Sony’s substantial inroads into the professional photography market have been largely due to innovative camera bodies. Starting in 2015, the company redoubled its efforts to introduce lenses that would be equally enticing to advanced shooters. The resulting G Master line is still in its infancy, but hits some of the key focal lengths including the 85mm f/1.4 we tested with N.J. photographer and director David Patiño.
Alongside its super bright f/1.4 aperture, the G Master 85mm has an 11-blade aperture to deliver circular bokeh. It stops down to f/16 and is dust- and moisture-resistant.
The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 2.62 feet when set to manual focus. In AF, you’ll have to stand a bit further away as the lens can then focus on objects 2.79 feet away. You’ll enjoy a magnification of 0.12x. The G Master 85mm uses Sony’s Nano AR Coating to minimize flare and ghosting, and accepts 77mm filters.
Patiño tells us the build quality reminded him of Zeiss lenses we’ve tested. It’s almost twice as heavy as the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 and is reassuringly robust. The lens offers plenty of tactile points for taking control of your exposure. In addition to the focus ring, there’s an aperture ring that has click stops. The aperture can be de-clicked for smooth exposure transitions during movie recording, which is a nice touch. You can adjust aperture only through the ring, though, not the camera, which is something that can take some getting used to.
There’s also a focus hold button to keep you locked into a particular focus distance.
Image Quality & Performance
Patiño used the G Master 85mm for a series of studio portraits and to record b-roll for a client video. His verdict was unequivocal. “I would definitely buy this lens,” Patiño says. It delivered “incredible contrast” and excellent image quality. Patiño tells us it’s an excellent match for the high-resolution a7R II.
While the lens can deliver a very shallow depth of field, we enjoyed the sharpest performance at f/2 through f/11. There is some visible vignetting at f/2 and below, but it’s quickly dispatched with a profile in Lightroom.
Patiño did notice that the lens will obsessively hunt for focus unless “Display Cont. AF Area” is turned off in the a7R II’s menu. With that setting adjusted, the lens focuses swiftly and accurately.
Sony’s growing ranks of professional shooters, especially portrait photographers, won’t be disappointed with the G Master 85mm. It’s super sharp, solidly built and handles well. It’s a bit heavy, though it’s not wildly unbalanced on the company’s full-frame mirrorless cameras.
Sony G Master 85mm f/1.4
PROS: Outstanding image quality; responsive AF; de-clicked aperture for filmmaking.