In the Field: Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 CF Lens for Sony E-Mount Cameras

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The Zeiss Batis-series lenses for Sony E-mount cameras are well represented, if your tastes run toward wide-angle (18 and 25mm) or short to mid-range telephotos (85 and 135mm). What's been missing from the Batis roster is a normal lens. With the introduction of the new Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 CF, that gap has been filled.

Photographs © 2018 Allan Weitz

Rather than adding yet another nifty fifty into the mix, Zeiss has, instead, brought to market a lens that renders its field of view closer to a true normal lens (about 43.3mm) as opposed to the 50 and 55mm lenses we've been feeding on over the years.

Though the differences in fields of view between a 50mm lens (about 46°) or 55mm lens (about 43°) and a 40mm lens (about 57°) may seem trivial, the perspective and spatial relationships between visual elements situated at varying distances from camera position rendered by a 40mm lens are truer to the way our eyes see the world. (Purists, take note!)

Like all Batis-series lenses, the new 40mm is a weather-sealed autofocus lens with an OLED display located on the top of the barrel that indicates the focus distance and depth of field. The lens barrel is made of metal alloy and is complemented by a lens shade that does a fine job of blocking stray light.

Something that separates the Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 CF from other normal lenses is its minimal focusing distance. While most normal lenses focus down to about 18", the Batis 2/40 CF focuses down to half that distance—9.45", to be exact, which yields a magnification ratio of 1:3.3. While not quite life size, it's impressively close, nonetheless.

The Batis 40mm f/2 CF is by no means a small lens. If packed alongside a Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens, you could easily confuse the two. Large as it may be, at 12.73 oz it fills the hand and balances quite well, when matched with a Sony A7R II (22oz).

Interestingly, unlike other Zeiss normal lenses, which are traditionally Planar formulas, the Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 CF is a Distagon design, which is typically reserved for Zeiss's wide-angle lenses. Inside are 9 elements in 8 groups in a floating element system that includes 3 aspheric and 4 low-dispersion glass elements. Other features include Zeiss T* coatings, a linear AF motor, and 67mm filter threads. Image stabilization is courtesy of your choice of Sony camera bodies.

As for image quality, Zeiss's new Batis 40mm f/2 CF delivers the bold color and contrast one would expect from a lens bearing the Zeiss nameplate.

Personal Conclusions

Though my personal lens preferences lean toward wide-angle lenses, the slightly wide-angle PoV, combined with the 40mm Batis's ability to focus closer than your typical normal lens, made my time with the Batis 40mm f/2 CF a creatively enjoyable experience.

2 Comments

What a pitty that horrible bokeh at f2.0. Except that it's magnificent!

Zeiss own web site states quite clearly this lens, like most Zeiss lenses is made from metal, NOT polycarbonate. Don't cheapen there products with misinformation, thank you.

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