- Excellent build quality and exterior design
- Fast and accurate autofocus
- Excellent smoothness and damping on the manual focus ring
- Brilliantly sharp, even wide open
- Beautiful bokeh
- Minimal lateral chromatic aberration
- Good color response and high contrast without being harsh
- Manual focus ring rubber doesn’t provide a lot of tactile feedback
- A bit fat for the focal length and aperture
- Pincushion distortion is strong for a short telephoto (but correctable)
- Some minor longitudinal CA and fringing
- Can flare strongly in the right conditions
It’s a longish cons list for a lens that I think is utterly fantastic, but overall, the complaints are minor. It’s a bit large considering the maximum aperture, but the optical compromises are small. Some distortion that doesn’t really impact image quality once corrected and some minor longitudinal CA and occasional flare is about all that I can complain about. The lens is expensive at $1199, especially when compared to similar aperture lenses from Canon and Nikon, but Zeiss lenses have always commanded a bit of a premium. However, the optical prowess is extremely evident here.
The lens is simply spectacularly sharp, and starts that crazy sharpness right from f/1.8. Wide open shots display exceptional clarity and gorgeous background blur while providing a flattering contrast profile for portraits. I simply love the look of the images from this lens. It’s an absolutely top-tier optic and one that I’m already saving my pennies to purchase for myself.
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36 thoughts on “Review: Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar T*”
Similar IQ can be gotten with much less expensive lenses.
I’m curious as to which lenses you feel qualify? I’ve used a LOT of fast lenses with this field of view, and the Batis is right up at or near the top. You can get close for a lot less, and you can get darn near as good stopped down for a lot less, and you can get outstanding from f/2.8 and beyond that matches for a lot less (with other things). However, I can’t think of a lens f/1.8 or faster that can match this lens in wide open image quality that is significantly cheaper. The PanaLeica 42.5/1.2 Nocticron is pretty close, but it’s more expensive. The Canon 85L II might be close at f/1.8 and beyond, but based on my experience, I think the Batis would beat it in most ways at the same aperture (though it’s slower). The Zeiss 85/2.8 Sonnar and G 90/2.8 Sonnar are pretty close or equal at the same apertures, but both are over a stop slower.
Even if you find a lens optically similar for a lot less (which I think will be hard), it’s the only fast 85mm that can AF with any real speed on Sony bodies, and it has OIS to boot. It’s not going to be for everyone, but it’s a stellar optic. The Batis crushes the Canon 85/1.8 and while the Nikon 85/1.8 is supposedly very good (I haven’t used it), looking at tests, my guess is the Batis outclasses that as well.
Like it is many ways in photography, that last 5% of performance costs 100% more. I will likely add a Batis 85 to my personal kit sometime in the next year, though for the time being, I’m waiting, and will use my very good Canon FD 85mm f/1.8. That lens is excellent stopped down and even very good wide open, but has nowhere near the bite and sharpness wide open, nor the CA control that the Batis has.
Jordan don’t feed the trolls !
Fantastic review by the way, thanks !
Indeed the usual troll nonsense. Batis is awesome!
My batis arrived this week and did a quick comparison with my excellent, damn sharp Fujinon 56 F1.2….All i can say is batis is in another league in terms of sharpness / resolution…i’ve never expected such resolving power at F1.8…bokeh comparison with fuji was also surprising, i was expecting better, smoother bokeh on Fuji but batis won there too…creaamy,,,,butteryy…very very beautiful bokeh and clearly superior to Fuji….I also attached it on A6000, which doesn’t have ibis, but oss on the lens provides tack sharp results down to 1/20sec.,think about it, it’s around 135mm FF Fov… and gives great bokeh again.
this lens is now my favorite lens and recommend all e-mount users without any hesitation, nobody will regret.
Nikon’s 85mm f/1.8 AF-S Nikkor and in m4/3’s format the Olympus 45mm f1.8 will probably deliver, as I wrote, “similar” IQ. Not everyone needs or even wants the penultimate, super-duper performance. Thus I qualified my reply as “similar IQ.” By similar I’m implying very, very good to excellent IQ can be had with any of these.
I agree that those lenses will deliver very good performance. I owned the Olympus 45/1.8, and it was a stellar lens. It’s not to the level of the Batis with regards to sharpness (nor shallow depth of field ability, but that’s a format thing more than anything) but it is very good. The Olympus 75/1.8 does produce images of similar sharpness to the Batis, but doesn’t control CA nearly as well. It’s also not the same FOV. The Batis isn’t a perfect lens. It’s got it’s quirks, and it is expensive, as most Zeiss lenses are. However, it is also a top tier optic, and as such, you usually will pay top tier price. I do hope Sony releases a less expensive 85/2.8 that’s nice and compact. Perhaps they can use the outstanding C/Y 85/2.8 Sonnar design for it.
Having had the Fuji 56/1.2 and still using the 85/1.8g for Nikon, I was lucky to receive an early batch 85 Batis. It is an exceptional lens and became now our favourite. Sharpness and rendering are exceptional. The Nikon is very good, but is nowhere close in rendering and sharpness wide open, which my main reason for using this lens.
Very nice pictures!
Good review. Good lens.
hard to justify the price over a Canon 85mm 1.8 for eg.
