Sony FE 85/1.8

name: Sony SEL 85F18
purpose: Full Frame (Sony E-Mount)
type: portrait lens
focal elnght: 85 mm
max aperture: ƒ/1.8
min aperture: ƒ/22
diaphragm blades: 9
construction: 9 elements in 8 groups, 1 ED
dust and moisture protection – YES
the front lens does not rotate when focusing
closest focus distance – 0.8m
filter: 67mm
sizes: 78х82 mm
weight: 372 грама

Sony FE 85 / 1.8 is specially designed for the brand’s mirrorless full-frame cameras. FE 85/1.8 is one of the best portrait lenses in the segment in terms of price / quality. Its compact size, low weight, high sharpness, fast and accurate AF and lack of visible aberrations (except in extreme conditions and contrasts) make it a preferred portrait for all shooting situations. It fits especially well with the new Sony models – A7iii, A7Riii, A9, A9ii, A7RIV, as their focus system is much faster and more accurate. In reality, no weaknesses are noticed in the process of work.
Portrait photography is not limited to static portraits. Often emotional portraits on the go are much stronger and more impactful, and that’s where the FE 85 / 1.8 is uncompromising. The lens is dust and moisture resistant, which makes it suitable for adverse conditions. A big advantage is the convenient function button, which can be programmed in different ways – focus lock, eye focus, etc. In this review we will illustrate the operation of this lens with photographs taken entirely in the work environment – sessions, events, weddings, workshops and others, as this type of photography speaks best about the qualities of the lens.

Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 . Backlight is not a problem, AF is accurate and without hesitation.
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – Nice and soft bokeh in background
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8, 2000ISO – Perfect AF in low light
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – The frame is direct JPEG, the contrast is high, the AF is uncompromising even in extreme side areas
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – The high sharpness of 85 / 1.8 allows large magnifications. This frame is section X2 of the original.
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 -In this photo, manual focus is used, as there is a dense tangle of branches in front of the couple. The manual focus is electric, but it is still precise. The drawing in the foreground is gentle and soft.

FE 85 / 1.8 is a favorite choice for capturing various details and decorations. The separation of the main object from the background is characterized by a soft and plastic transition.

The lens is also suitable for full-length portraits.

Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – Fast and accurate AF allows emotions to be captured on the go.
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – good moisture protection allows the capture of emotions in the rain.

When the distance to the subjects is enough, the 85 / 1.8 is a great reportage lens in complex weather and light conditions. Its speed and accuracy guarantee many prizes in competitions for the captured moment.

Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8
Sony A7iii, 85/1.8, f/1.8
Sony A7RIV, 85/1.8, f/1.8
The photo was taken with a Sony A7iii + 85 / 1.8 camera. The dynamics range of this model is very high and allows corrections of dark and light areas in a wide range. The example you see is from JPEG directly as captured. The focus is uncompromising in these conditions of strong backlight
The same frame after corrections of light, dark areas and a segment of RAW. An Adobe RAW (ACR) converter is used. The photo in this form won the WPJA Capture Moment Award.

Sony 85 / 1.8 is suitable for night portrait sessions. Stabilization of mirrorless cameras helps a lot at low shutter speeds.

Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/3.2 – crop х2
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – Crop х2
Sony A9ii, 85/1.8, f/1.8
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – Low Light
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8

Sony 85 / 1.8 is in its power in backlight. The following photos proves it:

Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – accurate eye focus is not difficult even when shooting through glass and reflections.
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – reflections in water
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – focus through the leaves and branches of a tree

The following photo was taken directly in JPEG with a camera, and below it we publish a crop of 100% to get an idea of ​​the sharpness of the lens

Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – original frame in JPEG
Sony A7Riii, 85/1.8, f/1.8 – crop 100%

More photos of the maximum aperture with defocus in the foreground and background. They were shot during our seminars “The Different Portrait” – model Elina Krusheva

Dynamic and emotional shots in motion at maximum aperture:

One of the most important features and a big advantage when combining a bright high-resolution prime lens and a high-resolution camera is the ability to achieve high magnifications. Sony A7Riii and 85 / 1.8 allow up to three times reduction of the viewing angle (three times increase of magnification) through sections without fatal loss of quality. In reality, the small 85 / 1.8 turns into 85-255 and at least up to double magnification or 170mm matched focal length surpasses many real zoom lenses, as their sharpness is significantly lower and they fail to extract everything from the 42mp sensor of the camera. The following example is a demonstration of this:

Original frame – 85мм
Crop X1.5 – 135mm equiv
Crop X3 – 255mm equiv

In conclusion, we can say that the Sony FE 85 / 1.8 is one of the few lenses that deserves only superlatives and it is really difficult to find any flawless. Undoubtedly, its bigger brother 85 / 1.4G has better optical characteristics and brightness, but the price is significantly higher, and its heavy weight unbalances the mirrorless system with small cameras. In this respect, the 85 / 1.8 fits perfectly on the Sony 7 and 9 series and so with this combination it can be shot even with one hand. At the same time, the lightweight construction makes it much faster and more suitable for capturing casual moments, emotions and situations.


  1. Thanks for your review of Sony’s 85 f1.8.

    Regarding the 6th image, you mention using manual focus to get through branches in front of the couple. A nice effect. What about the rest of the photos in this collection? Where they all AF?

    If so, that’s very good with back light, low light and with other visual distractions in between camera and subject.

    I have rented Sony’s 85 f1.4 for a wedding. Great images but its big and not as quick to focus as my 24 f1.4 and 55 f1.8. I also don’t like the price or hauling it around all day.

    Do you have any experience with other less expensive f1.4 lenses for Sony? Like the new Samyang 85 f1.4?

    Thank you,


    1. uboidqsl

      Hi Frank, all other photos are in autofocus. Autofocus is perfect and fast, as on 55 / 1.8. Significantly faster than 85/1.4. We haven’t tried other 1.4 lenses and we can’t say how it is compared to Samyang .

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