Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

Started 3 months ago | Polls
tonyz1 Contributing Member • Posts: 515
Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

I've been re-building my lens kit away from medium-sized primes (e.g. Batis) to large and versatile Sigma zooms with a few small primes for when I want to go light. The last remaining gap in my kit is at the telephoto end between 70mm to 200mm and would love some thoughts on how to fill this? Not interested in any of the 70-200mm options available since I want at least one lens faster than f2.8.

My current kit are the Sigma 14-24mm, Sigma 24-70mm, Sony 200-600mm, and the Sigma 45mm as a small prime. The Sony 200-600mm might be sold if I grab the 100-400mm more but for now I'd keep both in my kit. I've narrowed it down to the Sony 135mm f1.8 or the new Sigma zoom + one of the sony 85mm options - most likely the f1.8.

I would use the lens or lenses for: portrait photography (mostly indoors and casual friends & family), landscape photography, some wildlife photography, and street photography (day time and low light). I had a batis 135mm that worked pretty well for these use cases but not wedded to the 135mm focal length.

I would love to get everyone's thoughts on how you would think about this decision. Thanks!

 tonyz1's gear list:tonyz1's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony a9 Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
POLL
Sony 135mm f1.8
25.0% 3  votes
Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm
58.3% 7  votes
Other
16.7% 2  votes
  Show results
thiefofpresence
thiefofpresence Contributing Member • Posts: 876
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

tonyz1 wrote:

I've been re-building my lens kit away from medium-sized primes (e.g. Batis) to large and versatile Sigma zooms with a few small primes for when I want to go light. The last remaining gap in my kit is at the telephoto end between 70mm to 200mm and would love some thoughts on how to fill this? Not interested in any of the 70-200mm options available since I want at least one lens faster than f2.8.

My current kit are the Sigma 14-24mm, Sigma 24-70mm, Sony 200-600mm, and the Sigma 45mm as a small prime. The Sony 200-600mm might be sold if I grab the 100-400mm more but for now I'd keep both in my kit. I've narrowed it down to the Sony 135mm f1.8 or the new Sigma zoom + one of the sony 85mm options - most likely the f1.8.

I would use the lens or lenses for: portrait photography (mostly indoors and casual friends & family), landscape photography, some wildlife photography, and street photography (day time and low light). I had a batis 135mm that worked pretty well for these use cases but not wedded to the 135mm focal length.

I would love to get everyone's thoughts on how you would think about this decision. Thanks!

I have the Tamron 70-180 and FE 200-600 but still think 100-400 is a great walkabout zoom when I wouldn’t want to lug 200-600 around (as I always would for birding)

That said 135 GM is just a lens in its own category that accomplishes what it does in a way no zoom can touch. In fairness a 135 prime is really no substitute for the zoom versatility either.

Strange decision that leads me to believe you need both as neither substitutes the other.

On the separate issue of 85, I found Samyangs offering so compelling I skipped over either Sony’s 1.8 and GM offering

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Sony A9ii | Sony FE 20/1.8 G; Sony FE 35/1.8; Sony Sonnar 35/2.8; Sigma 45/2.8 C; Sony Sonnar 55/1.8; Sigma 70/2.8 Macro Art; Samyang AF 85/1.4; | Sigma 24-70/2.8 Art; Sony FE 24-105/4 G; Tamron 70-180/2.8; Sony FE 100-400 GM; Sony FE 200-600 G; Sony 1.4X TC | Minolta M-Rokkor 28/2.8

 thiefofpresence's gear list:thiefofpresence's gear list
Sony a9 II Sony 1.4x Teleconverter Sony FE 35mm F2.8 Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 +11 more
OP tonyz1 Contributing Member • Posts: 515
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

thiefofpresence wrote:

tonyz1 wrote:

I've been re-building my lens kit away from medium-sized primes (e.g. Batis) to large and versatile Sigma zooms with a few small primes for when I want to go light. The last remaining gap in my kit is at the telephoto end between 70mm to 200mm and would love some thoughts on how to fill this? Not interested in any of the 70-200mm options available since I want at least one lens faster than f2.8.

My current kit are the Sigma 14-24mm, Sigma 24-70mm, Sony 200-600mm, and the Sigma 45mm as a small prime. The Sony 200-600mm might be sold if I grab the 100-400mm more but for now I'd keep both in my kit. I've narrowed it down to the Sony 135mm f1.8 or the new Sigma zoom + one of the sony 85mm options - most likely the f1.8.

I would use the lens or lenses for: portrait photography (mostly indoors and casual friends & family), landscape photography, some wildlife photography, and street photography (day time and low light). I had a batis 135mm that worked pretty well for these use cases but not wedded to the 135mm focal length.

