I will attempt to summarize what I’ve found over the last few posts, starting here. This is a complicated subject. I’ll tell you what my conclusions are, but you may have different priories, and I welcome your comments.
- Zeiss 85mm f/4 ZM (Leica M mount) Tele-Tessar.
- Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Otus.
- Leica 90mm f/2 Apo Summicron-M ASPH.
- AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 G.
- Tamron SP AF Di 90mm f/2.8 Macro.
The first — and depressing — news is that you get pretty much what you pay for. The two most expensive lenses, the Otus and the Summicron, affixed themselves securely at the top of the pack, and the low-buck Tamron was at the bottom.
The Otus and the Summicron were very close except at f/2, where the Leica lens stumbled.
For me, the big winner as a good lens for the a7II was the Zeiss Tele-Tessar. If you’re not pixel peeping as we were, at the apertures that it and the two expensive lenses have in common, it is their virtual equal. It is small, and feels really right on the a7II. It is a quarter the price of the two most costly lenses.
The Tamron and the Nikkor delivered relatively unimpressive results, but that doesn’t mean they are bad lenses at all. There wasn’t a bad lens in this test. Both of these lenses can deliver excellent images. And remember, we were testing the Tamron, a macro lens, at infinity, which probably put it at a disadvantage.
As in many things — such as wine, hi-fi, and motorcars — the relationship between price and performance is highly non-linear at the top, with your last few hundred dollars buying you much less than your first few hundred.