Lens review

Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS

31 May 2019
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality and image stabilization

The following chart presents a comparison between basic parameters of the tested lens and those of its stabilized rivals. The Sony is physically the lightest instrument here (but the Canon and the Tamron are just slightly heavier) and, at the same time, one of bulkier in this group. Of course you have to mention the fact that the whole group remains very similar when it comes to physical dimensions and it would be difficult to notice any distinct differences between particular models.

In the photo below the Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS is positioned between the Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro and the Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar 65 mm f/2 Aspherical 1:2 Macro.

Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS - Build quality and image stabilization

The tested lens starts with a metal mount which surrounds a contact plate and a rectangular 31x22 mm frame. On the frame you find information that the lens was produced in Thailand and inside it, about 1.5 cm deep, you see an immobile rear element. The area around the rear element is very nicely matted and blackened so, from this side, the lens seems to be properly sealed and protected.

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Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS - Build quality and image stabilization

The proper body of the lens is made of painted black metal. It starts with an immobile, smooth ring. On the ring you can find a white dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, along with the logo of the producer, the bayonet and lens markings, the serial number and an inscription 'Optical Steady Shot' meaning optical image stabilzation.

Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS - Build quality and image stabilization

Further on that ring increases its diameter and it features an inscription stating the parameters of the lens and, on the left, the autofocus mode switch (FULL, from 0.5 to infinity and from 0.28 to 0.5 of a meter) and a stabilization switch (ON/OFF). Then the diameter of the ring increases again and on its right side you see the producer's logo; on the left you find the marking of the G series and a focus lock button - if you press and hold it the focus won't change and it works even in the full time manual focus mode.

The next part is a manual focus ring as wide as 38 mm. You don't have any AF/MF switch, it's enough to push the ring toward the mount. I often criticize such technical solutions because during the move of the ring you can easily lose the pre-set focus but here everything seems to be working fine. The ring doesn't have any tendency to side play and keeps the pre-set values as it should. It also turns smoothly and is properly damped. Running through the whole distance scale needs a turn through an angle of about 160-170 degrees. Still, it's worth remembering that you can leave the ring in the AF mode and control the focusing manually from the camera level. An advantage of such a solution is an increase of the focusing range and a greater precision of settings.

Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS - Build quality and image stabilization

Then you see a narrow, metal ring which turns into a hood mount. The front element doesn't move and is 45 mm in diameter. It is surrounded by a non-rotating filter thread, 62 mm in diameter. When you take photos in the macro mode using the 1:1 reproduction ratio the front element is situated in a distance of about 11 cm from your subject.

Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS - Build quality and image stabilization

In terms of optical construction you deal here with 15 elements positioned in 11 groups. It is a quite typical configuration, the rivals in this class of equipment offer from 14 to 16 elements. The designers of the Sony used one aspherical, one ED glass and one Super ED element. Inside you can also find a round aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to a value of f/22 at the maximum.

Buyers get both caps, a hood and a case in the box with the lens.

Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS - Build quality and image stabilization

Optical stabilization

Nowadays it is a norm that companies boast of stabilization efficiency on a level of 4 EV. Will the Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS be as efficient too? In order to check it we took several dozen photos with exposure times ranging from 1/100 to 1/2 of a second with the stabilization switched on and off. For every set of photos we determined a percentage of out-of-focus shots; then we presented it in a form of a graph of exposure time which was expressed in EV (with 0 EV being an equivalent of 1/80 of a second). The result of our testing can be found below.

Sony FE 90 mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS - Build quality and image stabilization

The maximum distance between both curves reaches 3.5 EV and such is, in our opinion, the efficiency of the Sony's stabilzation mechanism. It is a good result but it lags behind 4-4.5 EV reached by the best lenses.