We had a chance to have a hands-on test of the new Sony FE 100mm F2.8 STF OSS GM and FE 85mm F1.8 lenses at a media event in New York City. With both lenses to test and a variety of models to work with, the assembled press spent a few hours putting the lenses through their paces.
Our video review of the new Sony lenses
Both lenses are compelling to the pro photographer, especially those shooting portraits, weddings and events, thanks to the sharpness of the lenses and their excellent background blur, or “bokeh.”
The 100mm F2.8 STF is the most interesting of the lenses, thanks to an optical design that makes background specular highlights look more pleasing. With most lenses that have a smooth bokeh, highlights appear soft, but they can often appear distorted and with bright spots. Anyone who has seen Christmas lights appear as oval on a photograph has seen this effect, which is present in the background lights in this image we shot with the 85mm F1.8. It’s a pleasing image, but the lights toward the edge are localized and distractingly bright because the brightness doesn’t feather out.
The STF lens is designed with an “apodization” element, which eliminates this highlight distortion, as seen in the image, shot with the same background and subject distance using the 100mm f/2.8 lens.
Thanks to the optical design of the 100mm f/2.8, these LED string lights are softer, rounder and—most importantly—not as distracting as they feather toward the edges. Internal image-stabilization works with the company’s in-camera five-axis-stabilization for easy handholding in low light.
The 100mm f/2.8 lens joins the company’s G Master series, which means it’s designed with an incredibly high resolution to take advantage of sensors available today, as well as higher-megapixel sensors in the coming years. The 100mm F2.8 STF OSS GM lens, available in March 2017, will have a price of around $1,500.The 85mm F1.8 is surprisingly affordable, with a price of around $600. Our coverage of the announcement can be found in our news section.