The new Sony 85mm f/1.8 was introduced alongside the unique 100mm f.2.8 STF G Master OSS at the 2017 WPPI show in Las Vegas. As a new member of the G Master lineup with a unique Smooth Trans Focus system, the 100mm STF got the lion's share of the attention in the news cycle. At its incredibly affordable $600 price point, there may have been a general prejudgement that the new 85 would be a good fit for photographers who didn't need in-lens Optical SteadyShot stabilization (anyone shooting with a Sony camera with In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) like the α7R II, α7S II, α7 II and α6500), but it was unlikely to be a game-changer. As more samples of the new 85 have filtered to the press, you could say that the 85 is becoming a case-study in why you shouldn't prejudge a lens based on its price. The lens is receiving high marks to say the least.
For sharpness, speed, build quality and overall image quality, the reviews can be summarized simply: Impressive. Most impressive.
Now, as the new 85mm f/1.8 is proving its mettle, it's being compared to some of the most highly-regarded optics in its class. Everyone loves a good David vs Goliath story and the new Sony lens is going up against one of the best ever: the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8. Looking at the lenses on paper, a lot of the specs are pretty close, but can a $600 Sony really go toe to toe with the $1200 Zeiss? See what happens in the videos below as the lenses are put to direct, straight-up comparisons.
Jason Lanier on the lenses next to each other, “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear these are identical…I’d swear these were the same lens.”
The Camera Store TV put the Sony against the Zeiss while in Thailand and they were happily pleased with both. Chris Nicholls notes, "When I switch back and forth between these lenses I'm not really noticing much difference. They handle well, they're a good size and they're fairly compact for what they do."
In the video, Rishi Sanyal of DPReview joins Nicholls while outside a gym in Thailand to discuss the lenses. Of the two, Sanyal shares the sentiment that the two are very similar, stating, "I'm having a really hard time seeing a difference."