The Sony 90mm Macro 2.8 G lens for the FE (A7) System.

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The Sony 90mm Macro 2.8 G lens for the FE (A7) System

I will start this review off by saying I am NOT a Macro shooter. I seriously lack the skills for this kind of photography and while I have always been fascinated by it, I just never really invested in a Macro lens for myself, to use, to learn, to get up close to my subjects.

With that said, Macro lenses are popular as many LOVE to shoot the little things of this world in a way that makes them appear larger than life. That is what it is all about, and this is a lens that allows us to do just that, if we have the skill to do so 😉

With the Sony FE A7 system, users have had a lack of lenses up until recently. These days Sony has released a load of lenses onto this full frame system, and we now have some amazing lenses for use with our A7 cameras. Lenses like the amazing 35 1.4 or 28 f/2 are ones I use almost daily and now Sony sent me the new 90 2.8 G Macro to test out, and I was happy to attach it to my A7’s and shoot!

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The lens is large but the lens is of great quality. One thing I have been appreciating lately is the way Sony has been stepping up their game. Sure, their premium lenses are on the large side, but the quality is top-notch, leaving you wanting for nothing more. They are making sure they are releasing SUPERB quality glass for their superb A7 system. Even the little inexpensive 28 f/2 is ASTOUNDING for the price point. You can see my review of that lens HERE.  My 35 1.4 review is HERE.

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But today I want to talk little about the new 90 Macro. I was able to shoot a few images with it, and as I said, I am not a Macro guy, so take my words as what they are…a Novice macro shooter talking about a macro lens that he enjoyed using 😉 I have reviewed and LOVED the Olympus 60 Macro but this Sony is up there  – a step above in build quality over the Olympus, and the IQ is fantastic as well, just what I would expect from Sony in 2015. The only weakness is the size, but I have used other Macro 90mm lenses that are just as large or larger and again, this is a full frame lens, so they are always larger than Micro 4/3 or APS-C.

See my 1st look video on this lens and another new lens for the FE mount…it basically gives you the lowdown on the lens

As you can see, the lens is on the larger side, it is a teeny but larger than the 35 1.4 and 16-35 but smaller than the 70-200 🙂 As I used the lens at Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale AZ I was having a rough time getting AF because when you are up close to you subject it is VERY hard to handhold and stay within your depth of field. Any movement will render the image soft or useless as you will be out of focus, even with a breath of you lungs.  This is why most serious Macro shooters use a tripod, and manual focus..this ensures an in focus shot. Me, I did not have my tripod handy, so had to stick with wide open and handheld. The good news is the lens has built-in optical steady shot, so minor hand shakes will be compensated for.

The Bokeh is creamy, color is rich and the detail, when you nail focus, is superb. I had no issues with CA, distortion or other nasties we sometimes see with lenses on digital cameras.

click images for larger and crisper view

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The last image above reminds me of something that would come from a Leica Noctilux, which is an $11k lens. The reason it appears that way is that the 90 2.8 offers smooth as silk Bokeh when you are up close to your subject, making it a creamy bokeh fest. I found  the 90 Macro to be suited to just about ANY shooting one would do with any 90mm lens. Portraits, distant shots, close-ups, doesn’t matter. The Sony 90 Macro 2.8 G lens delivers.

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The AF, being a Macro lens is not the speediest. Macro lenses in general have slower AF as they work harder when up close to get that perfect focus. Macro lenses are just slower, that is a fact of Macro life, so if you buy this lens, be sure you want to use it for its intended purpose as  you may not be 100% happy with the AF speed if shooting normal scenes. With that said, it is not slow by any means. It is just slower than what a normal 90 may give you. I did find it focused slightly quicker on my A7s over my A7II but both were acceptable to me.

Ist image is actually a reflection in a Koi pond of a little girl watching the fish. She was fascinated with them, so I snapped her reflection which almost looks like a double exposure. 

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I think this young one thought that he may fall into the water 🙂 F/2.8

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This post is short, as all I have to say about this lens is good. It’s built very well and has none of that hollowness that some lenses have. It is solid, has selectable on or off Optical Steady Shot, and it has a selectable focus distance so if you are NOT using the close up macro feature you can set it to full for quicker AF with normal shots. With the A7II you can choose to use the cameras 5 Axis IS worth lens OIS. I tried both and found both worked well but I concluded that the OIS in the lens was a little better, at least for me. So I let the lens do the Steady Shot duties.

