Sony 85mm F2.8 SAM A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#20413 date: Nov-6-2015
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 3
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.2
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Samyang AF 75 F1.8 FE
Samyang AF 85 F1.4 FE
Sony FE 85 F1.8
Lensbaby Velvet 85 F1.8
Tamron SP 85 F1.8 USD
Canon EF 85 F1.8 USM
Minolta MD 85 F2
Minolta Varisoft 85 F2.8
Tamron SP 90 F2.5 Macro
Minolta AF 100 F2
Canon EF 100 F2 USM
Minolta MC 100 F2.5
Minotla AF 100 F2.8 Soft Focus
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Macro D
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Macro RS
Cosina 100 F3.5 Macro
Sony FE 100 T5.6 STF GM OSS
price paid:100 USD (used)
positive:Small and light
Low distortion
Long, half rotation focus throw
55 mm non-rotating filter threads
Lens Compensation
negative:Chromatic aberrations
AF inaccuracy
Noisy/slow DC Motor
Small, loose focus ring
AF/MF switch--no DMF
Undersized circular hood
No sealing
comment:I've been wanting to get this lens for several months. I had tried a used copy at a local retailer, but I could only talk them down to $175 from the $225 they were asking for it. They had also lost the packaging and hood. This copy looks mint and came with everything. I also tried a second copy that performed similarly. I bought a third copy sans hood and packaging via an individual eBay seller. "MADE IN CHINA"

This lens uses a similar optical design as the Contax Carl Zeiss Sonnar 85mm F2.8. It is slightly smaller and simpler than the Minolta MD 85 F2. It is considerably smaller than brighter 85's.

This was the last Easy Choice prime I purchased, and the most expensive one, but it is also the only one designated to work with full-frame sensors. All of these lenses share the same rear outer shell. The 85/2.8 and 35/1.8 share the same 55 mm filter size and ALC-SH111 hood. The front element is slightly larger on the full-frame 85/2.8, but it seems to be slightly smaller than the one on the 50/1.7.

I like the smaller, slightly lighter design of the Minolta 50 F1.7 RS, but lower slack in SAM may be worth the extra bulk. The SAM in this lens makes plenty of noise and focuses very slower, especially compared to the Canon 85 F1.8 USM and the mirrorless lenses. The lens barrel extends further at close focus than any of the other A-mount small primes except the 50/3.5 macro. The angle-of-view decreases significantly at close focus. It works fine on the LA-EA3 or LA-EA5 on the A7II and newer E-mount cameras.

Overall the simple optics are pretty good. It is a bit sharper than the Minolta MD 85 F2 I had, but the larger F1.8 primes are sharper and brighter in the corners. It has a bit more axial and lateral chromatic aberrations.

While sharpness might not be a reason to get this prime over the telephoto zooms, the compact size and very light weight makes this lens very nice lens to carry around.

The larger ALC-SH102 hood from the DT 55-200 lenses fits this lens and doesn't vignette on full-frame.

Test chart comparison with a bunch of zooms at 85 mm.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 46
  • sharpness: 4.68
  • color: 4.70
  • build: 3.35
  • distortion: 4.70
  • flare control: 4.41
  • overall: 4.37 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania