We recently announced that Sony 100mm 2.8 STF lens for full frame cameras is hitting the market. It comes at a pretty high price, but it has some features other Sony lenses don’t.
Photographer Manny Ortiz took some test shots with the 100mm and shared the first impressions in his latest video. You’ll see some of the resulting photos, but also hear what it is that makes this lens so special.
One of the most prominent features of Sony 100mm 2.8 STF is the devotion to creating creamy, soft bokeh. It incorporates an apodization element that improves the bokeh quality. Combined the rounded 11-blade diaphragm, it makes bokeh extra smooth, soft and round. Here are some of the Manny’s shots so you can see for yourself what it looks like:
The lens indeed creates fantastic bokeh. You could have also seen it in some of the test shots we published when the lens was announced. But there is one problem with the method used for creating it.
The apodization element of the lens truly contributes to the perfect, soft and creamy bokeh. However, it cuts a certain amount of light. The physical aperture of the lens is f/2.8 and you’ll get the softness and bokeh characteristic of that aperture. But, it exposes like f/5.6. This is why in the video you can see that the camera shows f/5.6, while the shots are being taken at f/2.8. Because of this, Manny points out that this lens is more of a “specialized” one, as it’s not really an everyday, versatile lens.
Some photographers are not pleased with the apodization element and the fact that it cuts off the light. But you can observe it as the tradeoff – you lose some light, but you get a perfect bokeh. It all depends on what’s more important to you.
Another thing that makes this lens special is again connected to bokeh. When you shoot with the lights in the background, you’ll get almost perfect circles of light behind the subject. This happens precisely because of that apodization element. Here’s how it looks when compared to a Sony 85mm 1.4 Gmaster:
To conclude, Sony 100mm 2.8 STF has its good and bad sides, both of them are pretty obvious. On the plus side, it creates a truly fantastic, unique bokeh. On the minus side, it cuts off some of the light. But as I said, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s a fair tradeoff and whether this lens is something you’d like to invest in. It all depends on your preferences and needs, and what you find more important. Hopefully, Manny’s video and this write-up helped you make the decision.