85mm Prime Lenses: Sony Portrait Photographers Are Spoiled for Choice

Lens deals - Rokinon 85mm f1.4

When it comes to Sony’s E mount, there are 85mm prime lenses that will suit every portrait photographer’s budget.

If you pay attention to the news at all, you’ve seen that Sigma just announced a new version of their 85mm f1.4 Art lens for Mirrorless cameras (Sony E and L Mount Alliance). This got us thinking. Users of Sony cameras are spoiled for choice when it comes to 85mm prime lenses, and the new Sigma 85mm f1.4 DG DN is going to come up against some pretty fantastic lenses that are already available. We’ve decided to take a quick look at the 85mm prime lenses for Sony’s E mount we have reviewed in the past that fit all photographers’ budgets so that you can decide if the new $1,199 Sigma worth a closer look.

Captured with the Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8

All the lenses we highlight below are fantastic for portrait photographers. 85mm prime lenses are go-to’s for many who work in the portrait field, and thankfully, there are offerings on the Sony platform that will work with any budget. We’ve showcased everything from the $199 85mm f1.8 Viltrox, up to the $1,798 Sony 85mm f1.4 G master. One thing you will find is that all of these lenses render gorgeous images and will not disappoint.

85mm Prime Lenses for the Sony Portrait Photographer on a Budget

Captured with the Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AF FE

Sigma 56mm f1.4 DC DN Contemporary (84mm Equivalent on APS-C)

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Gorgeous bokeh
  • Lightweight & compact design
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • One of three widest maximum aperture (f1.4) lenses currently available for Crop Sensor Sony E Mount (besides Sigma’s own 16mm and 30mm offerings)
  • Dust and splash proof design with a rubber gasket integrated found around the lens mount
  • 35mm equivalent focal length of 84mm very nearly matches the 85mm focal length preferred by many portrait photographers
  • It’s less than $500

Cons

  • Lacks optical stabilization
  • Pincushioning is especially noticeable in RAW files, although correctable during post-production

Buy now: $395

Viltrox PFU RBMH 85mm f1.8

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • Excellent sharpness
  • Creamy bokeh

Cons

  • Significantly heavier than Sony’s native autofocus 85mm f1.8 for Sony FE mount
  • Lacks weather sealing

Buy now: $199

Captured with the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f1.8

Pro Tip: Whether you opt to go with more affordable lenses or more expensive options, you absolutely must take care of them if you want them to last a long time and perform at the peak. Give your lenses a quick wipe down with a soft microfiber cloth before each use, and go over them in more detail once per week. If you want your investment to last, your gear needs to be taken care of regularly. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get an excellent basic kit either. This is all you need.

Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f1.8

85mm prime lenses

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Fantastic build quality
  • Super smooth focusing
  • Clicked apertures
  • 12 aperture blades
  • Lightweight
  • When stopped down this lens becomes super sharp
  • Muted colors to help counter the tons of saturation that Sony tends to output

Cons

  • Wish it were still just a bit sharper wide open
  • We wanted more lens flare

Buy now: $499.95

Sony 85mm f1.8 FE

85mm prime lenses

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Fast focusing with the Sony a7r II and in good lighting it will focus quickly with the Sony a7
  • Nice feel; though not as great as the G Master 85mm f1.4 lens.
  • Weather resistance built in
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Honestly, not a darn thing

Buy now: $598

Rokinon 85mm f1.4 AF FE

85mm prime lenses

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • More affordable than Sony’s higher-end option: it’s $699
  • Good image quality
  • Smooth bokeh
  • Sharp image quality
  • Nice colors

Cons

  • We wish it had more weather sealing

Buy now: $599

Model: Grace Morales. Captured with the Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master

Pro Tip: Keeping up with lens caps can be a royal pain. If you’re like me, you take them off and put them in a ‘safe’ place only for them to vanish. Now, we have choices when it comes to lens caps. Did you know that you can get universal lens caps that not only protect the front element of your lens but can also offer some great weather protection too? These universal lens caps can fit just about any lens, can be color-coded, so you know what lens inside the protective cover, and they will protect your glass from the elements with ease.

85mm Prime Lenses for Portrait Photographers with Deeper Pockets

Model: Megan Gaber. Captured with the Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master

Zeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis

85mm prime lenses

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Great colors
  • Compact size for a lens like this
  • Weather resistance
  • Extremely fast and accurate focusing
  • Very sharp, though many of Sony’s native offerings are sharper

Cons

  • Only f1.8
  • Skin tones rendered very blue for us and generally need to be warmed up
  • Top LCD display is pretty useless on a focal length like this

Buy now: $1,019

Zeiss 85mm f2.4 Loxia

85mm prime lenses

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Fantastic image quality
  • That modern classic Zeiss look
  • Weather sealing
  • Smooth but not limiting focus

Cons

  • Price point
  • Only f2.4

Buy now: $1,194.93

Sony 85mm f1.4 G Master

85mm prime lenses

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • 11 Aperture blades are the most of any autofocus portrait lens made so far
  • Big, but very balanced with the Sony a7
  • Aperture control around the lens is nice
  • Fast autofocus performance
  • Nice color rendition for portraiture
  • The best bokeh of any 85mm lens we’ve tested.
  • Weather sealing
  • Wonderful for skin tones

Cons

  • Expensive

Buy now: $1,798