Lens review: sharpness – Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM vs Sony 85mm f/1.8
Which is the better choice — the Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM (affiliate) or the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 (affiliate) — it’s a question that comes up regularly in the Sony discussion groups and FB groups. The short answer – you would be very happy with either option. In this review though, we are going to consider the sharpness of both lenses. There is also a link where you can download the RAW files shot of a lens test chart, if you want to have a closer look.
I took photos of the lens test chart in my studio, comparing the sharpness of the Sony 85mm f1.4 GM against the 85mm f1.8 at the wider apertures. I tried to keep things as consistent as possible. Download the RAW files and have a look. Check the edge-to-edge sharpness. Also check for pincushion distortion and chromatic aberration – even though these can be corrected in post.
It should be clear just how sharp the f1.4 lens is, even wide open. As I mentioned in my review: Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM Lens, in my opinion it is the best 85mm lens I have used. And I have used and owned the range from Nikon, Canon and Sony. Even the Fuji 56mm f1.2
Now that we know both lenses are in the “crazy sharp” category, your decision will have to rest on size, budget, and speed of AF:
- This lens is surprisingly sharp, edge to edge, wide open! Check the review: Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM lens for 100% crop examples as well.
- That wide aperture gives you a slight advantage in handholding ability in low light.
- Keep in mind that the f1.4 optic renders the subject and scene differently than the f/1.8 beyond what you’d think the difference in depth of field would be. It just looks different.
- Yes, it is slightly slower to focus the the 85mm f1.8, (and it does make a light noise when it focuses), but the AF speed is mostly immaterial for the work that I do — portraits and weddings. I don’t do sport, therefore I don’t particularly notice the AF speed when using this lens.
- Focusing is faster than the f1/.4
- Compact and lightweight
- It is razor sharp. Check the review: Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 lens, where there are 100% crops to show you just how crisp it is wide open.
- It is so affordable that this lens should be in your camera bag if you can’t swing the extra $1000 for the f/1.4 GM lens
Camera settings for the photo above
- review: Sony FE 85mm f/1.8 lens
- review: Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM lens
- Other reviews of Sony photo gear
- 85mm – The best lens to change your portrait photography