SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/8000, F2.2, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

SONY SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM

[Zoom] Wide-zoom | Standard-zoom | Tele-zoom | High-zoom
[Fixed-focal] Wide angle | Standard | Telephoto | Macro

SONY has launched new "G Master" series lenses compatible with their full frame E-mount cameras. For a long time, "G" has been a title of high-performance lenses since Minolta period. And, SONY has released three new highest-end "G Master" lenses consisting of two F2.8 constant zoom lenses (the 24-70mm and the 70-200mm) and this prime telephoto 85mm F1.4, or "SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4GM." According to SONY, it’s an ambitious glass made by striking a perfect balance between high resolution and beautiful bokeh. After shooting it, I found the rendition is extremely delicate wide open and the bokeh is elegant. While 85mm lenses are popular among those who shoot portraits, I suspect SONY had tried to make the very best 85mm because of the high image quality demonstrated below.

( Photography & Text : Naz )

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/2500, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

As soon as they officially announced that the cherry trees are in bloom in Tokyo (there’re such announcements in all parts of Japan), I went to shoot them and saw many people enjoying the early blooming cherry trees in the afternoon sun. Thanks to the thin depth of field, the image has enough depth even though I used a long working distance. And because of the high image quality wide open, I don’t think I need to stop it down to improve image quality. While I did notice some softness wide open on the magnified image projected on the EVF, contrast improves and drawing line becomes more solid by stopping it down 1 F-stop. Speaking of drawing lines, I must stress that they don’t thicken even at smaller apertures.

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/2000, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

Shooting the branch with unfolding buds using the river surface as background. Because 85mm has narrower angle of view and bigger bokeh than 50mm, it’s more effective to organize and abstract composition. So, if you compose more boldly, you can easily get results that you cannot get with a normal lens.

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/5000, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

On the next day of the cherry blossom shooting, cold sleety rain came down in the shrine around Mt. Fuji. Thanks to the weather-resistant package, I could focus on shooting. By defocusing the paper streamers as front bokeh, I emphasized the space in front of the wet roof. I’m impressed by the reproduction of the rough/wet surface as well as the shadow. The front bokeh is natural yet real.

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/800, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

I chose the angle where the dew shines.By clicking the image you can double the image size to learn more about the potential of this lens. They look very natural because the edges aren’t exaggerated. And, there’s no onion-ring bokeh in the background. The soft and elegant bokeh is due to the loss of the edge lines and this is realized by the "XA" (extreme aspherical) lens elements. Of course, the round-shape diaphragm and precise lens polishing contribute to the beautiful bokeh as well. And, chromatic aberration is eliminated completely. Hmm… I’m having a trouble of finding faults with this lens.

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/200, F1.4, ISO 400, Photo by Naz

The high-speed realized by F1.4 invites us to shoot at night. I focused the glass on the right. The focal depth is very thin even though it was few meters away and the glass on the left foreground is out of focus. As a result, the image looks mellow and soft.

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/80, F1.4, ISO 800, Photo by Naz

The street lamp lighted the leaves in the hedge. The minimum focus distance is 0.85m (AF) and 0.8m (MF). Thanks to the powerful OIS of the Alpha 7R II series body, I could choose the slow shutter speed with this short telephoto lens.

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/2500, F2, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

Shooting cherry blossoms with a high-key. The delicate and soft rendition worked to create the gentle spring image.

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/3200, F2, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

Because this lens was designed primarily for beautiful background bokeh, it generates double-lined front bokeh in some conditions. In this image, the goal net is defocused and looks double-lined though I don’t think it looks ugly because the bokeh is coreless.

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/400, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/2500, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

Focused on the saddle of the bicycle. The reproduction of the lighted guardrail is amazing. Of course, it’s also due to the sensor’s performance. But, I can also say this lens captures light beautifully. And, I love the wet rendition, too.

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/1600, F2.8, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

Resolution almost peaks around F2.8 and it’s truly staggering. This lens gets the maximum out of the Alpha 7R II featuring the massive 42.4-megapixel sensor and I’m sure it will still perform more than excellent with future cameras (clock to view the 100% crop).

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/4000, F1.4, ISO 100, Photo by Naz

I focused around the bottom of the frame. The beautiful bokeh of this lens made me want to shoot this scene using the increasing bokeh towards the vanishing point.

SONY α7R II, SEL85F14GM FE 85mm F1.4 GM, 1/8000, F2, ISO 100, Photo by Naz


Finest image quality worth the investment

This glass feels very big for a 85mm F1.4, though the overall size together with the Alpha 7R II body is still more compact than conventional full frame SLR body. And, it doesn’t feel hefty for the size. Thanks to the inner focus mechanism, AF is significantly faster than 85mm lenses with traditional focus mechanism where all the lens groups are moved. Although the operation noise is low enough, it may sound a bit loud in some quiet situation particularly when the quiet shutter mode is used on the Alpha 7R II. The aperture ring has click stops in 1/3-stop increments and you can de-click it with the switch on the barrel. You’ll find it helpful particularly when shooting videos. By the way, this is the first Alpha lens to feature eleven rounded aperture blades. So, you can enjoy the beautiful bokeh in all aperture values.

Just like other latest high-performance lenses, this glass has a high clarity. But compared to other recent ones, its overall rendition appears a bit quiet particularly on the camera’s rear LCD. This means that this lens is designed to deliver faithful rendition without exaggeration. When I viewed the shots on the large monitor, I was impressed with the smooth increase of defocusing, beautiful tone, and delicate rendition, which are in another league. So, the image data has a lot of room to be adjusted with software and you can get more contrast just by raising the tone curve slightly. When shooting a woman, you may want to shoot wide open. When shooting a man, you may want to stop it down 1 to 2 F-stops. Even though the focal length is covered by a telephoto zoom lens and the price is too high for impulse buying, I still urge you to experience the finest image quality only someone who invested on it can enjoy.

( 01.05.2016 )