The Zeiss Batis 25 f/2 and 85 f/1.8 Lens Review!

The Zeiss Batis 25 f/2 and 85 f/1.8 Lens Review!

By Steve Huff

Here we are again with a couple of lenses made by Zeiss for the Sony FE (A7) system/series of cameras. As many of you know who have been following me for years, these days I really enjoy and love shooting my Sony A7II and A7s cameras. With so many amazing enthusiast and pro level camera out today, it is a tough choice on what to use, especially when you are a reviewer who gets these camera and lenses sent to you on an almost weekly basis!

LOVELY colors from the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2, up close focusing (Min 0.2 meters). Sony A7II, lens was at f/2. Must click on the image to see it correctly!

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But even so, a couple things have remained constant for me. I love the new Sony cameras and lenses they have been putting out for 2-3 years now. I feel with the full frame sensors and fantastic lenses available they are the TOP Mirrorless system camera as of July 2015. For me, Sony beats all others for the mirrorless title with Olympus coming in 2nd place for me with the E-M1 and E-M5II. Lagging behind (for me) are Samsung (even though the NX1 is a phenomenal camera) and the others with Leica making a nice come back with the special and amazing Q. (my review of the Q here).

But today and all month I feel it’s going to be a Sony fest as the A7RII is coming, the new RX100 IV is IN HAND and the new Zeiss BATIS lenses have arrived to me and I have been shooting them for the last 1-2 weeks. My impression? Well, they are designed and look like mini OTUS lenses and perform 85% as well. The BATIS line for FE is stunning and with the electronic LED display that shows you focus distance when in manual focus mode, we are getting a special set of lenses for those who are very picky about the quality of their glass.

Must click for larger and sharper version! Another with the 25 at f/2 on the A7II

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I remember when all the rage was the Zeiss Touit line for APS-C. This was not very long ago yet feels like it was for some reason. The Touit line was good, but not my favorite set of lenses. Then came the OTUS lenses for Canon and Nikon but for me, they are just too large for daily use. Pro use, 100%. Enthusiast? For this one, those are too large and way too costly. Then came the Loxia line and MAN OH MAN I love these. The 35 and 50 f/2 Loxia’s are manual focus only and as close as one can get to a Leica M mount for their Sony FE mount. Small, solid, smooth and gorgeous in build, style and rendering. The 50 Loxia may be my #1 fave lens on the A7 series.

So with the Loxias receiving critical acclaim, and the only complaint from some users being “it’s not auto focus” Zeiss decided to create the Batis line which would be Auto Focus Zeiss lenses, and these two lenses they started with are right here, the 25 and 85. The 25mm is a Distagon design and an f/2 lens. It is not as solid feeling as the little Loxia but it feels great anyway, with a nice OTUS like styling to them. The Batis lenses come with hoods and the AF on the 25 is rather quick. The 85 will hunt a little in lower light but overall it is pretty quick as well.

The 85 at 1.8 on the A7II, just a casual snapshot, she did not even know I was taking a shot until the moment I took it and the lens grabbed focus and nailed the color as well. 

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Another wide open at f/1.8…

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..and another!

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After shooting the 85 for a little while I started to adore the rendering. VERY sharp at your focus point and CREAM CITY after that when shooting at f/1.8. The color and contrast are 100% ZEISS with those bold yet gentle blues, nice yellows and a richness that comes from shooting Zeiss glass. I remember shooting loads of Zeiss ZM lenses on my Leica M8, M9 and M 240 and they all had this exact character that I see here. Much different from Leica or Sony’s rendering. It’s what Zeiss is known for and yes, all manufactures of lenses have a house “look”. From Olympus to Samsung  to Sony to Zeiss to Leica to Canon and Nikon.

Batis 25 at f/2 – never be afraid to ask someone if you can take their portrait. I have a 99.5% rate of success, and usually the subject is more than happy, and a little excited to let you take their photo. The girl below was pouring my beer and I said “do you mind if I take your photo” – she said “SURE!” but she did not look at me. So I shot one of her pouring and then asked her to give me a nice  happy smile, and she did. 

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Punching Bag with leaving the shutter speed slower to catch the motion/action of the shot. The 25 at f/2

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Glass is the heart of your camera system.

Many times I will get people asking me questions about what cameras to buy. They usually will insist on a kit lens of sorts even though they ask about more expensive cameras like the Sony A7 or Fuji X or Olympus E-M1. To me, if you are going to invest over $1000 in a camera, you should always invest in good glass, or lenses, for your system. Lenses are the paintbrush, the pencil, THE one thing that delivers the most change to the rendering of the image. WAY more so  than a sensor or internal processing. The lens you choose will decide if your image will be sharp, soft, colorful or dull, has high contrast or low or has a pastel like color instead of bold harsh color. Some lenses use cheap glass, some use exotic glass. The lens is the most personal choice one can make when buying a camera system, at least IMO.

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So if it were me, and I was going to shell out for a Sony A7II or A7RII, you can bet your bootie I would buy the Zeiss line of lenses (Loxia or Batis) or some of the better Sony FE glass like the 35 1.4, 16-35, or 90 Macro. I would avoid the kit zooms or lower quality zooms as you will never reach the true IQ potential of the system with cheap glass.

25mm Batis at f/2 – A7II

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The Zeiss Batis line, being Auto Focus and gorgeous in all aspects of image quality, would be some of my top picks for most A7 users, and especially for those who ordered the A7RII as that camera is BEASTLY. It’s a resolution monster, a video monster and will be one hell of an amazing enthusiast or pro camera. These lenses would compliment that A7RII perfectly, and I for one can not wait to try these lenses on that body (of which I should have very very soon).

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During my time with the Batis lenses, I had no issues with focus, feel, build, or performance. The only niggle I had was when taking the 85 1.8 out in the night, as the focus would hunt a tad in low light. That is when I switched it over to manual focus and shot. Using manual focus works very well due to the nice EVF in my Sony A7 cameras as well as the smooth action of the Batis focus ring. The on board OLED display also will show you a distance scale, electronically. Yep, pretty cool if you ask me!

Video Look!

My video on the Batis Lenses. See them on the camera bodies and hear my thoughts!

Details?

No point in discussing sharpness with these guys, they are SHARP. Plenty sharp.

These were out of cam JPEGS! Click them to see  the crops wide open. 

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Compared To?

With Sony FE we now have a few great semi wide angle lenses to choose from. The Sony/Zeiss 16-35 F/4, the Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4, and the Sony 28 f/2 are all great lenses with the 28 f/2 being the cheapest of the lot, and while it has some distortion that needs fixing (which is done in camera for JPEGS) the Sony 28 f/2 is fantastic in IQ. I will say that it does not quite have the micro- contrast, color and pop of the Batis 25, but even so, at $450 it is around 3X less in cost than the Batis 25 which comes in at $1299. THAT is a pretty big price difference but you do see it and feel it with the Batis.

Sony 28 FE and Batis 25 side by side

Below is a side by side between the two..and you may not see much difference in this shot, but it is there. Click on the image to see them larger and you can see much more micro contrast in the Zeiss Batis shot, more detail and an overall more crisp and distortion free image. The Zeiss is better, but if it is $800 depends on you 😉 I’d say if you want the best of the best for your Sony FE, in a wide angle lens then take a serious look at the Zeiss.

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The Sony/Zeiss 16-35 is more of an ultra wide and at f/2 will not give you the aperture speed of the Batis. The Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 is MUCH larger and heavier and is not nearly as wide as the 25 Batis, so I see these two as different tools.

