Going Batty Over Zeiss Batis Full Frame Lenses for Sony e-Mount

by Hugh BrownstoneLeave a Comment

I loved the Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM  [B&H | Amazon] wide open on my Sony a6000 [B&H | Amazon] courtesy of the Commlite EF>NEX adapter, and I got a jones for the Sigma Art 24mm f/1.4 [B&H | Amazon] as soon as I heard about it. But at this moment I’m looking at MTF charts of those two lenses and comparing them to an MTF chart for the brand-new Zeiss Batis 25mm f2. Holy smokes, are we spoiled for choice.

Who doesn’t lust for Zeiss glass at some point or other in their lives?

Forget about the nose-bleed expensive Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Apo Planar T* ZE in Canon mount ($4,490) [B&H | Amazon] or the Zeiss 15-30mm CZ.2 Compact Zoom (an eye-watering $23,900) – even “regular” Zeiss glass is out of reach for most of us in the Canon and Nikon worlds.

Sony/Zeiss

Sony was smart to forge an alliance with Zeiss in a bid to bring Zeiss quality and brand halo to their e-mount cameras at more affordable price points.

But Zeiss then extended beyond co-branded optics like the Sony/Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS [B&H | Amazon].

Touit

The auto-focus Touit line targets APS-C sensor cameras (where they can lower the price point further) like my current favorite, the Sony a6000 [B&H | Amazon]. The Touit line-up consists of just three lenses, however: the 12mm f/2.8 ($699) [B&H | Amazon]; 32mm f/1.8 ($499) [B&H | Amazon]; and 50mm f/2.8 ($999) [B&H | Amazon].

Loxia

Zeiss' manual focus, full frame Loxia line for Sony e-mount cameras consists of only two lenses: the 35mm f/2 Biogon T* ($1,299) [B&H | Amazon] and the 50mm f/2 Planar T* ($949) [B&H | Amazon].

Thus: Touit, Loxia or…Just Plain Sony?

That 50mm focal length puts the choice within the current Sony e-mount Zeiss world into sharp relief: for just about the same price, you can have either the manual focus Loxia for your Sony with consistent focus rack, speed and a much shallower depth of field (remember the f/2.8 on the Touit is the depth of field equivalent of f/4.5 on full frame), or you can have the ease of use and lighter weight of the auto-focus Touit – but it will not be easy to focus manually owing to its focus by wire.

Of course, you can also get the Sony 50mm f/1.8 for $248 [B&H | Amazon].  It's a pretty darned great lens.

And Now, Zeiss Batis

Now Zeiss has announced the Batis 25mm f/2 ($1,299) and Batis 85mm f/1.8 ($1,199) to split the difference among the lens lines: these are full-frame, auto-focus lenses with wide maximum apertures which use the same kind of “focus by wire” approach of the more economical co-branded and Touit lines.

At a field of view on the a6000 [B&H | Amazon] approximating “normal” or “standard” lenses, you have the choice of the Touit 32mm f/1.8 (full frame equivalent of 51mm f/5.2 at $699), Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T* [B&H | Amazon] (field of view on an APS-C sensor equivalent to a full frame 56mm, but with an APS-C maximum aperture equivalent f/1.25 at $1,299), or Batis 25mm f/2 (field of view equivalent on an APS-C sensor to a full frame 40mm, but with an APS-C maximum aperture equivalent f/1.25 @ $1,200).

So: Touit, Loxia, Batis, or…Just Plain Sony?

Take your pick within the “normal” field of view candidates: the Touit with auto-focus, lightweight and low price (though slower, more difficult manual focus and deeper depth of field); the Loxia with manual focus, speed and shallower depth of field (though heavier and costlier); or the Batis which, though slightly wider would still be offering a normal field of view, speed, auto-focus and much shallower depth of field (though difficult manual focus).

Or you could get the Sony 35mm f/1.8 for $448 [B&H | Amazon] or the Sony 35mm f/2.8 Zeiss Sonnar T* (full frame) for $798 [B&H | Amazon].

Then, of course, there is 85mm. But here the choice seems starker: the Batis 85mm f/1.8 is ¼ the price of the Otus 85mm f/1.4 [B&H | Amazon], yet on first blush appears to have equally good MTF results.

My head hurts.

Maybe I need to go back to screenwriting for a couple of hours.

After all, gear without a great story is just…gear.

What would YOU buy, and why?

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Carl Zeiss Lenses – Batis Teaser

Via sonyalpharumors (Source: Sony):

ZEISS Batis 2 25

ZEISS Batis 2/25:

The ZEISS Batis 2/25 wide-angle lens has ten lens elements in eight groups and draws on the ZEISS Distagon optical design. Four of the lens elements are aspheric on both sides and five are made from special types of glass. The aspheric lens design ensures consistently high image quality over the whole image field and a sharpness that extends right to the edges of the frame. The moderate 82 degree image angle combined with a minimum focusing distance of 0.2 meters makes this wide-angle lens the perfect choice for architecture and landscape photography and many other applications besides. It encourages the user to make creative use of depth of field which can often yield surprising results, particularly in close-up photography.

ZEISS Batis 1.8 85

ZEISS Batis 1.8/85:
The ZEISS Batis 1.8/85 is a moderate tele lens which offers 11 lens elements in eight groups and features the ZEISS Sonnar optical design. The lens elements are made from special types of glass and designed to ensure superior image quality. The ZEISS Batis 1.8/85 is a particularly good choice for wedding photography and portrait shots, offering the high speed which provides plenty of creative scope to bring out the main subject. Thanks to its optical image stabilization, the ZEISS Batis 1.8/85 can capture outstanding images even under difficult, shifting light conditions.

Read full article at sonyalpharumors “Official! Zeiss announces a new BATIS lens line for Sony FE: 25mm f/2.0 and 85mm f/1.8 to ship in summer!”

Diglloyd posts the full Batis MTF graphs. “(85mm Batis) Has outstanding micro contrast no less good than the very best Leica M lens”

Via sonyalpharumors:

full Batis MTF graphs

(cover photo credit: snap from sonyalpharumors)

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh is the founder of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions. He and the team write, direct, shoot, score, and edit web-centric films; conduct photo shoots; and write copy, white papers and blog posts. Hugh also writes screenplays (he recently optioned a TV pilot) and just published his first eBook (Apple's iPhone: The Next Video Revolution). If it's about telling stories, it's in their wheelhouse.

And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
Hugh Brownstone

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