Zeiss ZA Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 (SAL-85F14Z) on Sony NEX - Review / Lab Test
Lens Reviews - Sony NEX

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published March 2012

Special thanks to Dieter Scherk for providing this lens for testing!


The Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ZA (Sony SAL-85F14Z) is certainly not an obvious choice for being used on the Sony NEX but if nothing else it is certainly an interesting experiment - especially using the new 24 megapixel sensor of the NEX 7. The Zeiss ZA 135mm f/1.8 may still be a tad better but it can certainly be taken as a benchmark lens.

The lens can be used on NEX cameras via Sony Alpha adapters. You can even use autofocus when using the Sony EA-LA2 adapter. Basically it transforms your NEX into a Sony Alpha SLT. The setup with the Zeiss lens is a bit front-heavy for sure but I had no real issues with this - other may disagree with this view.

The NEX system has an APS-C format sensor so the ZA 85mm f/1.4 behaves like a "130mm f/2" on a full format camera. The "f/2" refers to the comparable depth-of-field at f/1.4. For determining the exposure, the real aperture obviously remains the relevant number.

The build quality of the Zeiss lens is excellent thanks to an all-metal construction. The focus ring is decoupled from the AF gear so it does not rotate in AF mode. In manual focusing mode it operates very smoothly but there is a little play when reversing the focus direction - a characteristic shared with the ZA 16-80mm. The lens extends a bit at closer focus distances.

It isn't necessarily something bad but the AF system of the Zeiss still relies on the classic focusing system driven by the camera (via a slotted drive screw) rather than Sony's modern SSM (supersonic motor). Consequently the AF produces a moderate degree of noise during operations. Due to the heavy weight of the lens system the AF speed is fine but not great. The combination of NEX-7 and EA-LA2 adapter worked flawlessly with the lens.

Equiv. focal length128 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/2.1 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction8 elements in 7 groups
Number of aperture blades9
min. focus distance0.85 m (max. magnification ratio 1:7.7)
Dimensions82 x 73 mm
Weight640 g
Filter size72 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodmetal, barrel-shaped, snap-on-type, supplied
Other featuresfocus stop button