For me, the best IQ you can get as of July 2015 for your Sony FE system in a native mount and in a semi wide-angle (between 21 and 28) is the Batis 25 f/2 and because it will focus as close as 0.2 meters you can get pretty close to your subject, creating some Bokeh effect and you subject will be sharp.

The next FIVE shots are all from my fave of the Batis lot, the 25 f/2. I say it is my fave as I used it more as I found it more useful. I enjoy getting close to my subject and while I feel 21 is a tad too wide and 28 is getting close to 35, I am finding the 25 to be perfect for my style of shooting. I used to own the Zeiss 25 ZM for Leica mount and reviewed it here YEARS ago. Loved that lens which is probably why I love the Batis version. 

CLICK THEM FOR BETTER VERSIONS!

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The Batis 85 f/2 vs the Mitakon 85 1.2

Another lens choice for the native FE mount is the Mitakon Speedmaster 85 1.2. I reviewed that lens a week or two ago HERE. It is larger, heavier and goes to f/1.2 BUT the Zeiss is a better lens with better color and pop. Even so, the Mitakon is not so bad, not at all. So may even prefer it! ME? I prefer the Zeiss for the smaller size and lighter weight. I feel Zeiss did a great job with the design and keeping them more short than long. But take a look at the comparisons below, click them for the full 100% crop to be seen.

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My final word on the Batis line of lenses? 

When I heard Zeiss was sending me these two lenses for review I was excited, and believe me, today after 7-8 years of writing these reviews full time, it takes a lot to get me excited. Many of you may not be aware but I get SO MUCH stuff sent to me for  review that never gets reviewed because it just doesn’t excite me or motivate me. I end up not reviewing many items because if it does not motivate me to go shoot, I can not recommend it to my readers here. While most sites would just go write a negative review, I just skip as I am not about negativity or spending hours writing to tell you I do not like a certain product.

So if I review it, it means I love it and really enjoy it.

As for these lenses, they deliver on the hype and promise, the really do. I have not used a finer 25mm lens and in the world of 75-85mm lenses, the choices are plentiful, no doubt. Even so, the Zeiss 85 f/1.8 Sonnar is up there with the finest I have used and my faves in life have been the Canon 85 1.2, Nikon 85 1.4, and Zeiss 85 f/2 for Leica Mount. This 85mm delivers the detail, creaminess, nice colors and perfect contrast for those portrait sessions where you want that Zeiss WOW.

OF ALL the lenses I have here for Sony FE, and I have a load of them, my daily driver would be the Zeiss Batis 25 and Zeiss Loxia 50. I’d throw in the Batis 85 for portraits and use my Sony 16-35 for my ultra wide. That would be all I would ever need, and all of these lenses are top notch 100%. I may also throw in the 35 1.4 Sony/Zeiss for when I wanted that 35mm FOV with some magic.

The Batis line rocks my friends. If you need Auto Focus, the are the way to go. If you would prefer a smaller lens, the Loxia line is stunning as well but manual focus only. Either way, you will get that Zeiss POP and BAM!

1st Three from the 85 f/1.8 all at 1.8

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Next few all from the 25..

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Words from Zeiss on the Batis Lenses:

On the 25 f/2

“Pairing the tested Distagon concept with contemporary functionality, the Batis 25mm f/2 Lens from Zeiss is a wide-angle prime designed specifically for full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras. The innovative design of this lens features an OLED display that highlights the focus distance and depth of field range for quickly recognizing your focusing parameters, and its autofocus performance is benefitted by linear motors for fast, smooth performance. Four double-sided aspherical elements within a floating elements design help to control aberrations and distortions throughout the focusing range and contribute to even edge-to-edge sharpness and illumination, and a T* anti-reflective coating reduces flare and ghosting for increased contrast and color neutrality. Ideal for architecture, landscape, and interior photography, this lens’ 82° angle of view pairs with a 7.9″ minimum focusing distance for producing creative perspectives and unique close-up imagery. Additionally, for working in inclement conditions, the lens also features a dust- and weather-sealed construction.”

On the 85 1.8

“Updating a tried-and-true optical design for use with full-frame E-mount mirrorless cameras, the Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens from Zeiss is a portrait-length, short telephoto lens featuring a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture for greater focus control and enhanced low-light shooting. The innovative design of this lens features an OLED display that highlights the focus distance and depth of field range for quickly recognizing your focusing parameters, and its autofocus performance is benefitted by linear motors for fast, smooth performance. Pairing the Sonnar concept with a floating elements design, this 85mm f/1.8 is also particularly adept at controlling aberrations throughout the focusing range, while a T* anti-reflective coating minimizes flare and ghosting for ensured color accuracy and heightened contrast. Rounding out the feature-set, this lens incorporates optical image stabilization to minimize the appearance of camera shake when working with slower shutter speeds and a dust- and weather-sealed construction lends itself to shooting in less-than-ideal environments.”

Yes, the 85 1.8 has Image Stabilization built in. 

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What about the negatives?

During my use I had nothing but fantastic results with focus, image quality and overall results. Never had distortion issues or CA issues or any issues. Really.

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MY STAR RATINGS:

Many have asked me to start doing ratings for my reviews so I will start here with a BANG. BUT keep in mind, if I rate a Sony FE Mount lens, that rating is compared to other similar FE mount lenses, in this case the Sony 28 FE, the Sony 16-35 FE and the Mitakon 85 1.2.

BATIS 25: I will give the Batis 25 f/2 FIVE STARS as to me it is the best semi wide/wide I have used (28 and under) for the Sony FE system. The IQ, color, sharpness, size and weight are all phenomenal. Add in the weather sealing, the OLED display, dour side aspherical elements and it’s close focus capability, along with its dust and weather resistant design and this guy gets FIVE STARS! Yes, it is expensive at $1299 but for me, worth it in every way, and hey, it’s a Zeiss.

STARS

BATIS 85 f/1.8: I gave the 85 1.8 4 1/2 stars and that is due to the only weakness I found, the AF gets slow and hunts in lower light, as in club lighting or low level concert lighting. Other than that this is a a beautiful 85mm lens and the IQ and color stand out to me and is up there with the best 85 fast primes ever made for 35mm. Image stabilized and loaded with all the good stuff, this is one hell of a portrait prime. Sure there are loads of 85’s you can convert to use on the Sony but the Batis is a better option for me, as I always will prefer NATIVE lenses when there are good options.

Where to buy and How Much?

The Zeiss 25 f/2 comes in at $1299, and you can pre-order/order it at B&H Photo or PopFlash.com 

The Zeiss Batis 85 f/1.8 comes in at $1199 and can be pre-ordered or ordered at B&H Photo or PopFlash.com 

I also highly recommend the Zeiss Loxia line HERE. 

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135 Comments

  1. Just got the A7rii, mainly for travel and landscapes. I want a lens that helps me get to know the camera. Can’t decide between the 25mm Batis or the 16-35 F4. Just want one lens for now and will buy other later. Leaning towards the zoom for a bit more flexibility. Hope this is the right choice,

    • I have the A7rii for the same reasons. I had the Batis 25mm and brought it to Europe and Morocco this summer. Pix were great but many times I wish I had something a bit wider. When we got back I sold it and bought the 16-35. Love it

  2. Hi Steve
    Tks for review.
    Could you tell me if Batis lens – if you know – 18 mm, 25 mm, 85 mm and 135 mm have the same color and microcontrast?
    I want to buy this lens for video/ photo and 2 A7R2 and i need to know if the lenses render the colour the same .
    Sorry for my english.

