Carl Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sony FE: Creative contenderBy Paul Carroll - Friday May 20 2016 Lens Review
Carl Zeiss’s latest range of Batis lenses has been specifically designed for the Sony A7 series of full-frame mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7R II and Sony A7S II. Together with the legendary optical precision and outstanding build quality for which Carl Zeiss lenses are known, the new Batis lenses also feature autofocus and an innovative OLED display on the lens barrel that gives both focus distance and depth-of-field information. The first new lenses released in the Zeiss Batis lineup are the 25mm f/2 wide-angle prime and 85mm f/1.8 short telephoto prime.
The Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 offers a short telephoto focal length and a fast aperture that’s ideal for portraits, events, weddings or studio fashion photography work. Construction is a durable and weather-resistant all-metal casting, and at 105mm long and weighing 475 grams, it’s a fairly chunky lens for the Sony A7 series. Optical construction utilizes 11 elements in 8 groups, including 3 low-dispersion elements, and the 9-bladed circular aperture diaphragm promises attractive out-of-focus bokeh effects.
An addition to autofocus, the feature set of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 has been further bolstered with built-in image stabilization. The Zeiss lens-based system works in combination with the camera-based stabilizer on the A7 II series, which offers up to two stops of anti-shake on original A7 bodies without stabilization. On paper that’s not as impressive as the latest Nikon/Canon stabilization systems, which now offer up to four stops, but in reality, a two-stop system allows for shutter speeds as slow as 1/30 sec. on an 85mm lens, which is useful when shooting weddings or events in low-light conditions.
The large manual focus ring offers precise adjustment and the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 offers a minimum focus distance of 80mm. While that’s comparable to the minimum focus distance on many competitors’ fast-aperture 85mm primes, it means the Zeiss Batis isn’t well-suited for close focus photography, such as pack and product shots, with macro lenses such as the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 a better option.
Like the Batis 25mm f/2, the 85mm f/1.8 version offers Zeiss’s innovative OLED display on the lens barrel for reading focus distance and depth-of-field information. The front element uses a 67mm thread for filters, and the 85mm focal length provides a 29-degree field of view. Our technicians have been busy analyzing the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8’s lab results, and we’re pleased to reveal the verified scores.
- Focal length: 85mm
- Lens mount: Sony E / FE
- Max. aperture: f/1.8
- Min. aperture: f/22
- Autofocus: Yes
- Stabilizer: Yes – 2 stops on A7 series
- Minimum focus: 80cm
- Field of view: 29 Degrees
- Filter thread: 67mm
- Weight: 475g
- Dimensions: 105x75mm (LxD)