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Sony 85mm, 100mm optics expand E-mount portrait-lens offerings

Create: 02/17/2017 - 18:11
Sony FE 100mm and 85mm

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 100mm G Master lens uses apodization filter to enhance bokeh
  • 85mm is a lower-cost alternative
  • Both lenses are weather resistant

Sony has released two full-frame E-mount lenses to satisfy different types of portrait photographers.

The two autofocus lenses should appeal to different buyers – specifically, those with a large photography budget and those on a tight budget, as well as those who are interested in the special feature of one of the lenses.

The Sony FE f/2.8 100mm STF GM lens has a unique aperture structure that promises “magnificent” bokeh. The lens is part of Sony’s premium G Master lineup and is a step above its higher-rated G lenses.

The 100mm lens uses Sony’s Smooth Trans Focus, which includes an apodization filter to create circular bokeh. For photographic purposes, apodization removes the harsh transitions in certain areas of a photo, such as in-focus and out-of-focus regions. For this lens, the apodization filter helps to create very circular bokeh (see sample photos).

This isn’t the first lens to use this. The first lens was the Minolta f/2.8 135mm for that company’s film cameras. The lens continued production under the Sony name when the KonicaMinolta brand was bought by Sony. The lens still sells for roughly US$1,000.

Although intended for Sony’s full-frame E-mount cameras, it also can be mounted to those with APS-C sensors, where the focal length becomes 150mm (full-frame equivalent).

There are 10 elements in 13 groups, not including the apodization element. There also is an extra-low dispersion element, as well as an aspherical element.

The aperture is formed by 11 blades. Unlike other Sony lenses, this one has an aperture ring. It accepts 72mm filters.

The lens has two focusing ranges, which can allow for faster and more accurate focusing.

Rotating a ring at the base of the lens barrel allows for two close-focus distances 2.8 feet and 1.9 feet.

The lens is sealed against dust and resistant to moisture and has rubber sealing at the lens mount.

Sony’s Optical Steady Shot is built into the lens and can work in conjunction with bodies that have image stabilization. The lens OSS can be turned off.

It is 3 3/8 x 4 3/4 inches (85.2 x 118.1mm) and weighs 24.7 ounces (700 grams). It comes with front and rear lens caps, as well as the cylindrical lens shade and case.

The 100mm STF GM is expected to begin shipping in March 2017 and will cost about US$1,500.

* * *

In the so-called portrait focal length of 85mm, there is just one option in a Sony-branded E-mount lens – the pricey f/1.4 G Master lens, which costs US$1,799.

The introduction of the Sony FE f/1.8 85mm version opens up portrait photography to those who don’t have that kind of photography budget or don’t want to pay that much.

Expected to be available in March 2017 for US$599, this lens is US$900 below the price of its G Master stablemate.

The medium telephoto lens uses eight elements in nine groups, including one extra-low dispersion element.

When mounted to an APS-C camera, the effective full-frame equivalent focal length is 127.5mm.

There are nine aperture blades, and the minimum focusing is 2.6 feet. The lens uses 67mm filters.

The lens is dust and moisture resistant. The focus hold button on the barrel can be assigned to other functions.

It is 3 1/8 x 3 ¼ inches (78 x 82mm) and weighs 13.1 ounces (371 grams). The buyer gets front and rear caps and a cylindrical lens shade.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.