  3. Hi Steve, The Batis 25mm F2.0 does show the same information in Full Auto Focus mode. It is in the manual. I was able to get the display to work in Autofocus mode.
    Kingson

  4. Hi Steve,

    I have 16-35 F4 lens but feel that it is need a low light lens (<f4) like Sony 28mm f2.0 or Batis 25mm f2.0 because I use to take street photo. Batis 25mm f2.0 is it fast auto focus and face detection during in low light? How is the IQ because Batis 25mm f2.0 do not have OSS during low light, is it able compensate by 5 axis stabilizer by Sony A7ii?

    Thanks.

  5. I know this is an older post, but maybe you will see this. I was curious, how would rate the Batis 25 vs the Voigtlander 21 f1.8? I have the Voigtlander, and it’s great…but I was looking to change to use the Batis 25 just to have the better weather sealing, no adapters, etc, using on Sony A7II.

    I find the Voigtlander to be pretty sharp, but the edges can get a little quirky at times. Just curious if you had any thoughts on this? 21mm vs 25mm is a bit different, but I’m just looking for something to compliment my Sony 55 1.8 when I want a second wide angle to carry along.

  6. I have an A7rii and a Sony 55mm and 90mm. Ive tried the 28mm, but didnt like it. I would like 1 more lens for my travel kit to use as the walk around all day lens. I want autofocus and and looking at either the Sony 35mm 2.8 or the Batis 25mm. I know the 10mm can be a deal breaker to some, but I am not sure if the Batis is that much better or because I have the 55mm I might be better with the 25mm. The 35 is smaller and cheaper and I read somewhere that it might match the Batis in the center. KNowing what I have which one would you go for
    thanks

  7. Owning the Zeiss Biogon 35mm ZM 2.0 mated to the a7R (mk1) with a Novoflex adaptor, I find it’s the perfect street camera.

    I am occasionally let down at say f2.0 when I get the focussing slightly wrong, as there’s no zooming-in facility with this combo. In low light it can be tricky too.

    However, I am reading some lovely things about the RX1R (mk2), which is smaller still, though has no interchangeable lenses, but since the 35mm lens rarely comes off the Sony, I do not see this as an issue.

    I do find some vignetting and a slight colour shift in the edges on the a7R with the ZM 35mm f2 lens at all apertures, which is annoying at times.

    Naturally, I’m interested in the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f2 which is made for the Sony body (no adaptor required).

    So, my dilemma really is whether there is likely to be a tangible change, a visible upgrade by 1: changing the 35mm lens to the Loxia from my ZM 35mm f2 + the adaptor (which would give me the zoom facility to assist in focussing) or 2: look at simply going with an updated mk2 RX1R with it’s superior chip, though I understand there is no stabilisation (as per the a7R mk1 body).

    I would very much welcome your thoughts. Thanks.

  8. I’ve been lucky that Zeiss have just leant me these two lenses for a wedding this weekend. I’m a Nikon shooter with an A7rii that I’ve been willing to want to make work. I only have the 35 2.8 Zeiss and it really wasn’t cutting the mustard. Then these 2 turned up…… The speed of focus and level of sharpness is incredible, from nearly dismissing the camera for my pro work I am now back to willing it to work well this weekend

  9. I read this review after buying Batis…. (may be very funny for many readers); and the time I bought it for Sony A7Rmii I rarely add other lens…. Exception is just when I put Zeiss Touit 32MM F/1.8… yup, a odd combination but I get what I want using such combos.

    I love this lens so much that I won’t mind kissing it again and again…. lol. With love this lens is re-named as Daal-Bati lens…. (In India – Daal means a lentil soup and Bati means special balls made using wheat flour baked under a special bio fuel [made from holy Cow dung])

    So, most of the time Zeiss Batis 25Mm F2 on Sony A7RMii; best combination for Landscapes, Architectural and even I love to take some close-up shots giving illusion of Macros.

    Has anybody tried putting extension tube on Batis and checked the Macro performance?

    Its glued to my Sony A7RII….. Waiting for Sony to announce Sony ZA FE 16-35 F/2.8 that time I hope I will not touch Samyang 14MM F/2.8 lens.

    With Batis, the best is, I don’t need a lot of post processing. Some, images go directly on FB and social media. Check some long exposure taken on my Scotland tour(on FB). They are exceptional. Hope to get some clear sky in coming days and soon I will capture and share some astro-photos.

  10. Steve,

    What do you think about the A7RII w/the 25mm Batis vs the RX1R II?

    I know the FOV is radically different, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m taking about how breathtaking. How emotionally gripping they are. All the color rendering, microcontrast and everything else thrown together that creates a big and wonderfully delicious emotional stew.

    There’s just something breathtaking about the output RX1R, be it the Mark I or the new Mark II. It’s like a magic producing machine.

    Even when in the hands of rank amateurs, I’m often stunned by how incredible the photos are from the RX1 series. They often just take my breath away. Being that I’m not a youngin’ anymore that’s easily impressed, that’s rare for a camera.

    Your photos w/the Batis 25, however, seem to have very similar qualities. Just the drama of the otherwise plain Heinz bottle shows that there’s something very special going on here. Moreso than most lens and sensor combos, even many high end ones.

    Having actually used all of this gear, does the Batis line, to you, seem to have the same sort of emotive magic the 35 Sonnar does on the RX1 series? I’d prefer an A7R II so I can change lenses, but what I prefer even more is the (rapid) access to emotionally gripping output.

    Thanks kindly. Great work on your site. I especially appreciate how you look beyond just sharpness, which is seems to be the primary metric by which many others unfortunately evaluate them. I’ll use your affiliate links for whatever I buy next. 🙂 (as should everyone)

    • Well, I think today I would prefer the A7RII and 25 Batis. That is an awesome combo and maybe a step up due to the lens. The Batis is a stunner. Both are top tier though, and either has the capability to deliver world class results. The A7RII and Batis woudl be 2-3X bigger.

  11. Thanks for your great review(s)!
    I’m mostly street photography/video.
    I currently have an A6000 with kit lens.

    Here’s my question:
    Keep the A6000 and buy the Batis 25mm ($1600 Canadian)
    Sell the A6000 ($600) and buy an A7ii($2200 – $6000 = $1600)

    Either way I’m spending the same amount. I’d love to buy both right now, but only one is in the cards. I’d rather not buy more into the APS-C E-mount system as I am convinced that the low light capabilities would suit me great!

  12. Excellent review!

    I have a question: I use a SonyA6000 with a Zeiss Lense FE 24-70MM (excellent videos and great pictures)… I need another lense to complete my equipment…
    Wich is better or useful? BATIS 2/25; ZEIS 35F24Z or ZEIS 50 MM or another one…

    I need another one, for street, arquitecture, social events, some macro etc (I don’t care the money: at least no more of $.1,300.00)…

    Thanks… sorry for my english!

  13. Hi Steve, wonder how 90 APO cron would be on an A7 body compared with Batis 85. I tried the cron recently on my A7ii and it was wonderful for portrait, as I like them sharp and contrasty, with good bokeh too.
    Of course, you lose benefits of using a native lens, but cron also has a hood built-in making it easier to carry.
    Talking about hoods, have you tested batis without them on? I think Zeiss has good coatings, may not even need hood unless there is strong Arizona daylight 🙂

    • I found the Zeiss Batis hoods were not needed, and I used them with and without the hoods, no differences. The Sony 90 Macro is the highest rated 90mm ever on DXO. I have this lens and it is gorgeous on the A7RII. Do not think a 90 APO would be any better. If you already own the 90 APO Cron, it will be great on the A7RII. If you do not, Id spend that money on either the Batis 85 or Sony 90 Macro or both for less than the price of one 90 APO 😉

  14. Hi Steve, great review! I’m switching from a Nikon FF to Sony A7rii (it arrives next week!). I’d like to start with a semi wide or wide…and an 85mm. I think I’m sold on the 85mm Batis, but as for a wide or semi-wide, I can’t decide. Here are my thoughts and a few questions for you:

    1) If the Sony FE 35 1.4 weren’t so big, that would easily be my 1st choice – the IQ is amazing and it really gives that pop above and beyond any of the FE lenses to date, IMO. But a big factor for my switch to mirrorless was to avoid the weight and bulk. Do you find it’s too big to comfortably be a walk around lens? I want a semi-wide that can be my everyday grab-and-go or be a travel lens. For me, 35mm is the perfect focal length if I had to chose one lens.

