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

reviewer#20413 date: Nov-6-2015
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
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 used to own this lens
compared to:Sigma EX 70 F2.8 DG Macro
Tamron SP 85 F1.8 USD
Sony FE 85 F1.8
Canon EF 85 F1.8 USM
Minolta MD 85 F2
Tamron SP 90 F2.5 Macro
Canon EF 100 F2 USM
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Macro D
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Macro RS
price paid:123 USD (used)
positive:Small and light
Very little distortion
Long, half rotation focus throw
55 mm non-rotating filter threads
negative:Axial CA
AF inaccuracy
Slow AF
Small, loose focus ring
Undersized circular hood
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 very similarly. "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.

I now I have all four Easy Choice primes. This is the most expensive one, but also the only one that is designated to work with full-frame sensors. All of these lenses share the same 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 the accuracy of SAM is often worth the extra bulk. The SAM in this lens makes just about as much noise as screw drive on the 50 F1.7 RS. The focus is very slow, especially compared to the Canon 85 F1.8 USM. The lens barrel extends further at close focus than any of the other small primes except the 50/3.5 macro. The angle-of-view decreases significantly at close focus. It works fine on the LA-EA3 and the A7II.

Overall the optics are good. It is a bit sharper than the Minolta MD 85 F2, but it is not as sharp as the Canon EF 85 F1.8, and it has much more CA.

Sharpness might not be a reason to get this prime over the telephoto zoom lenses, 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 also fits this lens and doesn't vignette on the A58. It doesn't seem to vignette on the Maxxum 70 either, but I can verify when I get my film back.

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

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 44
  • sharpness: 4.69
  • color: 4.68
  • build: 3.39
  • distortion: 4.68
  • flare control: 4.41
  • overall: 4.37 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania