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Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM: Ergonomics

Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist at B&H Photo.

See my review of the Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM.

To my hands and my way of working, Sony’s 85mm f/1.4 GM has the best ergonomics on the market today for an autofocus 85mm lens.

This idea crept up on me stealthily, but once I thought about it directly, I felt it was worth explaining here.

First, I prefer the heft and feel and fit and finish of the Sony 85/1.4 GM to any of the Nikon or Canon 85mm offerings. It reminds me of Sigma DG HSM Art lenses (which I also like), only the Sony does it even better functionally. The Sony 85/1.4 GM just fits perfectly in my hands and makes an outstanding companion to the A7R II when shooting.

Autofocus

As noted in Autofocus Configuration for Sony A7R II and Siblings: Buttons and Eye AF, the focus button on the lens (that large round button between the AF/MF switch and the “G” logo) offers an excellent ergonomic option for iniating autofocus.

This button falls exactly in the right place for my thumb to press it while holding the lens—perfect! It makes for an outstanding way to initiate autofocus independent of the shutter release button. That is, I prefer to decouple focus from the shutter for most of my work. But that’s awkward with most cameras; the button on the Sony 85/1.4 GM removes the awkwardness.

The button can be programmed for the choice of conventional focus or Eye AF. This is fantastic: program the lens button to use Eye AF and the rear AF-On button for conventional focus. You just can’t do this with any other brand AFAIK—how many brands besides Sony even have Eye AF, let alone a means to use it at need? Note that Eye EF is eye focus, not face focus—I want the iris of the eye in focus.

The Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM also has this focus button and thus it offers a leg up for wedding photographers and similar (that ability to choose focusing method). Small details like these deliver real value for particular shooting situations, particularly Eye AF, which in my ad-hoc testing works better than I could manage with conventional focus.

Rubberized lens hood

This is the best lens circular lens hood on the market: sturdy and solid-feeling and with a flexible rubber bumper about 10mm deep; this bumper flexes and bends with any impacts—superb. I’ve not a fan of metal hoods because they not only chill my fingers, but they transmit shock to the lens. The Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM does not have this rubberized hood, presumably because it is a scalloped design.

Aperture ring

While I frequently use the dials on the camera to control aperture and shutter speed, I like the ergonomics of the aperture ring in some shooting situations. The ring on the 85/1.4 GM is excellent and clicked in 1/3 stops as well—outstanding.

I really wish Zeiss would see the light and add a similar aperture ring on the Zeiss Batis series, skipping the OLED display gimmickry (I never use that info, and if I did, I wouldn’t want to take the camera away from my eye to see it!).

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