Despite the long head start on the Sony FE ecosystem, a Batis 40mm f2 could be exactly what Zeiss needs
Zeiss has always been a company that has tried hard to stand out from the rest of the pack with varying results. With the Sony FE ecosystem, there an even tougher competition with all the lenses that have been coming out. The latest test to see if Zeiss understands this could be coming around the corner if the latest reports from Sony Alpha Rumors are to be believed. SAR is reporting that the next Zeiss Batis lens will be a 40mm f40mm F2 CF FE. Right now we don’t know what the CF means. There is speculation that the CF will stand for close focus, but there is no official word on that at this point.
The Sony FE ecosystem has always had some third party lens offerings. Yes, Zeiss has been with Sony on this from virtually the very beginning. In fact, their Batis line of lenses were some of the first quality third-party options with AF functionality. But not long after the Batis lineup was introduced Sony finally started offering their own affordable lenses with excellent image quality, and now even more recently other third-party lens makers have joined the fray like Tamron, Sigma, and Rokinion. Which leaves us examining the Zeiss Batis lenses and wondering where these lenses fit. But a Zeiss Batis 40mm f2 lens could be the way to go since Sony has nothing like it.
Zeiss has never been a company to compete on pricing with anyone; that is just not in their DNA. They make expensive lenses, but with that price tag, you get reassurances that the lens is built well and will generally perform better than other lenses in that ecosystem with similar specs. But here lies the problem with the Zeiss Batis lenses; they are really average in terms of performance – not much better than their Sony counterparts if at al, and certainly not any measure better than their other third-party competition when you look at lab tests. They’ve got some extra character to them, but that’s about it.
So we feel the company is at a bit of a crossroads, needing to differentiate their lenses from that of Sony and Tamron/Sigma/Rokinon. They can keep their price tag but they need to get back to justifying it with better than average build quality and image quality that brings tears to a photographer’s eyes. And again, a Zeiss Batis 40mm f2 could be what does that since it’s such a different focal length.
The Zeiss Batis 40mm f2 lens will reportedly have a 67mm filter thread and will be similar in size to the 85mm Batis but slightly smaller. It will also feature a Zeiss Distagon optical design. There is no word yet on what the pricing of this lens will be, nor on when it will be officially unveiled by Zeiss.
Regardless, our point remains. Zeiss tried to do things in the Fujifilm system with their Touit lenses, but they performed worse and were built sub-par when compared to Fujifilm’s lenses. That was a large part, in my opinion, why that lens lineup failed. If Zeiss is not careful, their Batis lenses could end up with a similar fate — offering too little for too much when compared to the now fierce Sony FE competition.
It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.