Viltrox 85mm f1.8 lens review on a Sony a7ii full-frame camera with Brutalist Architecture

How does the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 e-mount lens perform compared to an over-40-year-old Nikkor Ai 85mm classic lens and a modern Sony zoom lens?

The following lenses were reviewed for center and corner sharpness at aperture f5.6 and bokeh quality on a Sony a7 ii full-frame camera:

Lens review: Viltrox 85mm f1.8 prime lens, Nikkor Ai 85mm f2 classic lens (with adapter) and Sony FE 24-240mm zoom lens
From left to right: Nikkor Ai 85mm f2 classic lens (with adapter), Viltrox 85mm f1.8 prime lens and Sony FE 24-240mm zoom lens (used at 85mm).

What is brutalism architecture?

To learn about the bokeh of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 prime lens, a beautiful church in the style of brutalist architecture in Oberhaching (south of Munich) is used to create the review photos. This Oberhaching catholic church was built in 1967 and falls perfectly into the category of the style of brutalist architecture, also called brutalism because it is characterized by simple, block-like structures that often feature bare building materials. Exposed concrete is favored in construction.

See a good explanation and nice examples of brutalism architecture here:

Bokeh of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 e-mount lens

View the brutalism architecture photos from the church in Oberhaching (south of Munich) to check the bokeh of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 e-mount on a Sony a7ii full frame camera. Click on any photo to enlarge in 4K UHD resolution:

Viltrox-85mm-f1.8-lens-review-A7_09981

Viltrox-85mm-f1.8-lens-review-A7_09981
Picture 1 of 32

Looking at the MFT chart of the Viltrox lens, we see the solid sagittal and dotted meridonial lines quite close together:

Viltrox 85mm f1.8 STM emount
The MFT chart of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 lens is typical for a optical design tuned for a creamy and pleasing bokeh (the solid and dotted lines are quite close together)

Look here for a good explanation from photography life, how a lens MFT chart determines the bokeh effect of a lens and how to read MFT charts in general:

https://photographylife.com

The pleasing bokeh of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 prime lens is very creamy and pleasing. Nevertheless, it is a characterless creamy bokeh. Extravaganza like a van Gogh Bokeh of the Canon FD 200mm f2.8 or a Wet-on-Wet Bokeh of the Raynox M42 135mm f2.8 is missing.

Sharpness of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 e-mount lens

Lens review: Viltrox 85mm f1.8 Sony e-mount
A beautiful church in the style of brutalist architecture is photographed to compare the image quality of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 prime lens with two other lenses.

Center sharpness of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 prime lens

Lens review: Viltrox 85mm f1.8 Sony e-mountViltrox 85mm f1.8 center sharpness Brutalist Architecture Oberhaching Brutalismus
Click on the photo to view it in 4K UHD resolution (3840×2160)

Corner sharpness of the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 prime lens

Lens review: Viltrox 85mm f1.8 Sony e-mountViltrox 85mm f1.8 corner sharpness Brutalist Architecture Oberhaching Brutalismus
Click on the photo to view it in 4K UHD resolution (3840×2160)

All center and corner sharpness photos were shot at ISO-100 and aperture f5.6 at the same lighting conditions and should get the same shutter speed by the aperture priority exposure by the Sony a7ii camera. Right?

As you can see in the exposure information in the green text at the top left of each photo, the Sony lens needs 1/800s for a correct exposure, while for the Viltrox lens 1/1600s is enough time. The Nikkor 85mm f2 lens is even faster at 1/2000s, but the photo comes out a little bit darker.

This means, that the Viltrox lens transmits twice the amount of light compared to the Sony zoom lens at the same lens aperture f5.6, or has approx. one aperture stop faster T-stop than the Sony lens.

As you can see in the lens reviews of DxOMark, the real amount of transmitted light represented by the T-stop value of famous lenses like the Canon EF 24-105mm F4L IS II USM often falls behind the F-stop specification. This Canon lens has an open aperture of f4, but only a T-stop of 4.4 usually needs approx. 1/3 aperture stop more light compared to the Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM.

Get more information about DxOMark lens reviews and T-stop values here from Tony Northrup:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRzONYmjH3M 

The T-stop value is measuring the real light transmission performance of a lens, while the F-stop is a theoretical value.

Rundown

The Viltrox 85mm f1.8 e-mount prime lens performs quite well regarding sharpness and bokeh.

  • The center and especially the corner sharpness is better than the Sony FE 24-240mm lens, on par with the Nikkor Ai 85mm f2 classic lens with a high image contrast.
  • The pleasing bokeh of the Viltrox 85mm lens is very creamy but has no special character like the van Gogh Bokeh of the Canon FD 200mm f2.8.
  • Aperture 5.6 will give you the best sharpness across the frame, at aperture 8 diffraction is already kicking in and is making the image softer.
  • T-stop: The Viltrox 85mm f1.8 prime lens needs only half the exposure time as the Sony zoom lens at the same F-stop aperture of f5.6 (see details above). So it is likely that the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 has a good T-stop of below f2 at open aperture, which makes it a good and low-priced performer for available light photography.
  • Ken Wheeler, the “Angry Photographer” is right: use a ND4 or ND8 grey filter if you shoot this Voltrox 85mm lens in bright sunshine. Otherwise ISO-50 and 1/8000s settings will still overexpose the photos at aperture f1.8 from time to time.
  • The autofocus is quick and eye focus works also, but slower and less accurate than with original Sony FE lenses.

Considering the price of the prime lens including a usable auto focus, the Viltrox 85mm f1.8 lens is an attractive lens for good object separation, especially in portrait photos.

The Viltrox 85mm f1.8 exists also for the APC-C Fuji X-mount. See the lens review of Ken Wheeler about this Viltrox 85mm f1.8 lens on a Fuji APS-C camera here and get his advice on using a ND-filter and comparing it to a Zeiss 85mm lens:

If you are interested in the performance of this Viltrox 85mm f1.8 lens on a Sony a6000 APS-C camera, look here:

Viltrox 85mm f1.8 lens review on Sony a6000 APS-C camera at Octoberfest in Munich

 

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