Tag Archives: portrait lens

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

First Impressions of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 and 25mm f/2 Lenses

We first broke news about Zeiss’s new range of Batis lenses in April 2015. We were very excited, not only because they were the world’s first lenses fitted with OLED distance and depth-of-field indicators, but especially because they were available in the 85mm and 25mm focal range.

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Fresh on our doorsteps. The new Zeiss Batis autofocus primes with the world’s first OLED distance and depth-of-field scale.

Zeiss USA has been very good to us. It all started when we first tested their brilliant Loxia 35mm f/2 in front of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Since we are not paid by Zeiss to advertise their gear, we maintain our objectivity and have the creative freedom to structure our tests however we like. It has worked very well as they are some of our most traffic articles.  We’ve developed a beautiful partnership.

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This past Monday, we received an email from the Marketing Manager of Zeiss Americas offering us their first batch of North American Batis lenses to test and review. We were ready to go and here are our first impressions.

Continue reading First Impressions of the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 and 25mm f/2 Lenses

Choosing the Right Portrait Lens: Part 1 (77mm, 85mm, 90mm)

One of the best things about the Sony FE mount is that there are endless choices of lens options to choose from. Practically every lens made for the 35mm film camera from the past 70 years can be adapted onto the Sony mirrorless cameras. Screw mount lens from a 1950s Leica? There’s adapter for that. An autofocus L lens from Canon? There’s an AF adapter for that. An obscure autofocus rangefinder lens from Contax? There’s also an AF adapter for that. In this part, we are looking at the traditional 77mm , 85mm, and 90mm focal lengths. In Part 2, we focus on the 135mm.

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At the same time, one of the worst things about the Sony FE/NEX mount is that it is so new and there are not a lot of native AF lens options. Since I’m in the market for a portrait lens to complete my collection, I have a two issues to consider.

The Need for Autofocus (AF)

I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a manual focus (MF) lens below 50mm. Anything below 50mm really doesn’t have enough depth-of-field (DOF) to make manual focusing a hassle. Both my 35mm and my 20mm lenses are MF. No hesitations there. But when I’m considering an 85mm lens, I have to take into account the time it takes to reach critical focus. Yes, the Sony A7 is great at assisting MF, but sometime speed is a priority, especially with portraiture or fashion work. There is a certain pace and rhythm that you and the model get used to. It is underrated and not often talked about, but also very important. If the model holds her pose for too long while you are adjusting fine focus, her expression will be strained and become unnatural. In my opinion, speed is key in portrait photography.

The Cost of the Adapter

MF adapters are inexpensive. Double check Amazon for good reviews and buy the $14 stainless steel adapter. Don’t believe the hype about the $300 MF adapter that will give superior results. Yes, the tolerances may be tighter, but if there are no issue with the $14 adapter, save that $286 for a better lens (remember the $80 Monster HDMI cables? Total scam). That being said, there are inexpensive MF adapters on Amazon that simply doesn’t work properly (i.e. they don’t focus to infinity). Just check the reviews and refund it if you think there may be focusing issues.

AF adapters can cost as much as the lens. They usually hover around between $299 – $399 (See Brian Smith’s Ultimate Guide to Sony A7 Lens Adapters). You can get a great Canon lens for $300 but if the adapter costs another $400, that has to be added to the equation. I can understand if you have an arsenal of Canon EF lenses ready for your Sony A7. A $400 investment makes sense. But if you don’t, $400 for a AF adapter hardly makes sense unless you plan to get several lenses that can utilize that same expensive mount. [Edit: Just found the $95 Commlite AF EF to FE adapter. This may change the whole ball game.]

The 5 Contenders

Taken these two issues into consideration, I have narrowed the field to five options. Below are my prime candidates. Help me decide by taking the poll at the end of the post. In Part 2, we also look at the less popular but more affordable 135mm portrait lens option.

Continue reading Choosing the Right Portrait Lens: Part 1 (77mm, 85mm, 90mm)