Sony A7R + 85mm F1.4 Zeiss + LA-EA4

The Sony 85mm F1.4 Zeiss is a large and fairly heavy lens, with a large lens hood. It has 72mm filter threads. It has an extremely shallow depth of field, and when stopped down to F2 to 2.8, it does get very sharp indeed.

Sony 85mm F1.4 Zeiss A-mount lens
Sony 85mm F1.4 Zeiss A-mount lens

It does look nice on the Sony A7R, although the LA-EA4 adapter does make it a bulkier and heavier combo than a native E-mount lens. I do hope Sony come out with that FE 85mm fast prime lens soon, as this is such a great focal length to use on the Sony A7R especially for portraits.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What I like about it?

1) When focus is right and stopped down a little, it is very sharp.

2) The bokeh is fairly smooth

3) Feels solidly built

4) When set to multi-focus points, it will show the square for face detection focusing, which can be helpful for portraits

What could be improved?

1) It could have faster autofocus

2) When adjusting manual focus, it does not start the focus magnify mechanism (unlike native E-mount lenses or Canon EF lens used with Metabones NEX Smart adapter III). This unfortunately is a hardware issue, and is not so easily fixed.

3) There is a lot of lateral chromatic aberration from F1.4 to F1.7 in the out-of-focus areas, which improves by F2 but only truly better from F2.8.

4) I did find that with some (not all) of the shots in the closer focusing range the focus can be slightly off when shot at the larger apertures owing to the very shallow depth of field. Hence I like to use manual focus to be absolutely sure of focusing. With more distant subjects, focusing accuracy is less of an issue.

5) It uses the older face-detection technology, rather than the newer eye autofocus (eye autofocus when activated will adjust focus to ensure the closer eye is in focus – perfect for portraits especially when shot with large apertures.

Here are some images I took with this lens on the A7R.

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Garden bench – F2.8
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Play area in Park – F2.0
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Young pine cones – F2.0
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Bee collecting nectar – F2.8
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More flowers – F2.8
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Flowers – F2.0

I’ve shot this bridge at larger apertures (F1.4 to 2.8) and cropped in to 100% for comparison of sharpness and chromatic and lateral chromatic aberration:

F1.4
F1.4 – significant lateral chromatic aberration in slightly out-of-focus areas
F1.6
F1.6
F1.7
F1.7
F2.0
F2.0 – less lateral chromatic aberration
F2.8
F2.8

I do like to shoot at F2 to 2.8 with this lens.

Conclusion:

I do like this lens, although I wish for the Sony 85mm FE version to come soon, as I can see that lens being very useful with the eye auto-focus feature for portraits. Until then, this will be my go-to portrait lens.

Boon