Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!

Started Nov 19, 2019 | User reviews
Daniel DM New Member • Posts: 15
Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!
4

I have used this lens for 5 months on my Sony A7 III for many portraits sessions. I upgraded from Sony FE 85mm F1.8 and hoped so much that would have been a masterpiece (considering the price).

The sharpness, rendering, colors and bokeh are really fantastic. But it has one major weakness: AF!

AutoFocus is just unacceptable for a 1800 dollars lens!
- The AF in low light is so slow, and noisy. (like an old cheap lens)
- When the light just falls a little, AF accuracy drops significantly.
- The AF accuracy of people walking slowly is below average at F1.8 (in longer distances, even in good lighting).

I have used both lenses and compared in the same situations and the results are crazy:
99% AF accuracy with Sony FE 85mm F1.8 and just 80% with Sony GM F1.4.

There is no sense to buy an expensive F1.4 lens to use only in full sun for having good and accurate AF! At the end of the day, if the eyes of the subject are not in focus, a photo is just missed.

So 1 month ago I sold the GM, and bought another copy of the Sony 85mm FE F1.8. (which is again amazing!)

 Daniel DM's gear list:Daniel DM's gear list
Sony a7 III Sony FE 85mm F1.8 Tamron 17-28mm F2.8 Di III RXD Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 III +1 more
Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM
Telephoto prime lens • Sony FE
Announced: Feb 3, 2016
Daniel DM's score
4.0
Average community score
4.3
Sony a7 III Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Sony FE 85mm F1.8
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Peter Ngn Junior Member • Posts: 38
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!

This thread should belong to lens section but anyway, it could be a defective lens. I don't own one but my friend let me borrow one for a week for testing purpose and it was great. It's a pure portrait lens so we can't expect anything beyond what the lens is designed for. Lens was tested with A9 and A7RIII.

If people are walking slowly and you have hard time to get good focus, then I suspect it's the body. The job of the lens is to acquire focus, tracking is the body's job. With slow moving subjects, I got great results with the A9. Eye AF enabled, every shot was in focus. The A7RIII couldn't nail them all due to shallow DOF and high MP. At high MP, any flaw can be seen. Good to know that you are happy with 85 1.8. Great lens for the price.

RGBCMYK
RGBCMYK Senior Member • Posts: 2,325
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!
3

I think it is the camera and not the lens.  I shoot with the a7III and a9 and the 9 smokes it with the 85f1.4.  The speed is noticeable.

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My street photography with over 1000 images https://www.instagram.com/chris_broughton/
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 RGBCMYK's gear list:RGBCMYK's gear list
Epson Stylus Pro 4900 +1 more
Sanjeev Das Senior Member • Posts: 1,328
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!
1

I hear you. Everything you said is true. It is a pity. Love the rendering and sharpness of the lens so much. But trying to focus indoors, it groans and cries. It makes a fuss. And sometimes misses focus. I did the same as you - bought the 85/1.8, but kept the GM for special occasions...

 Sanjeev Das's gear list:Sanjeev Das's gear list
Pentax K-3 Pentax K-5 IIs Sony a7R Sony a7R II Pentax smc DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited +12 more
Joe Tam Senior Member • Posts: 1,307
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!

I guess it is time for the next version of this lens to get the direct drive af ssm motors from 400/2.8 and 24mm/1.4.  When I shot Nikon unfortunately the fastest prime glass is usually the slowest(in af) eg. Nikon 35/1.4.  I have the 50/1.4 Zeiss Planar and I am in the same boat.

 Joe Tam's gear list:Joe Tam's gear list
Sony a9 Sony a7R IV Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G ED-IF VR +11 more
MILC man Senior Member • Posts: 4,610
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!
1
SilvanBromide Senior Member • Posts: 4,653
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!
2

RGBCMYK wrote:

I think it is the camera and not the lens. I shoot with the a7III and a9 and the 9 smokes it with the 85f1.4. The speed is noticeable.

FWIW, I use the FE 85mm f1.4 with an a7Riii and do *not* find the AF particularly sluggish (though it is not quite as fast as a few others in the Sony stable).

In particular, I find that it locks focus, then it tracks well, even with fast moving subjects.

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Former Canon, Nikon and Pentax user.
Online Gallery: https://500px.com/raycologon

 SilvanBromide's gear list:SilvanBromide's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Sony FE 35mm F1.4 Sony FE 12-24mm F4 Sony a7 III +25 more
PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,852
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!
1

If weight/size is not matter, you can try Sigma FE 85/1.4 Art, similar bokeh and rendering, even a bit sharper at f1.4 wide open at edge and cheaper, but much heavier.

 PWPhotography's gear list:PWPhotography's gear list
Canon EOS-1D Mark III Sony a7R IV Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 +16 more
RE Alpha
RE Alpha Contributing Member • Posts: 791
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!
1

Daniel DM wrote:

I have used this lens for 5 months on my Sony A7 III for many portraits sessions. I upgraded from Sony FE 85mm F1.8 and hoped so much that would have been a masterpiece (considering the price).

The sharpness, rendering, colors and bokeh are really fantastic. But it has one major weakness: AF!

AutoFocus is just unacceptable for a 1800 dollars lens!
- The AF in low light is so slow, and noisy. (like an old cheap lens)
- When the light just falls a little, AF accuracy drops significantly.
- The AF accuracy of people walking slowly is below average at F1.8 (in longer distances, even in good lighting).

I have used both lenses and compared in the same situations and the results are crazy:
99% AF accuracy with Sony FE 85mm F1.8 and just 80% with Sony GM F1.4.

There is no sense to buy an expensive F1.4 lens to use only in full sun for having good and accurate AF! At the end of the day, if the eyes of the subject are not in focus, a photo is just missed.

So 1 month ago I sold the GM, and bought another copy of the Sony 85mm FE F1.8. (which is again amazing!)

Indeed, this lens is slow to focus. However, even in dim light situations (studio) my hit rate is well above 80% (also with closed down aperture). I did see that from FW3.0 on the A7riii the hit rate dropped. The same happened with the A7riv which I had for one day.

But all the great elements are still there as you have mentioned above. That's why it is one of my favourite lenses and the one to go to for my fashion shoots.

 RE Alpha's gear list:RE Alpha's gear list
Sony a9 Sony a7R III Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro +6 more
Adam Palmer Contributing Member • Posts: 661
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!

I have the GM and I am happy with the AF but it is definitely slower than my tiny little 1.8 and 2.0 lenses.  It's just physics-- its much easier to move tiny little elements.

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 Adam Palmer's gear list:Adam Palmer's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony a7R IV Sony a7 II Tokina AT-X 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 DX Fish-eye Sony FE 55mm F1.8 +10 more
Sanjeev Das Senior Member • Posts: 1,328
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!
2

Adam Palmer wrote:

I have the GM and I am happy with the AF but it is definitely slower than my tiny little 1.8 and 2.0 lenses. It's just physics-- its much easier to move tiny little elements.

The Sony 135/1.8 GM with its XD Linear Motor system doesn't have these issues.

 Sanjeev Das's gear list:Sanjeev Das's gear list
Pentax K-3 Pentax K-5 IIs Sony a7R Sony a7R II Pentax smc DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited +12 more
Adam Palmer Contributing Member • Posts: 661
Re: Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM Review - Awesome rendering but unnaceptable slow AF!

I've never tried that one.  I think some of the most recent lenses are doubling up on focus motors to counteract the heavy elements.

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 Adam Palmer's gear list:Adam Palmer's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony a7R IV Sony a7 II Tokina AT-X 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 DX Fish-eye Sony FE 55mm F1.8 +10 more
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