Sony 85mm f/2.8 SAM ( SAL-85F28 ) - APS-C Format Review / Lab Test
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha/NEX (APS-C)
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Review by Klaus Schroiff, published March 2011

Lens kindly provided by Dieter Scherk!


The Sony 85mmf/2.8 SAM is a member of Sony's recently introduced series of budget prime lenses. Compared to other 85mm lenses it is obviously much slower and consequently significantly much more affordable - it costs only a fraction of the mighty Zeiss ZA 85mm f/1.4 just to mention the obvious in-house "competitor". The moderate max. aperture is naturally limiting its depth-of-field capabilities but such lenses are an order of magnitude easier to design because of far lesser optical aberrations (optical defects). The 85mm f/2.8 is a full format lens but regarding its pricing it's likely that most units will be actually sold to APS-C users so this review will focus on the performance within this format only. In the APS-C scope it behaves like a 128mm full format lens so it remains a moderate tele lens with typical applications such as portraits or still-life.

The build quality of the Sony lens is comparable to its in-house cousins such as the 50mm f/1.8 SAM DT. The lens body is made of average quality plastics and that's including the lens mount. The tiny rubberized focus ring at the lens front feels a little "cheap" but it is still usable nonetheless. The focus ring is not decoupled from the AF motor in AF mode so it turns during focus operations. The inner lens tube extends when focusing towards closer focus distances.

Like all recent Sony lenses it uses a internal AF motor - in this case it is the SAM (smooth autofocus motor) variant. It's no speed wonder but still reasonably fast, fairly quiet and accurate.

Equiv. focal length127.5 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/4.2 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction5 elements in 4 groups without special elements
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.60 m (max. magnification ratio 1:5)
Dimensions70 x 52 mm
Weight175 g
Filter size55 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodpetal-shaped, bayonet mount, supplied
Other features-

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