Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Review

As I was working my way through the Sony FE lens reviews, I was especially looking forward to this one. The Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens is a best-seller and a very much-loved lens. Popularity often means the lens a good one, at least relative to the price, but macro lenses in general are very fun. There are very few photographers that cannot make regular use of a macro lens, the availability of macro subjects is extremely high and these subjects are often quite intriguing at the high magnification that these lenses invite, making final images especially interesting.

That this image stabilized lens can be used for general purpose 90mm needs, including portraiture, adds to the lens' versatility. That this versatile lens does not carry an extreme price has undoubtedly aided its popularity. The FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens is a great choice for Sony kits. Let me tell you why.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Angle View

Focal Length

Focal length decisions should be made based on the perspective and subject framing desired. How far do you want to be from the subject and what juxtaposition between the elements in the frame is desired? If tight framing and a long subject distance are preferred, a longer focal length is needed and the opposite is also true.

Macro lenses are available in a range of focal lengths, but I find that the 90-105mm range is usually the best range for general purpose macro photography.

One of this lens' most desirable features is its 1.00x maximum magnification, its macro capability. I'll talk more about that aspect later, but especially relevant to the focal length discussion is the working distance provided by this focal length at or near this magnification. The longer the focal length, the more working distance is available and the less likely that little living creatures such as insects will be frightened away while, or even worse, before being photographed. In this regard, 90mm is about average for macro lenses with the difference between 90mm and 100mm or 105mm being insignificant for most practical purposes. Those chasing insects and using a full frame camera might prefer a longer focal length and those working with mid-sized products at close distances may prefer a wider focal length macro lens. Otherwise, 90mm is probably just right.

Another consideration especially relevant to macro photography is how much of the background is visible at a given working distance (based on angle of view) and how that background is rendered via compression and magnification, resulting in blur. I'll talk more about background blur, but once again, this lens is just slightly wider than the average for macro lenses available in other mounts. You get slightly more background in the frame with slightly less background blur than the common 100mm and 105mm options, but far less background and significantly more blur compared to a lens such as the Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens. The 150mm and 180mm macro lens options of course frame even narrower and create a more significant background blur.

I doubt that anyone could compile a complete list of subjects available for a macro lens regardless of focal length. Great little macro subjects abound – they are everywhere. Insects, spiders, plants, food and candy, coins, jewelry, craft items and commercial products – the list goes on. Bringing home flowers for your spouse may help them better enjoy (support) your macro photography pursuits and they will likely appreciate prints of the results adorning your walls.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Zinnia Top Sample Picture

Simply walking around outside of your house will surely turn up interesting things to focus on. On a cloudy Sunday afternoon, I had no trouble entertaining myself for hours in the garden.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Zinnia Sample Picture

While many look at a macro lens as being specific for close-up photography, nearly all macro lenses work very well for many other purposes compatible with their focal length and the short telephoto 90mm focal length has a host of useful applications.

One of the primary uses for a 90mm lens is portraiture. The 90mm focal length provides a great perspective for all types of portraits, especially for individual portraits ranging from moderately-tightly cropped head shots to as widely-framed as you have working space for. With adequate working distance, small group and family portraits are even within this lens' capabilities. A 90mm macro lens is great for weddings, capturing details of a dress one minute, portraits the next and photos of the rings moments later without a lens change required.

While many sports are best captured with very long focal length lenses, not all require such and you may find a 90mm lens ideal for some sports. The 90mm focal length (like most others) can be successfully used for landscape photography. A 90mm lens also works very well for commercial and general studio photography applications along with a wide range of other uses too numerous to mention.

Utilizing a smaller image circle means that APS-C sensor format cameras frame a scene more tightly, with 1.5x being the multiplier (FOVCF) used to determine the full frame angle of view equivalent. Multiplying 90mm by 1.5x yields 135mm as the angle of view equivalent for this lens. This tighter angle of view is useful for similar purposes as just described, though the longer working distance favors macro work (including insects) and tightly framed portraits but less-favors group portraits or large products.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Front View

Max Aperture

While an f/2.8 aperture is not especially wide for prime lenses around this focal length, f/2.8 is very common for the macro prime lenses and f/2.8 is a relatively wide/fast aperture among lenses in general.

With an f/2.8 aperture, this lens is handholdable and capable of stopping action in relatively low light levels without resorting to very high/noisy ISO settings. In combination with the short telephoto focal length and a closely positioned subject, f/2.8 permits a very strong, subject-isolating background blur. While there are times when you may want everything to be in focus, most macro subjects look great set against a creamy-looking background free of distracting elements.