    2) The Loxia 35mm looks to be about perfect in terms of size, speed, quality construction – it’s beautiful. However, I’ve never gone with a manual only lens, so I’m concerned that it would be an expensive experiment. I also have young kids, so I do appreciate quick AF to get photos of them. Any thoughts in regards to using this MF lens for shots with kids (not still objects)?

    Also, I’ve seen some reviews (http://ilovehatephoto.com/2015/03/03/zeiss-loxia-35mm-f2-0-vs-zeiss-sonnar-35mm-f2-8-lens-review-comparison/) showing that it’s not as sharp as they would expect at that price range – do you find that to be the case in real world use?

    Also, you seem to like the 50 Loxia more – why? Is that just a personal focal length preference or do you find it performs better?

    3) The Sony FE 28mm seems to be a good compromise (small size, fast, sharp, and lightweight) and great value at the price point. A little wider than I would like, but close enough. I read your review and it seems like most of it’s shortcomings are easily corrected in post. I do want to get the best glass for my a7rii – should I be concerned that I won’t get that 3D pop and detail with this lens vs either of the other 2 lenses above?

    4) Alternatively, I’m interested in the Batis 25 since it has the Zeiss color pop and AF – but it’s wider and perhaps bulkier than I would like for my everyday walk around lens. Do you find a big difference between the 28mm FE and the 25mm Batis?

    Sorry – this list of questions grew as I wrote it, but I’d appreciate any feedback you may have. Thanks again!

    • Great questions Greg! I’m also in the market for a native 35mm lens for my A7ii and and agree that the Loxia 35mm looks great in terms of size, speed and quality. My only reservations are the reviews questioning the Loxia’s sharpness in relation to its cost and going manual only (a first for me).

      Hopefully Steve can add some valuable insight!

      • Loxia 35 is sharp as I would ever want, small, feels like a Leica lens with smooth focus, nice aperture dial etc. LOVE the 35 Loxia. I have the 35 Loxia, 35 1.4, 35 2.8 here and my goto is the Loxia due to size, performance, and the fact that I love MF lenses on the A7 series.

    • Greg, interesting comments on the Sony/Zeiss 35 and the Loxia 35, in terms of image sharpness!
      Steve, I enjoy your “crazy comparison” articles! How about a sharpness comparison between the 35 f/1.4 offerings from Sony, Zeiss and Fuji (Fujinon)? Thanks, and I always enjoy your excellent reviews as well as your informed readers’ comments!

  15. I saw at other pictures rather green fringings in the unsharp areas (bokeh). At least more than in the Zeiss 1,8/55mm.

    Didn’t you saw that?

  16. Steve, I have a crazy comparison kind of question to ask.

    How would you compare the IQ, rendering, Bokeh of the Batis 85mm to Nocticron 42.5mm for the m4/3.

    I use both the A7 series and m4/3…and am looking for a 85mm lens. Thx!

    • Well, the Nocticron is so good. In many ways, my fave Micro 4/3 lens. The Batis will give you a shallower DOF (more blur) and the FOV of an 85mm. The Nocticron is in reality a 42.5mm lens, so you are getting the Bokeh of a 42.5mm lens, which will be less than that of the 85mm lens. Even when considering f/1.2 vs f/1.8. Both are sharp, both are well made, both are beautiful lenses. I shoot M 43 as well as Sony FF and if I was to get one or the other I would get the Nocticron. I just like it’s vibe and character and IMO it is easier to use as it nails AF easier I feel. I like the snap, color, contrast of the Nocticron.

      • Thank you so much, Steve. It is really a difficult decision. I even think about getting a tele-elmarit 90.

        • Well, thanks guys for opening up this very topic.
          I am an EM1 user and SERIOUSLY thinking of selling the whole thing to shift to A7ii.
          I actually bought the OMD when, and because, the Nocticron came out. Jaw dropping lens. I am deadly in love with it. I t has everything I like.
          I also use – rarely though – the Oly 75mm which is pretty impressive for micro43.
          BUT, compared to FF, the 17mm (35mm equivalent) falls way behind. Especially compared to your fascinating review of the Zeiss Loxia 35mm 2.0

          As I can’t afford both, but truly only need 35/85 fast lenses.

          What would you do Steve? Move to A7ii + Loxia 35 & Batis 85 (and sacrifice the Nocticron)?
          Do you think I could still be happy about the Batis 85 and not regret anything? If I follow you I guess that this A7ii-Body-Two-Lenses combo must be the best possible quality-price-compactness deal for my personal needs anyway?

          Any other suggestions?

          Thanks in advance!

          • Funny as I am in a similar situation. I love the Nocticron, the 75 1.8, the new 8mm fisheye, and many lenses for Micro 4/3. For me, I have to own BOTH as I love using my E-M5II with video using that 5 Axis. I love the lenses for this system, the style and build of the cameras themselves. At the same time, no, the 17 1.8 will not get you the same level of WOW as the A7II and Loxia 35 or Batis 25. But this will come in the form of Bokeh, shallow DOF, increased color richness, and better low light abilities. The A7II will not handle like an E-M1, be as snappy as an E-M1 nor be as enjoyable to use as the E-M1, which is why I still own an Olympus 😉 I use the Sony more, but the Oly is my #2 for the speed, unique lenses, and yea, the Nocticron is one of the best lenses I have ever used, for any system.

          • Hi Steve, I am glad you understand the dilemma 🙂
            This means my “suffering” will not end until I can afford both :-). Or maybe dream of owning an RX1 mark ii as my 35mm and keep the Olympus for Nocticron and 75mm?

            I still understand than should I pick only one, the overall 35/85mm WOW effect is nevertheless more SONY A7ii…
            Am I right?
            I guess so the more so as I do print, and intend to print pretty big…

            It is a pity Olympus being so slow providing a Nocticron-like, weather-sealed fast 35mm equivalent.
            For me this is definitely THE MAIN FLAW in Micro43 & OMD system.

            Thanks a lot for your feedback.
            Take care!

          • I was just looking for this discussion! Thanks Jacky Mo for starting it!

            And if Steve could do a real life comparison between the Nocticron and the Loxia 85mm (with the A7II and A7R II) + showing the cameras mounted with the lenses to compare size, that would be awesome I now know not only for me… Would it be possible later?

            Concerning your dilemma, Jean Philippe, you could buy an used RX1 or RX1r and then you would keep the Nocticron, and have an amazing 35mm (I assume, just slightly behind the A7II + Loxia 35mm). With the plus of not having to change lenses and having such a small amazing camera (I own one). Actually, if Sony would make a FF fixed lens around 85mm like the RX1, I would jump right away…

            But Sony isn’t, thus my doubt. My plan is to use the RX1r for the 35mm needs and have another camera for the 85mm (or 85mm equivalent), either an A7x with the Batis 85, or the Oly EM-5 II with the Nocticron (and possibly the Oly 75mm as a bonus), which I’m tending more to do, mostly so after Steve’s previous post. But again, the comparison I suggested above would be a perfect way to solve the issue.

