Review Zeiss Batis 25 mm f/2 @ APS-C
The Zeiss Batis 25 mm f/2 has a diameter and a length of about 8 cm, weighs a bit more than 3 ounces and couples a big diagonal field of view (82 degrees) with high brightness. That makes the Batis 25 mm f/2 suitable for any camera from the Sony A7 series (full-frame sensor), but also for the Sony A6X00 series (APS-C sensor). These cameras are smaller and lighter than SLR cameras. You want to have a matching lens in terms of size and image quality. We previously reviewed the Batis 25 mm f/2 with the Sony A7S II and the Sony A7R II. This Zeiss lens performed fantastically then. How well would this lens perform on a camera with an APS-C sensor? In order to find out, we set the A7R MK2 to the APS-C mode (leaving you with nearly 20 megapixels) and tested the Zeiss Batis again.
Zeiss Batis 25 mm f/2: also a perfect match on APS-C
|Zeiss Batis & Sony A7R II @ APS-C: f/2, 1/2000 sec, 100 ISO (edited RAW)|
Build and auto focus
The lens design includes 5 lens elements made of special glass types and 4 double-sided aspherical lens elements. The Distagon design, which consists of 10 lenses in 8 groups, is a remarkable choice for a mirrorless system camera. The Distagon design from Zeiss has, to quote the Zeiss website, “a long back focal distance” (loosely translated: “nodal point” or “entrance pupil”). This retro-focus design was invented for SLR cameras in which, in order to make space for the mirror unit, a long back focus distance is necessary. By applying the Distagon design here as well, the length of the Zeiss Batis 25 mm f/2, despite the shorter focal length of 2 cm, is longer than the Sony FE 28 mm f/2. This 25 mm Zeiss wide angle is even nearly as long as the Sony Zeiss FE 55 mm f/1.8 standard lens, for which the focal length is more than twice as long.
On the lens, which is delivered in a beautiful box, it says that it is built in Japan. The build quality is outstanding, with a modern matte-black appearance without any frills. There is a single button on the lens. On LensRentals, there is a photo series that lets you see the inside of the Zeiss Batis. This lens is dust- and splashwater-tight. In order to realize the low weight, it’s possible that a plastic lens housing was chosen. I have not been able to find out, and it probably makes little or no difference for the build quality. The lens hood is made of plastic in any case. That’s nice if you happen to bump into the Batis accidentally. You can mount the lens hood backwards on the lens for transport. As far as I’m concerned, the markings that help you to place the lens (a small blue point) could have been a bit bigger. If you have to change a lens in the dark by feel, that is quite difficult.
Focus and auto focus: a class of its own
Manual focusing with the Zeiss Batis is a unique experience. It makes a difference whether you turn the focal ring quickly or slowly. In the first case, you only have to turn the ring a small distance, so that you can work quickly. In the latter case, you have a very long focus arc, so that you can focus accurately. Normally, a lens either has a focal ring with a small focus arc, so that you can focus quickly but with which it is difficult to choose the focus distance very precisely, or a lens has a very long focus arc, so that you can focus very accurately, but with which you cannot work as quickly because of the big focus arc. The rubber focus ring has no texturing, so I can imagine that focusing is more difficult if the lens is wet, or if you are wearing gloves.
Unique premier: lens with an OLED screen for focus distance and focal depth
|When you turn the camera on, the word “Zeiss” briefly appears in a window on the Zeiss Batis 25 mm f/2. After that, the focus distance is shown, together with the focal depth. That you can easily read this information is a dream of many photographers who make use of the hyperfocal distance in order to create the maximum focal depth. You can let this be shown in feet or meters. You determine whether the Batis only shows the information for manual focusing or for both manual and automatic focusing. You can also turn off the display, so that no information is shown. Watch the video above on theZeiss's YouTube channel to see how that works. This is much easier to read than the traditional focal depth scale that you can find on lenses with a mechanical focus ring. And then don’t even think about photographing in the dark, where reading a traditional focal depth scale becomes impossible. It is also more accurate than a traditional focal depth scale, because, for example, the focal depth depends not only on the lens, but also on the size of the pixels on the sensor. The Zeiss Batis takes the camera into account for displaying the focal depth. The focal depth indicated in the OLED differs by camera.
Sharp from corner to corner
At full aperture, the center sharpness is already high, but at f/4, the highest center sharpness is reached. At f/2, the sharpness in the corners is visibly lower than in the center, but with stopping down 1 stop, that difference is significantly smaller. Over the traditional working range for which most people use a wide angle (f/2.8-f/11), the Zeiss Batis 25 mm f/2 shows very high detail sharpness and high contrast across the whole image. The corners and the edges benefit a bit more from sharpening than the center does, as can be seen by comparing the MTF50 measurements for jpg files with unsharpened RAW files (converted outside Photoshop or Lightroom.
Little chromatic aberration, vignetting, flare or distortion
|The T* anti-reflection coating of Zeiss works very well, so that you have no trouble with flare and ghosts under normal conditions. Certainly not when you use the included lens hood.
For testing, we use all possible in-camera lens corrections and we simultaneously store a RAW file that we analyze outside Photoshop or Lightroom without any lens corrections applied. The color shift (LACA: lateral chromatic aberration) is less than 1 pixel in the corners of the uncorrected RAW files, which is good for a wide-angle lens on a camera with a full-frame sensor, and it is well corrected in the jpg files. In Lightroom and Photoshop, the RAW files are also simple to correct.
The distortion measured with Imatest amounted for both the RAW and the jpg file to 0.45%. That is an amount that will not bother you in practice. For architectural or reproduction photography, you can correct it if needed.
Bokeh with a wide angle!
Zeiss Batis & Sony A7R II @ f/2, 1/15 sec (hand-held), 10,000 ISO (crop)
Thanks to the high brightness, you have room to play with background blur. If you crop the image from a lens by using the lens with an APS-C format sensor instead of a full-frame sensor, nothing changes about the quality of the bokeh. A bright 35-mm lens on a Sony A7 in the full-frame mode will therefore probably product a nicer bokeh than the Zeiss Batis 25 mm f/2 on the Sony A7R II in the APS-C mode.
Conclusion Zeiss Batis 25 mm f/2 with Sony A7R II (APS-C mode)
|Look in list of reviews per focal length or our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you save the files in the camera as jpg, where you have applied all available in-camera lens corrections. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
|Pure RAW score: This table shows the performance of this lens if the file is stored in the camera in RAW format. This score approaches the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera. If you make use of Photoshop, Lightroom or SilkyPix for converting RAW files, then the RAW scores are equal to the jpg scores.
It was already clear from our previous review of the Zeiss Batis 25 mm on the Sony A7R II that this was one of the very best lenses that we have reviewed at 24 mm. Even if you use this lens as a 25 mm in the super 35 mm mode of a Sony A7 camera, or "just" on a Sony camera with an APS-C sensor like the Sony A6300, that is the case. The score would even have come out a bit higher if we had tested this lens on a Sony A6300, instead of on the Sony A7R II in the APS-C mode, because the score for resolution would have come out higher thanks to the 24-megapixel sensor of the A6300.