Sony is currently busy beefing up their professional-grade lens lineup for the Alpha system and the Sony SAL-85F14Z at the forefront of their ambitions here. The principal design of the Sony SAL-85F14Z has seen many incarnations over time starting in the ancient Contax C/Y era via the also gone Contax N-system and now for Sony and Nikon (Zeiss ZF). Nonetheless Sony SAL-85F14Z based on the symmetrical Planar design. “Planar” originates in the German word plan (“plane” in English) and refers to the flat reproduction characteristic (minimal field curvature). The Sony SAL-85F14Z has been designed by Zeiss but it is manufactured by Sony under Zeiss quality control.
In terms of quality and great capturing images in using high quality lens, the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM is also in line. Compared to Sony SAL-85F14Z, Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM is fast and nearly silent but full-time manual (FTM) override is not possible in one-shot AF mode. The Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM AF speed via in contrast AF (Live-View) is on the slow side. Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM manual focusing is delicate due to the extremely short focus path. Sigma claims a gain of 4-stops which seems to fit here based on our field impressions. When you need to stand ready for any photo opportunity you need a fast aperture so you can shoot in low existing light or at maximum range with a flash. This Sigma lens is perfect. A major new feature of Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM is the OS (“Optical Stabilizer”). Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM is impressively efficient and as good as the corresponding genuine manufacturer implementations. Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM features the brand new FLD glass. FLD glass has an optical characteristic similar to fluorite glass. Such glass elements, Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM can be used to compensate optical aberrations more efficiently than conventional “special” elements such as Sigma’s more commonly used SLD glass. Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM build quality is good. Click here to get more of Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM amazing features.
Typical applications for Sony SAL-85F14Z are portrait- and available-light photography. On APS-C DSLRs the field-of-view is equivalent to about 128mm so it doesn’t leave its primary scope here. The build quality of the Sony SAL-85F14Z lens is excellent also thanks to an all metal construction. The Sony SAL-85F14Z focus ring is decoupled from the AF gear so it does not rotate in AF mode. In manual focusing mode it operates very smooth. The Sony SAL-85F14Z lens uses an extension system for focusing so it extends a bit towards closer focus distances. It isn’t necessarily something bad but the AF system of the Sony SAL-85F14Z does rely on the classic focusing system driven by the camera (via a slotted drive screw) rather than Sony’s modern SSM (supersonic motor). To get this great features of Sony SAL-85F14Z, click here.
Here is a summary of Sony SAL-85F14Z review from a satisfied customer:
On A League Of Its Own
The SAL85F14Z has been around for as long as the Sony Alpha 100, and for the few of us who is lucky enough (or have a deep enough pocket) to finally own it, the rewards are boundless. It is very difficult to describe the picture quality of this lens in a few words. For one thing, regardless of which alpha-mount body you have been using, this lens will unveil a whole new dimension of optical clarity to your camera’s sensor. The lens features a whole different level of optical clarity and sharpness over conventional alpha-mount lenses, combined with an effective defocusing so strong that during wider aperture settings, it practically captures your attention at the center of its focal point with razor sharp details while quickly blankets everything else away so vigorously that these elements quickly slide into this hazy blend of soft lights and shadows.
The Sony SAL-85F14Z produced superb resolution figures in the MTF lab. At f/1.4 the quality is already exceptionally high for such a lens. It’s not really a primary aspect for such a lens but the center to border resolution is very even. Stopping down lifts the resolution level a little and the peak is reached around f/4. Interestingly the 50mm f/1.4 is a little sharper in the center but this is nit-picky. The Sony SAL-85F14Z bokeh is naturally of major interest for an ultra-large aperture lens and the Sony SAL-85F14Z does not disappoint here. Out-of-focus highlights show a circular shape from f/1.4 up to about f/2.8. At f/4 the shape deteriorates a little. There’s basically no outlining effect here – this is about as good as it gets in lens land. The blur is very smooth and uniform. The Sony SAL-85F14Z is a great lens. Sony SAL-85F14Z already able to produce exceptionally sharp and contrasty results straight from f/1.4.
Sony SAL-85F14Z has the following features and specifications:
- 85mm f1.4 telephoto lens
- Professional performance for portraits and close-ups
- Astonishing sharpness at fully open aperture
- T* coating to reduce flare and increase contrast
- Smooth, visually pleasing background effects
- Focus hold button for full creative control
- Auto clutch to stop manual focus ring rotation
Sony SAL-85F14Z has the following Pros and cons:
- Good contrast level even at f1.4
- Extremely sharp even at wide open
- Fast AF on the A900
- No distortion at all
- Sharpest lens ever
- High contrast and 3D rendering
- Ultra-sharp corner-to-corner
- AF hunting occasionally
- Some LoCA but nothing serious
- No SSM
Overall, Sony SAL-85F14Z excellent performance peak is reached around f/4. The center to border quality is very even. The quality of the bokeh (out-of-focus blur) is buttery and about as good as it gets. Distortions, vignetting and lateral CAs are non-issues in field conditions. Nonetheless there’s also a bug – longitudinal CAs, sometimes also called “Bokeh CAs”, are very pronounced at large aperture settings but that’s a fate the Zeiss shares with fellow lenses. To get this amazing and best features of Sony SAL-85F14Z, click here.