The post Sony FE 135 mm F / 1.8 GM Lens Review first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Anabel DFlux.
Sony is there to turn your photography world upside down with its absolutely incredible technology and equipment. A name that is now leading in the industry, Sony ' s G-Master lens range has become a huge success in the photography game. As such, Sony has released around 30 G-Master lenses for their full-frame cameras. The newest addition to the collection is the Sony FE 135 mm F / 1.8 GM lens, which is now undoubtedly the sharpest lens in the collection! I had the pleasure of fully testing this lens at the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) show in Las Vegas late last month before the lens was even released to the public.
To eliminate the basics, the Sony FE 135 mm F / 1.8 GM is intended for full-frame cameras and can only be mounted on the cameras with E-confirmation. This lens has similar specifications to the other lenses in the G-Master line, such as the Sony patented XD linear motor, Super ED glass and Sony Nano AR (we'll get to it later).
My main experience with this lens was taking a test run at the WPPI convention in Las Vegas at the end of February and it was a pleasure to try it out for the general public.
Lens to build
At first glance I was immediately struck by the aesthetics of this lens. Clean, sharp and beautiful black – this lens looks phenomenal (as even noted by a few of my photography clients). This lens measures about 3 5/8 centimeters long and 5 centimeters long and is a very decent and comfortable size for its focal length – even when it is held by someone like me (small hands, jerks). The lens is also not very heavy and only clocks at 33 ounce (2 pounds).
For a master telephoto lens, this is quite easy to take with you! Consists of magnesium alloy, the lens is lightweight and yet durable. The construction feels incredibly sturdy, and I would not hesitate to take it to difficult or uncomfortable recording situations such as live concerts or the beach on a windy day. The lens is quite wide, which can be a disadvantage for some, but you have to keep physics in mind. The lens must be wide to accommodate the F / 1.8 aperture.
The Sony FE 135 mm F / 1.8 GM has an excellent seal against weather influences to prevent wind, rain, dust and dirt from entering important mechanical components. In addition, the lens is advertised as dust and moisture resistant. The lens glass also has a pretty impressive build. The glass has a fluorine coating on it to resist fingerprints, dust, water, oil and other contaminants. If they do get on the lens, cleaning is easy. That said, I still propose to buy a glass filter – being resistant to fingerprints is not conducive to falls or a significant bump!
Aperture ring and extra lens functions
All the buttons on this lens made me a very happy photographer. Designed with professionals in mind, this lens features manual buttons and features such as the aperture ring, an aperture ring silencer, the focus range limiter switch, custom focus hold buttons, and an AF to MF finger switch.
As an avid Canon DSLR and EF lens user who recently added a mirrorless Sony camera to the collection, the aperture ring was something new for me. Intended to be advantageous during cinema work, instead of adjusting the aperture on the camera body, you have the option to adjust the width of the lens. This ring can be adjusted to be quiet or to make small clicks to indicate that it is running – very useful for quiet recordings. For those who prefer to adjust the aperture on the camera itself, you can set the dial to ' A ' for automatic.
The focus ring is equipped with Linear Response MF, with which you respond instantly and sensitively (a big bonus if you are brave enough to use manual focus to capture something that moves)!
A nice added feature of the Sony GM 135mm F / 1.8 is the focus range limiter switch that limits the distance range that your lens can focus on. I use this function myself when I take pictures of dog handling shows to ensure that the lens does not focus on obstacles near me, but remains stuck to a running dog that is far away.
In addition, the lens has adjustable focus buttons on the side and top that allow you to adjust the focus via buttons on the lens instead of just the camera. Very useful in low light situations where lenses tend to focus naturally.
Where the Sony line mainly shines in the mirrorless game (or not the camera game as a whole) is in auto focus. For many of their mirrorless cameras, advanced algorithms offer high AF precision and infrared technology can achieve autofocus even in extremely low or difficult lighting conditions. Various autofocus functions such as "Eye Tracking" also turn these kits into beautiful machines. Pair this with the autofocus of the lens and you have a masterpiece.
This lens has two unique actuators, called Extreme Dynamic (XD) linear motors. These engines not only stop the autofocus, but also allow the lens to focus much faster than many other engines.
The auto focus is fast and constant. I can confirm this as a sports photographer. When continuous autofocus is turned on in the camera, the lens holds onto the subject of your choice as if its lifespan depends. The lens doesn't hunt very much (or not at all) and can even follow a spontaneous and erratic moving subject.
When I took this lens for a spin on WPPI, I can confirm that the focus was incredibly fast and sharp and was able to follow a human subject over the entire range of motion, regardless of the front or rear obstacles. Even when the subject hit a crowd of people, the lens was able to find out who I was photographing.
The sharpest lens in the G-Master line-up. No doubt. A bold statement, but I will stick with it!
For most lenses, they are only very sharp in the center. Sony GM 135 mm F / 1.8 is sharp everywhere. From the corners to the middle, so you can have the versatility of any composition under the sun.
The sharpness is also very consistent from recording to recording. In many cases I have captured a series in a portrait and only the first or second photo is very sharp and the rest falls back a bit. Of course this difference is not very noticeable for most photo viewers. However, the photographer's eye can be shocked.
