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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!