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Monday, 22 March 2021


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I recall that you think that 40mm is a nice focal length. Perhaps you might request a review copy of the Batis that you covet and compare it to the little Sony 40mm f/2.5 that will be announced tomorrow.

The Batis 40mm is currently my favorite lens, and has been for some time. I love this focal length, and this is a killer 40, at least for my kind of street and landscape photography.

The lens is kind of fat, but pretty light and easy to hold. It has fast, accurate autofocus. And close-focus capability, which I love. The digital distance/depth of field scale is a bit gimmicky, but I've actually used it to zone focus. It can be turned on or off. Manual focus is okay, but nothing special.

As for image quality: this is classic Zeiss blended with the best of modern lens design. The rendering reminds me of my Zeiss Contax lenses, except that the Batis is better corrected and better behaved in every way optically. Besides, it's sharp across the frame wide open, incredibly sharp across the frame stopped down a bit. Still very sharp at f11 plus. Flat field, minimal focus shift.

This may not be the perfect lens for somebody who always shoots wide open in order to blow away the background. It's "only" an f2 lens. Bokeh is very good, but not as creamy or controlled as, say, the new Voigtlander 50mm. What the Batis does do very well is make detail look convincing in areas that are slightly or moderately out of focus (for instance, in front of and behind the plane of exact focus). For any kind of landscape, a superb lens. I have the Batis 25 and 85 also. Excellent lenses. But this is a cut above.

BTW, rumor has it that Sony is about to release a very small 40mm f2.5 G lens. Could be pretty good....

Have owned a couple of Batis', not a fan. Prefer the manual focus lenses. Auto focus is needed for fast moving subjects, but not the rest, IMHO

::raises hand::

Yes, i have that lens, mounted on a Sony A9.

I almost bought the Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF until I read the review at phillipreeve.net
The Sony FE 40mm F/2.5 G rumored to be announced this week should be an alternative.

This rumoured 40mm f/2.5 should be more affordable, smaller, and lighter. Possibly a pre-emptive move by Sony, knowing Nikon have forthcoming 40mm and 28mm smaller lenses.


Don't have a Batis, but I have a Milvus 21mm in Nikon F mount, and it is a stunning lens that has that Zeiss pop in spades. If the Batis as similar, it should be a lot of fun.

I had the Batis 85mm f/1.8 for Sony for a brief period. It was superb. I gave it up only because I don't want to maintain three different camera systems (Fuji X and GFX being the other two. Alas, I kept a Sony A9 and the superb 200-600mm lens for fast action, which the Fujis aren't particularly good at.)

If a 40 mm f 2 ish lens is what you're looking for, you might want to watch Sony's announcements tomorrow. Rumor is, a very compact 40 mm f/2.5 will be announced.

I have and use the Batis 85mm 1.8 lens. It is touted as a portrait lens. I use it for landscape. It is a beautiful lens but not perfect on account of its manual focus issues. That would be the same for the 40mm. Focus "on the wire" just does not work for me being much too difficult to finesse.

I have a 18mm Batis. Big sky, architecture, city, outdoors. Feels to me as good as all the reviews said. Perfect AF, very good manual mode. If I have to pick something negative, then maybe the fact is doesn't have a dedicated auto/manual button. You have to control it from the camera.
Oh, I also own the 50mm Nokton SE, 1.2.

After a lens clean-out I am left with four lenses, three of them Batis. I have, listed here by acquisition date, the 85mm, the 40mm and the 135mm. (I also have the Sony 20mm 1.8G.) I like all of them, otherwise I would not have kept them.

A Batis may all look large, especially with the sunshade mounted. But they are the right size for my medium size hands . . . and they feel good when you hold them. And I only use the sunshade when it is really needed.

The lenses may look large, but they are by no means heavy. Indeed, they are light weight compard to some Leica lenses I used to own like the 90mm f/2.0 ASPH. I sometimes use a tripod and then the low weight is a true blessing. I can use a lighter tripod and smaller head.

They all focus fast enough for me, but I am not a sports photographer, I am rather a people and things photographer. Eye focus works really well. (I use a Sony A7R3.)

Both the 85mm and the 135 have in-lens stabilization. I am pretty convinced that this is a valuable feature.

