Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review

August 11, 2015 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 is a new moderate prime lens designed specifcally for Sony Alpha 85mm full-frame mirrorless cameras. It has an aperture range of f/1.8-f/22 and a 9-bladed circular diaphragm for smoother bokeh blur in out of focus areas. It features 11 elements in 8 groups, a precision-engineered full-metal casing, weighs in at 475grams, and has the world’s first OLED depth-of-field display. The weather-proof Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 also boasts built-in optical image stabilisation and it takes 67mm filters. The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 retails for $1199 / £899 / €1049.

This lens was supplied for review by our friends at Hireacamera - they’re definitely worth checking out if you want to hire or rent camera kit in the UK.

Ease of Use

With a maximum diameter of 78mm and a 105mm length, the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.84 is a fixed focal length optic that's well-suited to Sony's full-frame mirrorless camera bodies. Weighing in at 475g, it is quite heavy, but proved to be very well-balanced on the equally new A7R II camera that we tested it with.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8TThe Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens alongside the Sony A7R II

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 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 focussing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with a innovative OLED depth of field display which clearly shows the current focus distance and depth of field.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens mounted on a Sony A7R II

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The side of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 has 11 lens elements in 8 groups with a floating elements design to reduce aberrations throughout the focusing range. 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 85mm f/1.8The front of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The rear of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 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 85mm f/1.8The front of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The rear of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens in-hand

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 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 85mm focal length gives an angle of view of 29 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor.

 Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8Field of view at 85mm

Focusing

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8'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 85mm f/1.8 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 85mm f/1.8, only appearing in very high contrast situations.

Light Fall-off and Distortion

Light fall-off is noticeable wide open at f/1.8, though this is to be expected for such a fast lens and can easily be corrected in Photoshop. Stop down to f/2.8 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 85mm f/1.8Light fall-off at 85mm

Macro

An 80cm 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 85mm f/1.8Close-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 85mm f/1.8 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 85mm f/1.8’s bokeh quality for yourself.

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8
   
Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8

Sharpness

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

Entry Tags

review, samples, test, sample images, lens, compact system camera, mirrorless, csc, sony, jpg, jpgs, sample, full frame, full-frame, sony a7r, a7, sony a7, Sony, a7r, 35mm full frame, a7s, 85mm, carl zeiss, batis, 85mm f2, batis 85mm, zeiss batis 85mm

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