Sony has been producing some top quality lenses of late and it seems they have now added to the list the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS. This piece of glass is set out to double up as a 90mm macro and portrait lens, with a very usable focal length for both purposes. Strapping the lens to a 42MP Sony a7R II will give a good idea of how the lens copes with the high 42MP resolution and a native camera body.
The lens has the Sony E-mount, very sturdy with full communication with the camera. As per most top quality glass, the lens is decidedly chunky and is happy to sport plenty of scales and features, which is kind of opposite to the fashion of very plain looking, high-end lenses recently released. The weight of the lens comes in at a respectable 602g, enough to properly counterbalance the weight of the mirrorless body of a Sony a7R II.
Up front is a 62mm filter thread with a very wide manual focusing ring, which doesn’t just turn but can also move backward and forward. This allows swapping between autofocus and manual focus which is very handy. The distance scale is next and then the button for locking focus in AF. This isn’t just handy for portraits and macro images, but also for those times when you accidentally move the focus ring.
Lastly, there are two switches, one being a focus limiter to choose between different distance ranges for better optimizing the autofocus system and the second is to turn on and off the image stabilization (OSS). It should be also pointed out that an ALC-SH138 lens hood is included in the package.
Inside the lens, there are 15 elements in 11 groups with nine rounded aperture blades. Measuring up the macro mode, the closest focus distance is 0.28m (0.92ft) with a maximum magnification ratio of 1:1, so everything is basically life-size.
The autofocus system relies on Sony’s Direct Drive Super Sonic Motor. This locks in focus extremely fast and is very quiet in operation. Swapping to manual focus is seamless and although the camera wants to use AF most of the time, focus lock works very well and only really started to struggle in very, very low light. Everything up to now shows an extremely well-built lens, with dust and moisture proofing and pointing to some great images ahead.
When a lens is fully wide open it’s usually the start point for seeing how sharp things are. The Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS is impressively sharp at f/2.8 with good levels of corner sharpness comparable hitting its zenith at f/4. Everything is fine up to f/16, but sharpness starts to tail off a little up to f/22 due to diffraction, but still the results are impressive.
Sticking the camera on a tripod and setting the lens at f/8, then into Lightroom for some pixel peeping, in good light the lens is impressively sharp, with hardly any post sharpening needed. This definitely gives peace of mind when turning to macro photography, as once you’ve nailed your focus, the lens can reproduce some extremely fine detail which will inspire you to want to take more.
Chromatic aberration is almost non-existent as with any lens distortion. Any that appears can be easily rectified in postprocessing, but you have to really be pixel peeping to noticing anything. Background blur or bokeh will be one of the needed features on this lens and it definitely produces the goods. Background colors are lovely and smooth with highlights coming out almost round due to the nine rounded blades in the lens. The quality of the Bokeh helps in macro mode if you really want to isolate your subject.
The OSS system does a good job of keeping everything still with a roundabout three stops of improvement when handheld. 1/15th second is probably the safe zone, with a 1/8th second when images start to be more hit and miss. Overall, the OSS system is the usual Sony top standard and helps to get more winners than loser images in the long run.
With regular mode and macro, the Sony delivers on a consistent basis, rendering nice consistent colors and sharpness across the range. As the lens is so super sharp you can really pull out minute detail from a subject, with the Alpha a7R II sometimes almost too much, especially with portraits, but I’d rather have it this way than the other any time.
How Does the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Compare?
If you’re comparing the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS to anything else on the Sony lineup than it will be the obvious choice for this focal range. As Sony allow different lenses on their cameras with an adapter, there are also a few other options. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is a well-respected lens and comes in cheaper than the Sony. If you’re looking at Nikon then the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED is a good choice and again cheaper.
If you wanted more on the cost-effective side then Samyang has the 100mm f/2.8 ED UMC Macro which costs almost a third of the Sony. If you’re a Sony camera owner then you probably realize by now that Sony products are usually more expensive than the rest, but they are also always built to a very high standard, so there is always some of you get what you pay for in there.
|Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS||Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM|
|Lens Groups||11 elements, 15 groups||15 elements, 12 groups|
For Sony camera owners who want a solid prime portrait lens which also doubles as a macro lens, then the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS is a straightforward choice. The lens is a commonly used focal length, which means it can cover loads of ground from portraits, architecture, landscapes and capture the very small things in life.
You cannot fault its high-quality performance and output, producing great sharpness across the range. It is a bit pricey, but you will be safe in the knowledge that this lens is a top performer in its class.