I was wandering around Gulf Photo Plus this evening and I overheard one of the Sony reps say to a friend of mine that they received a copy of the new 85mm 1.8, despite having one foot out the door....my ears perked up and I turned around.
Up until now the only native mount offerings that included auto focus were Sony's G-Master 85/1.4 (priced at $1800 USD) and the Zeiss Batis 85/1.8 (priced at $1200 USD). Both of these lenses have amazing build qualities, brilliant optics and are simply in a class of their own. But, what do you expect out of lenses >$1000. They should be amazing no?
However, one of the most requested lenses has been a affordable native AF enabled and Sony has finally delivered. Enter the Sony FE 85 1.8. You can look around online to get all the "Tech Specs", highlighting how many blades there are and all that jive. This isn't a press release, though I'll mention it has a 67mm filter diameter just like the Batis. See below for some non-sponsored, non-affiliate B&H links so you can compare all the nerdy details.
Now back to the story. I was very limited on time, but had to snag some comparison shots with the Sony FE 85mm 1.8. I happen to have my camera bag in the car with the Batis 85 1.8 attached to it. So I down my iced coffee, which is unfortunate as I got it at this ultra hipster vegan free-range-trade...free everything but price, but I had to rush, though I really wanted to sip and enjoy the over-priced coffee. The evening was coming to an end at GPP and I had to be somewhere.
So more shots are coming tomorrow, so bare with me as I'm really only going to compare two shots here. The body was mounted on a tripod and settings for both pictures were exactly the same. I ended up taking a total of 6 shots with each lens and compared pulled the best two out of the bunch. I tried AF, Eye-AF and MF with both lenses. The Sony kept on par with the Zeiss the whole time. AF was snappy and consistent. Build quality is....good for an most plastic lens. IT weighs in at about 100 grams lighter than the Batis (and less than half the weight of the G Master)
EXIF for both was F1.8 (of course), 1/100, ISO 100.
Side by side, both images were pretty much identical: (Batis left, Sony right). No adjustments were done to the RAW files in lightroom other than a white balance adjustment and a custom camera profile. Shot was lit with continuous lighting.
Even when viewing at 100%, I couldn't tell much difference between them, though you could start seeing (and hopefully this is visible on your device) some purple fringing on the clear stones around the head piece.
At 200%, the Basis has a slight sharpness edge. But we're talking such small amounts here....wait for some site's charts to come out if you really want to compare sharpness...for all intended purposes....they are even here.
But the chromatic aberration difference at this point was much more obvious. Below is without any lens profiles or any of that kind of stuff enabled, no CA correction in Adobe Lightroom either. Even after attempting to adjust the CA on the Sony lens, it still wasn't as good as the untouched Batis file.
So for now, there you have it. While it's been deemed the "Budget 85" for Sony's e-mount (though the Samyang manual focus only 85/1.4 still costs HALF the price of this Sony lens...but again...MF only), the performance is quite fantastic. For half the price of the Batis, this thing will be a solid performer. The advantage over the Batis is the customizable button on the side of the lens like all the G Master lenses have. There's the slight weight savings and it's half the price of the Batis.
Stay tuned for more images, possibly some RAW files coming up I'll try to add the 85 1.4 G Master into the mix.
And before you ask...yes of course I'll try to get my hands on the new Sigma, BUT, it's not a native mount lens so will require the additional cost of an adapter.
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You can preorder at B&H here:
Here's the Batis:
The G Master
And last but not least...the $290 Samyang 85 1.4