Portrait lens

Started Jul 24, 2022 | Questions
Orsonneke
Orsonneke Senior Member • Posts: 1,770
Portrait lens

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

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Sony a1 Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM
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Martin_99 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,661
Re: Portrait lens
2

I assume, that you are looking for f1.4. I would go for Sigma 85 f1.4 DG DN, but Sony is still interesting option.

https://sonyalpha.blog/2020/08/23/sigma-85mm-f1-4-dg-dn-art/

There is some short comparison at the end.

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poipoipoi_2016 Senior Member • Posts: 1,200
Re: Portrait lens

Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

Of the 3 85/1.4's on the mount, I've owned the two that aren't the GM.

I sorta miss my Samyang because when it hit, it really really hit, but it just had so many problems.   I've got a great picture of a sunset where the sun literally dripped down through the picture and it's everything.

The Sigma OTOH is a great lens that's tack-sharp with actually working AF.  It's also smaller than the GM for less money.

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HappyMartin Regular Member • Posts: 224
Re: Portrait lens

I have the Sigma 85 1:4 DN. I’m very fond of it. Bought it to shoot environmental portrait type stuff of factory workers but I have since used it for all sorts of things even product photography when client wanted very shallow DOF.

Solid lens, good build quality, descent AF and great image quality. Quite compact and a reasonable price. Don’t regret buying it at all. Wouldn’t mind something a bit longer however.

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poipoipoi_2016 Senior Member • Posts: 1,200
Re: Portrait lens

HappyMartin wrote:

Wouldn’t mind something a bit longer however.

Sigma 105/1.4 DG DN when?

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HappyMartin Regular Member • Posts: 224
Re: Portrait lens
2

poipoipoi_2016 wrote:

HappyMartin wrote:

Wouldn’t mind something a bit longer however.

Sigma 105/1.4 DG DN when?

Local Sigma agents lent me the current 105 1:4 and I loved everything about it except it’s size. I was told a DN version of it was planned but I think they were just being hopeful. I would buy one in a heart beat.

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LenRivers Veteran Member • Posts: 4,308
Re: Portrait lens

Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

I define portrait as either full length or waist and higher. For shoulders that is more a headshot.

I consider where I will be taking these images. Indoors or outside. Do I need any extra light like flash, do I need to use any light modifiers and if so can I do this myself or need a second person to hold a reflector/ umbrella etc

If I use a 85 mm outside what will the background look like. 85 mm may not be long enough. A 70-200 might be better even with a slower f-stop but use the extra focal length to compress the background and subject.

What are the physical working distance more so for indoors. 85 mm is too long and 35 or 50 mm might be better. So a 24-70 mm zoom even.

If you have an ugly background outside and you just can not physically move the subject you almost need a longer lens to do that work. 85 mm 1.4 under some instances can only do so much.

I can suggest look at pro Peter Hurley for headshots, Mark Gailer is a good resource.

** The close focus distance of a lens can matter too.

I used to have in Nikon world 35mm 85 mm, 105 mm all F 1.4's prime with 70-200 zoom and other lenses.  I could be in any type of space and certainly needed to set up external off camera flash as needed.  I actually used multiple speed lights with wireless ability to make myself a portable studio

jbuzzinco Regular Member • Posts: 477
Re: Portrait lens

Just get the 100mm F2.8 STF GM.  That's Sony's purpose built portrait lens.  Otherwise, both the Zeiss Batis 85 and 135 are more than sharp enough for the a7RM4.

CekariYH
CekariYH Regular Member • Posts: 165
Re: Portrait lens
3

I got the 85 f1.8, very cheap, super sharp and great IQ and much lighter then the 85 GM.

I shoot at f2-2.8 mostly so no need for 1.4.

English is a funny language, seldom it spells the words like I do.

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Sony a7R III
SNJops
SNJops Regular Member • Posts: 383
Re: Portrait lens

It depends on whether you want to take portraits at more traditional focal lengths or if you want include some of the environment as well. Why I personally use a mix of focal lengths from 35mm - 200mm.

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smith-jones Contributing Member • Posts: 551
Re: Portrait lens

Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

I was looking for a good AF portrait lens recently and I DID choose the 85 GM.

Which is best is subjective but to me, the GM is a very sharp lens (not AS sharp as the Sigma Art or the 85 FE but sharper than all the other 85s I have had for many years).

It also has the best bokeh (opinion).

Downsides.    It is heavy, slower to focus and some people think the focus noise can mean it is broken (I do not find it any worse than many older AF lenses I have had and not an issue).    It is also expensive if you buy new.

I had enough money to buy any of the usual suspects after selling an old FD lens for a silly price and looked hard at them all and the 85GM was not high on my list when I was offered a 98% mint one for a Sigma price.

I am glad I took it.

I did have the FE 85 and loved it but had to sell it a while ago.     If I still had that I would be none the wiser about the GM.

I am sure i would be happy with the Sigma DG DN or another FE 85 and I would also have probably been happy with the Tokina 85 1.8 or either of the 135 1.8s or  Sigma 105 1.4 or the Sony 100 STM and several others.

mattjp1
mattjp1 Regular Member • Posts: 426
Re: Portrait lens

smith-jones wrote:

Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

I was looking for a good AF portrait lens recently and I DID choose the 85 GM.