Many reviewers make negative remarks about the rubberized surface of the manual focusing ring. Man, do they have problems. Problems to fill their 15+ minutes review videos.

Well, I had a problem too. The blue dot for lining up the lenses correctly is difficult to see. Mine is now white.

I have many images on my web site, mainly made with the 85. Here are some direct links:




Mike- The link to Amazon regarding the ergo mouse loads a page with a whole list of aftermarket ones. Since you did not ID it in your mention, there is no way to know which is the one. I tried it twice to be sure.

I came across a deal on a brand new Zeiss Batis 85mm f1.8 with stabilization for my Sony A7iii. It's a perfect size, handles great and produces amazing clarity and color. My style of street hunting may not lend itself to an 85mm but the results can't be denied. It has taken me awhile to keep reminding myself to keep stepping back, but when I do there's a true 'Wow' moment.

Dream lens? More like a nightmare. If you do review it, please also compare it to the slightly smaller and even lighter 40mm equivalent 1.7/20 Lumix.


About the Basis lenses: I've owned all but the 40mm. The main attraction is that they are light, although strangely bulky. The 85 has rather more distortion than you might expect for a lens in this class. Despite the fact that they have relatively modest maximum apertures, they need to be stopped down 2 stops for maximum center sharpness. I just sold my 18 and 25 on eBay and replaced them with the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G, which is more compact, slightly heavier and optically superior. If you're keen on the 40mm focal length, rumor has it that Sony will announce an FE 40mm f/2.5 G tomorrow (Mar. 23). I'm guessing that with the Sony you'l get a programmable button and AF/MF switch on the lens barrel, and an aperture control ring. And also, a lot less bulk. I need a lens at that focal length, so I'll be looking forward to renting one for a trial.

From my POV Zeiss has lost their cachet. What have they done lately? I'm not impressed by the ZEISS ZX1 camera.

Not to be a snob or fat shame the Batis or anything, but this is the only 40/2 I've used, and I loved it.

Here's K.J. Vogelius' picture of it,


and his review:


Okay, I'll admit it. I'm dismayed by the trend of modern digital camera lenses (and cameras) getting bigger and bigger in the quest for optical perfection. The technology would easily allow a manufacturer to build a full frame camera no larger than the old Rollei 35s or Olympus XAs.

Think of all the image processing power in your smartphone slim, light body. Now imagine a full frame sensor and light box bolted onto it, with small, light, lenses. It's doable, I daresay. Fujifilm seems to be the only manufacturer that is even trying, albeit not with full-frame sensors.

[The M-Rokkor version of that lens is actually better—way more resistant to flare. —Mike]

Well, if you want a crowdsourced review, I'm sure we can manage to pay for a week's rental of that Batis 40mm on a Sony 7? I noticed they're available at Lensrentals.

Or am I too mean?

I own it and use it with a Sony A7riii. The handling is lovely, well balanced and light weight. Autofocus is quick and accurate, the rendering is beautiful and it is super sharp wide open. Close focusing with the additional benefit of a focus limiter switch with three settings. I own or have owned 35mm and 50mm lenses and always felt they were either slightly too wide or too long so 40mm suits the way I see, obviously this may differ for you. I have read that this lens suffers from some focus inaccuracy at close distances but I have not noticed any issues on my copy. I often use this lens in conjunction with my Batis 135mm f2.8 and find it makes a great two lens kit. The lens has quite a large circumference especially when the hood is fitted, therefore if I want to be more discrete I will use my Loxia 35mm instead.

You picked an interesting week to discuss the Batis 40/2 with Sony just about to announce a 40/2.5 and a 50/2.5. Both lenses are tiny and match up well with the diminutive a7c camera. Will people buy slower primes?

Grab some popcorn and read


Mike—My primary full-frame kit is a Sony a7Rii and three Batis lenses: 25mm, 40mm, and 85mm. I also have the Sony 55mm f1.8 and the 16-35mm f4. The 40mm Batis is on the camera far more than any other lens. I find comfort in the slight wide angle field of view. All of the Batis lenses are extremely sharp and have excellent contrast and micro contrast touted by Zeiss. The f2 is fast enough and I love the close focusing ability of the 40mm. It had some bad press because of the slight closing of the aperture when focused in close. I do not see it as a problem. The other issue was the use of eye AF causing a small amount of front focus. Both of these issues were dealt with in a firmware update but neither were eliminated completely. In my experience, I see the eye AF issue in one out of ten shots. Still not a bad hit rate. I love the the lens and have maintained my Sony kit because I just like the rendering of these lenses. It appears that Sony is about the launch a new 40mm G lens which is very compact. It will be interesting to see how it compares to the Batis.