Another big bonus is that this lens has no vignette, which can be a common problem with large aperture openings.
There is absolutely no reason to add sharpening even in post-processing.
The brightness and colors of this lens are impressive. I found the images considerably less retouchable.
Depth of Field
"Wide aperture" is my favorite expression to hear. Really. My photographic aesthetic lives heavily at shallow depth of field. With my work as a concert photographer, the power of low light offered by large openings is a must-have. The F / 1.8 aperture of this lens is great (although my obsession with my Canon 50 mm F / 1.2 L lens makes me want this lens to be an F / 1.2). Even if you are not one for superficial photography, my rule of thumb is to always invest in lenses with a lower aperture number, so you have the option to shoot at all ranges.
The bokeh produced by this model is exactly the same as Sony's unique look to blurry areas. This is due to the unique lens structure. To begin with, the XA element in the glass is developed using an exclusive glass casting process that makes it smoother than conventional aspherical lenses. Conventional lenses are rougher, which can cause rings to appear at your shallow depth of field (difficult for Photoshop, although Gaussian Blur can hit the ground if you mask it properly). Secondly, the Sony camera system helps to create effortless-looking isolation of the subject. Third and last, the 11 circular aperture blades in the lens create a circular bokeh that retains its shape no matter what.
I think the depth of field (DOF) looks more dreamy and is a bit artificial from other similar lenses, but it has an authenticity and vibrancy. The shallow DOF has a subtle, calmer rotation that gives the images a very natural look (or at least, as natural as this shallow part of a field can be).
Add to that the fact that this lens has a focal length of 135 mm and that you have a great separation from the subject. There is a typical unmentioned advantage for telephoto's that are used for portraits. Because of the length of this lens, there is a nice separation of the subject from the background and the foreground. This happens because of the compression in the lens.
As someone who often photographs live concerts, I notice that flare resistance is an important factor in deciding whether or not to buy a lens. Although some prefer the stylistic look, many of my music clients do not want an image that is strongly washed away by colored light and has no contrast. Flare resistance usually comes from the glass coating of lenses and some are more resistant than others.
Fortunately for all of us, Sony ' s patented Nano AR Coating is applied to reduce glare. Usually you can just shoot directly in the sun and you will have no problems with a huge loss of contrast or ghosting. This is great for photographers of natural light, especially during the beloved golden hour.
As mentioned earlier, my primary experience with this lens was the WPPI convention. Although the light conditions in the convention center were very difficult, this lens performed much better than many other lenses that I had tested the same week, especially the flare resistance and overall quality. There was no real problem with the bright lights on a subject that I had photographed.
Chromatic aberration, also called ' color edges ' or ' purple borders ' mentioned, a common optical problem that occurs when a lens is unable to bring all wavelengths of color to the same focal plane, or when wavelengths of color are directed to different colors is positions in the focal plane. This problem is most likely to be caused by fast lenses, because the shallow depth of field causes the optical problem to occur. Since this lens is an F / 1.8, many people worry about fringes in backlit portraits (when the light source is behind the subject).
Sony ' s Super ED element reduces chromatic aberration. Some aberration exists – it is not watertight – but fortunately this problem tends to affect only the non-centered parts of the frame. They are very small compared to similar lenses and can easily be removed in post-processing programs such as Lightroom or Photoshop.
Compared to my other Sony lenses, it has the least chromatic aberration (since I found that my 85 mm was unfortunately teased with it). However, the Canon L lenses appear to have considerably less chromatic aberration everywhere.
Pros and cons of the Sony FE 135mm F / 1.8 GM lens
- Wide aperture at F / 1.8.
- Professional lens construction.
- Lighter than most alternatives.
- Very accurate autofocus, especially in combination with the mirrorless autofocus system.
- Sharpen the entire image, not just in the middle.
- Silent autofocus thanks to the XD linear motor.
- Useful functions that are physically built into the lens, such as the aperture ring, aperture ring, the focus range limiter switch, special focus hold buttons, and an AF to MF finger switch.
- Weather sealing and dust resistance.
- Resistance and resistance to ghosting Sony Nano AR coating on the glass.
- Reduced chromatic aberration by Super ED element.
- Pricey investment.
- The lens is quite wide in physical form. Understandable for the large aperture.
This lens is a bit of a hefty financial investment that costs around $ 1,900. But given the build quality, functions and incredible final output, I would consider the value of this lens as the asking price. I also predict that the lens will not depreciate much overtime.
In short, this lens is a blast in itself. For those who find a use for the 135mm (like myself), I would even say that this may be a must-have on the mirrorless list.
We had a nice joke about the WPPI show which says that you can just buy the 24-mm G-Master, 85 mm G-Master and this 135 mm G-Master lens and that's all you need for your kit ! Perhaps the absolute sharpest lens in the line-up, the 135 mm is worth every penny for the immense amount of functions in this amazing lens.
The post Sony FE 135 mm F / 1.8 GM Lens Review first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Anabel DFlux.