As you know I love my mf Nikkor E series 100mm and the the Takumar 135mm f2.5 vers II. Great lenses, however, on those 1400 clicks/day shoots, manual focus just doesn’t cut it.
more after the break
I had the chance to get a used Zeiss 85mm f1.4 at a good price and went for it.
It produces sharp high contrast images already wide open, the main reason for getting one.
The lens doesn’t disappoint. Buttery smooth bokeh, excellent contrast and sufficiently sharp across the field at f1.4, full figure subject separation isn’t a problem and unlike the 135mm (which remains my favorite focal length for this type of work) the model can hear the shutter and the directions without shouting.
I am not a fan of the LA EA4. It looks and feels like cheap plastic and the focus points are cluttered in the center, pretty much useless when shooting full figure subjects or anything else where the point of interest isn’t centered.
Work around: select AF-C mode with focus tracking. This works very well and seems to expand beyond the area of focus points. Focus speed is slow but more then adequate for portraits and full figure shots.
Despite the weight the lens balances nicely on the A7 with a grip.
Keep in mind this is a high speed portrait lens capable of producing excellent results wide open, if you don’t shoot at f1.4 and/or don’t need af, there are other, cheaper lenses.
For portraits on location I will stick with my lightweight mf lenses.
image above: the 85mm mounted on the A7r
However, if you need super smooth bokeh and af, the 85mm and the Zeiss 135mm f1.8 are the best and only options at the moment. I don’t expect Sony to release updated versions of the 85mm f1.4 and 135mm f1.8 with supersonic motors and E mount anytime soon. I do hope that Sony will release a pro adapter to replace the LA EA4, better built and with with many more af points covering a much larger image area.
Questions, don’t hesitate to ask or share your experience with the this lens.
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