposure  Falloff   Filters   Flare & Ghosts

Lateral Color Fringes    Macro   Mechanics

Sharpness   Spherochromatism

Stabilization   Sunstars

 

Overall

Performance          top

The Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS is optically superb, as most 90mm f/2.8 lenses are, and it has a brilliantly-designed focus system for the best macro user experience ever created.

 

Autofocus

Performance          top

Autofocus is fast, and completely silent.

While fast and silent, if it has to move all the way in or out between macro and far distances, it will take a moment. If the AF system doesn't have far to go, as is the case with normal, non-macro shooting, it's essentially instantaneous.

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. Just pull it towards you and voilà, you're in manual focus.

When you do pull it into manual focus, it immediately goes to the distance shown on the manual focus scale; probably the last distance to which it was set when you last used manual focus mode.

The manual focus scale means nothing while in autofocus. It doesn't move, but you can turn it with your fingers. When you pull back into manual focus, it refocuses immediately to the distance on the scale. In other words, the manual focus scale only matters while in manual focus mode and is ignored in autofocus.

If you go to AF and refocus, it returns to the same distance when clicked back to manual focus. It's like a manual focus preset, except that you can't lock the position of the scale.

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

The manual focus ring is geared very fast. It's easy to flick it from far to near quickly but it's more difficult for making precise adjustments.

 

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 90/2.8 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:

Sony 90 2.8 Bokeh

Davis 6250 weather station, 9:42AM, 15 November 2017. bigger or camera-original © file to explore on your computer (mobile devices rarely display full resolution images properly).

As always, if you want to throw the background as far out of focus as possible, shoot at f/2.8 and get as close as possible.

 

Distortion

Performance          top

The Sony 90/2.8 has no measurable distortion at 10 feet (3 meters), even uncorrected.

Bravo!

 

Ergonomics

Performance          top

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8. bigger.

No mysteries here: it has an electronic focus ring, an AF/MF slide switch and a big, unmarked focus lock button.

The focus lock button is a huge help for normal shooting to hold focus and recompose — although to be honest on a camera like the A9 that focuses all over the entire frame, this isn't as necessary as it was with DSLRs that only focussed in the center.

 

Exposure

Performance          top

Camera indications don't reflect the fact that the lens' actual aperture becomes smaller as focussed towards 1:1.

This only matters if shooting with manual exposure or under manual studio strobes, in which case the actual exposure will become less as focussed more closely. Even though the camera reads the same aperture, the effective aperture drops a stop or two as you get to 1:1.

This doesn't matter for shooting using the camera's built-in meters. Sony keeps the indicated aperture constant as focussed to reduce returns from people who don't understand that f/2.8 macro lenses are usually effectively only f/5 maximum at 1:1!

So long as you use the camera's own flash and ambient metering and don't change focus distance after setting a manual exposure, everything is fine.

 

Falloff

Performance          top

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

See the f/2.8 samples at the top. No problem.

 

Filters, use with

performance          top

No problem; 62mm is a more than an ample filter size for the optics of this lens. Even on full-frame you can stack several 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

If you point it directly into the sun and have a dark object on the opposite side of the photo to see potential ghosts, you can see a couple of green blobs, even with a filter. This is very good performance.

You won't see any flare or ghosts in actual use.

 

Lateral Color Fringes

Performance          top

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

 

Macro

Performance          top

This lens focuses up to 1:1, meaning the image on the sensor is the same size as your sensor. What means when you show that image, even on your iPhone, it will be bigger than life.

As with all macro lenses, the depth-of-field is only a a few atoms deep at f/2.8 at 1:1. In this photo of a watch, there is almost nothing in focus. I shot this hand-held; even if I carefully got the watch parallel to the image sensor, I if I get the face in focus, the hands and date displays will not be in focus.

Anything not in perfect focus may have color fringes due to spherochromatism; this is normal and goes away when in perfect focus.