I would love to get everyone's thoughts on how you would think about this decision. Thanks!

I have the Tamron 70-180 and FE 200-600 but still think 100-400 is a great walkabout zoom when I wouldn’t want to lug 200-600 around (as I always would for birding)

That said 135 GM is just a lens in its own category that accomplishes what it does in a way no zoom can touch. In fairness a 135 prime is really no substitute for the zoom versatility either.

Strange decision that leads me to believe you need both as neither substitutes the other.

On the separate issue of 85, I found Samyangs offering so compelling I skipped over either Sony’s 1.8 and GM offering

How's the AF on the Samyang?

Yeah the 135mm f1.8 is definitely on my gear lust list but extremely expensive - I was going to pull the trigger on one with the B&H edu discount but then I realized I could get a 100-400mm zoom and a 85mm for the same money or less so been going back and forth in my head.

 tonyz1's gear list:tonyz1's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony a9 Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
AlephNull Senior Member • Posts: 2,001
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

On the A7R III that you have, the Sony 135 GM will be a fine lens. If you are considering the A7R IV (or its successor), the Sony 135 GM will be extraordinary. This is a lens demonstrating that Sony's claim of designing the GM lenses for the future bodies is true.

I am really enjoying the 135 GM on the A7R IV. The resolution is impressive, and I can crop an image 3000 x 1500 from anywhere in the frame and it will stand up as sharp and clear.

I expect that the new Sigma 100-400 will be a decent lens, but nothing special (it's a Contemporary lens, not an Art). If you aren't looking to push your lenses and bodies to extremes, then this and the Sony 85mm f/1.8 may well be a better choice.

 AlephNull's gear list:AlephNull's gear list
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OP tonyz1 Contributing Member • Posts: 515
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

AlephNull wrote:

On the A7R III that you have, the Sony 135 GM will be a fine lens. If you are considering the A7R IV (or its successor), the Sony 135 GM will be extraordinary. This is a lens demonstrating that Sony's claim of designing the GM lenses for the future bodies is true.

I am really enjoying the 135 GM on the A7R IV. The resolution is impressive, and I can crop an image 3000 x 1500 from anywhere in the frame and it will stand up as sharp and clear.

I expect that the new Sigma 100-400 will be a decent lens, but nothing special (it's a Contemporary lens, not an Art). If you aren't looking to push your lenses and bodies to extremes, then this and the Sony 85mm f/1.8 may well be a better choice.

Yeah agree on just how excellent the 135mm GM is however the weight and size gives me pause. It's bigger and heavier than my Sigma 24-70mm zoom.

I ended up grabbing a used Sony 85mm f1.8 at a good price. Not sure if I'll keep it but I figure I should give it a try and won't lose too much money on the resale if I'm unsatisfied. Previously used the Loxia 85, Batis 85, and Batis 135 so have some baseline expectations on image quality to compare against.

 tonyz1's gear list:tonyz1's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony a9 Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
thiefofpresence
thiefofpresence Contributing Member • Posts: 876
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

tonyz1 wrote:

How's the AF on the Samyang?

Having had the 85 GM and FE 85/1.8, I find that with firmware at latest update, it genuinely performs at native speeds. Its taken Samyang a few generations, but its seems like since the AF 85/1.4, they have Sony AF nearly perfected, and would expect all newer of their lenses to not have any AF envy of native Sony.

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Sony A9ii | Sony FE 20/1.8 G; Sony FE 35/1.8; Sony Sonnar 35/2.8; Sigma 45/2.8 C; Sony Sonnar 55/1.8; Sigma 70/2.8 Macro Art; Samyang AF 85/1.4; | Sigma 24-70/2.8 Art; Sony FE 24-105/4 G; Tamron 70-180/2.8; Sony FE 100-400 GM; Sony FE 200-600 G; Sony 1.4X TC | Minolta M-Rokkor 28/2.8

 thiefofpresence's gear list:thiefofpresence's gear list
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MILC man Senior Member • Posts: 4,322
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

comparing prime vs prime/zoom at radically differing focal lengths doesn't make sense for what i shoot, so i can't cast any vote.

PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,623
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

I really don't see a 135mm or 85mm prime can substitute a 100-400 zoom.

Nevertheless I own all of those in respective FL stops.

100-400 GM - landscape, wildlife, zoo, airshow etc that can use TCs.

135 GM - portrait and landscape

Rokinon (Samyang) FE 85/1.4 AF and Loxia FE 85/2.4, former for portrait and latter for landscape/cityscape.

These lenses are very different in FL and main usage, comparing apple to orange.

