Looking for a way to photograph with fresh and new perspectives? From nature to portrait, to commercial and artistic photography, a macro lens might just be what you need. Here are my thoughts on my up-close and personal hands-on with the Sony 90mm f/2.8 macro lens.
Up to this day, I’ve never really needed a macro lens for my sports photography. Interestingly, writing my “Droplet at-home macro project” article sparked my creative interest in this genre. With my Sony PRO Support membership, I’ve been able to bring further my experiments by borrowing the renowned FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS lens.
Here are some photos I’ve got along with tricks to get great results.
Come closer, don’t be shy!
When you’ve never had a hands-on with the Sony 90mm f/2.8 macro lens, it is hard to imagine how close it actually allows you to be from your subject. A regular lens requires a minimum distance of several inches — sometimes even feet — in order to be able to focus. The 90mm f/2.8 has a minimum focus distance of 0.92 feet (0.28 meters). How close is that? That’s how close:
Simple and convenient to use
The build of this lens has features that any Sony photographer will easily recognize. It has among other things:
- Fast Auto/Manual focus-switching (the textured ring around the lens)
- Focus hold button (right under the “G” letter), easily reachable with the thumb
- Focus Range Limiter selector for a faster autofocus speed
I also like the fact that it has an inner-focus design — meaning that the total length of the lens doesn’t change — and built-in image stabilization — a must in my opinion for this type of photography.
The manual focus is an absolute blast to work with the focus peaking, a feature available with many Sony Alpha cameras. (“Focus peaking” is a focusing aid that uses colored highlights in the viewfinder of the camera to identify the elements of an image that are in focus.)
The 90mm f/2.8 Macro is an extremely precise and enjoyable macro lens. With a weight of 21 ounces and only five inches in length, this lens is not on the smaller side. But it’s not super large, either, and is pleasant to walk around with.
Useful for several types of photography
Macro photography is, of course, great for nature and textures. A macro lens is also useful for commercial purposes such as product photography, portraits and food. Its unique depth of field makes it interesting for all kinds of artistic purposes as well.
Be aware of the macro depth of field!
I’ve been tempted to use the f/2.8 aperture in low light conditions — as I do all the time with my other lenses. I found out that a very close focus distance paired with a large aperture makes the depth of field *EXTREMELY* shallow. Throw in the mix the compression effect of the 90mm telephoto lens and you’ve got the smallest focus area ever.
What does that mean? That there’s a very small area in your image that will actually be in focus — I’m talking about millimeters. Here are my recommendations to achieve the sharpest images possible:
- Increase your shutter speed to avoid camera shake (aim for 1/125s and faster)
- Increase your aperture (like f/9 or f/11) when possible (by doing so you’ll probably have to increase your ISO as well)
- Find something stable to rest your hand/elbow/camera on
- Place your camera as parallel as possible from the photographed surface so most of your subject is on the same plan (same distance from your camera)
- Step back (this will automatically increase the depth of field)
- Use a tripod
Ending this hands-on with the Sony 90mm f/2.8, I would recommend this lens for photographing nature, textures, products and portraits. It also makes a great all-around telephoto lens if you don’t own one yet.
I’ve got gorgeous shots that I couldn’t have achieved with any other of my lenses. (Side note: I gave it a try with sports photography — just for fun — and although the autofocus is very precise and responsive, it just doesn’t match other faster lenses that are meant for that purpose.)
If you are looking for a very high-end macro lens for professional (or personal) purpose and have the budget to invest on top quality gear, the FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS lens has everything you need to pleasantly create sharp and crisp images with the dreamy bokeh we are all craving for.
On my side, based on my current activities and contracts, this purchase wouldn’t be justified for me in the short-term as I don’t need it in my regular work. With that being said, if I happen to have more commercial photoshoots in the future or need to mix things up with my photography, this lens will certainly be on the top of my list.