This week is an exciting week for Sony mirrorless fans, because two more lenses have joined the native FE mount in the form of FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM and 85mm f/1.8. While Sony has already brought out the stellar 85mm f/1.4 GM lens last year, it is an expensive pro-grade lens, so there was a gap to fill for an enthusiast-grade lens and that’s what the 85mm f/1.8 is all about. At $599, it is a third of the price of its big GM brother, so it will be an appealing choice for portrait photographers on a tight budget. The Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM joins the ranks of high-end GM lenses that are designed to deliver outstanding contrast, sharpness and other optical characteristics with the latest and greatest technology the company has to offer. Although it has a relatively slow aperture of f/2.8 (for a portrait lens), it is also designed specifically for portrait photography, since it is the first Sony FE lens to feature a sophisticated optical design that incorporates “Smooth Trans Focus” technology that uses apodization filter, similar to the Fuji’s 56mm f/1.2 APD lens. Sony promises very smooth and pleasing bokeh, so it will be interesting to see how the rendering of the lens would compare to its 85mm f/1.4 GM lens.
Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM
Sony is definitely making a big deal out of its new STF lens, saying that the lens will be a prime candidate to show off stunning bokeh. Let’s take a look at some of the image samples presented by Sony and see what to expect from the Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM:
As you can see, STF will certainly make a pretty drastic difference in the way that the background highlights will be rendered – it appears that the highlights will take a distinctly circular shape and there will be a certain “fill” character to them. I am not sure if I like this effect or not, as such shapes can look a bit distracting in my opinion. However, for those who favor the ability to yield this particular look, the 100mm f/2.8 STF GM should not disappoint. Take look at the next two examples of the possibilities:
I personally like the bokeh rendering of the first flower image, but I am not sure that I like the round shapes in the second sample. To me personally, beautiful bokeh is represented by pleasing out of focus highlights that do not have a distinct border around them. However, I have to say, these look pretty interesting and unique though!
In terms of optical construction, the Sony FE 100mm f/2.8 STF GM has a pretty interesting design that incorporates an aspherical lens – something we normally do not see on high-end portrait lenses, since aspherical lenses tend to produce onion-shaped bokeh:
Keep in mind that the apodication filter steals quite a bit of light, so although it is an f/2.8 to f/20 lens, the actual amount of light that passes through the lens will be equivalent to T5.6 to T22. This could be good both and bad – definitely bad in low-light situations, but great for shooting portraits outdoors with off-camera flash.
And in terms of sharpness, you can already see that the lens should be superb by looking at the very first sample image – you can see all the skin details of the model. Let’s take a look at the MTF chart of the lens that is provided by Sony:
Interestingly, Sony provided an MTF chart for both wide open and stopped down aperture of the lens. At f/2.8, we can see that the lens will have superb contrast and sharpness, which is exactly what one would want in such a lens. And as expected, the lens should do amazingly well when stopped down to f/8 as well, with both center and corners looking really sharp.
Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
The enthusiast-grade 85mm f/1.8 is going to be a great addition to the Sony family of FE-mount lenses. Not anything fancy in terms of optical construction and MTF performance, but that’s a given for this grade of a lens.
We can expect decent performance wide open, with most likely sharpness increasing significantly at f/2.0 – f/2.8 range and by f/8, it should provide very sharp results from the center all the way to the corners of the frame, as shown in the below MTF chart:
Without any aspherical lens elements, the lens should do quite well in terms of rendering bokeh as well.
And here is the official announcement from the manufacturer:
LAS VEGAS, Feb. 7, 2017 – Sony Electronics, a worldwide leader in digital imaging and the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer, has today introduced two new lenses for their popular line of E-mount interchangeable lens cameras.
Sony’s new lenses include one of their flagship G Master Series – an FE 100mm F2.81 STF GM OSS mid- telephoto prime lens (model SEL100F28GM) built to deliver breathtaking bokeh with a unique STF™ (Smooth Trans Focus) design, and a new compact, lightweight FE 85mm F1.8 mid-telephoto prime lens (model SEL85F18) that is a welcome addition to the bag of any hobbyist or enthusiast photographer looking to create amazing portraits.
They have also introduced a new powerful, compact flash (model HVL-F45RM) with radio-controlled wireless communication that is ideal for professional shooting with Sony’s lineup of α7 full-frame cameras.
FE 100mm F2.8 STF GM OSS Telephoto Prime Lens
A specially designed mid-telephoto, full-frame prime lens, the new 100mm STF is built to produce truly unique, magnificent and beautiful bokeh while maintaining the exceptional standard of resolution that is showcased by Sony’s entire line of flagship G Master series lenses, making it a powerful photographic tool for any portrait, fashion, nature or wedding photographer.
These impressive defocus capabilities are made possible by the lens’ advanced optical structure, as it features a newly designed 11-bladed aperture and a unique optical apodization lens element. Similar to a neutral density filter that increases in density towards the edges, the apodization element creates beautiful transitions of in-focus to out-of-focus areas within an image, making for exceptionally soft, smooth bokeh that adds depth and dimensionality. This allows the subjects to stand out against beautifully defocused elements in both the foreground and background, producing an image that is naturally pleasing to the eye. The design of the lens also ensures that vignetting is kept to an absolute minimum, ensuring optimum image quality.
Additionally, the new 100mm lens supports both contrast AF and focal-plane phase detection AF, and has a high-precision, quiet direct drive SSM (Super Sonic Motor) system that ensures exceptionally fast and accurate AF performance. The SEL100F28GM also offers up to 0.25x close-up capabilities with a built-in macro switching ring, built-in Optical SteadyShot™ image stabilization, a customizable focus hold button, AF/MF switch, aperture ring and more. It is dust and moisture resistant as well.
FE 85mm F1.8 Telephoto Prime Lens
The new 85mm F1.8 mid-telephoto prime lens offers an extremely versatile, lightweight and compact telephoto prime lens solution for a variety of Sony camera owners ranging from working professionals to emerging enthusiasts that have stepped up to full-frame or APS-C cameras for the first time. With its wide F1.8 aperture, it can produce impressive, exceptionally sharp portraits with soft background defocus that take advantage of its 85mm focal length and wide F1.8 maximum aperture.
The new prime lens features a 9-bladed circular aperture mechanism that ensures smooth, natural looking bokeh, and a double linear motor system to allow for fast, precise and quiet focusing. It also has a focus hold button that can be customized and assigned together with functions in the camera body like the popular Eye AF feature. There is a smooth, responsive focus ring and AF/MF switch as well, and the lens is also dust and moisture resistant.
Pricing and Availability
Both of the new lenses will ship to authorized dealers throughout North America. The new FE 100mm F2.8 STF OSS GM Telephoto Prime Lens will ship this March for about $1,500 US and $2,050 CA. The new FE 85mm F1.8 Mid-Telephoto Prime Lens will ship this March for about $600 US and $800 CA. Replacement lens hoods for each of the new models will also be available for purchase as well.