            Thanks anyway,

            Marcos

          • The Nocticron and the Batis 85 are two different lenses, and systems! One is a half frame crop sensor and one is full frame, neither work on each others camera. The Batis will get you a much more shallow DOF and will have a different color signature with popped reds and blues. The Nocticron being a M 4/3 lens and a 42mm lens will not get you into the DOF territory of an 85 1.8 for Full Frame. With that said, both of these lenses are two of the greatest lenses I have used in life 😉 Can not go wrong with either. If you shoot M 4/3, the Nocticiron is HIGHLY recommended. It is outstanding. If you shoot Sony FE, the 85 Batis is up there as well if you like the 85mm focal length. BTW, Sony will never make a full frame fixed lens with an 85.

            Between M 4/3 and Full Frame, full frame wins. Between M 4/3 and APS-C I prefer Oly M 4/3 every time. I own the E-M5II Titanium and love it. I also own the A7S and soon the A7RII. I have more FE lenses than M 4/3 lenses but I will use the Oly for video more as the 5 Axis inside is the best made today and gives almost steady cam results. I will use the Oly for my fisheye needs or when I just want a small fast light gorgeous camera to use. I will use the A7RII for landscape, for portraits and whenever I need that full frame feel.

            It’s really tough for me to choose between the two as these are my two fave brands today. Then Leica. Everything today is so good, just have to pick with your heart I think 🙂

          • Thanks! Sure, I understand they are different systems and that the Nocticron can not get into the shallowness of the Batis, but both lenses (systems) perform similar duties for each of its systems, having equivalent angles of view: both are good for portraits, have beautiful bokehs, have their own character/pop…

            My curiosity is, since I’m in Brazil and don’t have access to them for tests, to see how different/similar they are in the same conditions in real life to assess which fulfill people’s needs and tastes: if the A7+Batis is overkill (or maybe too much shallowness for one’s use), or if the EM1+Nocticron has enough shallow DOF; how they treat the background, the unique pop each give… Well, actual character of each.

            For instance, the pictures in your review of the Nocticron where you have Debby with the trees in the background really show the character of the Nocticron vs the Oly 45mm. There I could see that and feel the Nocticron is worth it for my taste no matter the price (you did put a Leica shot, but the light is so different and the Leica price is nothing like the Batis vs Nocticron…).

            I believe the same could be useful for the Nocticron vs Batis in real life, as you do in your reviews and what makes this site so good. Kind of like you did in your wonderful “Mirrorless Battle”, although that veered more to the technical side compared to your regular reviews, and was not “best lenses” specific.

            Because after seeing pictures in real life, and understanding how much you like each, then you can balance the system’s size/weigh; price; rate of success in your photos (I understand the MFT is easier in that aspect); would I prefer the versatility of having a smaller system and have the added bonus of small tele like the Oly 75mm, or I like the Otis so much more that I can make do with crops…? This type of stuff.

            But of course I understand if there may be not enough people besides me interested in that (I guess Jean Philippe here will be another interested one).

            Anyway, thanks for the coolest photo site around.

          • Hi MB21 ans Steve!
            Yep. Of course I would be interested. I am pretty sure we would not be the only ones.

            Steve, you do a fantastic job and found an incredibly brilliant way to both unleash your GAS and make it be your job! 🙂 As some kind of “Life Purpose Counseller” in Real Life, I think this is a stunning way of living what I would call an “and/and”, passion driven pattern.
            BUT this puts you in a situation that is quite different from most of your reader’s…
            I mean as a prothusiast also doing some pro work from time to time, and an exhibition here and there, I have a budget for a 4000-5000 USD for my whole gear.
            The choice of ONE specific system for guys like me is therefore tricky. Definitely either/or not and/and…

            I think you are soooo right when you mention the choice of the heart.
            The first thing is that I intended to sell my EM1 to shift to A7ii but was unable to do that.
            I am too much in love with EM1-Nocticron combo (with JB great, light and discreet grip). Fantastic design and built quality, feels PERFECT in my hand. An achieved micro-DSLR…
            Then, even though the Oly 17(35 equivalent) is a bit in the “Farm team” category of lenses, the whole thing weighs 600 grams and I take it everywhere.
            It is the same weight category as RX1 or the New Leica Q. A7ii + Loxia 35mm is already 900 grams (same weight as EM1-Nocticron combo…) .. which is still reasonable but make a huge difference when you carry it the whole day.

            I came down to the conclusion that only 2 things could legitimize the change:

            – as I also shoot film: investing in some GREAT lens that I could use for both film and A7ii
            – a clear upgrade of PRINT quality thanks to Full Frame for big prints (40″ x 30″ and above. I feel this is NOT at all the case for the Nocticron vs FF, almost not for the Oly 75mm but it really is for the 17mm…

            Which leads me to my last comment:

            Steve, every time I do google a question that I have about photography, your great site pops up!! Amazing.

            The ONLY THING I would personally appreciate is to take PRINTS into consideration. I feel like a fundamentalist, but I consider digital files as “images” only, whereas I call “Photography” anything that is PRINTED and therefore is a real object that can be touched, given or hung somewhere.

            Best greeetings to both of you.
            And, MB17, the funny thing is that I did actually live 5 years in Brazil!

            Cheers

            JP

          • Cheers from Brazil, JP!

            I’v been thinking about this issue. I may be wrong, but let’s see in my case, which might help your thinking as well:

            – With the Oly+Nocticron, you are using a 42,5mm with the optical qualities of a 42,5mm no matter what size is the sensor. It has all the “compression”, the DOF, etc. of a 42,5mm. The difference being that it is as if (low light qualities asides, pixel density aside, sensor qualities aside) you took a picture with a FF with a 42,5mm and then cropped it. Thus with the Oly you would get an angle of view of a FF 85mm. But you are using a 42,5mm nonetheless, and the real FF 85mm would have different optical qualities (again, setting aside ISO perf, density, DR, i.e. the sensor qualities themselves).
            – With the Oly + Oly 75mm, using the same reasoning, you are using an actual 75mm, with similar optical qualities of the Batis 85mm (vs 75mm) but an angle of view as if you cropped the Batis 85mm to a fourth of the image area thus giving the angle of view of a FF 150mm. But again with the optical qualities of a FF 75mm (or close to the Batis 85mm in our discussion) despite the “zooming”.

            So, thinking in terms of usability, meaning, the supposed purpose of each lens/system, in my case I’m thinking:

            – If I want a real 150mm, I get none from the lenses mentioned. Only equivalent angles of view, but no real optical 150mm.
            – If I want an 150mm equivalent, I can get right away with the Oly 75mm, but can get a very much alike photo with cropping the Batis 85mm, which will give me pretty much the same optical relations within the framing of the Oly (not discussing the artistic result of the picture, just its spatial qualities). And, considering a camera like the A7RII has 42mp, I’ll get a picture with a close pixel density anyway to the Oly, a little less in the A7, but other qualities of a FF sensor, like DR etc.
            – If I want a real 85mm picture, the Batis will give me right away, and with the Oly + Nocticron, I’ll get a “cropped” (due to sensor size) 42,5mm version of a real FF 85mm picture.
            – If I want a real FF 42,5mm none of the lenses will give me anyway. In my case, I can get close to it with my RX1r.

            I believe, technically, this makes sense. If anyone sees a fault in the technical thinking, and cared to read until now (sorry if it is too long), please let me know.