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I found I was using the lens more and more for normal 90mm shots, and the lens did well. Great color snap, great pop, great detail. Click the image below to see a true 100% crop within the image. Plenty of detail. See the shot above (click on it) of the cowboy, it is sharp, has fantastic color, and there is nothing macro about it, so yes, it can be used as a general 90 2.8 lens. Below see the crop.

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I really enjoyed my quick couple of weeks with the Sony 90 Macro and I am confident that anyone who loves to shoot Macro and owns a Sony A7 system camera, well, you will adore it. I have shot with maybe 5-6 macro lenses in my life, my fave two are this Sony and the Olympus 60. Can’t go wrong here. I am just happy to see Sony release lenses that we want, from ultra wide to telephoto. While there is no native 300-400mm lens yet, I am sure there will be. Sony is dedicated to pushing forward with the FE system, as it is insanely successful for them. The A7 series is selling well for them, especially when you compare the sales to other manufacturers right now. Digital camera sales have slowed down massively over the past few years as many feel the tech has peaked, so they are keeping what they have longer.

I am seeing that over the past six months though, sales are picking up. New Sony cameras, Olympus…they are pushing the market ahead of others. Now Leica is perking up a little again with the new Mono and rumors of exciting new cameras on the way. Could be a sign that 2016 will be big. Not 2012 big, but bigger than 2014 and 15.

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The Sony A7II is still my #1 camera. It is my goto no mater what, when or where I shoot. If the lights get really low I reach for my A7s. With all of these great lenses now out there, we have a choice. Choice is good.

Some of my most recent Sony Lens reviews:

Loxia 35

Loxia 50

Sony 35 1.4

Sony 16-35

Sony 28 f/2

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So at the end of the day, another winner from Sony. I am seeing many raves for this lens from others who have had a shot at it, and some fantastic work is out THERE using this lens on various A7 bodies. Congrats to Sony yet again! The 90 Macro 2.8 G lens comes in at $1098 and is scheduled for release in July. July 7th to be exact.

PRE-ORDER/ORDER:

You can pre-order this lens at Amazon HERE or B&H Photo HERE or directly from Sony HERE. 

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28 Comments

  1. I love this 90mm lens. I’ve used it on a couple of outings including a kids trapeze class in a gym where it produced great images even in the usual crappy gym light. Focus was brisk with the distance button in the center position and pre-focusing so lens movement is minimized when autofocus does the final adjustment. Macro is only an occasional thing for me but it is very good too. IQ is just amazing in every way.

  2. I just saw the Dxo marks; they score (overall points) 40 points for Sony 90mm macro, 39 points for Zeiss 100mm makro and 28 points for Canon EF100mm macro!
    Viva Sony!

  3. Thanks for replying. Yes I changed the distance settings on the lens, however, still cannot take real close up with this lens. Have to keep back at least 11 to 12 inches. I thought with this lens I would be able to get as close as I could. Guess I was wrong.

  4. HELP PLEASE. I just purchased this lens and cannot figure out how to use it. I am not able to get a close up at all. I have all of the other lens and have not problem with any of them.
    Would appreciate any help. Thank you

  5. “With the A7II you can choose to use the cameras 5 Axis IS worth lens OIS. I tried both and found both worked well but I concluded that the OIS in the lens was a little better, at least for me. So I let the lens do the Steady Shot duties.”

    Are you sure about this, Steve? OIS was better than what? Are you saying it is possible to deactivate OIS and enable all 5 Axis IBIS in camera?

    It was my understanding that you can use 3 Axis in camera in conjunction with 2 Axis OIS, or you can switch it all off.

    • The camera has 5 Axis for native lenses from what I understand. All I know is the lens OIS worked better for me than the 5AXIS, which is enabled when the lens OIS is turned off.

      • As far as I understood, if you switch off OSS using the switch on the lens, that switches off the entire OIS and IBIS system. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works on my FE 70-200.

        When OIS is switched on, the system should be using a combination of 2-axis on the lens and 3-axis IBIS.

