Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 Review

April 24, 2017 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 is a new medium telephoto prime lens designed specifically for Sony Alpha 35mm full-frame mirrorless cameras. It has an aperture range of f/2.8-f/22 and a 9-bladed circular diaphragm for smoother bokeh blur in out of focus areas. It features 14 elements in 11 groups, a precision-engineered full-metal casing, weighs in at 614grams and has an OLED depth-of-field display. The weather-proof Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 also boasts built-in optical image stabilisation and it takes 67mm filters. The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 officially retails for £1749 / $1999.

Ease of Use

With a maximum diameter of 98mm and measuring 133mm in length, the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 is a fixed focal length optic that's well-suited to Sony's full-frame mirrorless camera bodies. Weighing in at 614g, it is pretty heavy, but proved to be well-balanced on the A7R II camera that we tested it with.

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8TThe Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens alongside the Sony A7R II

The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 boasts superb build quality. The lens’ all-metal casing is dust and moisture resistant and it features a metal E-mount bayonet. With no need for a zoom ring, the manual focusing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with an innovative OLED depth of field display which clearly shows the current focus distance and depth of field when manually focusing.

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The side of the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The front of the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The rear of the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The side of the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens

The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 has 14 lens elements in 11 groups. A 9-bladed rounded diaphragm, combined with the fast maximum aperture, helps provide smooth bokeh blur. It accepts 67mm filters via metal threads.

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The side of the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens in-hand

The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 feaures optical image stabilisation, which together with the A7R II's own built-in stabilisation mean that we could sucessfully hand-hold the camera up to 4-4.5 stops slower than with a lens with no OIS.

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8's OLED Screen

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

A special sealing ring on the bayonet protects the interface between the camera and the lens. A large plastic lens hood is supplied in the box, but there's no lens bag/case.

Focal Range

The 135mm focal length gives an angle of view of 18 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor.

 Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8Field of view at 135mm

Focusing

The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8's manual focussing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with an innovative OLED display that shows the depth of focus scale and the distance of the focal plane from the camera. It also has a large rotation angle which enables precise focusing and moves smoothly without any play, thus also supporting the intuitive interaction with the focal plane. The OLED display is visible even in low-light and helps make manual focusing a veritable pleasure, especially in conjunction with the excellent Peaking feature offered by the Sony A-series cameras. Polariser users should be pleased that the 67mm filter thread doesn't rotate on focus.

When it comes to auto-focusing, the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 is a quiet and quick performer on the Sony A7R II that we tested it with, taking about 0.1 second to lock onto the subject. We didn't experience much "hunting" in good light, with the lens accurately focusing almost all of the time, but it did struggle a little in dimmer conditions, becoming slower and less accurate. It's a quiet performer thanks to the linear motor driven internal focusing, making it ideal for movie shooting.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is not really an issue with the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8, only appearing in very high contrast situations.

Light Fall-off and Distortion

Light fall-off is noticeable wide open at f/2.8, though this is to be expected for such a fast lens and can easily be corrected in Photoshop. Stop down to f/4 and the vignetting is already less prominent, but it is still visible when shooting pale scenes that fill the frame. There is also some quite obvious pincushion distortion that needs to be corrected in post-processing.

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8Light fall-off at 135mm

Macro

An 87cm minimum focus distance doesn't make the lens very useful for shooting close subjects. This image is uncropped and shows how close you can get to a Compact Flash card.

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8Close-up performance

Bokeh

A major appeal of fast, wide-aperture prime lenses is their ability to produce an eye-catching separation between a sharp subject and a very soft out-of-focus background. The Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 generates very smooth out of focus areas through its use of a 9-bladed diaphragm. Bokeh is however a fairly subjective part of a lens’ image quality, so check out these 100% crops to see the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8’s bokeh quality for yourself.

Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8
   
Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

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