            PS: that said, using this “technical usability” as a premise, and, to me, the fact that I want carry as few/little gear as possible, questions remaining to balance are: weight/size (which the Oly+Nocticron vs A7R II + Batis are not so big, specially if I would be carrying the 75mm Oly as well); camera usability/pleasure (read more good things about the Oly); ISO, DR (I guess the A7), hits and misses (read more good things about the Oly, specially with focusing in the eyes); character of each system/combination (personal taste); and price (difference of around U$ 1400 more expensive to the A7RII)…

            Hope this makes sense.

          • Well…. Hello again Brazil.

            I would say stating that there is such a thing like a “real” 85 or 150 seems quite relative to me… Think about medium format… What is “real”? 🙂

            I think there is a physical relationship between the photographers body and the object that is defined by the focal length. I personally do NOT reframe my pics – or strictly the minimum.
            Therefore micro43 or FF doesn’t change anything.
            I love bokeh and shallow DOF but got to the conclusion that the 1.2 of the Nocticron are way enough!!!
            And FF 35mm 1.4 lenses are ALL way to heavy and big for me. Therefore I would pick a f2 or even 2.8. Should Oly come out with a weather sealed 17mm 1.4, I would not need anything else. For sure!

            Then, whenever shifting to Sony – the mere fact of considering selling my EM1 made me fall in love with it in an even deeper way -, my feeling is that the A7 ii is WAY enough for my needs. And therefore 1500 USD worth.

            I must confess that what has been triggered the most by this whole discussion and question marks is the decision to do much more FILM PHOTOGRAPHY.

            My Rolleiflex is 6×6, 40mm equivalent, and 50 millions pixels. Unbeatable for B&W pics.
            And costs 300 USD.

            As for the “Sony equation” I stick to the fact that only the acquisition of an expensive quality M mount Zeiss or Leica lens that I could use for both Digital and Film could justify getting rid of my EM1.

            As far as Digital is concerned, I also keep an eye on the probable fixed lens 35mm Sony RX1 ii with a curved sensor. THIS might be a game changer too.

            Cheers to all of you guys.

  17. Hi Steve, what would you recomend to chose for landscape photographie on sony a7 Batis 25/2 or Zeiss 16-35/4 ?
    thanks in advance

  18. Hi Steve. Have you seen DxOMark’s new rating of the new Sony 90mm f/2.G OSS Macro lens? Apparently they rate it as the 4th best among all their rated lenses, in terms of sharpness, CA, distortion, and Bokeh. I know you already tested it on an a7II, but I would be most interested in seeing images taken with that lens on the upcoming Sony a7RII…I’d expect astonishing detail and resolution, especially at macro (1:1) distances! Thank you.

    • I do not see that when using it, which is why I never ever go by charts, they never add up in real world shooting. The Batis 85 gave me much sharper and nicer looking images than the Sony 90. It’s a good lens, but lacks character compared to the Batis. For Macro, it’s great. For everything else its slow and not as good as other alternatives (for example, for portraits). Great lens if Macro is what you seek. I would take the Batis over the 90 though for everyday use.

      • Yep, I understand that the Zeiss Batis 85 is better at non-macro distances, and ideally I’d get both, but as I am targeting macro (1:1) applications with this focal length, I guess the Sony 90 Macro would be my best choice. Thanks Steve, and great reviews!!

  19. I have to say – as much as I love the innovation coming for mirrorless from Zeiss and Sony, I cannot bring myself to buy either. Why? Because, I’ve spent so much money with my investment in Micro Four Thirds. PLUS, Voigtlander and Kowa are making fully manual lenses for Micro Four Thirds along with Rokinon. I just don’t want to pay for high prices for fly-by-wire focusing. If they were manual focus with not so much hight-tech electronics, it would probably be more convincing. The Sony full-frame mirrorless is amazing; but I won’t be switching formats…

  20. Thank you! I was almost ready to buy the Otus 85mm but was hesitating just a little because of the manual focus then I saw your review of the Batis 85mm.

    Much easier to accept at this price with auto focus.

    Not sure I will order it in the USA as I am from Canada and our money is worth zilch and not sure about customs.

    I am going to order one in one hour when my store opens up, that is if they have it or can get it.

    I already ordered the A7R II, and can’t wait to get it.

    I have been looking at medium format but find the prices crazy except for the Pentax 645z but I am thinking that with this new lens and camera I may not have to go that way.

    My mentor once told me that ” good enough is good enough” but photographers are a strange bunch for quality or spending money on equipment, hahaha

    Thanks again,
    Parnelli Scambatti

  21. Hi! Very interesting review!
    I ordered an A7Rii together with a FE 24-240 for when I’ll go tele and a FE 35mm F2.8 as walkaround lens. Due to a promotion I got everything discounted, and the 35mm costed me around 586$, which looking around I think it’s a pretty interesting price. But the more I read about these new Batis lenses, the more I’m tempted to cancel the 35mm order and get the 25mm Batis instead. As landscape is my world, 25mmcan’t do anything but good, but apart from this aspect, what do you think? Worth it? I don’t think getting both would have much sense…

    • I wouldn’t get both, and the Batis is beautiful. I own the 35 2.8 and have the Batis here and only use the Batis. I am not a fan of the 24-240 so I would go for the Batis if possible to show what the A7II is really capable of.

      • Regarding the FE 24-240, I have had only very brief experience with it, but it`s very hard to find a good balance with it mounted om a A7R IMO. The FE 70-200 is much easier in that regard both handheld and on a tripod. So for practical use I would rather go for a good prime and have the FE 70-200 for tele.

        • Well said! I too, feel that in order to obtain the most optimal image quality that the a7II (and especially the a7RII) is capable of, it’s best to go with primes whenever possible. That said, I believe that several Sony zooms exist that do perform well, such as the 16-35 and the 70-200G. That’s one reason I’m torn between the 16-35 or the Zeiss 25 Batis for landscape work. I’ve also read great reviews of the new Sony 90G Macro!

          • I have the 16-35 here as well as the Batis. I have bene shooting the Batis like a fiend, love it. The 16-35 though would be my pick for landscape. It’s faster to AF, has a usable range from 16-35 and is a fantastic wide angle zoom, prob best one I have tried. It’s not too large and it’s not heavy. For LS, that is what I would go with. For street or every day, the 25 is nice.

          • Awesome, Steve!! Thanks as always for your honest and valued feedback! I agree that the 16-35 would be more versatile for landscape work. I was really only concerned how much sharpness I would lose in comparison to the Batis 25, (when used on a tripod-mounted a7RII with good technique, remote release, good post processing, etc.), but if you feel they are “close”, then I’m sold on the 16-35!

          • Awesome, Steve! I assume by “Pretty damn sharp”, you mean that it can handle the resolution of the a7RII. Thanks again, and I REALLY look forward to your review of a production a7RII…

          • Sonly told me 100% that ALL of their lenses can resolve the A7RII and then some. They designed them with the RII in mind. So yes, it is plenty for the RII

          • That’s awesome Steve, and a reassuring fact that bodes well for the usability of the a7RII. I really anticipate and look forward to your detailed and informative review!! Thanks again!

  22. Decisions! Decisions! When you’re putting big money into gear (nearly 1/4th that of Leica stuff), you need to focus [sic] on your needs. Rather than one aspect at a time, make a list of attributes and rank your possible choices within each category. Attributes might include autofocus, size, speed and cost. The rankings should be their value to YOU, not to Steve or me. You can also weight the categories to reflect their importance to you. The Sony 35/1.4 FE is a big lens – 3″ in diameter by 4″, compared to a Loxia 35/2 which is 2″ x 2″ (sans hood). An alternative to the Sony would be the Zeiss 35/1.4 ZM, which is slightly larger than the Loxia, but manual focus without benefit of auto magnification and EXIF data. Cost is only important if it means you must give up something you need more (like food, transportation or housing).

