Michael Topham pairs the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 by with the flagship Sony Alpha 7R II and puts its delight factor to the test

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Overall rating:

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8

Product:

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review

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Price as reviewed:

£909.00

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Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review – Image quality

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The Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 was paired with the Sony Alpha 7R II for our tests

Opening this lens to its maximum aperture creates a very pleasing shallow depth of field and although it’s not at its sharpest when used wide-open, real-world images captured at f/1.8 are very attractive to look at. The edges of images are marginally softer than the centre at f/1.8 and as the aperture is gradually stopped down to f/4 the centre sharpness steadily improves. By closing the lens down to f/8 you’ll find the perfect balance between centre and edge sharpness. Pushing beyond f/8 will naturally create a larger depth of field, but users will want to be wary of closing it down too far due to diffraction starting to take its toll on overall sharpness at f/16 and f/22.

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An example of the super shallow depth of field that can be created by opening the lens to f/1.8

As one can expect from a fast prime, vignetting makes an appearance when it’s used at its widest aperture settings. It’s less obtrusive when the lens is closed to f/2.8 and by the time you reach f/4 there’s virtually no sign of corner shading whatsoever. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled by the lens and it was only when I started to study the images I’d captured wide open at 100% that I noticed some purple and green fringes of colour along high-contrast edges. Pincushion distortion was flagged up on our distortion chart too, but as I discovered you’ll be hard pushed to notice it in real-world images. If the thought of it really bothers you, there’s always the option to fix it by applying the appropriate lens profile that’s available in the latest updated versions of Lightroom 6, Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop CC.

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The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 was put through its paces during a visit to Dungeness in Kent

  1. 1. Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review – Introduction
  2. 2. Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review – Features
  3. 3. Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review – Build and handling
  4. 4. Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review – Image quality
  5. 5. Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review – Test results
  6. 6. Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review – Verdict
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  • Maurice

    Strange. Other reviewers rate this lens as extremely sharp. Maybe you had a bad copy?

  • Michael Topham

    Couldn’t agree with you more Entoman. We’re looking forward to seeing more lenses being introduced to the Zeiss Batis line-up.

    As for the build quality and finish, it’s just as good as you’d expect from Zeiss. Personally, I like the way these lenses look on the Alpha 7-series (thus my comment about the way it compliments these cameras), but I will admit I slightly prefer the way they look coupled to the older Alpha 7-Series cameras than the very latest models. I say this based on that the older Alpha 7 cameras, namely the Alpha 7 and Alpha 7R, have a smoother body finish that’s more in keeping with the finish of the barrel of this lens.

    Thanks for your comments.

  • entoman

    It’s great to see Zeiss producing AF lenses for the Sony A7 series, and hopefully the Batis range will be expanded to include macros, wide-aperture long teles and some decent zooms.

    I must admit to being rather puzzled by the comment “Zeiss has meticulously designed the styling of this lens to ensure it compliments Sony’s Alpha 7-series cameras.” The styling of the lens is fine, but to my eyes it looks completely out of place on the angular Sony bodies.

    Sony cameras are fantastic, highly innovative machines, and very much deserve the awards they receive (e.g. DPReview product of the year 2015), but they still need another couple of iterations before they can compete with Nikon or Canon ergonomics.