Sharpest 85mm legacy lens

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by goran_ilic|1, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. Hi,
    I am needing a 85mm f2 or better lens for my A7 Before I save for a new Batis I am looking for sharpest option on "legacy" market. Would like to hear what you got and how do you like it.
    My budget would be around $250.
  2. My 85/1.8 Leica mount Canon lens was one of the best lenses I've ever had of any focal length. I believe the Canon FL version is the same glass, and well within your price range.
  3. The controlling parameter will be cost, and you'll take what sharpness (and bokeh) you can find for that price. A Nikon 85/1.8 sells used for under $300, and is probably the best bet. You'll also need an adapter. Good adapters cost about $300, but you can tak a chance for $50 or less. Your best bet is to shop for an used lens. KEH.Com is a good starting point (and for me, ending point). KEH is very reliable with regard to ratings and has a liberal return policy. The price may be higher than on an auction site, but you won't be disappointed nor stiffed, nor out bid in the last millisecond.
    Moving up scale, you can find a variety of Leica 90 mm lenses from $200 (f/4) to under $900 (f/2) which perform very well on an A7 (again, an adapter is needed).
    Sony A7ii + Leica Summicron 90/2
    100% crop
    You might also find something in Tamron or Sigma in your price range. In general, their optics are good, but the build quality tends to be spotty.
  4. You might also find something in Tamron or Sigma in your price range. In general, their optics are good, but the build quality tends to be spotty.​
    that's a pretty uneducated guess, and a bit misleading. Tamron and Sigma never made 85mm lenses until recently. Actually, the Sigma 85/1.4 has a better build than the Nikon 85/1.8 G, and the newest Tamron SP primes are made with metal bodies. The Tamron 85/1.8 actually uses the Batis optical formula, but isn't available in E-mount. The Sigma is only made for A-mount as well. In any event, neither of those lenses can be had for $250, so it's kind of a moot point, i suppose. Another option would be the Samyang/Rokinon 85/1.4 for Sony, but those lenses are manual-focus only.
  5. Edward is correct by saying your budget will be your limiting factor.
    The Canon FDn 85mm f/1.8 is darn sharp with good contrast and within the price range. Very compact, too. The matching hood is the BT-52. Look on ebay for the K&F Concept adapters for decent quality at a reasonable price.
    For a bit less contrast but bags of bokeh, check out the Canon LTM Serenar 85mm f/2. Heavy chrome build, flares easily but lots of character. You should find them, hopefully in clean, smooth focusing condition, in your price range. Check them out carefully as these are very old lenses.
    The Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 AI-s is stellar and one of my all time favorite lenses but heavy and a bit beyond your budget.
    Likewise AF options, with decent adapters, will strain your budget. If you can stretch some, the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 are plentiful on the used market and are excellent lenses. You can use them with less expensive manual focus adapters while you save up for a good AF one. Not as compact as the FDn version but it has internal focusing and a nice rubber ring that works OK for MF.
  6. Thank you for your input.
    Has anyone tried Konica Hexanon 85/1.8?
    I have 40/1.8 and it does great.
  7. I've had two Nikon 85/1.8s, one a very early pre-ai one that was OK, and an af-D that was garbage. I thought maybe I'd gotten a dud, and getting an older ai-s one would be an idea, but the general consensus seems that Nikon's 85 has been one of their worst lenses in the line, until the new G version. They clean up ok around f4, but doesn't everything--it's wide open where the differences show up. I wouldn't recommend it as best-of-class.
  8. "needing a 85mm f2 or better - around $250" - looking for sharpest option" Goran I.
    So you're looking for "cheap & sharp".
    Well, you're not going to fill those two requirements together unless you tap the speed down a bit (f/2 to f/2.8).
    Without a doubt, that order can be filled with a Contax C/Y 85mm f/2.8 Sonnar.
    Even with a cheap C/Y to NEX adapter, it's less than your requested budget.
    Plus, about this Carl Zeiss lens, I'm in full agreement with the statement quoted below:
    Zeiss 85mm f/2.8 Sonnar - What can you say? Outstanding performance at all apertures with no loss of contrast wide open. Sure, it's a slower lens, but impressive nonetheless. From Fred Miranda Forum
  9. Of course there is Zeiss ($$$), but probably not in the OP's budget. Not all Zeiss 85's are the same. The Planar formula has "character", which means field curvature and "interesting" oof characteristics. It's a nice lens for portraiture but not so much for landscapes. The Sonnar formula is much sharper, but perhaps not as flattering toward people. Sean Reid published an exhaustive comparison between the Planar and Sonnar 85's.
    If you have $1200 to spend, the Sony 90/2.8 Macro is a superb lens. It is sharper than the Zeiss Batis, but 1-1/2 stops slower. Unusual for macro lenses, it has outstanding bokeh, both in front of and behind the plane of focus. It's also heaver and over an inch longer. The Sony is actually available, while the Batis remains unobtanium for the foreseeable future.
