Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review

August 11, 2015 | Mark Goldstein |

Conclusion

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 is an excellent portrait prime lens. You’d expect sharpness to be high across the frame from such a premium optic, and it doesn’t disappoint. Even with our A7R II test camera shooting 42-megapixel images at high ISOs, detail is exceptionally sharp. Shooting at the maximum f/1.8 aperture does reveal a minor reduction in sharpness, but this is resolved by f/2.8, and even at this aperture the lens is able to produce beautifully smooth bokeh and completely blurred backgrounds.

The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 is also a pleasure to use, thanks to its superb weather-proof build quality, smooth focusing ring, built-in OIS and innovative OLED display. When manually focusing, together with the A7R II's excellent Peaking feature, the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 delivered a very high percentage of keepers, and it also proved to very quick, quiet and accurate when auto-focusing in good light. Vignetting is apparent when shooting wide-open at f/1.8, but quickly disappears as you stop down, while chromatic aberrations are very well controlled.

There are a few drawbacks to the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens though. Optically, it suffers from quite a lot of pin-cushion distortion which needs to be corrected in post-processing. The auto-focusing slows down and hunts quite a lot in low-light conditions, and the 80cm minimum focusing distance is a little restrictive. The asking price of $1199 / £899 / €1049 is also a lot of money to pay for a prime lens, although there isn't currently another comparable native lens from Sony or another manufacturer. If you're at all interested in portraiture, especially in the studio, the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 is a fantastic lens for full-frame E-Mount Sony owners.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4.5