Here is a set of aperture examples:

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Aperture Comparison Example

At f/2.8, the background turns into a smooth blur of colors, making the zinnia stand out against no distractions. By f/16, the background objects become quite recognizable.

For a sneak peak of the image quality this lens is capable of, here is a 100% crop of the fly that landed in the f/8 example:

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Fly Sample Picture

The downsides of a wide aperture are usually larger size, heavier weight and higher cost. While this lens does not have the widest aperture for this approximate focal length, it is also only modest in those three downside categories.

Want to see the maximum blur a telephoto macro lens with this one's specs can create? Here it is:

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Maximum Blur Example

OK, perhaps not the maximum blur as this subject was only less than 20 yards (18.3 meters) away, but it seems that an even stronger blur would look about the same. There is no detail remotely recognizable in this image, and that capability is a strongly desired one.

While talking about the available apertures of a macro lens, it should be mentioned that, at very close focusing distances, the max aperture decreases.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Macro Exposure Adjustment

If using an auto exposure, the camera will automatically account for this. If using a manual exposure, it is your job to account for adjusting the exposure. This attribute is not unique to Sony or any other brand macro lens, but ... it is annoying to dial in a manual exposure, change focusing distances and realize that your settings are no longer appropriate for the task.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Top View with Hood

Image Stabilization

Sony marketing touts their cameras as having IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization), but many of their lenses also feature OSS (Optical SteadyShot). While perhaps not immediately clear, these two stabilization systems are complementary: "5-axis image stabilization becomes available when used with alpha series bodies that feature built-in image stabilization." [Sony] And, as expected, clear imagery is what this combo stabilization system delivers.

The image stabilization and f/2.8 aperture combination is an especially attractive one for handholding a lens in low light. This feature significantly increases its versatility, improves usability and, in many situations, greatly improves the image quality this lens delivers.

A number of stops of assistance rating is often provided by a manufacturer, but Sony does not specify one for this lens. Shooting handheld (elbows not resting on my body) under ideal conditions (indoors on concrete), using a Sony a7R III, most of my images were sharp at 1/6 second shutter speeds with a rapid drop-off in sharp image percentages at longer shutter speeds, though sporadic sharp images were made at much longer exposures.

That exposure duration is far longer than I could obtain sharp exposures at without the assistance of stabilization. Photographing outside, perhaps in the wind or on unstable footing? Expect to need faster shutter speeds than those I reported. But, also expect a similar amount of assistance from OSS as it is still similarly and significantly compensating for shake.

Usually, a tripod will give you at least the same benefit as image stabilization. However, it is not always convenient to carry and use a tripod and working handheld is usually much faster, allowing images to be captured that otherwise would have been missed.

While OSS is great for reducing camera shake-caused blur in images, it is also very helpful for precise framing of subjects in the viewfinder. While this lens' OSS is active, drifting of framing is not an issue with the viewfinder view remaining well-controlled, not jumping at startup/shutdown and subject reframing being quite easily accomplished.

Modes I and II (panning mode, stabilization in one direction only) are provided.

This OSS system is one of the quietest image stabilization systems I've used. In a quiet room with my ear against the lens, I can hear only a very faint whir. Handheld video recording is nicely assisted by OSS and the stabilized composition provides a still subject to the camera's AF system, allowing it to perform better.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens on Tripod

Note that, as usual, Sony recommends turning OSS off when using a tripod. With a dedicated OSS switch, the camera's IBIS menu option is overridden by the switch setting.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Coneflower Sample Picture

If you enjoy handheld macro photography, this lens has your name on it. For the above image, I picked the coneflower, pushed the stem into the space between the trunk and quarter panel of my car (a quick and dirty flower holder), aligned the composition with green grass in the background and pressed the shutter release. It doesn't get much easier than that.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Side View with Hood

Image Quality

Prime macro lenses tend to have excellent image quality, including excellent sharpness, and I was anxious to see how the FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens, the first Sony macro lens I've evaluated, performed.

In the lab, this lens delivered extremely sharp center of the frame f/2.8 results. Sharpness decreases as the image circle radius is traversed with corner results appearing modestly soft/blurred.

The center f/2.8 image quality is so sharp that little difference is seen at narrower apertures. However, the corners need improvement and they get it. At f/4, the mid-frame area sees a boost in sharpness and corners show a more substantial improvement, though calling them "sharp" at this point would be a stretch of that term.