@ Mani Sitaraman: I’m glad you mentioned that little Summicron-C 40! It’s off-topic but it’s rarely mentioned these days (with some justification). It’s unique...and small. Some years ago I bought one, with that odd collapsible rubber hood, for grins. It’s one of the few lenses in any focal length I can usually peg simply from its rendering in my own photos. It’s low-contrast, muted colors, VERY prone to flare. Its performance is rather reminiscent of other mid-range economy lenses of that day. It was created to be a kit lens for the Leica CL, wasn’t it?

And if we’re going to walk further down 40mm lane let’s not overlook the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4. Tiny, inexpensive, sharper than the Summicron-C, more modern coatings (doesn’t flare at the slightest provocation). A better economy choice than the Summi-C for manual focus M-mount.

But for general contemporary photography I’d still (and do) pick the Zeiss Batis on contemporary mounts over any of those. A bit larger? Sure. But MUCH better imaging.

(I’ve reached my gear nerd limit for the month.)

Huw Morgan asked "Will people buy slower primes?" I will, gladly, if optical performance is top-notch. I don't need f/1.4, and I certainly don't want the weight and size that go with it just so I can have a lens that really shines at f/2.8 - 5.6. I would like to think that there is a market for such lenses. That was the attraction of the Batis lineup -- relatively light weight presumably as a consequence of modest maximum aperture. But overall, they are overpriced for their optical performance and features. IMO.

I have the Batis 25, 85 and 135. I bought the 25 when it was the only high quality wide angle prime for the FE mount. It's lightweight and very good, but lacks some magic for me. I now prefer to use the Loxia 25, which is a lovely lens, but the Batis proves to be excellent for video when AF is needed.

I similarly bought the 85 when I got into the system. It's overall a well balanced lens without clear weaknesses, good handling and a pleasant rendition. No dazzling specs, but no weaknesses either unlike many 85 mm lenses from the same era or before.

The 135 was originally very expensive, but once there was a special offer I bought it and it turns out to be a spectacular lens. The relatively light weight makes handling easy and I actually prefer it to 70-200 zooms. The rendition is modern but very balanced and not too brazen, holding plenty of detail but still showing the subject in a balanced, pleasant manner. The only drawback is that I would really prefer a focal length of 100 mm instead, but can't have everything.

I many times considered the Batis 40, but it's an expensive lens, I dislike its volume and the issues with the self-closing aperture and eye focus misses put me off of a product this expensive. I really can't understand why the aperture closes itself when focusing close. It's probably a fine lens though and I sometimes wish I had it available. Now, the Sony 35/1.4 G Master looks more tempting to me for that kind of money.

I did unfortunately own the 40 batis, as my only lens on an A7r III. It feels cheap and plastic, is ugly, and has unpleasant controls (focus ring). That little distance window is useless.

Image quality excellent, including close-range, when not taking photos of people with eyes. More below on that.

The fly-by-wire is not great, so it is really an AF lens. But it is an AF lens with a huge defect, one that Zeiss know about and chooses not to advertise. So you only find out when, after weeks of struggling, you turn to forums online to figure out why none of your photographs of people turn out in focus.

Then you learn that it has a software defect that causes it to front-focus by several INCHES when using continuous eye AF. And that Zeiss has a software patch coming up to improve the lens function. Zeiss confirms this by email, but doesn’t mention why they don’t tell you this before you buy the lens. Then they release a firmware update (who knew you needed that for a lens?) which does something, but notably does NOT fix the focusing problem. And they admit that they don’t plan to fix it.

So if you like to take pictures of people with eyes in focus, don’t get this lens.

And if you like to know what you’re getting into before spending umpteen hours trying to figure out why products with a known defect aren’t working for you, maybe don’t buy Zeiss.

Here is a link to a Sigma 35mm 2 DG DN Contemporary I for sale on eBay Germany. The seller bought it new end February at a brick and mortar shop. The reason for selling: He will continue to use his Batis 40mm.


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