A history of Sony Alpha - Minolta AF 85 mm f/1.4 G D versus Sony Zeiss Planar T* 85 mm f/1.4
3. Build quality
It is worth noticing how consistent this group is dimension-wise. The lengths of all the instruments, showed here, are in a very narrow range from 79 to 81.5 mm; the diameters range from 70 to 72.5 mm and the weight – from 550 to 560 grams. All of them have 0.85 m. minimal focus. Significant differences concern the filter thread diameters – in the case of the Pentax it amounts to only 67 mm, in the case of the Nikkor – 77 mm in the case of our duel rivals – 72 mm for both.
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Looking at the front we can’t find any significant differences in the front element diameter either - it is about 5.5 cm for each lens. Then you can see manual focus rings. Their width is similar but the Minolta’s ring ribbing is significantly thicker. Their work is smooth and well-damped. Also both of rings move the whole elements system - the lenses don’t change its focal length during focusing but they get significantly bigger on passing to the minimum focus.
Next we find the distance scale windows – once again very much alike, positioned more or less in the same place, really clear both of them. Below, there are depth of field markings for f/22, f/16 and f/8 apertures – in fact identical again.
The mounts of the lenses, being compared here, look also the same. Both of them are very solid, made of metal, surrounded by eight contacts, four screws and the “screwdriver” mechanism to autofocus. The rear element of the Sony is 34 mm in diameter so about one millimeter wider than the rear element of the Minolta.
Both lenses are heavy and give the impression of very solidly build devices. The Sony has a bit more classic look because of the black metal barrel, practically not covered by anything. The Minolta has more rubber coverings which can be found on its manual focus ring and on the other side of the distance scale. There is also a difference in the type of lens hood, included in box. The Sony’s lens hood is made of metal, the Minolta’s – made of plastic.
When it comes to the optical construction of both lenses, the differences are more pronounced. The Minolta consists of 7 elements in 6 groups, the Sony – of 8 elements in 7 groups. Neither of manufacturers mentions anything about low-dispersion glass or aspherical elements. Both lenses sport inside a circular aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to f/22.
Cross section of Minolta AF 85 mm f/1.4 G D (left) and Sony Zeiss Planar T* 85 mm f/1.4 (right)
Also the standard accessories selection is very much the same. In both cases the buyer gets (or got) two caps, a hood and a soft case. The only significant difference concerns, as we already mentioned, the material the hoods are made of – the Minolta’s is made of plastic, the Sony’s – of metal.