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Which 85mm lens?

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Frankly View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Frankly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Which 85mm lens?
    Posted: 25 January 2022 at 07:56
Hello everyone,

I'm new to the forum and also to Sony (but not to photography).

I've got myself an A7R IVa with the 20mm 1.8G and 35mm 1.4GM and am considering which 85mm or 90mm I should get and this is where I hope you can help.

Firstly for context, I only ever use prime lenses, not zooms. Also, I like to be able to make really big prints and/or crop without (much) loss. Further my usual subject matter are landscapes and I usually shoot at f8.

I've been considering the 85mm 1.4GM which would go naturally with my existing lens choice but it seems optimised for wider apertures than I routinely use.

I've been looking principally at the OpticalLimits (photozone.de) site for technical data on lens performance as well as some others. Surprisingly although the 85mm 1.4GM records an impressive performance the less flashy 85mm 1.8 Sony betters it at f8, in fact according to OpticalLimits the 85mm f1.8 has the best f8 performance of all of the Sony FE fitting prime lenses that they have tested (albeit on an A7R II)!

So, the questions are:

1) Do I believe this data and go for the Sony FE 85mm 1.8 (bearing in mind that f8 is my usual aperture)? Is there a reason why I should go for something else?

and

2) Can anyone clarify what the resolution figures on the OpticalLimits site actually mean in real life on a Sony A7R IVa? For example the resolution for the centre for the Sony 85mm 1.4GM at f8 is 4471LW/PH but I don't really know if that is good, excellent or outstanding. Would perhaps a mere 4000LW/PH be more than I would ever need?

If you can help in any way it would be much appreciated, thanks!

 



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addy landzaat View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote addy landzaat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 January 2022 at 08:13
There is more to lenses then resolving power. With that out of the way, I love my 85/1.8 and it is probably the best bang for the bug in the Sony line-up.

If you do not use f/1.4 or the controls on the lens, I would surely go with the 85/1.8. There is no reason to pay more. Use the money to travel (or whatever).

Did you look at the Sigma 85/1.4 DG DN? Over on PhilipReeve.net they describe it as: " In case you are looking for a fast and relatively compact 85mm lens for portraits and landscapes this is your lens." There is a description how it compares to the 85/1.4GM and 85/1.8.

Frankly, welcome to Dyxum
Why not follow me on Instagram? @Addy_101
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Wētāpunga View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Wētāpunga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 January 2022 at 08:14
Hi @Frankly

I think if you are shooting at f8 then all the 85mm lenses you look at will be so close in final performance, the biggest factors to impact your photos will be lighting and composition instead. The Sony FE 85 f1.8 is regarded as a very good lens that 'punches above its weight'(i.e. delivers great bang for buck) and at f8, any weaknesses it has at wider apertures will have vanished.

You can see from my line up I have two(!) 85mm lenses. The Loxia is my primary landscape lens for that focal length as like you, I shoot landscapes at smaller apertures. While both of them are excellent 85mm lenses, the Loxia is better for landscapes because of the ease of its manual focus.

So in short, either of the lenses you're considering should give you the shots you want, and perhaps other factors like size, weight and weather sealing might be worth taking into account.
α7riii, α9- Voigtländer 15/4.5, 110/2.5 M; Zeiss Loxia- 21/2.8, 35/2, 50/2 & 85/2.4, Zeiss Batis- 85/1.8 & 135/2.8; Sony 24-105/4 G; Sigma 70/2.8 M; Tamron 150-500 f5-6.7; Sony SAL 135/2.8 STF
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Frankly View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Frankly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 January 2022 at 08:49
Thanks Addy for your welcome and also the comments you made. The suggestion of the Sigma 85mm is a good one and one that I will certainly look into in greater detail. I had a brief look at the PhilipReeve site following your link and it made for interesting reading.
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Frankly View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Frankly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 January 2022 at 08:57
Thanks Wetapunga you make a good point about all the Sony lenses being good choices if used at f8 and that the 85mm 1.8 being great value for money.
The Loxia is certainly a good alternative, maybe even better for landscapes. I like the old school look of the lens and from what I have seen, it certainly is a very sharp lens.
I was less drawn to the Batis 85mm because it is a bit too smooth to the touch compared to my Sony lenses and my concern is that I won't be able to get a good enough grip on it when changing lenses on a cold day. Optically great.
Thanks again!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote nandbytes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 January 2022 at 10:20
Why are you against using zoom lenses?
for your usage they seem better than really fast primes.
I have been down the path of using only primes and then trying mostly fast zooms. I then realised they both have their benefits.
For shooting landscapes at f8, travelling, hiking, getting to and shooting from difficult locations, zooms definitely have the advantage.