In most macro photography of real (not flat) objects we shoot at f/22, at which we still get very little in focus. The keys to macrophotography are to get plenty of light, preferably from electronic flash which lets you shoot at f/22 and stops any camera or subject motion, and then do everything you can to get the subject to lie in a flat plane. If shooting butterflies, pro bug shooters spend a lot of time trying to get the wings flat. They put live bugs in the refrigerator to slow them down for this — honest.

Presuming you get perfect focus it's super-sharp, even at f/2.8. This lens' optics are magnificent; the heard part is getting everything you want sharp to lie in the same plane.

 

At f/2.8

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Macro Performance

Cancel Flieger Automat 800/2843, 10 November 2017. Full-frame Sony A9, Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS wide-open at f/2.8 at 1/125 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 FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS 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). This is hand held and I'm not exactly parallel, so only the watch logo is in any sort of good 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).

This is great performance for an 90mm lens this close at f/2.8; it's super sharp and has no spherical aberration to lower contrast.

If you don't get perfect focus, spherochromatism will be visible.

 

Mechanical Quality

Performance          top

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8. bigger.

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

 

Included Hood

Plastic bayonet.

 

Front Bumper

None.

 

Filter Threads

Plastic.

 

Hood Bayonet Mount

Plastic.

 

Front Barrel

Part ahead of focus ring: metal.

 

Focus Ring

Metal.

 

Rear Barrel

Metal.

 

Identity & Markings

Raised metallic lettering on top of barrel and sticker on bottom.

 

Internals

Mostly plastic.

 

Moisture Seal at Mount

No.

 

Mount

Chromed metal.

 

Serial Number

Printed on sticker glued on bottom of barrel - not exactly a classy way to do this.

 

Date Code

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

 

Noises When Shaken

Very minor clicking.

 

Made in

Thailand.

Sony hides this in black-on-black molded on the top of the plastic light shield on the back of the lens opposite the gold contacts that's only visible with the lens off a camera and without its rear cap. Sony shamefully puts a sticker that says SONY JAPAN on the bottom of the lens to confuse the issue.

 

Sharpness

Performance          top

As I showed at the top, it's flawlessly sharp and contrasty from corner-to-corner at every aperture. Look at the full-resolution files on your computer at 100% and you will see.

The only limitation to picture sharpness will be your skill as a photographer, especially at macro distances, where there is zero depth of field, even stopped down, with all macro lenses.

Sony 90/2.8 MTF

Sony's MTF chart at f/2.8 at 10 cyc/mm and 30 cyc/mm.

This is an insanely good claimed MTF.

 

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. 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 stopped down.

The Sony 90 2.8 has a moderate amount of spherochromatism, seen as yellow on the far (left) side and violet fringes on the near (right) side of focus on this watch face:

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Macro Performance

Kienzle Flieger Automat 800/2843, 10 November 2017. Full-frame Sony A9, Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS wide-open at f/2.8 at 1/1,600 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 FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS 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 magenta and green color fringes are from spherochromatism in areas that aren't in perfect focus. This is typical for a 90mm f/2.8 lens.

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

The built-in optical stabilizer works great, locking-down images for sharp shots at much slower shutter speeds than you'd expect —  however don't expect as much improvement at macro distances.

If you want sharp macro photos enough that you're buying a lens this good, you'll get much better results by using strobes or flash to stop any motion, and shoot at f/22 and try to position everything to lie parallel to the image plane.

 

Sunstars

Performance          top

The rounded blades prevent sunstars at most apertures. Even at f/22 there isn't much.

 

Recommendations

Top   Samples   Intro   Format   Compatibility

Specs   Performance   Recommendations

This is the best macro lens you can get for your Sony mirrorless camera. It is optically superior, and its autofocus and manual focus are superb.

I use a clear (UV) protective filter instead of a cap. I only use a cap when I throw this in my bag, otherwise I leave a clear filter on my lens at all times.

The very best protective filter is the Hoya multicoated HD3 62mm UV which uses hardened glass and repels dirt and fingerprints.

For less money, the B+W 62mm 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.

I got my 90 2.8 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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16-22 November 2017