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Canon EOS-1D Mark III Sony a9 Sony a7R III Sony a7R IV Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye +18 more
OP tonyz1 Contributing Member • Posts: 515
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?
1

PWPhotography wrote:

I really don't see a 135mm or 85mm prime can substitute a 100-400 zoom.

Nevertheless I own all of those in respective FL stops.

100-400 GM - landscape, wildlife, zoo, airshow etc that can use TCs.

135 GM - portrait and landscape

Rokinon (Samyang) FE 85/1.4 AF and Loxia FE 85/2.4, former for portrait and latter for landscape/cityscape.

These lenses are very different in FL and main usage, comparing apple to orange.

Yeah I think an 85mm and 100-400 is ideal to cover those use cases above. My mistake was switching to the 200-600 - I had hoped to do more wildlife photography this year but hasn’t happened for lots of reasons.

 tonyz1's gear list:tonyz1's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony a9 Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 FE Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN +2 more
Jeff2013
Jeff2013 Senior Member • Posts: 2,952
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

I own all three, but never use the 100-400 for portrait photography.

The real jewel is the GM 135 (on the RIV); however, you mentioned indoor portraits, for which 135mm might be a bit long... which leaves the 85mm.

If you are a pixel peeper (or crop a lot), I have found the Sigma 85mm ART to be noticeably sharper than the several copies of the GM 85mm I owned. The LenRentals MTF graphs verify this.

For convenience in street and travel photography, I use the Sony 85mm f1.8 (they can be had very cheaply on the used market).

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PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,623
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

tonyz1 wrote:

PWPhotography wrote:

I really don't see a 135mm or 85mm prime can substitute a 100-400 zoom.

Nevertheless I own all of those in respective FL stops.

100-400 GM - landscape, wildlife, zoo, airshow etc that can use TCs.

135 GM - portrait and landscape

Rokinon (Samyang) FE 85/1.4 AF and Loxia FE 85/2.4, former for portrait and latter for landscape/cityscape.

These lenses are very different in FL and main usage, comparing apple to orange.

Yeah I think an 85mm and 100-400 is ideal to cover those use cases above. My mistake was switching to the 200-600 - I had hoped to do more wildlife photography this year but hasn’t happened for lots of reasons.

I own both 100-400 GM and 200-600 G (bought in the holiday season on B&H EDU discount).  Yes 100-400 GM is much more versatile, much lighter and smaller to carry into trips. I carry it in even landscape type trips.  It has a very ideal FL range that substitute a 70-200 zoom in such purpose.  Bought 200-600 G largely for airshow events this year that sadly all cancelled, and for occasional wildlife but I don't have much chance as still quite occupied in job and weekend family life.  However 600mm reach, internal zooming and only needs 1/4 (90 degree) turn is critical in those areas.

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OP tonyz1 Contributing Member • Posts: 515
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

Jeff2013 wrote:

I own all three, but never use the 100-400 for portrait photography.

The real jewel is the GM 135 (on the RIV); however, you mentioned indoor portraits, for which 135mm might be a bit long... which leaves the 85mm.

If you are a pixel peeper (or crop a lot), I have found the Sigma 85mm ART to be noticeably sharper than the several copies of the GM 85mm I owned. The LenRentals MTF graphs verify this.

For convenience in street and travel photography, I use the Sony 85mm f1.8 (they can be had very cheaply on the used market).

Yeah I just grabbed a Sony 85mm f1.8 for street. I think I might end up grabbing the Sigma 135mm to save a few bucks when it comes up for sale again. It's not much bigger but a lot cheaper than the Sony version from what I can tell.

I was going to skip the 135mm f1.8 in general as a category but I do think I want some lenses that deliver unique results and it's definitely one of them.

 tonyz1's gear list:tonyz1's gear list
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Lasse p Regular Member • Posts: 260
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

Right now i only have two lenses for my setup.

The 200-600 for wildlife and the 135GM for portraits. I would have gotten the 600GM if my financial situation allowed but it does not. The 135GM is the best lens i have ever used or owned. I will never sell it. It is sharp corner to corner and the rendering is out of this world. If i could pick one, i would go for that.

Super sharp, beautiful rendering. 135 GM

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PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,623
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

Lasse p wrote:

Right now i only have two lenses for my setup.

The 200-600 for wildlife and the 135GM for portraits. I would have gotten the 600GM if my financial situation allowed but it does not. The 135GM is the best lens i have ever used or owned. I will never sell it. It is sharp corner to corner and the rendering is out of this world. If i could pick one, i would go for that.

Wow, no lenses under 135mm?

Super sharp, beautiful rendering. 135 GM

Such small size doesn't fully demo.  Here are my full size on A7r IV on my standard test subjects.

full size

full size

 PWPhotography's gear list:PWPhotography's gear list
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PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,623
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

tonyz1 wrote:

Jeff2013 wrote:

I own all three, but never use the 100-400 for portrait photography.

