ZEISS Impresses with Batis Mirrorless Lenses

ZEISS Look Batis Lenses

There are a few names in the photo industry that inspire confidence. ZEISS is certainly one of them. Just seeing its logo can make a product—be it a lens or a smartphone camera—appear trustworthy. This work goes beyond simply making lenses. A core part of its imaging business involves partnerships with other leading brands, and the one with the most eyes on it today must be Sony. ZEISS and Sony have maintained a mutually beneficial relationship for years, and among the latest developments is the Batis series for Sony’s full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras.

Lightweight, packed with features, and with a beautiful, modern ZEISS style, the Batis series is one of the most highly regarded options for the ever-growing series of a7 and a9 cameras. It now covers a wide range, including an 18mm f/2.8, 25mm f/2, 40mm f/2, 85mm f/1.8, and 135mm f/2.8, all of which guarantee superb resolution to match even the most demanding 40+ megapixel sensors. Perhaps the most surprising thing about their release is the implementation of autofocus across the line, and image stabilization in select models. ZEISS is famous for precise manual focus, and now the company is bringing that quality to an automated function. These lenses have far exceeded expectations.

ZEISS Batis Lenses for Sony E

Optics alone aren’t what make a ZEISS lens a ZEISS lens. Key to the brand is a “3D Pop.” This is the famed ability of ZEISS lenses to render micro contrast that gives lenses a pleasing sharpness. ZEISS also brings the T* Coating and its ability to combat flare and ghosting to deliver brilliant color reproduction and contrast. This anti-reflective coating has long been a significant part of ZEISS’s mission to deliver high-performance lenses and, of course, is found on the Batis series. Care was also taken to eliminate chromatic aberrations and minimize distortion effectively across the range through the use of specialized elements.

Professionals have other needs when it comes to lenses, with many emphasizing build quality and handling. ZEISS has always excelled here, though the electronics built into the Batis line afford other opportunities. One such advancement is an OLED display to give a readout of focus distance and depth of field. By communicating with the camera, the Batis’s display can adjust based on variable parameters, such as sensor resolution, and provide even more accurate measurements with which photographers can work.

Handling a Batis lens is a pleasure. The smooth exterior and rubberized focus ring exude quality, no doubt making any professional photographer happy. Inside, ZEISS has placed numerous seals, including a visible one at the mount, to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture. Speaking of the mount, these are all native Sony E, meaning that they attach securely without any finicky adapters required. The lenses simply look great, as well.

All the previously mentioned features are shared by every Batis lens so far created, and likely any coming in the future. However, it is time to talk about what makes each option unique.

Most recently came the Batis 40mm f/2 CF. Uncommon in many ways, the natural perspective, fast f/2 aperture, and “Close Focusing” design with its 1:3.3 magnification ratio make this an outstanding everyday lens. Another Distagon, the 40mm uses three aspherical elements and four low dispersion glass elements to minimize aberrations and distortions. It even adds a focus limiter switch to speed up autofocus performance, depending on your chosen subject. I hope you are intrigued, because you can view our hands-on review for more info.

ZEISS Batis 40mm

One of the first was the Batis 25mm f/2. This lens stood out because it was among the first full-frame wide-angle primes for the Sony E system. It also delivered on image quality and was lightweight and compact—a perfect match for mirrorless. It uses a Distagon optical design with four aspherical elements to ensure resolution by minimizing various distortions and aberrations. Announced alongside this was the Batis 85mm f/1.8. This is a small portrait prime that delivered plenty of speed with its f/1.8 aperture and the ability to create images with shallow depth of field. It’s a Sonnar design, one of ZEISS’s well-known options for fast lenses, and uses three low-dispersion elements to get the job done. It incorporates optical image stabilization for reducing camera shake. This is a huge bonus for telephoto focal lengths. For samples and our thoughts, feel free to watch our hands-on review of both lenses.

ZEISS Batis 25mm

Following up this duo is the Batis 18mm f/2.8. Going even wider, this lens was surprising in size and quality. I went hands-on with the Distagon-based lens and was very pleased with the results. It incorporates seven low-dispersion elements and four aspherical elements to provide this level of wide-angle goodness in such a compact package. We shouldn’t forget—it manages to fit an autofocus motor and an OLED display into its design, making it a solid pick for wide shooters.

ZEISS Batis 18mm

After that, ZEISS balanced the line out by adding another portrait-length telephoto prime: the Batis 135mm f/2.8. This lens is unique in the series in that it has the Apochromatic Sonnar designation and uses eight anomalous partial dispersion elements to virtually eliminate color fringing and chromatic aberrations. High sharpness ensures your subject pops, while the slightly extended telephoto range will make your portraits stand out from your average lens. It also features optical image stabilization, something much appreciated if you intend to shoot handheld. Read our review and check out some sample images to see the quality for yourself.

ZEISS Batis 135mm

ZEISS has designed the Batis with professional photographers in mind, and Sony E-mount shooters are exceptionally lucky to have this option available. If you are interested in adding a ZEISS lens to your kit, ZEISS and B&H are running a special Moon Landing Weeks Promotion that features instant savings on many of ZEISS' outstanding lenses, including the Batis 18mm, 25mm, 40mm, 85mm, and 135mm. This promotion runs from July 18 through September 15, 2019, so now is the best time to invest in quality glass, and you can find all these lenses on the ZEISS microsite.

Have you ever had a chance to play with a ZEISS lens? Is there a certain focal length or feature you think is missing from the series? Make sure to leave a comment, below, with your thoughts and experience with ZEISS lenses!


hi, i am thinking about getting into the batis series. i plan to get either the 40 or the 25. do you think one is better than the other as per image quality or performance?

Hi Animikh,

I don't think you can compare these two lenses since they offer very different looks and capabilities. If you want a more well rounded lens then I would say go for the 40mm since it is faster, has a "normal" perspective, and can do close-up imaging. If you want to go wide angle, then that is when you should opt for the 25mm. Not knowing exactly what you are shooting, I would recommend the 40mm as a default, though either will perform extremely well in terms of optical quality.

Where's a 50mm prime lens?  And, why is it 'easy' to make an 85mm brighter than other lengths?

There is no 50mm, at least not yet, but the 40mm should fill that "normal" range quite well and this one is very versatile. As for the 85mm, in very general terms the medium telephoto range is "easier" to develop because it requires fewer fancy elements to achieve this angle of view. This is a broad generalization and isn't always the case, but the 50-85mm range has also been a very common range, so the designs that exist have been very reliable for decades and do good work with new coatings and updated techniques improving quality without needing to completely reinvent the wheel. You can always make them a bit better, the Otus 85mm comes to mind, but with that extra improvement comes a steep cost in both size and price.

invested in the Batis range and wondering how this line of lenses holds up on the new sony a7r4?

Hi Bruce,

Having using the Batis on the a7R III and having used the IV for a short period of time I will say that the Batis lenses will hold up extremely well on the new camera. These lenses are designed to resolve detail at extreme resolutions and I doubt even the a7R IV is the limit for them.