When Zeiss announced their Batis lens lineup, one of the lenses that came out was the 85mm f1.8 Batis. As one of Zeiss’s offerings to boast autofocusing abilities, these lenses were designed for Sony FE mount–otherwise known as full frame E mount cameras like the Sony A7r Mk II. Given a weather resistant design, these lenses are building on a new generation of Zeiss lenses that in some ways moves away from the DSLR and puts more emphasis on what’s possible with the mirrorless camera world.
Weighing only 475 grams and boasting a very big rubber focusing ring on top of a brand new LCD display on top of the lens, there is very little to complain about with the 85mm f1.8 Batis.
Specs taken from the Adorama listing.
- Focal length
- Aperture range
- f/1.8 – f/22
- Focusing range
- 0.80 m (2.6 ft) – infinity
- 11 lens elements in 8 groups,
3 lens elements made from low dispersion glass
- Diagonal Field of View
- 29 degree
- Close Focus
- 0.8m / 2.6″
- Filter Size
- Dimensions L x W
- 4.1 x 3.2″ / 105mm x 81mm
- 16.8 oz / 475g
- Mfr #
The Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8 is a Sony FE mount lens–and therefore is designed for the company’s mirrorless full frame offerings. We start this tour with the front of the lens–which hosts a 67mm filter thread and a slightly recessed front element.
Without the lens hood, this lens is much smaller than it seems. Indeed, the hood almost seems to double the overall size.
The Zeiss 85mm f1.8 boasts a metal exterior and a large rubber focusing ring. This ring is pretty smooth and we wish that it had extra texture to make it easier to turn. While Zeiss’s customers complained about the old metal rings being too much of a pain to touch in cold weather, these new rubber rings are too slippery in warm weather like the humid NYC summer. If your hand is getting a bit clammy, you’ll have a not so wonderful time turning the ring–or at least attempting to.
For this reason, we wish that there were more texture.
The lens overall is devoid of controls with the exception of the focusing ring. If you want to switch to manual focusing mode, you’ll need to do so through the camera.
On top of the lens is the display that we’re talking about. Here you’ll be able to see lots of information about the lens.
Ease of Use
When it comes to autofocusing with the lens, it will be very straightforward. Just affix the lens, focus, shoot and have fun! But the game changes once in manual focus. The Batis lenses have this uber cool futuristic display on top that conveys information about the lens to the user. You’ll see stuff like the focusing distance and depth of field. For an 85mm focal length, this works best for videographers and isn’t that useful for photographers.
Photographers can simply use autofocus or utilize Sony’s autofocus peaking feature. When it comes to the wider angle lenses though, the display window is a bit of a godsend–especially for street photographers.
Zeiss rates these lenses to have weather and dust resistance. When paired with the A7 bodies from Sony, you’ll be able to go out into the rain and shoot with little problems and to a certain extent. These cameras can resist a lot of punishment though nowhere as much as Pentax’s offerings can.
While the Loxia lenses don’t have autofocus, the Batis lenses do. The focusing performance with the A7 has to be some of the fastest that we’ve seen. It’s just about as fast as the Sony 28mm f2–and we consider that to be one of the company’s fastest lenses.
When further trying to fine tune the focusing (like eye focusing) it can take a bit of extra time. However, the focusing is very accurate, sharp, and consistent in good lighting situations. Considering that this is a portrait lens, we have yet to put it through its paces in low light.
So far, we really like the color and the image quality from the 85mm f1.8 Batis. But for what it’s worth, the files need massaging to bring out their true potential–that’s standard for Sony sensors anyway.
Here are more samples.
So far, we’re really liking the image quality that this lens can deliver. But we have a lot more testing to do. Autofocusing with this lens seems to be the way to go over manual focusing in the current weather conditions as we stated earlier.
Stay tuned for our full review.