Which is best is subjective but to me, the GM is a very sharp lens (not AS sharp as the Sigma Art or the 85 FE but sharper than all the other 85s I have had for many years).

It also has the best bokeh (opinion).

Downsides. It is heavy, slower to focus and some people think the focus noise can mean it is broken (I do not find it any worse than many older AF lenses I have had and not an issue). It is also expensive if you buy new.

I had enough money to buy any of the usual suspects after selling an old FD lens for a silly price and looked hard at them all and the 85GM was not high on my list when I was offered a 98% mint one for a Sigma price.

I am glad I took it.

I did have the FE 85 and loved it but had to sell it a while ago. If I still had that I would be none the wiser about the GM.

I am sure i would be happy with the Sigma DG DN or another FE 85 and I would also have probably been happy with the Tokina 85 1.8 or either of the 135 1.8s or Sigma 105 1.4 or the Sony 100 STM and several others.

Agreed the GM has the nicest bokeh IMO. The Sigma is sharper but images taken with the GM are more appealing to me. A great middle ground is the Samyang - which comes with a bokeh very close to the GM, while being a bit sharper according to some tests, but not as sharp as the Sigma. It's also lighter than both. Latest firmware update seems to have corrected a lot of the AF issues as well.

Malling Senior Member • Posts: 1,663
Re: Portrait lens

Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

If you can wait then wait especially if your not budget constraint.

There has been rather heavy rumours of Sony updating the GM85 in a 1.2 version set for the fall, on top there is also rumours of both Sigma 105mm 1.4 as well as a new Sony 100mm probably also 1.4 GM.

Only if you know your budget doesn’t allow GM or need it now would I consider getting a 85mm lens.

I already see loads of second hand GM85 and GM100 of those reasons the last few months. Several resellers have also strongly hinted at something going to happen soon.

In regards to lenses currently available you have

GM85/1.4

Pros: Beautiful rendering and best bokeh of the 85mm lenses in the system, the picture requires less work because of how it renders
Negative: The AF is of older design, so it’s noticeable less fast, cannot do high fps. is less precise and sticky compared to latest generation of lenses. The lens isn’t the sharpest but mostly something you might find a problem on high resolution cameras if your into high detail.

Sigma 85/1.4 DG DN ART

Pros: Sharpest of all 85mm, relative lightweight and compact.

Negative: It has noticeable distortion, it’s bokeh and overall rendering isn’t nearly as pleasant as the GM85 or even the SY 85. Uses a Stepper motor so it’s slow and doesn’t do high fps.

Samyang 85/1.4 G. ii

pros: Affordable, lightweight, offer the best best balance of rendering, bokeh and sharpness so falls in between the Sigma and GM.
negative: It’s not licensed lens so you need a separate lens station to update and fine tune it with, build quality is lower then most of the other choices, it uses a stepper motor so it’s not exactly speedy, flare is badly handled.

Sony FE85/1.8

pros: lightweight, travel friendly lens and affordable, relatively good AF.

negative: worst rendering and bokeh of all the 85, noticeable aberration problems. Slower then the others.

Batis 85/1.8

pros: relatively lightweight, travel friendly lens, flare

negative: Poor value for money, rendering and bokeh not much better then the FE85/1.8

eques Veteran Member • Posts: 4,333
Some more reading

Malling wrote:

If you can wait then wait especially if your not budget constraint.

There has been rather heavy rumours of Sony updating the GM85 in a 1.2 version set for the fall, on top there is also rumours of both Sigma 105mm 1.4 as well as a new Sony 100mm probably also 1.4 GM.

Only if you know your budget doesn’t allow GM or need it now would I consider getting a 85mm lens.

I already see loads of second hand GM85 and GM100 of those reasons the last few months. Several resellers have also strongly hinted at something going to happen soon.

In regards to lenses currently available you have

GM85/1.4

Pros: Beautiful rendering and best bokeh of the 85mm lenses in the system, the picture requires less work because of how it renders
Negative: The AF is of older design, so it’s noticeable less fast, cannot do high fps. is less precise and sticky compared to latest generation of lenses. The lens isn’t the sharpest but mostly something you might find a problem on high resolution cameras if your into high detail.

Sigma 85/1.4 DG DN ART

Pros: Sharpest of all 85mm, relative lightweight and compact.

Negative: It has noticeable distortion, it’s bokeh and overall rendering isn’t nearly as pleasant as the GM85 or even the SY 85. Uses a Stepper motor so it’s slow and doesn’t do high fps.

Samyang 85/1.4 G. ii

pros: Affordable, lightweight, offer the best best balance of rendering, bokeh and sharpness so falls in between the Sigma and GM.
negative: It’s not licensed lens so you need a separate lens station to update and fine tune it with, build quality is lower then most of the other choices, it uses a stepper motor so it’s not exactly speedy, flare is badly handled.

