One of the major issues of the Sony mirrorless lineup used to be the relatively limited range of lens options. With the addition of the second generation in the A7 series and the introduction of new lenses, it’s obvious the system has matured.
The Batis 85mm f/1.8 is one of the latest lenses available for the E-Mount. It’s a moderate telephoto lens more or less intended for portrait photography. Along with the Batis 25mm f/2, it’s the first full-frame autofocus lens created by Zeiss.
The construction of the lens is superb to say the least. It’s made entirely of metal and it is dust and moisture resistant. It weighs almost half a kilogram, yet it feels very well proportioned and the focusing ring is insanely smooth and easy to operate.
Inside, this 85mm lens 11 elements positioned in 8 groups. The aperture range is f/1.8-f/22 and the minimum focusing distance is 0.80 m.
The auto-focusing is fast and accurate. When mounted on an A7R II, the lens really doesn’t make any effort to lock the focus, especially in good lighting conditions. Naturally, as with almost every lens out there, things become a little more complicated in low light, but nevertheless the Batis 85mm performs above average. The focusing is also very silent thanks to the linear motor driven internal focus system.
With the minimum focusing distance of 0,80m, this isn’t a lens I would recommend for anyone pursuing macro photography. But that’s one of the few bad things you can say about it.
When you buy a lens with theses specifications, one of the most important things you look for is the bokeh. You might be tempted to think all f/1.8 lenses produce great looking bokeh but that’s simply not the case. However I won’t go into the exceptions right now. The Batis 85mm has a very pleasant bokeh that separates the subject from the background smoothly.
The sharpness is impressive to say the least, particularly if you use the lens with an A7RII. Even wide open at f/1.8, the details are very high throughout the entire frame. Things get a lot better at f/2.8 as should be expected and peak sharpness was reached at f/8. This is a combo that can realistically rival medium format images and it’s good to see a dedicated lens performing this well.
Sony made the A7 lineup to be smaller and lighter than competing DSLRs. However with a lens like this mounted the A7RII looks and feels a lot like a DSLR. The goal of reducing size and weight with these cameras seems to have been forgotten. It’s actually bigger and heavier than most 85mm f/1.8 lenses on the market and it’s certainly a lot pricier. However, at the end of the day, this is Zeiss glass and other than size and slower AF speed in low light, you can’t really say bad stuff about it. It is a brilliant portrait lens that produces astonishing image quality. I highly recommend it to all Sony users who shoot a lot of portraits.