At f/5.6, I'll call the mid-frame sharp and the corners are looking decent. At f/8, the corners have excellent sharpness.

Taking the testing outside on a clear day ... the images below are 100% resolution crops captured in raw format using a Sony a7R III. These images were processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method with the sharpening amount set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. These examples are from the center of the frame.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

These results are simply stellar. There is no reason here to stop down the aperture aside from gaining increased depth of field.

This is the point in the evaluation where I often notice focus shift, with the plane of sharp focus moving (usually) backward or (sometimes) forward as the aperture is narrowed. This lens does not have that problem.

To show the worst performance of a lens, the extreme corners are the easy choice and those are presented below. The first two example sets are from the bottom left, the third example set is from the top right and the last set, captured at a very long distance (ignore the haze/reduced contrast attributed to the distance), shows bottom right crops.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

The f/2.8 results in all examples are a bit rough and not likely acceptable in scenarios requiring sharp corners. Improvements are steadily dialed in until f/8 where corner performance is easily good enough for most needs.

Does corner sharpness matter for macro photography? The vague answer is sometimes it does and sometimes it does not. Those photographing insects and flowers will not likely care if the corners are not perfectly sharp and blurred corners may even be an advantage in some situations. Those doing copy work with the lens, such as reproducing paintings and documents, will want their corners razor sharp. Of course, a tripod will often be used in those circumstances and the corner-sharp f/8 aperture will often be desired in those cases.

You likely noticed that the corner crops become brighter as the aperture is narrowed. That is normal and referred to as peripheral shading or vignetting. The amount of shading at f/2.8 is about 2 stops. While that amount is generally noticeable, it is normal, matching or near-matching most similar lenses. Stopping down to f/4 reduces the shading by about 50% for a typically-just-visible 1 stop. Another stop narrower again sheds nearly 50% with the about .5 stops seldom being noticed in real world images. Narrower apertures slowly continue to reduce the shading with only about .25 stops remaining at f/16.

As is common, APS-C format cameras avoid the most-shaded peripheral area of the image circle

The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths exists.

While lateral CA is usually easily corrected with software (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide, it is of course better to not have it in the first place. Any color misalignment present can easily be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a worst-case example, a 100% crop from the extreme top left corner of an ultra-high resolution Sony a7R III frame.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

We want to see only black and white colors in this image and those are essentially the only colors present. This lens performs impressively in regards to its lack of lateral CA.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures. Hitting silver jewelry with a flash creates many specular highlights that reveal these aberrations.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

Look at the specular highlight fringing colors in the out of focus areas of the image with the foreground highlights showing a different fringing color than those in the background. While the wide open aperture results show some of these aberrations, they are modest and they clear nicely with a narrower aperture.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Design

This lens has excellent flare-resistance. Aided by a nano anti-reflective coating, very few flare effects, shapes or veiling types, are seen even with the sun in the corner of a narrow aperture-captured FE 90 image.

There are two lens aberrations that are particularly evident when shooting images of stars where the high contrast bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point, instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma), or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). The other aberration, astigmatism, is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either meridional (radiating from the center of the image) or sagittal (perpendicular to meridional).

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Coma

A 90mm focal length lens is very long for photographing stars without an equatorial mount being used to avoid motion blur. But, with a relatively short exposure time and Polaris, the north star, nearly centered in the frame, sharp tripod-mounted 90mm star images can be created. Shown here is an f/2.8 corner and these stars are looking decent with only a small amount of stretching seen.

With only one focal length being designed for, prime lenses usually show a low amount of geometric distortion and that is the case with the FE 90. There is a small amount of barrel distortion present, but it will go un-noticed in all but the most critical scenarios.

Looking at macro lens bokeh (blur quality) is highly relevant as these lenses are frequently focused at close distances, creating shallow depth of field even at narrow apertures. I really like the results this lens delivers, even with the aperture blades strongly influencing this image quality aspect.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Bokeh Example

f/11 | f/11 | Full

The specular highlights are reasonably round (for f/11) and have very smooth centers. The outdoor examples show trees being nicely smoothed when out of focus.

With a 9 curved-blade aperture, you can expect this lens to create 18-point stars from bright lights when photographing with narrow apertures. Here is an example:

 Starburst Effect Example

Whether or not the multi-rayed points are desired is a personal opinion, but they are not my favorite.

