Sony 90mm f/2.8 Review
Before trying the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro, I wasn’t sure I’d be interested in it. After testing it, I’m excited to report that it opened a whole new world of creativity – being able to photograph small objects and see incredible detail in objects is amazing!
Since you can capture tiny scenes, you can be more creative, and make interesting images without having to travel or leave your house.
This lens isn’t just limited to macro photography – it also makes a great portrait lens. At 90mm, it’s an excellent focal length for getting proper proportions with faces.
If you’re looking to expand your creativity, the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro is a great lens. It will allow you to get incredibly close to your subjects and reveal new image possibilities.
If you’re working to create commercial images of small products like watches or headphones, this lens will be an awesome tool in your kit.
I appreciate that this lens allows me to create interesting images at any time of day – since the macro function will enable you to get close to your subject with a narrow field of view, you don’t have to wait for the best light at sunrise/sunset.
This opens up creative possibilities and makes me excited to create new types of images – this isn’t usually the case with other Sony lenses, such as these more regular ones.
Read on for all the details and specifics on what makes the Sony 90mm f/2.8 so awesome.
Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro Specs
- Durable, rugged feel
- Amazing close focus distance
- AF/MF clutch switch
- Accurate focus distance on the barrel
- Max aperture of f/2.8
- Autofocus motor high pitch noise
- Sony E-Mount/Full Frame Lens
- Aperture Range: f/2.8 – f/22
- Minimum Focus Distance: 11 in (0.28 m)
- Weight: 1.32 lb / 602 g
- Length: 5.1″ / 131 mm
- Diameter: 3.1 ” / 79 mm
- Filter size: 62mm
- Macro Reproduction Ratio: 1:1
Build & Ergonomics
On first impression, the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro seems very well built. It feels solid in your hand, and the metal barrel has a nice weight to it. Not a heavy, bulky weight, but a sturdy, rugged weight.
The barrel is smooth except for a grippy knurled focus ring that feels tight but smooth.
I also really appreciate the unique auto/manual focus clutch-style switch on this ring. It slides forward to autofocus and back for manual focus. This allows quick switching without fumbling for a small switch.
When you turn the focus ring, it has clear markings indicated the distance and reproduction ratio (important for a macro lens).
The focus ring also has hard stops on each edge which make it easy to find the limits of focus and achieve sharper images in manual focus.
On the exterior of the body are two additional switches. The first switch is for choosing the focus range. It has options of full, infinity to 0.5m, and 0.50 to 0.28m. The other switch turns Optical Steady Shot on and off.
The focus performance is awesome, and I leave the focus range selector on full most of the time.
The Optical Steady Shot function is great if you’ll be shooting at slower shutter speeds in low light.
The last feature on the exterior of this lens is the focus hold button. This button can be customized, but most people choose to program it to eye autofocus (not as useful for a macro lens unless you’re shooting portraits).
The Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro is a G rated lens. This means that it’s one level below the Gold Master lenses from Sony intended for high-resolution cameras like the 61 MP a7R IV. The G rating indicates that this lens is a top-rated lens in their lineup, but not quite up to the standards of G-Master.
In practice, this lens is excellent. I’m not sure what makes it a G vs GM lens, but I was delighted with the results with this lens.
When it comes to durability, I think this lens is built quite tough. It doesn’t have a weather seal, but the metal barrel felt like it could take a lot of abuse.
The focus performance on the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro lens is excellent. It quickly grabs and holds sharp focus allowing me to get very close to my subject.
With a minimum focus distance of 0.28m (11 in) and a focal length of 90mm, this lens can really bring small objects to life!
I appreciate the quick (no fumbling) switch between autofocus and manual focus, allowing me to quickly find the minimum focus distance. Finding this distance allows you to make objects appear at the reproduction ratio of 1:1.
If you’re not familiar with macro lenses, a 1:1 ratio allows you to make really cool images of tiny objects!
One thing to note is that the minimum focus distance of most macro lenses is a factor of focal length.
Lower focal lengths will have smaller minimum focus distances, and larger focal lengths will have more significant minimum focus distances.
In other words, the lower the focal length number, the closer to your subject, you will have to get to achieve the 1:1 reproduction ratio.
This is important to note if you are photographing moving subjects like insects. If this is the case, you’ll want a longer focal length, so you don’t have to get as close to subjects and risk disturbing them (i.e., choose this lens over the 50mm macro).
In addition to the positive results I’ve had for macro work, I found the autofocus of this to be very good for general use (i.e. portraits/landscapes).
One thing to note about the autofocus on this lens is that it does have a faint high-pitched whine.
When shooting video (and capturing audio) in quiet environments, this might be disruptive. I was able to work around this issue, but it’s something worth noting.
Because it’s a macro lens, the aperture is only f/2.8. For a prime lens this isn’t very fast (most primes are closer to f/1.8 or lower).
It’s my understanding that some compromises must be made to allow for such a close focusing distance.
If image quality is important, you will not be disappointed with the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro lens. It delivers outstanding optical performance, and the images show it.
Even on the high-resolution image sensors of the Sony a7R series, this lens produces great results.
Sharpness is excellent (even wide open at f/2.8). If you want to achieve maximum sharpness, stopping down to f/4 or f/5.6 will increase sharpness slightly.
Stopping down also has the effect of increasing the depth of field, which is helpful because macro lenses tend to have a narrow focus range when the subject is near the minimum focus distance.
Chromatic aberration and vignetting are very well controlled, producing great images. This is especially awesome because it allows you to get crisp detail in some of the smallest objects allowing you to see things not visible to the human eye.
This lens may not have the G-Master designation of some of the top of the line Sony lenses, but I found the images to be excellent quality!
Value for Money
At about US$1,200, this lens is not a budget option, but it does produce some amazing results.
The macro images it can create are stunning and just not available from normal (non-macro) lenses.
If you need a lens to photograph small products like watches, the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro will produce some spectacular results.
It’s a speciality lens that fills a specific need, but it could also make a great portrait lens if you don’t plan on shooting in low light.
There are some less expensive macro offerings for Sony E-Mount, but this is by far the best quality.
If you want the best images (especially if shooting on a high-resolution a7R camera), the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro is great value for money because of the quality it delivers.
Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro Review | Conclusion
Bottom line: this is an amazing lens! It features incredible quality and features that allow you to create images that other lenses just can’t match.
For someone interested in getting closeup images of products or subjects, this is the lens to buy for full-frame Sony cameras! It has incredible sharpness and image quality as well as accurate autofocus.
Macro photography is a whole new world of image-making and sparks all kinds of new creative opportunities that I previously didn’t consider.
If you want an amazing lens that will allow you to get very close to subjects and perform well as a portrait lens, the Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro is an awesome choice!
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.