Sony currently has two 85mm primes in its A-mount lens range – the 85mm f/1.4 ZA Plannar T lens costing around £1215, and the much more affordable 85mm f/2.8 SAM lens at £204.
Suitable for full-frame and APS-C Sony bodies, the Sony 85mm f/2.8 SAM offers a film-equivalent focal length of 127.5mm when used with the smaller sensors, and features a construction of five glass elements in four groups. It has a 7-blade aperture design and is relatively compact and light, weighing in at 175g.
With a predominantly plastic finish, it feels rather basic and doesn’t feature a metal lens mount so is vulnerable to damage if handled roughly. The MF/AF switch offers a reassuring click and although the focus ring is small, it’s smooth to use over half a turn. The real disadvantage is that the front element isn’t fixed and extends while focusing, which could potentially impede filter use, especially grads and polarisers. We experienced a few whirrs and groans while testing the performance of the AF – something we didn’t expect as it features an in-built SAM AF motor. Hunting wasn’t a major cause for concern, although we did experience signs in trickier lighting conditions. At £204 it’s well priced, and does offer pleasing background blur for those who want to save £1000 on the Plannar T lens!
Sony Alpha Mount