Overall, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens is a great performer. The corner sharpness at wide apertures is the primary flaw, but otherwise, this lens turns in excellent performance.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Front View on Camera

Focusing

Complementing the image quality performance turned in by this lens is its autofocus performance. The Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens' AF is powered by dual Direct Drive Super Sonic Wave Motors (dual DDSSM). This lens very reliably, very quietly and very quickly focuses accurately.

I need to footnote the "very quickly" part. Overall autofocus performance relies on a camera to complete the task and the Sony cameras available at this time slow overall AF lock times significantly. The Sony a7R III (and the other recent Sony alpha camera models), in AF-Single mode, pause momentarily before driving AF and then the lens is de-focused slightly before being focused on the subject. This happens even if focusing at the same distance with the same subject and the overall AF focus speed is relatively slow at best.

In AF-C continuous focus mode, the a7R III gives up the slight pause and focus hunting practice and the result is very-noticeably-faster focus acquisition. The downside is that AF accuracy is somewhat reduced, at least in some situations.

This lens design uses a front-focusing module. Very positive is that the lens remains a fixed size during focusing, ensuring that you know where the front element will be positioned at all times. That feature is especially appreciated during macro photography when it is easy to bump into the subject (or scare it away).

Unique to this class of lenses is an AF hold button (singular), located on left side of the lens. While in continuous focus mode, this button can be pressed to lock focus at the currently established focus distance, permitting a focus and recompose technique. This is an especially useful feature for a macro lens.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Side View

A focus limiter switch permits selection of the full focus distance range or two limited distances, 1.64' (0.5m) - ∞ and 0.9'- 1.64' (0.28m - 0.5m). The narrower focus distance ranges can improve AF speed in some situations by avoiding long focus hunts.

A lens' manual focusing system usually warrants discussion and with macro lenses frequently being used in manual focusing mode, this one especially merits that discussion. The first aspect you need to know is that the focus ring slides forward to engage AF. With the lens in AF mode, manual focusing (FTM / Full Time Manual) is supported via Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) mode. Also with the focus ring in the AF position, the camera's menu system permits manual focusing to be engaged, permitting an AF-established focus distance that is then locked-in. An example of this technique being used is for HDR exposure bracketing. The focus ring does not otherwise perform a function in the AF position. Turning the ring does nothing.

Slide the focus ring rearward to engage electronic manual focusing mode, overriding any in-camera settings (disables the focus menu) and engaging the lens ring just behind the focus ring, showing the reproduction ratio and focus distance in both ft and m. Upon sliding the ring into the MF position, the camera immediately drives focus to the currently-marked distance. As the distance scale ring can be adjusted independently of the focus ring in AF mode, sliding the focus ring rearward smoothly drives focus to the set distance, a technique you might want to employ at times. In the MF position, the focus ring hard-stops at the ends of the range and adjustments are repeatable.

The manual focus ring is nicely sized and is smooth with ideal dampening. This is a single-speed electronic focusing implementation and the adjustment speed provided with about 165° of total rotation is ideal for precise manual focusing at all distances.

I do not like push/pull focus ring AF/MF switching and I initially was turned off by this one. However, during use, I've grown to not mind it and the feature can be advantageous at times. Sony focus rings make distance adjustments by turning in the same direction as Canon lenses (the opposite of Nikon lenses).

Note that there is a huge change in subject size as focus is adjusted to full extents with greater magnification occurring at minimum focus distance, as is desired for a macro lens. Here are examples focused to the reproduction ratios marked on the lens.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Focus Magnification Example

1:1 | 1:1.2 | 1:1.5 | 1:2 | 1:3 | 1:5 | 1:10 |  ∞ 

While a distance window is not provided on this lens, a focus distance meter shows in the lower portion of the electronic viewfinder during manual focusing. Of course, the camera must be powered on to see that meter and to adjust the focus distance.

A very short minimum focusing distance relative to the 90mm focal length is a big part this lens' purpose. The 11.0" (280mm) close focusing capability provides a 1.00x magnification or 1:1 reproduction ratio, depending on your preference. That means a subject will be rendered life-size on the imaging sensor and that even tiny subjects will be huge in the frame. Though this close-focusing aspect is common for macro lenses, few lenses deliver performance better than this one.