    • In the end, you can come up with a score (ala Consumer Reports). Add up the rankings (x weighting) and the highest score “wins.”

  23. Help, Steve! I’m so confused – an amateur hoping to be a weekend warrior. Eyes are on the Sony AR7II with two lens… I’m pretty sure I’ll go w 85mm 1.8 Batis and then… well, your review of the Sony Zeiss 35mm 1.4 Distagon FE was off the chain… and, well, you also love the Batis 28mm F2. Just to eliminate one aspect, let’s say it doesn’t matter if one is more $ than the other. Would you suggest the Sony Zeiss 35mm with that incredible, crazy pop… or the Zeiss Batis 28mm with a similar zing and autofocus. Just make up my mind for me, would you?

  24. Steve, great review as always!! As to the question of going with the “original” Sony/Zeiss 55 or the Loxia 50, besides comparing apples to oranges (AF/MF), I was under the impression from numerous reviews that in terms of image sharpness, the Sony/Zeiss 55 is second only to the $4,000 Zeiss Otus. That, combined with not trusting my old eyes to achieving the most optimum, critical focus possible (even with the excellent MF aids of the Sony a7 system), makes me choose the 55 every time, regardless of how good the Loxia may be.

  25. I saw you mentioned you like these two and the 50mm Loxia. I was thinking about picking these up and a 50mm lens but I cant decide between the 50mm Loxia and the 55mm 1.8 that originally came out. Dont know if I’m ready for manual focus but if the image quality is THAT much better I’d go for the Loxia. What do you recommend

  26. Very rave review and great lenses for sure. Still, let me put here my point because I believe many others will often (come to) think the same way.

    Personally, I love what Sony has been doing recently as much as Steve does – small, FF, state-of-the-art bodies, smaller, fast, modern prime lenses…. I’ve been longing for what Sony is offering now all my life, actually (theoretically)…. But for everyday use (I’m not a pro, either), I came to a conclusion that the reliable AF (AF-C – tracking) with fast primes is an absolutely key factor (for my style of shooting). No, I’m not talking about tracking a running black dog in a dark nightclub successfully but just the quite usual movement of kids, people etc.being shot with a fast apertures (f1.4-f2). To get a satisfactory hit rate, I found that the A7 series is (much) worse than say Nikon D750….. (hey, I’m not a Nikon fanboy at all either)…..esp. in low light (but such situations come surprisingly often and again, I’m not talking about any extremes here). The only “hope” seems to be the latest A7rII in this regard and this moves me to another point – prices or price/performance ratio (the value for money).

    You get (example) the Nikon D750 (….with the excellent AF tracking abilities, the excellent sensor) + really excellent 85mm/f1.8 and great 20mm/1.8 (or the fantastic Sigma Art 35mm/1.4) for about $3300 (I know it is the “bigger” DSLR setup). Now you go with A7rII (the only option to theoretically match the Nikon’s AF tracking capabilities – A7II is not good enough I’m afraid) + 35/1.4 and Batis 85/1.8…. Or the Batis duo only. The truth is that the final price has almost doubled… and I bet you would not be able to tell any difference in the resulting (post-processed) pictures.

    I must say (for myself) that I hate this calculation which actually forces me to stay with the bigger, kind of obsolete DSLR kit. However, I just cannot justify the Sony way 🙁

    • Have you not shot with the A7s, or A7II? The A7s has very fast AF, and the A7II is plenty fast, even in lower light. Fastest AF I have ever used has been with the Olympus E-M1 which is faster than ay DSLR I have ever shot with, but for full frame, I have never been impressed with most DSLR’s for AF speed. For example the A7II I own focuses faster than the Nikon Df I owned. All oft these cameras are pretty close these days in regards to AF speed with some mirrorless beating DSLRS and some DSLRs beating some mirrorless. But all are pretty close. The A7RII will be a huge improvement over the old A7R but not any better than the A7s or A7II, both of which are plenty fast for AF for me. Te old A7 and A7R were MUCH slower, but the newer models are all huge improvements .

      • Hi Steve, I’ve never had any doubts concerning the AF-S speed. Not at all.

        As you can see, I never mentioned the AF-S speed but the AF tracking (AF-C) abilities only. I had the original A7 and the A7s in my hands but it is true that both just for a limited time. And yes, even the A7s left a lot to be desired (when compared to the Nikon D750). It was definitely not a scientific test but there was somewhat much lower number of keepers from both Sony cameras compared to Nikon (lenses: Sigma 35/1.4 art vs. Sony Distagon 35mm/1.4). It was in kind of low-light but nothing extreme… So for AF-S, yes, the Sony cameras were very fast, no complains here. But I expected more regarding the tracking AF…. (but the new AF module in A7RII seems very promising).

    • Steve, what are your thoughts on the quality between the two setups? Let’s say that AF is equal between the two – the question is how do the two systems compare on Image Quality alone?

  27. Step by step lenses become available that turn Sony A7/FE into a considerable system.

    However, I am spoiled by the compact size, small weight and cheaper pricing of Sony NEX/E/APS-C. If A7/FE had been available earlier, I might have jumped on it, in particular to adapt my vintage glass.

  28. Nice review Steve. The 25mm is an interesting focal length, kinda wide but not real wide. 28mm seems to close to a 35mm (the best 28, is always a 35 two steps back ;-)). I’m not a fan of the star ratings… You always take the time to write well thought out reviews, hate to think people would just skip to the bottom.

  29. Looks like similar think happened with my comment like with John Nicholson. My comments has disappeared.

    Anyway what I tried to post earlier was that does this 85mm have nervous bokeh at some distances? Unless my eyes are playing up (only 42), it does look a tad nervous at mid to far distances. Noticed that on some other pictures on Flickr too.

  30. I wonder why Zeiss used the digital interface for Batis. I prefer Sony DIstagon’s classic interface with aperture ring, and many people probably wish all of the Zeiss lenses share the same interface to avoid the confusion… Batis lenses are for the different market or different grade of Zeiss compare to Distagon?

    • I agree with you and i hope sony really will bring a 1,4/85mm in autumn. I like the Zeiss lenses very much but the 85mm have to much “green fringings” in bokeh lights at open aperture.

  31. The focus on 3rd picture is astonishing. it focused on the eye razor sharp.
    but, i noticed that the grain on the picture is slightly not good. what was the ISO setting for that shot?

    Anyway, as i am started to do street photography, and still shy to take picture of stranger, your statement about mostly getting approved encourages me. Thanks.

    • That was indoor, very low light (though you would not know this by looking at the image) at 1.8 and ISO 800 I never ever use any Noise Reduction.

  32. Well, Steve, I sent you a comment, and it did show and then disappear, and I didn’t delete it!! But I wanted to say how much I enjoy your review of these lenses (and others) because you always have such excellent and refreshing images taken from actual use. Ditto here. Thanks.

  33. Those are some sexy looking lenses! It’s interesting, with so many camera bodies going retro these lenses seem to be on the other end of the spectrum and look quite sci-fi. The quality is amazing, no doubt about it. I think it really shows that while mirror less cameras are so versatile with their ability to use almost any lens, staying within in the system really pays off. Especially now that Sony has some elite glass. I learned that even though you could use Leica glass on the Fuji XPro the truth was that the Fuji 35 1.4 looked much better then the 35 Summilux.

