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Sony G Master 85mm f/1.4 Scratchy/Noisy Focus with Internal Wear

Get Sony G Master Lens at B&H Photo.

Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM

UPDATE: see May 8 comments.

The Sony G Master 85mm f/1.4 and Sony G Master 24-70mm f/2.8 should be in my hands next week April 14th. I’ll be testing the G Master lenses on the Sony A7R II in Guide to Mirrorless.

First users of the new Sony G Master 85mm f/1.4 report a scratch/noisy focus problem.

Update: LensRentals.com has an excellent teardown. The marks appear to be lubricant, nothing more:

About half of these lenses have some visible lubricant on the inner focusing barrel that looks like scratches but isn’t. It is not scratches. Yes, I know the focusing sounds like scratches. Yes, I know the lubricant looks like scratches. And yes, I am certain that some person somewhere is going to have a lens with real scratches on the inner focusing barrel. Because given enough lenses, there will be one with anything.

DIGLLOYD: what happens in a hot car at 120°F in the summertime and what about flare from light-colored streaks on an area that ought to be black?

James K, a NYC pro photographer that I trust, reports:

My copy of the lens has what might be a deal killer for a lot of video users. The focusing noise is quite loud. The scraping sound it makes is quite distracting. This defect has been mentioned as a drawback by some first responders. It is also a little slow in focus acquisition.
Some say the noise disappears after around 500 actuations.

Put the lens on the camera. Turn the camera on. Set manual focus to infinity. Set the aperture to f/1.4. Shine a small flashlight into the lens and look for scratches on the rear bottom of the housing.

The scratches on my copy are substantial. The residue is now on the inside of my new $1800 lens. Definitely unacceptable. I have another 85mm Sony FE on the way so I will be able to compare the two lenses. Sloppy quality control. A real shame because the optical qualities of the lens are impressive.

This situation is absolutely the pits. Any nontechnically qualified person could determine that a problem existed. Just put the lens on a camera and focus. Who is running quality control?

[a day later]

The second copy of the 85mm FE 1.4 is less noisy especially in manual focus. Livable. Less visible scratching inside the lens on second optic. I like the handling and the feel of the lens, especially the aperture ring.

DIGLLOYD: Wow.

Quality control is a huge issue with digital. While Sony is definitely not unique in having quality control challenges (see my Leica M experiences), one has to wonder at the debut of a flagship lens like the 85/1.4 GM.

See also Sony quality control and Sony bad sample.

Michael K writes:

Just an FYI, my copy of the lens precisely, exactly mirrors the comment of James K. quoted in your blog. Noise is annoying but not that important. Internal scratches on the barrel are definitely not acceptable. Will be returning mine to B&H.

DIGLLOYD:

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