Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 and 100mm f/2.8
£600/$600 The best things really do come in small packages
Portrait lenses offering sharpness and bokeh
For many, 85mm is the focal length of choice for portraiture on a
full-frame camera. It enables you to shoot from a comfortable distance, neither invading your subject’s personal space nor barking posing instructions from a distance. A fast aperture is also preferable, to maintain a tight depth of field.
Some models meeting these criteria pile on the pounds – including Sony’s own f/1.4 G Master lens, at nearly 1kg. This new optic is much more compact, and about a third of the price. The modest f/1.8 aperture rating enables a relatively small and light build, ideally suited to Sony’s A7 and A9 series cameras.
Unlike some similar lenses, there’s no optical stabilisation, but that requirement in a ‘fast’ lens is debatable, and secondgeneration A7 cameras have sensor-shift stabilisation built in.
Build & handling
Weather seals are incorporated into the metal mounting plate and sturdy, solid barrel. The electronically coupled manual focus ring is comfortably large and silky smooth in operation, and a bonus focus hold button is featured; this can be customised for alternative tasks.
A dual linear motor enables speedy and near-silent autofocus performance, with excellent accuracy. Optics benefit from an ED (Extra-low Dispersion) element to boost sharpness and contrast while reducing colour fringing. The aperture remains well-rounded when stopping down a little, thanks to a nineblade diaphragm.
Despite being two-thirds of an f/ stop slower than Sony’s 85mm f/1.4 lens, depth of field remains usefully tight at the widest aperture, and the softness of bokeh is appealing. Even so, it’s no match for the Sony 100mm STF lens, reviewed opposite.
Centre-sharpness is spectacular and remains very good into the edges and corners.