The real jewel is the GM 135 (on the RIV); however, you mentioned indoor portraits, for which 135mm might be a bit long... which leaves the 85mm.

If you are a pixel peeper (or crop a lot), I have found the Sigma 85mm ART to be noticeably sharper than the several copies of the GM 85mm I owned. The LenRentals MTF graphs verify this.

For convenience in street and travel photography, I use the Sony 85mm f1.8 (they can be had very cheaply on the used market).

Yeah I just grabbed a Sony 85mm f1.8 for street. I think I might end up grabbing the Sigma 135mm to save a few bucks when it comes up for sale again. It's not much bigger but a lot cheaper than the Sony version from what I can tell.

Sigma 135 Art is heavier 1130 g over 135 GM at 950 g that itself is not light and small. Unless you must need f1.8, Zeiss Batis 135/2.8 (that has OSS) is a great option in traveling. Many including myself sold Batis to exchange for 135 GM so you can grab in bargain around $1K or even a bit less these days. For landscape that usually you stop down a bit, honestly I have not seen much difference in sharpness but Batis 135 is much lighter at 614 g that is significantly lighter. I carried it into two trips. The lens also has Zeiss trademark color rendering. Then it has OSS that helps in low-light hand-held photos, effectively compensate 1+1/3 stop disadvantage over 135 GM or Sigma 135 Art.

For 85mm I have Rokinon FE 85/1.4 AF and Loxia 85/2.4 that complement each other. Loxia 85 is also very sharp (neck to neck to CV 65 in my side by side test) and generates beautiful 10-point sunstar and pleasing Zeiss color rendering, much prefer in landscape/cityscape photos.

full size

full size

Honestly don't see much softer or even noticeable softer than 135 GM at respective wide open. I use Lensrentals or any studio test for a reference that might not reflect that obviously in real-world photos. I applied the default +40 sharpening in Lr in all above photos as reflect how I process in reality.

I was going to skip the 135mm f1.8 in general as a category but I do think I want some lenses that deliver unique results and it's definitely one of them.

Bunch of such lenses, such as Sigma 105/1.4 Art that has more pleasing bokeh actually but heavy as a tank. Honestly 135mm prime is not very versatile to me. In reality I only want to carry one of these lenses in mostly landscape trips - 135 GM, 100-400 GM and 70-200 GM or likely potential EF 70-200L/4.0 IS II (after sold FE 70-200 G). Zoom just has much better versatility than a fixed prime. Sharpness is not everything to be honest. Those zoom after stop down in landscape type photos are sharp enough even on A7r IV. Just don't want to over-exaggerate 135 GM, or any lenses as having some magic power, such as on bizarre claim that it beats 70-200 GM after cropped to 200mm. In my test, it's not that IQ after cropped to 200mm succumbed to entire APS-C IQ spectrum - resolution/sharpness, DR and high ISO.

 PWPhotography's gear list:PWPhotography's gear list
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Jeff2013
Jeff2013 Senior Member • Posts: 2,952
Re: Sony 135mm f1.8 or new Sigma 100-400mm + Sony 85mm?

tonyz1 wrote:

Jeff2013 wrote:

I own all three, but never use the 100-400 for portrait photography.

The real jewel is the GM 135 (on the RIV); however, you mentioned indoor portraits, for which 135mm might be a bit long... which leaves the 85mm.

If you are a pixel peeper (or crop a lot), I have found the Sigma 85mm ART to be noticeably sharper than the several copies of the GM 85mm I owned. The LenRentals MTF graphs verify this.

For convenience in street and travel photography, I use the Sony 85mm f1.8 (they can be had very cheaply on the used market).

Yeah I just grabbed a Sony 85mm f1.8 for street. I think I might end up grabbing the Sigma 135mm to save a few bucks when it comes up for sale again. It's not much bigger but a lot cheaper than the Sony version from what I can tell.

I was going to skip the 135mm f1.8 in general as a category but I do think I want some lenses that deliver unique results and it's definitely one of them.

I had the Sigma 135 before the GM135. It is an outstanding lens... sharp across the frame wide open, like the Sony.

Just to throw in another variable, my absolute favorite portrait lens is the Sigma 105mm f1.4 ART. When my shooting circumstance allows me to accommodate the size and weight, it delivers stunning results like no other lens I have shot. For portrait sessions, I now mostly shoot this lens on one body and the Sigma 35mm f1.2 ART on the other.

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 Jeff2013's gear list:Jeff2013's gear list
Sony a9 Sony a7R IV Sony FE 90mm F2.8 macro Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS Sony 1.4x Teleconverter (2016) +9 more
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