        Are you saying that if you switch off OIS on the lens, the camera will take over with the full 5-axis IBIS stabilisation, meaning you would have to switch it off on the lens AND in the camera menu if you wanted to use a tripod?

  6. Thanks Steve ,love your site and will buy the macro through your link. Thanks for all the tests and great info .I am in process of leaving my heavy Canon camera &
    lenses behind .Love the Sony A72 but may have to get the A7S for faster focus in low light. Love the 28mm lens . The 55 is crack sharp. Hope to run into you in Seattle one of these days… Neil

  7. This was a very neat review with great images and very handy info in the video, cheers.
    The white butterfly wing really turns me on, plenty of fruity colours & clarity in those images.

    FE mount has gone from limited choice to hard to decide now, 90 2.8 or 85 1.8 or 85 1.2? -28 f2 or 25 f2? what a hassle lol.!

  8. Steve: word is Sony is only letting a few folks have the new A7R Mark II for roll out testing. I would think you’d be one of the chosen few. How about a little teaser for us? Did you get one?!?!

  9. I’m personally disappointed in the direction Sony has taken with a number of their lenses. Sony gave us this wonderful small, light full frame camera and then make gigantic lenses for it. Where is the sense in that! This macro is a good example. I’ve shot thousands of macro pictures and I can tell you with the narrow depth of field you need a tripod and precise focusing. So why do we have steadyshot and focus by wire? Just adds unneeded weight, size, and a lack of focus precision. I’ll just stick with my old nikor 60mm macro. I bought into Sony’s system because of size and weight. If I wanted big heavy lenses and cameras I would have stuck with nikon. Yes there are some small lenses that are out for the a7 but not a very complete working set.

  10. Macro’s fascinating but focus stacking completely does my head in. To this day, even after 120 exposures stacked I still get blurry bits.

    Think my Raynox DCR250 or MSN-505 will have to suffice.

  11. Steve, I take your word for sharpness of the 85mm, but the pictures in your video do not look that sharp. Maybe it is the very narrow depth of field.

    • The 85 is very sharp at the focus point. You can’t go by the video as that has a low res image encoded down to 720P video, which will never look anything like the original file. But the DOF is wafer thin, so the focus point when wide open is TEENY tiny. It’s a gorgeous lens.

  12. You used with lens SteadyShot versus body + lens SteadyShot and you preferred lens SteadyShot only? I hope I’m not reading your statement correctly. If that’s true, that’s an indictment of the a7II’s IBIS.

    • Sean, the IBIS in the a7 cameras actually works in tandem with the OIS switch on lenses that have them. If a lens with a switch is attached, the setting is disabled on the camera, and both OIS and IBIS are controlled simultaneously with the switch on the lens.

  13. Lovely bokeh… Some headshots would be great, though I am still waiting to see what that large aperture prime is going to be?

  14. Steve

    I’m sure you have a tremendous skillset that would render you to be a very good macro shooter. Set up something on a rainy day in your house-play with some light on the subject and viola..

    Greg

  15. Hi, I know that the batis 84mm 1.8 is not out yet but for portrait which will you recommend? this 90 or the batis?

    The 90 is macro and 2.8, the batis is 1.8 (both have oss I think).

    thanks!

  16. Hi Steve,

    Just wondering if you know, does this lens come with a tripod collar, or is there one available? It looks like a great lens, but without a collar I’d be concerned about the balance of the lens on a tripod, and the amount of force applied directly to the lens mount. I know both 100mm macro lenses that Canon offer have collars available for the reason.

  17. I think these days Macro lenses are used mostly for close focusing on food and faces, not as much for taking photos of insects. I have used my Canon 100mm Macro for food and faces for years because it lets me get close to the subject where other lenses absolutely do not.

    I’m pretty certain close focus in these areas are what potential buyers will use it for (I’m mid-switch from Canon to Sony, so that would be me). Interested to hear how this stacks up vs the Canon 100 macro L glass and Zeiss’s own Makro Planars, though from the looks of your images i’m sure pretty darn well.

    Thanks

  18. Steve, I have been waiting for this lens to surface for a while so great to see you got hold of one to try out. I am wondering if you had an opportunity to shoot some head and shoulder / headshots with this yet? I would love to see some samples shot wide open. Is the AF too slow for this type of work? Thanks John

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