      • Why do you think it’s the same lens when the patent is 24mm and has OIS while Batis 25mm doesn’t. I agree with you that the 85mm Batis is probably Tamron with Zeiss coatings on it.

      • Why do people keep saying this? Can you offer any proof outside of some rumor site clickbait?

        • Agree. Just because Tamron has been involved in the design of Sony and Zeiss lenses in the past, present or future does not mean the Tamron lens = the Zeiss or Sony lens. Pretty dumb statement.

  34. Great review, I’ve been looking for some real world comments on these lenses. The information and opinion / review I’m REALLY looking for is regarding their performance in VIDEO on an A7S – have you tried that, specifically with the 25mm wide open? How does it look? How well does the auto-focus function in video mode, Constant-AF? Thanks!

  35. Interesting lenses. I wish Sony would design and Zeiss Otus lenses in native Sony E mount. So no adapters needed.

    • The Otus is a Zeiss lens, so why would Sony design one for the E-mount? The Otus lens starts to feel very front heavy on even a larger dslr body like the D810, it’d be even worse on an a7 body. Also between the 55 1.8, the Loxia 50, and now the Batis 85, the sales of a e-mount Otus would be subpar at best.

  36. Hello Steve, I know you must have thought a long time and read many comments about doing “star” ratings or any other grading system for the equipment you review. If it is tied to marketing, I think I understand why this may be a good idea, but please know I’m grateful for all your effort that you have applied to giving honest evaluations of equipment with words, not percentiles or badges.

    Thanks for all your diligence of how you describe working with your equipment and show real results, not digits.

    Best regards,

    Michael Chan

  37. I enjoy whatever you review, Steve, because you give us such good and varied images which are an inspiration in themselves! Many moons ago I followed your lens advice and bought the Sigma 30mm for my NEX C3. It’s still my preferred single focal length (roughly 50mm equiv.) combination, since I’m not into full frame.

  38. Thanks for this article! Some questions remain for me, though. I realize that many people only want to shoot wide a fastish 85mm wide open. (All your photos above are at 1.8 or 2, I believe.) But I would also like to know how good the lens is stopped down, for other kinds of subjects. Does the known pincushion distortion show up strongly if you photograph urban landscape or other straight line subjects? Does correcting the distortion weaken corner resolution noticeably? Thanks for any insights….

  39. Fantastic review Steve and great sample photos. I had a brief try of these in the UK when the Carl Zeiss rep came round. You have confirmed what I thought about the pair of them, glad I placed an order for stock

    • I reviewed that nearly two years ago… that is an old lens, and a Sony/Zeiss collaboration. The Batis are Zeiss. Not Sony/Zeiss. Also, I much prefer the Loxia 50 f/2 to the 55 1.8.

      • For your information the Batis lenses are Tamron designs. They are neither designed nor manufactured by Zeiss. I mean when you are downplaying the 55 for not being a Zeiss, then neither are these…

        • Great review, Steve, but I’m puzzled by your statement “If Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 lens compared to Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro lens, I will choose Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8.” Are you implying that the Batis 85 is sharper than the Sony 90, or just that you prefer the faster lens?
          Also, Mike, can you supply your source for your statement that “Batis is a Tamron design and not made by Zeiss”?? I’ve never heard that one before! Thanks.

          • 85 and 90 are very close, unless you need macro, go with the Zeiss. It’s smaller, lighter, and has better rendering. The Batis is NOT made by Tamron, period.

          • Thanks for your reply, Steve! You’ve answered my question…since I do need macro, and the Sony 90 G and Zeiss 85 are “very close” in terms of sharpness, I am leaning towards the Sony 90 (though I am always interested in Zeiss glass)! I am also strongly interested in the Sony/Zeiss 55, and the Sony 16-35, for the upcoming a7RII. Based on several reviews of those optics, I would expect quite amazing image quality (primarily sharpness/detail) from that kit! Thanks again!

      • Sorry Steve I can’t find the review on the 55mm anywhere.
        Great overview on the batis Lenses though, will definitely put the 85mm on my A7S.

      • The 55 1.8 most people said was the closet you could get to the Otis without actually getting there. I am surprised you like the Loxia better than that lens, I thought that was the benchmark.

        I am curious – between the Batis and Loxia which gives you the better pictures? Personally, I love a good manual focus lens, I grew up with it, but I don’t want to sacrifice quality for fun.

  40. I have the A7rii and the two Batis lens’ in my crosshairs for my next system. I know you feel the AF issues with the 85 are endemic to that lens length, but I wonder if the firmware of the lens is updatable. Sony is starting to follow Fuji with firmware updates that are enhancements. I just updated my daughter’s A6000, for example. I wonder is Zeiss can or will provide updates to the Batis 85, if improvements to AF can be found? Any idea whether Zeiss would do this or if they can? The ability of making firmware updates is becoming a more important aspect of any camera or lens these days.

  41. Great review, love the samples I’ve seen from both lenses. I’m ditching the 24-70 in favor of these, one on each body. And I’ll almost have a killer 135 with the A7RII in crop mode. I’m hoping the 25 in crop mode will keep me from buying the 35/1.4, though it feels like my credit card will lose that battle.

    Sooooo… which one are you buying?

  42. Steve, thank you for the review. However you say nothing about using the manual focus capability of the Batis lenses. As often as not an autofocus lens latches on the wrong spot, especially for closeups, and needs fine tuning. Zeiss also suggests there is an hard infinity stop (the ring turns but the focusing stops). Is there anything you can add?

    If there were a Loxia 90 (or 25), would you choose that over the Batis?

    • I certainly do talk about the manual focus use. It’s a joy, a pleasure and feels smooth and is very easy to manually focus. All lenses are on the Sony A7 system, and the Batis line is fantastic. I would not hesitate to choose this lens if this focal length is something that appeals to you. It’s a beauty of a lens.

      • Thank you, so you did. I am somewhat disappointed with manual focus with the 70-200/4, but that’s Sony and the Batis is Zeiss. I understand that manual focus in the Batis is velocity sensitive. So is the Sony, but it is still too slow to be practical. I’m guessing Zeiss nailed it. I’ll know more in two weeks.

        If you hold the center button in the AF/AE switch (A7ii), the viewfinder jumps to the magnify mode when the focus ring is moved.

  43. Hi Steve,

    Do you think the A7rii will eliminate the hunting issues of the 85mm in low light or is that a characteristic of the lens more so than the body?

    • All fast 85’s hunt in low light, just the nature of the beast. I have yet to use an 85 f/2 and faster that did not hunt in low light, with any camera. I have no issues with AF speed on my A7s or A7II, and the A7RII is about as fast as the A7II for AF. Much faster than the old A7 and A7R but not some blazing AF machine.

  44. Great review Steve,visit your site daily.Do you think the new Sony would resolve focus issues
    with the Batis1.8/85

    • Well, I do not feel it is a focus “issue” really, most fast 85’s will hunt in low light – Nikon, Canon. etc. Im talking LOW LOW light btw, as in low club/pub light.

    • Well, they are close but if you want a one lens solution, the Q is a tad nicer IMO. All in one, slightly better IQ. Then again, the A7II and Zeiss 25 f/2 will be $1200+ less and more versatile if you ever want to use other lenses.

        • Well, those re two different lenses for two different systems, so not really much to compare as if one owns the Sony system, they will want the batis and vice versa. I will review this lens soon though.

          • Thanks Steve.
            I have been a micro 4/3 owner since near the beginning – still rocking a GH1, using mainly the little 20mm. My own choice is either sticking with a system that has served me very well up to now or possibly jumping to Sony mirrorless… if the quality is really a serious step up?
            Hope that explains my initial question a little more fully!

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