Sony FE85/1.8

pros: lightweight, travel friendly lens and affordable, relatively good AF.

negative: worst rendering and bokeh of all the 85, noticeable aberration problems. Slower then the others.

Batis 85/1.8

pros: relatively lightweight, travel friendly lens, flare

negative: Poor value for money, rendering and bokeh not much better then the FE85/1.8

https://sonyalpha.blog/2020/08/23/sigma-85mm-f1-4-dg-dn-art/

Resolution comparison from the above source:

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PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 12,329
Re: Portrait lens
1

Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

For portrait, I'd say 85 GM still generates the best bokeh and smoothest background rendering. If you can wait, wait for mark II that will certainly increase sharpness and mostly with the latest XF AF motor but will be very expensive.

I personally chose Samyang FE 85/1.4 AF that is pretty close to but at 1/3 price. Now mark II version just announced.

https://dustinabbott.net/2019/04/samyang-af-85mm-f1-4-fe-review/

I am not a pro portrait photog and mostly only for family portrait. Samyang line up of fast portrait lenses are excellent. They are very close to Sony GM but less than half price. Its new 135/1.8 AF optical quality on par with 135 GM if not slightly edges out in some areas. I am also interested in its 50/1.4 AF II that will acquire to fill the gap of my portrait lenses.

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ronscuba Senior Member • Posts: 1,992
Re: Portrait lens

Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

I like my Tamron 70-180 2.8.   For portraits, wide open 1.4-1.8 depth of field can be too shallow.  Background separation is nice, but not at the expense of blurry eyes.

I used to shoot all primes, but the latest 2.8 zooms are awesome.  A lot of my portraits are shot with a Sigma 24-70 and the Tamron 70-180.

Martin_99 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,661
Re: Portrait lens

ronscuba wrote:

Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

I like my Tamron 70-180 2.8. For portraits, wide open 1.4-1.8 depth of field can be too shallow.

Can be for eg. head and shoulder portraits, but it's nice for half body/ full body portraits.

Background separation is nice, but not at the expense of blurry eyes.

Blurry eyes will be in case of wrong focus, not fast aperture.

I used to shoot all primes, but the latest 2.8 zooms are awesome. A lot of my portraits are shot with a Sigma 24-70 and the Tamron 70-180.

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ronscuba Senior Member • Posts: 1,992
Re: Portrait lens

Martin_99 wrote:

ronscuba wrote:

Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

I like my Tamron 70-180 2.8. For portraits, wide open 1.4-1.8 depth of field can be too shallow.

Can be for eg. head and shoulder portraits, but it's nice for half body/ full body portraits.

Background separation is nice, but not at the expense of blurry eyes.

Blurry eyes will be in case of wrong focus, not fast aperture.

I used to shoot all primes, but the latest 2.8 zooms are awesome. A lot of my portraits are shot with a Sigma 24-70 and the Tamron 70-180.

With portraits, I try to get both eyes in focus.   Especially for head and shoulder shots.   Depth of field at 1.4-1.8 with an 85 or longer lens is too shallow for that.

Malling Senior Member • Posts: 1,663
Re: Portrait lens

ronscuba wrote:

Martin_99 wrote:

ronscuba wrote:

Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

To be used on a1 and A7R4

Thanks

I like my Tamron 70-180 2.8. For portraits, wide open 1.4-1.8 depth of field can be too shallow.

Can be for eg. head and shoulder portraits, but it's nice for half body/ full body portraits.

Background separation is nice, but not at the expense of blurry eyes.

Blurry eyes will be in case of wrong focus, not fast aperture.

I used to shoot all primes, but the latest 2.8 zooms are awesome. A lot of my portraits are shot with a Sigma 24-70 and the Tamron 70-180.

With portraits, I try to get both eyes in focus. Especially for head and shoulder shots. Depth of field at 1.4-1.8 with an 85 or longer lens is too shallow for that.

Wrong!

I already corrected one in that disbelief, it depends on the distance to subject, get up close then yes you won’t get both eyes in focus, back off then you will. That is certainly true with 85 at 1.4 that corresponds to 3.5 with a 135mm lens with same distance to subject. You won’t need to back off very much with 85mm to get the whole face in focus in fact at 1.4, there is reason why you can make it 1.2. 135mm on the other hand doesn’t really make much sense to make faster then 1.8 as you then would need to stand very far away from subject.

This is also why 2.8 really is plenty fast enough for a tele exceeding 100mm and why 70-200mm easily replace a 135mm lens because you rarely if ever shooting at below 2.8 anyway for portrait as you need to be way off from the subject.

Why the 75/1.8 Olympus m4/3 work (equivalents 150 f/3.6) it’s the same with a 70-200/4 if you stand close enough or zoom more.

UncleVanya Senior Member • Posts: 1,315
Re: Portrait lens
  1. The Orsonneke wrote:

Hi all , I am looking for a good 80-100mm ish lens for portraits.

Is the 85 GM a good option and would you still buy it now?

I need more criteria to opine more specifically. Read this guide, it’s from 2020 so there may be some minor updates needed in light of current developments but I think it’s reasonably up to date

https://phillipreeve.net/blog/user-guide-to-portrait-lenses-sony-a7-series/

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