If you are mostly looking to use your lenses at f8, I would suggest a good zoom lenses. Most recent zoom lenses are pretty good at f8 for large prints and also cropping.
Something like tamron 28-200mm might be a better option for you than a bunch of primes and gives you amazing range for landscapes. Some of my favourite landscape shots were shot with telephotos.

Many lenses have already been mentioned, if your are still only interested in primes there is a new sigma 90mm f2.8 DN too.

Personally I use the Sigma 85mm f1.4 DN which IMO is the best overall 85mm prime option having been through most other options.
samyang 85mm f1.4 is also a very sharp lens.

Edited by nandbytes - 25 January 2022 at 12:37
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Post Options Post Options   Quote QuietOC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 January 2022 at 12:09
The Sony FE 85mm F1.8 has a good amount of lateral chromatic aberration that certainly does not vanish at f/8. Electronic correction can reduce the color fringing, but it leaves some blur. The Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 has a similar amount of lateral CA. I haven't tried other native primes longer than 75mm. I have had many adapted primes that do better at F8 like the Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM.

Edited by QuietOC - 26 January 2022 at 00:48
Sony A7RIV LA-EA5
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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 January 2022 at 19:30
There's something to be said also for the Sony A-mount 85mm f2.8 which, on the LA-EA3, is smaller than all the fast 85mm FE portrait lenses. Whether the corners would be better or worse than the FE 1.8 version I really don't know, but I have a soft spot for classic few-element designs. Bokeh is often smoother, if that matters to you, though I have heard some of the 85mm 1.4s are good.
I'd check out the U-tube reviews if I were you. They usually tell you a lot more than the printed ones.

Re the LW/PH spec, this is of less value as a mark of excellence than an indication of how the lens performance varies with aperture and the part of the image. The numbers vary with the camera used for the test, and some of the tests use LP/PH (line pairs) where the numbers are half the LW/PH (line widths per picture height), noting that when they say 'picture height' they really mean picture width.

In theory LW/PH corresponds roughly to pixels resolution but I don't think it does in practice. I have noticed that very fast lenses are often at their sharpest around f4 whereas slower ones are usually best at f8. For landscapes it is usually the edge performance that is most critical; fast portrait lenses are usually intended to be used with the edges fully blurred out, rather than sharp ... so this must surely affect the design priorities!


Miranda F & Sensorex, Sony A7Rii, A58, Nex-6, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras ...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Wētāpunga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 January 2022 at 20:10
Originally posted by Frankly Frankly wrote:

Thanks Wetapunga you make a good point about all the Sony lenses being good choices if used at f8 and that the 85mm 1.8 being great value for money.
The Loxia is certainly a good alternative, maybe even better for landscapes. I like the old school look of the lens and from what I have seen, it certainly is a very sharp lens.


The Loxia is really good. I've written a review on Dyxum and it's largely in line with the review on Phillipreeve.

It's sharp edge to edge, and especially at landscape apertures. It's handling is great, and you never have to worry about the AF-motors breaking down in the field, because it doesn't have any! It's also weather sealed.

