One of the nice side benefits of sitting squarely on the Sony camera platform is access to native ZEISS lenses. The relationship has been going on for many years, which means the average Sony user has a wealth of glass to choose from in many different focal lengths.
To cover the slightly wide-angle side of things, today’s closer inspection will involve checking out the ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2. This lens is designed to cover the likes of landscapes and architectural work, while also providing a wider-than-normal standard view.
The Batis 25mm f/2 is aimed at serious enthusiasts to professional shooters, at least from a pricing perspective. But that also means optics that can deliver with aplomb every time, with all the qualities you should ever need at this focal length.
The outer metal shell of the Batis 25mm f/2 follows the latest ZEISS design principles of owning a sleek, aluminum lens barrel and very smooth lines. The lens is also extremely lightweight for this level of glass, coming in at only 335g, which makes it a very good walkaround solution.
The design has also been kept very simple, with a rubberized focus ring and a very useful OLED distance scale. Opinion on the usefulness of a distance scale can be varied, but at least it is a good way to set the lens to infinity when needed.
Along with a very useful f/2 aperture, the lens follows the usual ZEISS design principles, containing the Distagon optical and floating element system.
This optical arrangement is centered around an arrangement of 10 elements in 10 groups, including corrective elements and the renowned ZEISS T* anti-reflective coating. The latter point alone is one of the main reasons many people buy into ZEISS optics in the first place.
The lens features autofocusing with a linear motor, with a full-time manual override. This is a feature not always found on high-end ZEISS lenses and is a welcome addition here. Lastly, the lens has been fully weather-sealed, which means you don’t have any excuses to not go out and shoot in all weather conditions.
Sharpness levels on any ZEISS lens are not the be-all and end-all, as the final characteristics and look are equally important. However, it’s still good to know that a lens can deliver tack-sharp results, which the Batis 25mm f/2 does very well in the center of the frame with the aperture wide open.
The corners of the frame are just a touch behind at the widest aperture, with the best overall results coming in across the frame at f/4. If you want to play it completely safe, f/5.6 provides amazing sharpness all the way up to f/8.
One of the distinct advantages of owning a prime lens is to own an extra-wide aperture for low-light performance and smooth bokeh. With close-up subjects, the bokeh is very respectable for a wide-angle lens, with a good degree of smoothness and transition of colors. If you get down to the minimum focusing distance of 20cm, the lens is very capable of punching out a subject from the background with almost the same level of performance as a longer focal length lens.
When it comes to lens anomalies such as chromatic aberration, the lens shows a distinct amount of blue and purple fringing on high contrast areas at f/2. Stopping down the aperture to f/4 cleans everything up nicely, but the results are generally on par with other 24-25mm lenses of this ilk.
There’s a small amount of vignetting or light falloff in the corners at f/2, but this cleans up to almost nothing when the aperture is set to f/5.6.
When we’re not in complete nit-picking mode, the Batis can provide wonderful environmental portraits with a lovely rendition of color and contrast. The special ZEISS lens coatings play a large part in this respect, providing final images with not just a high degree of sharpness but also with a very filmic look at times.
The end results are not ultimately to the same level as dished out by the likes of the ZEISS Otus 28mm f/1.4. But when you consider the Batis range of glass is less than half the price of the Otus stuff, the Batis performs a very commendable job.
Batis or Loxia 25mm?
Trust ZEISS to be weird in the focal length department and offer a 25mm prime when everybody else considers 24mm to be more acceptable. For compatible lenses in the 25mm department, it’s down to other ZEISS lenses or a high-quality zoom to cover the same range.
The ZEISS Loxia 25mm f/2.4 covers the same focal length, but with manual focusing, a slightly narrower aperture of f/2.4, and a close focusing distance of 25cm. The manual focusing side is not too much of a problem for shooting landscapes. But the Batis may be more useful for environmental shots where the autofocus can quickly lock onto all those precious moments.
If you wanted to go down the zoom lens route, the classic Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM is a worthy candidate, with a slightly more narrow aperture but also delivering bags of quality, especially in the wide-angle range.
|ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2||ZEISS Loxia 25mm f/2.4|
|Close Focusing Distance||20cm||25cm|
ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2: A Happy Medium
There’s no denying that the Batis 25mm f/2 provides wonderful imagery for both color and black and white photography. The lens provides good amounts of detail, not-too-oversaturated colors, and a good degree of contrast.
It may suffer a little with chromatic aberration at the widest apertures, but you really have to push the lens in this department and CA can be easily corrected in post-processing.
The ZEISS Batis 25mm f/2 provides very respectable bokeh and it’s also an advantage to have a fast autofocus system on a ZEISS. Considering the balancing act this lens performs with offering a relatively wide aperture and consistent results, it’s an excellent wide-angle prime lens that won’t let you down in the field.