Sony 85mm 1.8 Review

As a new Sony camera user, I was looking to get some fast prime lenses to get a good glimpse of what the system could do both in terms of photography and video.

Having invested in a standard lens I needed to add to my collection a short telephoto and 85mm happened to be the perfect focal length for what I needed.

We’ll see in the article if this affordable option from Sony is a lens you should pay attention to.

The perfect focal length for portraiture

Portrait of Thomas shot with 5D Mark III and 85mm 1.8 usm (2017)

During my experience as a photographer, I’ve had the opportunity to try almost all of the mainstream focal lengths. From 14mm to 400mm, there are only a couple of lenses you really need. All the other lenses are pretty much specialty lenses.

As an aspiring cinematographer, I feel like everything above 85mm, like 200mm or even 105 mm, looks like someone spying on someone with binoculars. What you really need is picture that other humans can relate to.

With an 85mm lens, everything is more flattering but still keeps a realistic and relatable perspective. It’s perfect for close-up shots. It’s pretty much what humans see in focus at about 30° of field of view.

So in a sense, it’s a perspective that human do recognize, it’s the perspective they have when they focus on something specific.

How does 85mm look on full frame ?

My son took with a Sony A7S III and 85mm f/1.8 at 1.8

This particular focal length basically looks like a 50mm but is way sharper, has more compression which means the background is stretched, so it looks more flattering, and has more blur as well at the same aperture.

Shot of my nephew with 50mm 1.4 looks like on a Nikon D800

This lens is quite impressive, especially for beginners who love to put things out of focus. Unfortunately, 85mm is not necessarily the best for macro capabilities. This means that the minimum focusing distance is usually around 0.8m.

Even if you go a bit far from your subject, you’ll still have this 3-D popping effect. You’ll need a lot of space between you and your subject to get the same view as a 50mm (body shot), so in interiors, it might not be the best bet.

Portrait of my wife using a Nikon D800 and 85mm 1.8G

The 85mm focal length is better for headshots and shots starting from the torso or shoulder up. Not to say that you can’t use the 85mm in the field to get some full-body shots.

Full-body shots actually look amazing on it since they really separate the subject from the background, giving it the look of medium format.

My wife three months pregnant with my son

I think most photographers tend to use these lenses the most. The 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm Not much of a field of view separates them. The difference is just about enough for you to get a slightly different feeling.

Picture taken with a Nikon D800 and 24mm 1.8G

24mm is also a great lens, but everything above and beyond is basically exaggerated. If you needed to distinguish between a 24mm and a 35 mm, it would be as simple as you think. The same goes for a 50mm and an 85mm.

Is the Sony FE 85mm 1.8 is good value for money ?

Sony FE 85mm 1.8

In almost every system, there are usually two affordable lenses. The 50mm 1.8 and the 85mm 1.8, which are usually slightly more expensive,

The 85mm lenses have always been extremely sharp with little to no distortion; it’s the nature of the focal length. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Sony, Nikon, or Canon; I believe they have more or less the same formula.

If you want to see some of my work with this Sony FE 85mm 1.8 you can check our portofolio :

How does it compare to the 85mm 1.4 GM ?

Sony FE 85mm 1.4 GM

I think it’s fair to say that the 85mm 1.4 GM is an overall better lens. The question is, do you need 1.4, and are you willing to spend the extra money and carry the extra weight?

For me, 85mm lenses produced a lot of bokeh at 1.8. I don’t need the extra third of a stop of blur, and I would rather use this money to get myself another affordable prime.

How does it compare to the competitors ?

Sigma 85mm 1.4

Well, it’s not really a concern, as if you are using a system such as Sony, the best lens will most often be the native lens. Especially if you rely on autofocus, which is something I need as a videographer.

This lens is cheaper than the Sony FE 35mm 1.8; the only lens cheaper than this is basically the 50mm 1.8. So third parties won’t give much value in this regard.


8.6 out of 10.

As a portrait photographer, the 85mm 1.8 is basically a no-brainer since it complements other popular focal lengths well, such as the 35mm and the 50mm.

As a videographer it’s a great light weight and inexpensive lens. When you have the space you’ll get some amazing results from this focal, with some shallow depth of field and some parallax effects.

Marc Taraz Steiner using the A7S III and 85mm 1.8 for some beautiful parallax effect

This lens is perhaps one of the most impressive for the money. The only downside is that the minimal focusing distance is 0.8 m, which is not enough to get a macro shot such as an eye.

Also, if you already own, say, a 24-70mm 2.8, perhaps this lens will become redundant and will not give much value with a slightly longer and faster lens.

Other than that, this lens is basically a product that everyone should try or own, in my opinion. Even my friend Joel bought one after my recommendation, and he really loves it.


Sony FE 85mm 1.8

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What do you think?

Written by dudeoi

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