    The Batis 85/1.8 and Tamron bear a superficial resemblance in design, but the difference is in the details. A similar comparison is often made between a Zeiss Tessar and a Leica Elmar. Both are modified Cook triplets, but the resemblance ends there. The Batis and Tamron came out about the same time, which fueled the similarity rumors.
  10. Your budget is too low for you to be very demanding about image quality for your projected 85mm lens.
    I got used Nikon 85/1.8K/Ai from B&H for $150--- B&H said it had a scratch on the rear element. No scratch..but has what are usually called "surface marks" or "coating marks." Image quality is good to excellent, depending on your use.
    Add $150 (big city prices) for a CLA, and for $300 I'm in business.
    It it as good as the Nikon 85/1.4 Ais? No.
    The new Sigma 85? No. The current Nikon A/F 85's? No.
    An old Pentax Takumar 85/1.9? Probably not.
    But it is a decent lens.
  11. Canon Fd 85mm f/1.8 razer sharp, utterly amazing glass. Falls just in your budget for a very good condition one on ebay or keh
  12. So you're looking for "cheap & sharp".
    Well, you're not going to fill those two requirements together unless you tap the speed down a bit (f/2 to f/2.8).
    Without a doubt, that order can be filled with a Contax C/Y 85mm f/2.8 Sonnar.​
    At today's price levels, you cannot get a decent sample of of the Sonnar for a mere $250 -- unless a good friend or relative is willing to sell that low.
  13. Agreed $250 isn't a lot for a stellar lens. 85mm 1.7 Rokkors are going for around $450. Excellent glass though.
  14. If you're willing to bump up the maximum aperture to f/2.5, you should give the Tamron 90mm f/2.5 macro a serous look. You can pick one up usually in the $100 range. And they are sharp, sharp, sharp! My Tamron 90mm is the sharpest lens I own. It's also quite compact when fully collapsed -- not much bigger than a 50/1.4.
    I also own a Canon nFD 85mm f/1.8 and it's a very nice little lens. Very good sharpness, color, and contrast. It's also a very compact lens. The only other ones I can think of that fall within your price range are the Nikon 85/1.8 and 85/2 and the Konica Hexanon 85/1.8. I haven't shot with either, so I can't vouch for them. Olympus, Pentax, and Minolta 85s are out of your price range.
  15. What adapter would I Need for Tamron 90mm f/2.5 macro to a7?
  16. You can use a variety of Adaptall-2 mounts. Whichever one you go with, you'll need to buy an adapter for that camera mount to the Sony mount. I have a NEX 7 and I've purchased adapters for Canon FD, Nikon F, M42, M39, and even C-mount. I've got most all my bases covered that way.
  17. I have had good and bad surprises with legacy glass on my X series Fuji bodies. One of my favorite, all-time lenses in film applications was my Hexanon 85 ƒ1.8 but initial trials left me lukewarm on digital. I have great results with a Zeiss Sonnar 90mm ƒ2.8 from my Contax G system and a 90mm Elmarit in M mount and would trust them for serious duties.
    Because of the beautiful Fuji and Zeiss glass that is made for the X series, I've sort of lost interest in applying old glass as it hasn't seemed worth the trade-offs in handling/focusing/adapters/sometimes funky colors, etc. It's part of what drew me to the X system in the first place but now is easily a secondary consideration.
  18. I agree with Craig, the Contax Zeiss 90mm 2.8 Sonnar is one of the finest lenses in this class. Sharp as a tack, rich color saturation and contrast with buttery smooth bokeh. Being a rangefinder lens, it is extremely compact. Sadly, the manual focus adapters I've used with it suck wind and the AF adapters are expensive and push it out of your range.
    I've sort of lost interest in applying old glass as it hasn't seemed worth the trade-offs in handling/focusing/adapters​
    Again agree. I started with mostly legacy lenses but the native lenses for my Sony kit are so good and work so much better, that much of my old glass sits on the shelf. There are exceptions, of course for special purpose focal lengths, high speed optics and for a couple of old lenses that have that "character" thing going on.
  19. The good Sony glass is way out of my price range, so I make do with legacy glass. I've had very good to excellent results with a wide variety of vintage -- and not so vintage -- lenses on my NEX 7. The only ones that didn't work well were my Vivitar 17mm f/3.5 and my Tamron 17mm f/3.5. They don't work worth a flip on my EOS XS either. The angle by which the light is bent exiting the lens is too much for the sensors to handle. All my other lenses, even my 24mm's, work well. From what I've seen, these ultra-wides work well on the Sony FF cameras.
  20. "I've sort of lost interest in applying old glass as it hasn't seemed worth the trade-offs in handling/focusing/adapters"​
    I replaced most of my old adapted glass with new native glass. I have not yet replaced my macro glass and my glass over 300mm.
  21. May I make an alternative suggestion: The Nikkor 105mm f2.5 is pretty awesome.

Share This Page