The handling is also wonderful and I agree, the aesthetic is nice. Obviously it's not a great lens for fast action or events but for a specialist landscape lens, it is really good to use. I prefer the old-school manual focus system it uses, rather than the modern electronic fly-by-wire.
α7riii, α9- Voigtländer 15/4.5, 110/2.5 M; Zeiss Loxia- 21/2.8, 35/2, 50/2 & 85/2.4, Zeiss Batis- 85/1.8 & 135/2.8; Sony 24-105/4 G; Sigma 70/2.8 M; Tamron 150-500 f5-6.7; Sony SAL 135/2.8 STF
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Post Options Post Options   Quote nandbytes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 January 2022 at 23:08
The sigma 90mm f2.8 DN is half the weight of loxia 85, smaller and cheaper. Its also aesthetically pleasing, optically very capable and has AF.

So Loxia is a bit hard to justify unless the traditional MF experience is very important in which case it certainly is nicer to use.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Tricky01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 January 2022 at 00:00
I love the 85 1.8, fantastic images from a tiny package. Coming from the A mount zeiss 1.4 I don't feel it's a downgrade in any sense. One lens not mentioned here yet is the Sony 90mm f2.8 macro. I've only had mine a few weeks and it's not focused on anything further than 20cm away yet, but it could be an option. It also have focus limiters on either side of 50cm so can be locked into being a 'standard' lens. There's £100 cashback on it from Sony at present, which I think runs until either end of this month or next.
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A9, A7Riii, A7R (full spectrum) 12f2.8, 15f2, 16-35f4, tam28-200, 35f1.8, 50 1.8, 85f1.8, 90f2.8, 135GM, 100-400GM, 200-600G, 1.4xTC // A: Sig 90f2.8 & 180f3.5
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Post Options Post Options   Quote AudioDoc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 January 2022 at 00:04
Welcome to Dyxum, Frank!

I suppose the best advice might come from someone that shoots with the A7Riv, an 85mm @ f8, and prints big!

I don't, so I'm not qualified to advice you in that regard. I have seen some pros that don't normally shoot portraiture chose the Sony FE 85mm 1.8 over the GM. I use it as well as the Batis 85mm and both are excellent, but my camera is only 24Mp and I seldom print big. You are correct about the Batis being tricky to mount. This is because of the shape as well as the rubber seal. I usually remove the lens hood when mounting. It does have image stabilization built in. I have a number of Batis lenses and like the Zeiss rendering -- a personal preference, but the Sony is excellent. If AF is not a priority, I'm sure the Loxia 85mm will be a great choice as well.


Kind regards,

Kelly
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Wētāpunga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 January 2022 at 00:18
Originally posted by AudioDoc AudioDoc wrote:

Welcome to Dyxum, Frank!

I suppose the best advice might come from someone that shoots with the A7Riv, an 85mm @ f8, and prints big! ...



Well, I can do 2 out of 3 there . But if I want to go to a 72" wide print I have to upscale the image. Which is why I like to have oodles of detail and information to work with in my 42MP shot. But anything up to 48" across I'm good with 42MP.

If I had to make a large landscape print with an 85mm lens, I'd reach for my Loxia every time. I also like knowing that the superb manual focus means I can put the focal plane exactly where I want it in the shot.

What I like about the Batis 85/1.8 is its rendering and Zeiss-look at wide apertures. It was the lens I picked to shoot some commercial shots last year of people for a client.

Still, I doubt there is any FE lens at 85mm that doesn't produce great shots at f8. So perhaps the deciding factors should be other issues (price, sealing etc)

α7riii, α9- Voigtländer 15/4.5, 110/2.5 M; Zeiss Loxia- 21/2.8, 35/2, 50/2 & 85/2.4, Zeiss Batis- 85/1.8 & 135/2.8; Sony 24-105/4 G; Sigma 70/2.8 M; Tamron 150-500 f5-6.7; Sony SAL 135/2.8 STF
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Post Options Post Options   Quote AudioDoc Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 January 2022 at 00:51
48 inches seems like a big print to me!

I'd like to be able to try some of the Loxia lenses. How is the rendering compared to the Batis? I would think it should be similar? Yes, that fat rubber seal at the lens mount should provide a good tight seal, though it can make lens mounting more difficult.

I think Mark Gayler and Dustin Abbott have reviewed some of these 85mm lenses and I'm sure there are other good reviews as well. The thing I don't know, is how they perform with 62 Mp resolution. I would think they should do well?

Regards,

Kelly

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