ModelMFDMM
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens11.8"(300mm)1.00x
Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S VR Micro Lens12.0"(305mm)1.00x
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens12.3"(312mm)1.00x
Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens11.0"(280mm)1.00x
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro F017 Lens11.8"(300mm)1.00x
Zeiss 100mm f/2M Milvus Lens17.3"(440mm)0.50x

An approximately 1.4 x .9" (35.9 x 24.0mm) subject will fill a full frame image sensor at this lens' minimum focus distance. The yellow ring in this zinnia is about 1" (25mm) across.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Maximum Magnification Examples

Making little subjects huge in the frame is very fun. It is also very educational as depth of field becomes very shallow at this focus distance and learning how to align the plane of sharp focus is part of the challenge.

To reduce the minimum focus distance and thereby increase the maximum magnification, mount an extension tube behind this lens. Infinity and long distance focusing are sacrificed with an extension tube in use, but extension tubes improve a lens' magnification capabilities. A 90mm lens will show a nice, but not dramatic, improvement with the longer extension tubes behind it. Sony does not publish extension tube specs nor do they offer these products as of review time. Look for a third party extension tube if one is desired.

This lens is not compatible with Sony teleconverters.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Top View

Build Quality & Features

The Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens features a quality plastic exterior design. As you've seen in the preceding images, it looks like this:

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Product Images

MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    Rotated        Compare »

Notice the focus ring movement illustrated in the above product view options.

Aside from the two focus-related rings and focus stop button already discussed, the remaining exterior moving parts are the switches, both of which were also already discussed. These are flush-mounted in the normal/logical position. While Sony could have provided a more solid click into position for better haptic feedback, they work fine.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Mount

Sony advertises this lens as having a "dust and moisture-resistant design", but I don't see a rear gasket seal on the lens mount. Especially with that significant omission, I recommend using extra caution in wet or dusty conditions.

While the lens itself is relatively comfortable to use, the current Sony alpha camera grips do not permit adequate space for finger clearance and my joint pressing into the back of this lens (and many other Sony medium and large lenses) while gripping the camera is uncomfortable.

This is a mid-sized lens that is comfortable to carry for extended periods of time. While the FE 90 is similarly-sized as its counterparts, it weighs slightly less than some of them. Of course, adding focal length to a telephoto lens usually increases its weight and the heavier lenses have slightly longer focal lengths.

ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear 
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens22.1 oz(625g)3.1 x 4.8"(77.7 x 123.0mm)67mm2009
Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S VR Micro Lens27.9 oz(790g)3.3 x 4.6"(83.0 x 116.0mm)62mm2006
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens25.6 oz(726g)3.1 x 5.0"(78.3 x 126.4mm)62mm2011
Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens21.3 oz(602g)3.1 x 5.1"(79.0 x 130.5mm)62mm2015
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro F017 Lens21.5 oz(610g)3.1 x 4.6"(79.0 x 117.1mm)62mm2016
Zeiss 100mm f/2M Milvus Lens29.8 oz(843g)3.2 x 4.1"(80.5 x 104.0mm)67mm2015

For many more comparisons, review the complete Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.

To get the best lens size-difference perspective (without having them in my hands), I like to view them side-by-side.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S VR Micro Lens
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro F017 Lens
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens to other lenses.

Those coming from the Canon camp will find this lens' 62mm filter size unusual and there will likely be no filters of this size in these kits. Nikon, Sigma and Tamron all have a small number of lenses fitting the 62mm size (all three have macro lenses fitting this size), but not enough to make me consider referencing 62mm as "popular". Though step-up filter adapter rings may preclude the use of a lens hood, they are an inexpensive option to make existing larger filters work on this lens.

The Sony ALC-SH138 lens hood is included in the box. This is a round, slightly flared, semi-rigid plastic hood with a matte interior. It affords very good protection from bright lights and from impact.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Case

Another accessory included in this box is a seemingly-good-quality vinyl draw-string pouch with a felt interior. Aside from the well-padded bottom, this pouch offers only minimal impact protection. If better protection is desired in a lens-only case, try the good quality, affordable Lowepro Lens Cases.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Cap

Price and Value

Sony FE lenses are not inexpensive and this one has a moderately high price tag that is high relative to competing models, roughly 20% higher without rebates factored in. Those with Sony kits may have paid less for their cameras and in the end, costs are balanced. The high performance of this lens helps make it worth its price.

