Zeiss Loxia 21mm, Batis 85mm…and a New Super-Wide Coming?

by Hugh BrownstoneLeave a Comment

In the penultimate installment of our PhotoPlus Expo 2015 coverage, we visit the Zeiss booth to see what the hubbub over those Batis OLED displays is all about, and get our hands on the just-announced Loxia 21mm f/2.8.

Unless you live under a rock (which you don’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this), you know that the imaging equivalent of “that-Hansel-is-so-hot-right-now” (from the movie ZOOLANDER) is either Sony…or Zeiss.

Maybe both.

Yep, Sony’s a7 series is a runaway success, and Zeiss has created two new, Sony FE mount lens lines – Loxia and Batis – along with a third, APS-C coverage-only line, Touit (though it appears Zeiss has de-emphasized the Touits).

With a reputation for German precision and innumerable reviews and tests to back it up, Zeiss suffers from the enviable position of not being able to deliver these lenses fast enough.

Maybe it’s not hard to figure out why. In an era where camera bodies are being updated annually like smartphones and cars, it’s probably glass – great glass – that is the single best investment you can make these days. Suddenly, high-priced Zeiss glass makes more sense than ever, and Zeiss has you covered: old-school (manually-focusing Loxia) and the future (fly-by-wire focusing, OLED depth of field displaying Batis).

On the other hand, it just might be the opposite: with the three Loxia and two Batis lenses averaging $1,250 a pop, you get state of the art (however you choose to define it) at prices a third or a fourth of Zeiss’ own Compact Prime CP.2 or Otus – with close-enough optical performance that you can feel you haven’t compromised much, if at all.

That’s a pretty compelling proposition.

Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 and Batis 85mm f/1.8: a Conversation with Michael Schielhlen, Senior Director

And the fact is, Zeiss is smart to get this glass out now. Combined with its close relationship to Sony in the first place, Zeiss is well-positioned to weather the gathering storm of great glass heading to the Sony e-mount, from Voigtländer wide Heliars to Veydra Mini-Primes and more.

Complacency is not an option – which might explain why Michael mentioned a super-wide as a possible next lens in the line up.

From my short experience handling both the 21mm and 85mm, I can tell you I want a closer look. They are sharp and contrasty, just the way I like ‘em (you can always turn these down in post – the other way is ugly). To my surprise, I also appreciated the OLED display – auto-focus lenses have all but decimated the very concept of a usable depth of field scale marked on the lens barrel. The manual focus on the Loxia was you-don’t-mess-with-the-Zohan relatively long and repeatably (is there such a word?) silky smooth.

Visit Zeiss to learn more.

Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 Lens for Sony E Mount (B&H)

Via B&H:

  • E Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • Distagon Optical Design
  • 4 Anomalous Partial Dispersion Elements
  • 1 Aspherical Element
  • Zeiss T* Anti-Reflective Coating
  • Manual Focus Design
  • Manual Aperture Ring Can Be De-Clicked
  • All-Metal Barrel, Engraved Scales
  • Weather-Resistant Lens Mount Gasket

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens for Sony E Mount

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens for Sony E Mount (B&H)

Via B&H:

  • E-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/22
  • Sonnar Optical Design
  • Floating Elements System
  • Zeiss T* Anti-Reflective Coating
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • OLED Display for Focus Distance and DoF
  • Linear Autofocus Motor
  • Dust- and Weather-Sealed Construction

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

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