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Hands On With Sony’s 85mm f/1.4 and 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master Series | Initial Thoughts

By Hanssie on March 5th 2016

Last month, Sony announced a premium line of lenses that professionals have been waiting forever for. With the G Master brand, Sony brought the best in terms of quality and optics. It sits above their current line of G series lenses. I was in Miami for a Sony media event to check out two of the three lenses: the 85mm f1.4 and the 24-70mm f2.8 (the third being the 70-200mm f/2.8), along with the brand new a6300 (you can read my initial thoughts on that camera here).

With premium lenses comes a premium price tag, but can the new kid on the (lens) block compete with the rest of the big boys?

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Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM

If you started this article wanting to know about the 24-70mm, I’m sorry to tell you that I won’t be talking too much about it because once I put the 85mm on, I didn’t want to take it off. Not even when I did some shooting in Miami’s Wynwood Art District where a 24-70mm would’ve made the most sense to capture the gigantic wall murals. With this 85mm, Sony brought its A game, and it is wow-worthy.

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I may be a bit biased because the 85 is my favorite focal length. I loved Canon’s dreamy 85 1.2; my first lens with Fuji was the 56mm 1.2 (crop sensor) and is still one of my favorite pieces of glass I’ve ever used, but now, here’s Sony’s 85mm f1.4 G Master. I was tempted to never to give it back. It’s beautifully creamy and tack sharp. What more can you ask for in a lens, right?

The lens is well constructed. It feels solid, as expected from a premium lens. It weighs in at 1.8 lbs (820 grams) and is dust and moisture resistant. It has a nice finish and feel, and I like the manual aperture ring on the barrel.

If you’ve ever used Canon’s 85mm, you know that it took some hunting to find its focus, which resulted in missed shots from time to time, but with the beautiful bokeh it produced, I could find it in my heart to forgive. Not so with the Sony 85. 

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Using the a7R II with the 85mm in a dark Cuban restaurant, I found the focus to be a bit slower but still much faster than the Canon; and it was accurate and sharp. It zeroed in on its intended target and gave me bokeh to sigh for. Details were crystal clear, and there was no noticeable hunting. The images just pop from a background of beautiful bokeh. The bokeh on the Canon is beautiful too, but the Sony 85mm is a different beauty, in a class by itself. It probably has to do with its unique 11 bladed aperture. Images just pop from the creamy background.

Portrait shooters are going to love this spectacular lens. The only thing that people may not love is that the lens does not have image stabilization. But trust me. You’re going to want this lens. It ships the end of this month and is worth every penny of the $1800 price tag. Pre-order it here.

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Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens

A staple in most photographers’ bags is the 24-70 focal length. Its versatility makes it a workhorse that is suitable for all types of shooting situations. Because of that, the 24-70 focal length is what is on my camera a majority of the time (well, except this trip). But the short time I spent with the Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master, it proved a more than capable lens with amazing optics that fall right in line with its 85mm counterpart (and I imagine the 70-200mm as well).

After using the Canon 24-70mm and the Fuji 16-55mm, Sony exceeds both in my opinion. The Sony gave me no issues at all, focused well, and focused quickly. As expected and like the 85, it’s a heavy lens. At 1.9lbs, it’s hefty, but luckily the mirrorless bodies are nice and light to compensate for these quality pieces of glass.

The 24-70mm f/2.8 will be shipping at the end of this month and is priced at $2200. Pre-order it here.

You can also put a pre-order in for the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens here.

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Finally. The lenses that many have been waiting for from Sony. These lenses are the best that Sony has ever made – that’s what they tell us, and since I have no experience with the other Sony lenses, I cannot vouch for that. I can say that the G Master line of lenses are top of the line and some of the best glass I’ve ever used.

I love what Sony has done to change the mirrorless market, continually pushing technology further and listening to what their customers want and need, then exceeding their expectations. I’m very excited to see what Sony has in store for us next!

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Phil Bautista

    It’s nice to see Sony bumping up their selection of lenses in a big way. One common complaint about people thinking of making the switch was the limited selection of bright glass for Sony mirrorless cameras and it looks like Sony has answered the bell. While it’s still a far cry from the selection of more established companies like Canon and Nikon, they are quickly catching up with their competitors in the mirrorless market.

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  2. Shawn Kelley

    Looks as if Sony is serious about raising the bar and pushing hard. Competitive price points, too! I’ve been noticing a few folks jumping over just for the low light capabilities, but now some competitive glass? Might be time to rent or borrow…

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    • Paul Nguyen

      How is the price point in any way competitive? The Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II is $1750, the Sony is $2200. That’s not competitive at all. Sony lenses are over-priced because they can afford to be. They don’t have any competition on the Sony platform such as lenses from Tamron and Sigma capturing the lower end of the market. Sony can and do charge more than they should for their lenses.

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    • Austin Swenson

      Most places actually list the canon as 1900 with some kind of discount, but the initial price of the mark ii was a little higher than it is now. They are also making a bit more to emphasize resolution from these lenses.

      At any rate, I am guessing that the price will eventually go down within just a few months like other sony lenses have.

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    • adam sanford

      They are actually charging so much because they have earned decades of trust from photographers with their great FF lens track record.
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      Totally kidding.
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      Sony has the catnip and is dangling it very high off the ground to a small horde of Sony devotees who have been craving this kind of kit for too long. But focus-by-wire lenses for north of $2k? Are you kidding me?

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    • Phil Bautista

      It’s competitive if you compare their prices with Leica. There isn’t much competition in the full frame mirrorless market.

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    • Hanssie

      Do it! Rent it and see what you think!

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