Designed exclusively for Sony’s E-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Batis 85mm is a beautifully engineered portrait prime primarily designed for professional use. Unlike the Zeiss Milvus lens range, the Batis benefits from full autofocus functionality. Even more impressively though, the Batis 85mm f/1.8 also gains built-in image stabilisation technology that can work in tandem with the SteadyShot image stabilisation built in to Sony’s mirrorless cameras.
Build quality is every bit as good as the price tag would indicate, with the lens befitting from all-metal construction along with dust and moisture seals to prevent anything undesirable from getting inside. We especially like the classy matte black finish too. Internally the Batis 85mm f/1.8 uses high-performance linear motors to drive the autofocus, which results in speedy and near silent performance. The 67mm filter thread that surrounds the front element does not rotate when focusing either. The lens also gets a small OLED panel that electronically indicates the focus distance and depth-of-field markings you’d typically expect to find printed on the barrel. Not only is this a thoroughly modern touch, but it’s also much easier to see when using the lens in low-light. Aside from this, there are no buttons on the lens so you’ll need to switch between AF/MF in-camera.
In terms of image quality, the Batis 85mm f/1.8 doesn’t produce its sharpest results when used wide open. That said, images captured at f/1.8 are still very pleasing to the eye, with the nine curved aperture blades producing a superb bokeh in out-of-focus areas. Stopping down to f/4 greatly improves sharpness in the centre, while f/8 produces the best results across the entire frame. Some vignetting is also noticeable at f/1.8 but gradually disappears by the time you hit f/4. Fringing is also well controlled, as is distortion.