As an "FE" lens, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including both full frame and APS-C sensor format models. Sony provides a 1-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens was online-retail acquired.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Angle View with Hood

Alternatives to the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens

Within the Sony FE family, the only relevant comparison macro lens is the Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens. While I have not yet reviewed that lens, some differences are obvious. The 50mm's focal length is 56% as long as the 90's, weighs 39% as much, is 54% as long and is priced 45% as high, without rebates factored in. The 50mm lens does not have OSS and the 90mm lens has 9 aperture blades vs. 7. While the 50mm focal length will work better for some tasks, I'd much rather have the 90mm lens and personal product reviewers agree with this choice.

Though it requires an adapter to work on Sony cameras, the 10mm-longer Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens is a lens I own, love and use a lot. So, highly relevant to me at least was a comparison between these two lenses. In the Sony vs. Canon macro lens image quality comparison at f/2.8, I see the Sony turning in sharper results in the center of the frame and the Canon looking a bit better in the corners. By f/4, you are not likely to care which of these lenses you have mounted. The Canon has more lateral CA but retains slightly sharper corners, especially if the lateral CA is corrected (relatively easy and non-destructive). The Sony shows less effects from flare and the Canon shows slightly less geometric distortion.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS vs. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens comparison shows these two lenses being very similar. The Canon has 67mm filter threads vs. 62mm, has a rear gasket for dust and moisture protection and has a longer hood. It also has a tripod ring optionally available for it. The Canon is noticeably less expensive, but the cost of an adapter must be factored in for use on a Sony camera (unless such is already owned). Native lenses often perform best, especially from an AF perspective.

Bumping the focal length up another 5mm is Nikon's entry in this field, the 105mm f/2.8G AF-S VR Micro Lens. The Sony vs. Nikon macro lens image quality comparison currently available does not have equivalent resolution cameras involved (note that we are beginning to test Nikon lenses at ultra-high resolution), so some judgement is required in this comparison. What I see at f/2.8 is that the Sony is outperforming the Nikon in the center of the frame and the Nikon has sharper corners. As the aperture narrows, the Sony closes the gap in the corners, but to my eyes, it retains the lead in the center of the frame. The Nikon shows more lateral CA, more flare effects and slightly less geometric distortion.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS vs. Nikon 105mm f/2.8G AF-S VR Micro Lens comparison shows the Nikon slightly shorter with a longer focus ring adjustment (254° vs. 165°). Otherwise, these lenses are mostly the same. Even their filter size is the same. Again, the Nikon costs less. And again, the Nikon is not a native-Sony-compatible lens, but I thought the comparison might be interesting.

The primary-spec-matching Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro Lens is another interesting lens to compare. In the Sony vs. Tamron image quality comparison at f/2.8, the Sony appears significantly sharper in the center of the frame and the Tamron has the edge in the periphery. By f/4, I don't think you will care which lens you are using. It is hard to decipher a winner in the other image quality attributes.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS vs. Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro Lens comparison, these two lenses show great similarity, including their 62mm filter size. The Tamron is a bit shorter.

Another major camera lens brand is Sigma and the 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens is their current nearest-equivalent (though I look for an "Art" version of this lens to be introduced soon). In the Sony vs. Sigma image quality comparison at f/2.8, The Sony is sharper in the center and the Sigma is much sharper in the periphery. The Sony again shows fewer flare effects.

Looking at the specs and measurements, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS vs. Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens comparison, we find the Sigma weighing slightly more with few other differences worth talking about with even the filter size again being the same. The biggest difference between these two lenses is the street price. While the Sigma's list price is not too much lower than the Sony's, Sigma has been consistently offering instant rebates that are now equaling over 40% off. The Sigma is currently available in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts, but I would not be surprised to see a Sony E-mount version option become available at any time, perhaps in an "Art" version. Until then, for Sony compatibility, get the Canon version and use Sigma's MC-11 Adapter.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Front-Side View

Summary

As I said in the beginning of this review, the FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens is a great choice for Sony kits and that I promised to tell you why. Basically, the "Why" is that this is a reasonably-sized, nicely-built, high-performing lens that is relatively affordable, is great fun to use and reliably delivers excellent results. While the wide-aperture corner image quality is not remarkable, the center of the frame results are stellar and stopped down, the corner results are also impressive. The rest of this lens' image quality attributes are great. With OSS combined with IBIS, this lens is easily handholdable and subjects, both macro and normal, abound, meaning that this lens will be among the most-used for many.

I'm not at all surprised that the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens is a best-seller and a very much-loved lens.

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My Recommended Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Retailers

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