And sony will release soon a 85mm 1.4 G for A7 series soon so let’s see.
1.8 is too slow for this price. Ok 1.8 is enough 95% of the time but as you said, in photo you pay big price for the last 5%, so why pay this much for a 1.8 portrait prime ?
Definitely no. 1.4 at least … we can talk.
Not hard at all because this lens is extremely sharp from 1.8 unlike the Canon 85mm so THAT aside from the superior rendering is where the money goes.
To me is pointless to have a lens of X speed like a 1.8, or 1.4 that are not sharp at those apertures…makes it pointless. If I buy a fast lens I want it to be sharp at the max aperture not having to stop down. Sure if you compare the Canon at 5.6 then it will likely be close in center sharpens but at that F stop…who cares then. I may as well use a kit lens.
2 people find the price not justified? Good, good… less people on the pre-order line 😀 the waiting line is already 3-4 months long tho
The Batis 85mm would have got my money, if it was F1.4, or if it was smaller (it’s just too fat).
The Sony FE 90mm is a better option IMO.
I bought one, and at F2.8 it’s incredibly sharp, and doubles nicely as a macro lens.
If you shoot weddings, then being able to half your ISO by going to 1.8 is important. But otherwise, the macro is an incredible lens.
No is not better, is a totally different lens.
You need macro then get the 90mm. You want a better portrait lens then get the Batis. The extra light you get AND very visible extra subject isolation make a big difference.
Since you have the FD 85mm 1.8 I would love to see some comparison images.
Although the one I would like to compare to this one is the Mitakon 85mm 1.2 that has been tested to be a beast surpassing the best from Canon and Nikon and I think only beating barely by one lens (dont recall which).
At 1.8 i would very VERY interesting to compare them.
I get what you say about 1.8 on this lens been so sharp across the frame..just like my FE 55mm is.. Like you can see something like the FD 50mm 1.4 being not too far off from my 55mm in the very center (well aside from microcontrast) but the moment you move a little off center, the 55mm just murders it. 🙂
Great review, and it does look a lovely lens. I just never know what to do with 85mm, lol!
I commented mainly to say, though, that I love your reviews and site. Thanks for keeping it up!
Thanks for another great review, however my wallet doesn’t appreciate it at all. I am normally immune to GAS, but the Batis lenses are seriously making me consider getting a Sony body (A7rII of course) to use them on to complement my Canon full frame set up. I need to remind myself that I have no issues with creating images my clients and myself love, and that now is a a time in which there are far too many awesome pieces of kit out there… such cool kit and tech that distracts from thinking about photos 😛
Great review of the lens. I am planning on purchasing it.
Would the auto focus preform as quick on an original a7 as on the a7ii?
Do you have experience shooting with this lens of both these bodies?
Lovely lens review, thank you. I’m really torn between this and the Sony Zeiss 35mm 1.4 T* Distagon lens. I shoot primarily dogs/pets with the occasional portrait shoot thrown in for good measure; how would you say the auto focus is for moving subjects?
Thanks again for the review. Gorgeous lens, but on a slightly different note…even more gorgeous cashier you captured too!
I was lucky enough to try them both for a few days and this is what I settled for my kit:
35 MM 2.8 Zeiss for a light walk pictures with my a6300 or to have my mom shoot with it and the 85 MM 1.8 Batis for myself to shoot with A7II.
The 35 MM 1.4 Distagon still lingers in my mind as one of the best 35 MM I’ve ever experienced and I’ve tried to convince myself to get it for my 35 MM kit, but it was extremely heavy…it has the aperture ring and very fancy hood. But after long consideration that I’m not doing any heavy video making and not into using a sling strap or cameras with battery grip, I dropped the Distagon and went with a really light 35mm 2.8 Zeiss. It’s still an awesome lens, but not as gorgeous as the Distagon.
So, that’s when the Batis 85mm came to my radar. For the weight and price, I am settled with the Batis 85MM F1.8. the F-stop is more than enough for my work which is mainly portraits. It still renders beautiful, popping pictures, bokeh, and gorgeous colour contrast which I drool over and got a mid telephoto lens for me to walk around and take great “stealthy” portraits.
But in your case of shooting primarily dogs/pets and the occasional portrait shoot, the auto focus on both are extremely fast and you won’t notice it being different. An f1.8 is still a very fast lens…in addition I can’t imagine you being up close with your subject…crouching probably…with a very front-heavy lens.
My personal advice is to get a light 35mm to shoot close with your subject and a long 50/85mm or longer with an f-stop 1.8 or lower.
Unless you are dead set on getting the Distagon, these are my suggestions 🙂
Hope it helps.
Great review! Does the Batis 85 mm 1.8 focus better in dim light than the Sony 90 mm 2.8?
Good review. I will be ordering it in a day or two. This will be my third lens for a7rii, the others being 55 1.8 and Distagon 351.4 ZM.
Can hardly wait for this. It will complete my collection. ?
Good review. I will be ordering it in a day or two. This will be my third lens for a7rii, the others being 55 1.8 and Distagon 35 1.4 ZM.
Can hardly wait for this. It will complete my collection.
Best review of the Zeiss 85mm Batis on the net. Thanks for your time