Sony FE 85mm f1.8

I’ve finally purchased the Sony FE 85mm f1.8 lens and was able to spend the weekend testing it. Here’s my initial impression and review of the Sony FE 85mm f1.8.

When I review gear I am not a big supporter of highly technical info. I just want to know what it can and can’t do. Companies spend an inordinate amount of effort giving you the latest specs to try and dazzle you. But for me I simply don’t care. I just want to know if X does Y. If you really need to know all of the technical specs you can click here.

Let’s get down to it.

The Sony FE 85mm f1.8 Size and Build Quality

I was pretty surprised how small and compact this lens was. It follows in the foot steps of using mirrorless cameras where a smaller size is desired. The Sony FE 85mm f1.8 is no exception to this rule.

There’s a few lens in my collection that covers a lot of what I need but there’s been one missing element. A very good portrait lens. I really love using my 35mm f1.4 for everyday photos and it does well with my current portrait work. But the focal length falls a bit short for my needs. This is what prompted me to look for an 85mm but portrait work is not my main focus of photography.

I shoot mainly landscapes so my 18mm lens is my main workhorse. But I still wanted a good portrait lens just for when I do take portraits.

The Sony FE 85mm f1.8 was a perfect fit in terms of performance and price. At a price tag of ~$600 this is a must have in your collection. The performance on this is amazing for the price.

The build quality of this lens is very good. It feels solid in your hand and not cheap. The focus ring is smooth while the lens is dust and moisture resistant. It’s pretty much what I expect from Sony when it comes to build quality.

Although this is not one of their higher performance lenses like the Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8 or the Sony G-master 85mm 1.4, it does offer considerable performance for half the price.

As photographers I’m sure we’d all love to save some money on gear if we can still get the same types of performance.

Overall the size and build quality is amazing!

The Sony FE 85mm f1.8 Performance

My goal in purchasing this lens is strictly for portrait work.  Therefore my criteria  for this lens is the wide aperture of f1.8 to completely isolate my subject with a focal length of 85mm to compress the background. I need a lens that works and works flawlessly.

Auto-focus

The auto-focus is extremely fast and accurate on my Sony A7RII and Sony A6500. I use continuous auto-focus when shooting moving subjects so I need a lens that can keep up. I didn’t have any issues with the auto-focus and was thoroughly impressed by how fast it was.

The only issues I had with focusing was due to being too close to my subject. The minimum focus distance is 2.63 ft which in this case isn’t the fault of the lens but the photographer. Oops.

I’m so used to shooting with the 18mm that I often get a lot closer than I should with the 85mm.

Sharpness

When it comes to lenses the most important quality is sharpness. There’s no point in using a lens that doesn’t give you the sharp details you need.

I am very OCD about sharpness in images. When I’m testing a lens it’s pretty normal for me to spend a lot of time zooming into the edges. Some call it pixel peeping I call it being thorough.

The Sony FE 85mm f1.8 is extremely sharp for the price range. I mean razor sharp you can cut your finger if you touch your lcd display sharp.

Bokeh

The reason I want to shoot portraits using this lens is for isolation and of course the bokeh. The bokeh is smooth and very pleasing.  I have seen slightly better bokeh on my 35mm 1.4 but this lens still offers very nice bokeh for your portrait shots.

Sample Pictures

I spent the weekend shooting with this lens to get a feel for the performance in different lighting. Below is a sample of images taken while shooting wide open (f1.8) and all are Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC). No editing done whatsoever.

Sony FE 85mm f1.8

Sony FE 85mm f1.8

Sony FE 85mm f1.8

My sister-in-law graciously posing while getting a steam facial.

Sony FE 85mm f1.8

My two cute nieces posing for me.

Sony FE 85mm f1.8

Final Thoughts

I am in love with this Sony FE 85mm f1.8 lens. The performance of this lens is outstanding and for the price it’s a no-brainer to have this in your collection.

For less than $600 you can have a light compact portrait lens with incredible performance. You won’t be able to find a great lens like this at this price point. Other comparable or even slightly better lens will have you spending at least $1,000.

Sony is really putting a lot of pressure on Canon and Nikon to offer some great lenses at affordable prices. If they keep this up I can see Sony dominating the digital camera market.

Do you have this lens? What do you think?

Alex

 

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