Hands on with Sony’s FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens, plus sample images

Our initial thoughts on Sony’s fast portrait and sports lens.

Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens
The Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens is a fast-telephoto prime aimed at sports photographers and portrait shooters.Jeanette D. Moses

A new G-master lens is on its way from Sony. The FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens for E-mount cameras (like the a7 series) is a full-frame, fast aperture, telephoto prime that offers impressive bokeh. It's a versatile lens length for indoor-sports, weddings, and of course, portraits. Here is a top level look at the technical aspects of this lens.

  • 13 elements in 10 groups
  • XA (extreme aspherical) element and a Super ED glass to minimize aberrations common with telephoto lenses and onion-ring bokeh
  • Four XD linear motors in the front and back make AF that is fast, precise and quiet
  • Floating focus mechanism
  • 11 blade circular aperture
  • Maximum magnification of 0.25x
  • Minimum focusing distance of 2.3ft.
  • Magnesium alloy construction
  • Fluorine coating minimizes smudges on the front element
  • Dust and moisture resistant design
  • 5 inches high, 3.5 inches wide
  • Weighs 33.5 oz
  • Two customizable Focus hold buttons on the lens barrel
  • Focus range limiter
  • Linear response MF
  • Aperture ring with a click on/off switch
  • Available late April for $1900
Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens
The lens has 13 elements in 10 groups and an eleven blade circular aperture for beautiful bokeh.Jeanette D. Moses

We had the chance to spend some time shooting with this lens prior to its release with a Sony a9 equipped with a stripped down version of the firmware that will be coming to the camera this summer.

The AF capabilities of this lens, coupled with the circular bokeh were really impressive. These two aspects are going to make this a coveted lens for portrait shooters. The lens performed fairly well when shooting faster moving subjects like basketball players, although to get the most out of Sony’s subject tracking you will need to stop down the lens from F1.8. No one who knows anything about lens design expects a 135mm prime to be lightweight with a low profile, Sony did a good job keeping this one as small as possible. The lens balanced the a9 body and during our time shooting with it we didn’t notice any wrist or shoulder fatigue.

Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens
Although primes of this size aren't expected to be lightweight, the FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens has a smaller profile than other 135 primes on the market. The lens is 5 inches high, 3.5 inches wide and weighs 33.5 oz.Jeanette D. Moses

Ultimately though, it’s the image quality that matters and we are very happy with how those turned out. Portraits were consistently sharp with beautiful focus fall-off when shooting wide open. This lens does an amazing job of separating subjects from the background to emphasize expressions in a flattering way. Check out more of our sample images in the gallery below.

Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens
The lens will be available in late April for $1900.Jeanette D. Moses
model in white against flower wall
The Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens does an excellent job at separating subjects from their background for a dreamy look.Jeanette D. Moses
model with flower crown
The model in this picture remains crisp while the focus on the background falls away.Jeanette D. Moses
bright red and yellow flowers
The lens can be used for macro shots as well.Jeanette D. Moses
wedding ring among flowers
A lens that can be used for portraits and details like this ring shot is a great option for wedding shooters.Jeanette D. Moses
man and woman reading the paper
Even at F/4 the lens does an excellent job separating subjects from their backgrounds.Jeanette D. Moses
model with long hair in the snow
Captured at 1/800 sec, f/1.8 and ISO 320.Jeanette D. Moses
basketball player throwing ball
If you are using the lens to photograph sports you will want to reduce the size of your aperture, especially for subject tracking. This was shot at 1/250 sec, F/2.2, and ISO 640.Jeanette D. Moses
basketball players
If you are shooting sports at F/1.8 you will need a fast shutter speed. This frame was captured at 1/500 sec and ISO 1000.Jeanette D. Moses
basketball playing dunking ball
Captured at 1/800 sec, F/2.8, and ISO 1600 with the Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens.Jeanette D. Moses
model in red fur
The Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens really shines as a portrait lens.Jeanette D. Moses
model in red coat
Captured at 1/250 sec, F/2.8 and ISO 4000.Jeanette D. Moses
model on blue couch
Captured at 1/500 sec, F/3.5, and ISO 3200.Jeanette D. Moses
model sitting on the table
We love the effect this lens has on the background of this image at F/1.8.Jeanette D. Moses
model in blue vintage car
Captures at 1/800 sec, F/1.8, and ISO 2000.Jeanette D. Moses
man and woman posing in blue vintage car
The Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM lens does an excellent job at defocusing objects in the foreground as well. This was shot at 1/800 sec, F/2.8, and ISO 6400.Jeanette D. Moses
model on payphone
Shot at 1/800 sec, F/2.0, and ISO 5000.Jeanette D. Moses
model on payphone
Shot at 1/800 sec, F/2.0, and ISO 6400.Jeanette D. Moses
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