Category Archives: Cameras and Lenses

A Quick Comparison Review – Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 vs Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar

Last time, we took the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 out to the Newport Beach boardwalk and did a on-location photo shoot with two of our lovely models. To get some perspective on just how good the Batis 85mm really was, we compared it to one of the best AF lenses on market today, the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar (aka the mini-Otus). We drove up to Lake Hollywood Park, busted out our tripod, and did some comparison shots using the famous Hollywood sign as the backdrop.

In a real-world but less-the-scientific comparison between the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 and the venerable Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar, we found very little difference in terms of sharpness throughout the aperture range.

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Click on the image for full resolution.

With the Zeiss 55mm being one of the sharpest and highly rated AF lenses, this is saying a lot for the new Zeiss Batis 85mm. In fact, pretty much most real world reviews on the Batis has found it to be very sharp right from thef/1.8. I’m sure once Photozone.de gets around to reviewing more Sony lenses, they will verify our current findings. In the meantime, here are some of our quick & dirty impressions.

Continue reading A Quick Comparison Review – Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 vs Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Sonnar

We Ask Zeiss Your Questions at the PhotoPlus Expo

iLHP will be attending the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City where we will explore 225 of the world’s top camera & optics companies, discover their latest products, and bring back the latest in industry news.

Importantly, we have a private meeting with Zeiss USA to learn about their latest range of products, from the modern classic Loxia primes to their latest Batis range of mirrorless AF lenses. Because you are an integral part of this community, we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to pass along your questions to the head honchos at Zeiss! And they have already graciously agreed!

So from now until Saturday October 24, simply leave us a comment, email us your questions, post on our Facebook wall, or our tweet at our twitter account, and we will try to get your questions answered! We will even include your name and link to your website when we publish the answers. Is there an AF 50mm f/1.4 in the works? Will Zeiss put out a f/2.8 zoom in the 24-70mm or 70-200mm range? We will do our best to get your questions answered.

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For a sneak peak at what the expo is going to be like, check out the intro video above. If you are in the NY area and will be attending the expo, drop us a line, we’d love to meet fellow readers and photographers as well!


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Is It Worth Using a 2X Teleconverter? Bower A-mount With Sony A7II (With LA-EA4 Adapter)

I’ve been wondering for a very long time if using a teleconverter, moreover a 2x one, was worth it or not. I’ve heard a lot on forums that I would lose light, the aperture is reduced 2x (f/2.8 becomes f/5.6) that it is not sharp at all and that I would even lose autofocus. That made me doubt a lot even if it is not that expensive, but still, from $120 to $180 on average, that is always money coming out of you wallet that would be lost in the end if this is really bad!

The Situation

I use this Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO macro lens for all my macro work that is very good but also big and heavy. I wanted to have this extra reach to do some wildlife photography without adding the bulk and weight to my backpack and without paying $1500-$2000 for a 300mm lens. A teleconverter then seemed like a good idea so I gave it shot. I bought this Bower Teleconverter on Amazon for $126.

Bower SX4DGS 2x Teleconverter for Sony
Bower SX4DGS 2x Teleconverter for Sony
I am extremely pleased with my purchase. This adapter is pretty small, 1 inch (2.5cm) wide, about 7oz (200g) so this is not much of a big deal to always have it with me in my backpack. As a reminder, I shoot with an Sony A7 mark II and use the Sony LA-EA4 adapter specifically for this Sigma lens. I thus add the teleconverter (A-mount) in between the lens and the LA-EA4 adapter. Continue reading Is It Worth Using a 2X Teleconverter? Bower A-mount With Sony A7II (With LA-EA4 Adapter)

Making the Switch from a Canon 5D Mark III to a Sony A7RII

This isn’t a typical camera review of the A7R2 though, it’s more like a journey on how I got here. You see, I’ve been watching the Sony mirrorless system for a while now but I couldn’t bring myself to take the jump, I use the Canon 5D Mk III and L Series lenses for my pro line of work and use the Fuji X-Pro 1 for my street and travel photography.

Some serious Gear Acquisition Syndrome!
My G.A.S was getting out of control with my existing cameras such as the Canon 5D Mk III, Fuji X-Pro 1, X-A1 and now the Sony A7RII.

Honestly speaking, I was quite happy with this set up until a couple of months ago when Sony introduced the A7RII with its 42 megapixel BSI sensor, a claimed 14 stops of dynamic range and super high ISO sensitivity and 5 Axis IS, they even packed in 4K recording natively!

Whenever people asked me if I was to start again, which system would I jump in to, I’d always tell them the Sony FE System but because of my current Gear Acquisition Syndrome, I was tethered to Canon and Fuji but what if there was this mythical camera that allowed me to merge these two styles of photography?

Continue reading Making the Switch from a Canon 5D Mark III to a Sony A7RII

A Portrait Shoot with the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8

A fast 85mm has long been a favorite among the portrait photographer’s toolbox. Slightly telephoto, this particular focal length lightly compresses the image so that models are comfortably nestled within the background. From a design perspective, large apertures like f/1.8 or even f/1.2 remain cost effective and practical because at longer focal lengths, glass elements necessarily become prohibitively expensive and oversized. Lastly, the 85mm’s working distance lets you stay close enough to the model yet provide a lot more depth-of-field (and bokeh) than your fast 50mm or 35mm.

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15 y/o Mikaila Storrs (left) and 19 y/o Peyton Lake (right) at Newport Beach. Makeup and hair by Jordan Takeda.

So what do we look for when choosing a 85mm portrait lens? Three things spring to mind. First, it has to be easy to handle because the last thing you’d want is a lens encumbering you after the models are made up and the studio is paid for. Try shooting with an EF 85mm f/1.2 all day and you’ll see what I mean.

Next, of course, is image quality but that is often a broad and nebulous term, and 85mms, in general, have been great performers. More specifically, a defining feature of the 85mm is its ability to throw the background out of focus, isolating the subject in a cocoon of soft blurriness. So a good portrait lens should have its own character.

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The girls riding and looking back in a Surrey, a four wheeled bicycle contraption available for rent all along the sunny coast of California.

Finally, since for large aperture primes we’ll be working with a narrow depth-of-field, fast and accurate autofocus is absolutely essential, much more so than for shorter focal lengths. I defy you to eye-focus with a manual lens, on a non-split prism focusing screen, at variable light and working distances. You just can’t do it, consistently, so professionals rely on quality AF at longer focal lengths.

So for this hands-on review, we are using the latest and greatest from Zeiss, their Batis 85mm f/1.8. We briefly looked at its technical specs when we first laid our hands on it, so rather than doing that again here, we’re going to jump straight into the good stuff. We called up Peyton and Mikaila, they drove to Newport Beach from Hollywood and San Diego respectively, and we rented a few bikes along the beach boardwalk. A fun Sunday afternoon in California.

Continue reading A Portrait Shoot with the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8