Sony FE 90mm F/2.8 G Macro Review - Photo Jottings

Sony FE 90mm F/2.8 G Macro Review

The Sony FE 90mm F/2.8 G OSS  (B&H Photo, Amazon, eBay) is the first macro lens for use with Sony’s full frame ‘E’ system, (formerly called NEX that used only APS-C sized sensors).  This superb all new lens incorporates OSS, or Optical Steady Shot, with an on-off switch on the side, plus an internal focusing design, so it does not extent out like Sony’s severely outdated 100mm macro lens of Minolta vintage.

Fit and finish are very good. The lens appears to be made up of a mixture of metal and plastic. There is a fine, checkered type design around the focus ring, that’s new for a Sony lens. Sony claims the use of one aspherical element, one ‘ED’ glass and one ‘super ED’ glass. Sony says this lens is dust and moisture resistant.  Lens is made in Thailand.

Filter size is 62mm, and as of this review, not a very popular size for Sony’s ‘E’ system. Be careful when mounting filters as the filter threads appear to be plastic.  I’ve had great luck with Tiffen and Hoya; they’re priced appropriately, and are the only brands I use now.

Focusing. This lens auto-focuses quickly and mostly accurately, (your results may vary depending on camera model), and has a very quiet Direct Drive Super Sonic Wave Motor or DDSSM, which is new for this macro lens. The front filter ring doesn’t turn when focusing, so your polarizers and grads will work great. The focusing ring is easy to turn, and is damped about right.  Amount of focus ring travel is approximately 180°.  There are marks on the focus ring to indicate distance in both meters and feet.  A nice feature is the switching from AF to MF with a push or pull of the focus ring, but don’t forget to push it back for AF to work, in other words, if your AF is not functioning for some reason, check your focus ring position!!  Also included is a focus hold button, and a three position focus limiter switch, which limits the travel of the focus from either full, (from infinity to close focus), then infinity to .5 meters, and finally, .5 meters to .28.

In the box is the lens, front and rear caps, vinyl carrying case, and a plastic solid type hood.
  • Box and contents
  • Side showing focus limiter and focus hold button
  • Mount
  • X-ray view
  • Sony MTF graph
  • Exposure compensation chart


Official lens name and code Sony FE 90mm F/2.8 G OSS   MFR# SEL90M28G  B&H Photo, Amazon, eBay
Box contents Front cap, rear cap, Solid type hood, vinyl carrying case and user’s manual.
Cost $1099 as of 8/16.
Build Quality very good.
Additional information This model is made for Sony ‘E’ mount cameras, and won’t work on ‘A’ mount cameras as of this review.
Optical configuration 15 elements in 11 groups.
Angle of view 27° diagonally, (17˚ when mounted on an APS-C sensor camera).
Aperture 9 blades, curved
Coverage for Sony FE mount 24x36mm sensor. When mounted to an APS-C camera, the focal length (or capture area) is equivalent to 135mm.
Depth of field and focus scales focus distance in both feet and meters, and magnification level.
Minimum focus, image plane to subject About 10.75″ (273mm).
Minimum focus, end of lens barrel to subject About 4.9″ (125mm) from front of lens barrel, no hood.
Infinity focus hard stop No.
Length changes when focusing No.
Focus ring turn in AF No.
Filter size 62mm.
Filter ring rotates No.
Maximum reproduction ratio 1:1 or 1.0x.
Minimum F/stop F/22
Sony Teleconverter compatible No.
Length changes when zooming N/A
Dimensions WxL 3.1″ x 5.1″ 79mm x 130mm.
Maximum extended length Lens does not extend.
Weight 21oz, (598g) bare.


Optical qualities summary.

Lens flare/ghosting overall, good control.
Light fall-off Low wide open, almost nothing at small apertures.
Color fringing excellent control of lateral type. I do see a very small amount of magenta axial type at wide open to F/4, mostly correctable in Lightroom 5+.
Bokeh generally neutral disks, but look for the onion ring pattern from very bright highlight blur.
Color seems about the same as other Sony lenses.
Close-up filter not tested.
Coma none.
Regular filters cause no noticeable additional light fall-off.
Filter size 62mm. Not very popular as of this review for the FE system.
Distortion Almost zero.

Macro Shot.

The image below is the usual stamp shot from the old site.  The subject is a standard US stamp, 0.87″x 1.0″ or 22mm x 25mm.  It’s very sharp stopped down a bit, this shot was sharpest at F/8.  As a side note; the ‘1996’ text in the lower left corner of the stamp is a mere 1mm wide in real life!

Click here for full size version of stamp.


Miscellaneous samples.

The first image shows distortion, (or lack of distortion) at about 60′ or 20m.  Up close there is almost no distortion, see the macro stamp shot above.  The next shot shows how the lens handles the full sun, which is not that great when the sun is shining directly into the lens.  What you see here is about as bad as it gets.

Vignetting gallery below.

Vignetting or light fall-off is not strong at any aperture, although it’s noticeable near or at wide open, and more so at close focusing distances, although it is not noticeable unless shooting test shots as I’ve done here.  Regular filters cause no additional problems, and you may be able to stack two without getting dark corners.

  • F/2.8
  • F/4

Resolution samples.

These samples are the same as the set I posted as a preview. I see very sharp centers at F/2.8, with the sides just a bit soft, but not even noticeable unless viewed at huge sizes. At F/4 through F/11 the whole image is very sharp, even the corners. Diffraction starts to show up slightly at F/16, and F/22 looks a little soft.

Click buttons for full size versions.

Background highlight blur (bokeh) at short focusing distances.

Here are a few full size images of a subject taken from a relatively short distance. You can get a good idea of the character of out of focus highlights. I did not take these on a tripod, so they are not perfectly lined up.  Bokeh looks neutral, meaning the disk is even at most apertures, with no harsh outline. The corner disks are somewhat lentil shaped wide open, which is quite normal.

F/2.8 F/4 F/5.6 F/8 F/11

Click buttons for full size versions.


The Sony FE 90mm OSS G Macro turned in a great review; another superb prime lens for the FE system, and a much needed replacement for Sony full frame shooters who were stuck with the 1980s Sony branded Minolta slot/screw focusing lenses for use with an adapter!!

The positives aspects from this macro lens are numerous, very sharp wide open when used as a medium telephoto lens, quick focusing, nice slide AF/MF ring; and of course build quality.  I can’t really think of any negatives, but feel free to criticize the high price and focal length, however, the price is appropriate for the performance in my opinion, and the focal length is ok, even so, I’d probably would have went for a 100mm if anyone asked me, but no one did, and 85mm is really close to 90mm for medium telephoto use.

Those looking for a less expensive medium telephoto lens might want to check out the Sony FE 85/1.8, B&H Photo, Amazon  the focal length is very close, and it’s smaller, but without macro capabilities.

Those looking for a Medium telephoto lens will definitely want to check Sony’s 90mm FE F/2.8 Macro OSS G lens, it’s really outstanding.  Of course it’s also good at macro shooting distances, and is currently one of two Sony macro lenses available for the FE (full frame) system; the other one a 50mm F/2.8; no review yet but check it out here;  B&H Photo, Amazon, eBay.

That’s it for this review. Please check out the Sony FE 90mm F/2.8 G OSS lens at B&H Photo, Amazon, eBay and help support the site!

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