Review Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF

The Zeiss Batis 2/40mm is a lens that nicely fills the gap between the 25mm and the 85mm Batis. It is bright and can also focus very close and can thus be used as a semi-macro lens. That makes it very versatile.

Zeiss Batis 40mm lens review

Universal: Zeiss Batis 2/40mm

The Zeiss 40 mm f/2.0 has a somewhat less common focus at 40 mm, but it is not unique of its kind. Sigma recently released a 40mm in the Art series, and there is a 40mm pancake from Canon for the full-frame SLR models. If you look at the definition of a standard lens, namely a lens with a focal point that corresponds to the diagonal of the sensor, then a 40mm is actually a better standard lens than a 50mm. The diagonal of the sensor is about 43mm. A 40mm is therefore closer than a 50mm. A 40mm also somewhat resembles the popular 35mm that is so useful for documentary photography. And once you are used to this focal point, the Zeiss Batis 2/40mm is a lens that is universally applicable. It lends itself just as well to portraits and close-ups as to street and documentary photography where you show a bit more of the environment than is possible with a 50mm. The Zeiss Batis 2/40mm has the abbreviation CF behind its name. That stands for Close Focus. You can also focus nice and close, so you do not have to bring a separate macro for the smaller details.

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BUILD AND autofocus

zeiss batis 240cf product 03

The Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF has the familiar minimalistic design that characterizes all Batis lenses. The lens is slim at the back and gets wider toward the front. The included lens hood fits over the lens backwards and thus a bit wider. The lens has an almost organic design. The focus ring has no ridges and forms a visual whole with the rest of the lens. That also makes the ring a bit slippery, which can sometimes be a disadvantage in practice. This Batis is the only one of the series that has a switch for limiting the focus range. That's handy, since with close-up shots you can prevent the focus from searching the whole range to infinity or vice versa, searching the close range if you want to focus at two or three meters. The autofocus works quickly and precisely, especially at full aperture, and the focus limiter also helps to prevent unnecessary focusing. The lens has no image stabilization, but that is not a problem because all new full-frame E cameras from Sony have it in the body. The lens is made quite weatherproof, including a gasket on the back to complete the seal on the mount

OLED

The Batis does not have printed or engraved markings for the distance setting or the depth of field. Zeiss has come up with something unique for this: an OLED screen on the lens. This shows in black and white the set distance in meters or feet and the depth of field at the set aperture. The advantage of an electronic system is that the information can adapt, and the Batis takes advantage of that. For example, the indication for the depth of field adapts to the sensor size. The screen can also be read in the dark and can be switched off when needed. Zeiss shows what can be set and how it works in the following video:

 

Specifications
Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2
Price @ Amazon
Image Stabilization:-
lenses/ groups:9 / 8
length x diameter:106x91mm
filter size:37
Weight:361
Lens hood:+

VIGNETTING, FLARE AND DISTORTION

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For a reasonably bright lens, the Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2.0 CF has a limited amount of vignetting. And that is striking, because vignetting is often clearly present with most Zeiss lenses at full aperture and seems to be a kind of character trait of Zeiss lenses. This 40mm Batis doesn't go beyond less than one full stop at f/2 in RAW or a little more than half a stop in jpeg, and that's really good. Those who like to have more vignetting in their shots, because it draws the attention so beautifully to the center of the image, will have to add that in the post-processing. De Batis scores well on vignetting. There is also hardly any flare or glare in backlit shots, and loss of contrast with backlit shots is not perceptible. This is a great lens for taking pictures with the sun in frame. 

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The distortion of the Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2.0 CF is also very small. It's half a percent pincushion-shaped in RAW, and in jpeg, this is already corrected in the camera to a tiny bit of barrel distortion. It's just enough to be able to measure, not enough to be bothered in practice. Of course, we did not expect anything else from a standard lens with the price tag of this Zeiss Batis, but it's nice to see that the lens can also live up to the high expectations.

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IMAGE QUALITY

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The Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2.0 CF scores well on sharpness. In RAW, we still see a gradient towards the edges and the corners, especially at full aperture, but after applying the corrections in the camera, you keep a very uniform graph with almost the same high values for the corners as for the center at every aperture in jpeg. Of course, that means that you can also get the same results from the RAWs after post-processing. Chromatic aberrations are almost impossible to find in the pictures. This 40 mm Batis also suffers very little from longitudinal chromatic aberration, a phenomenon where blurred parts in the foreground of the photo lean towards magenta and blurred parts in the background tend toward green. You can see a bit of it in the photo below, taken at a short distance at full aperture with half backlighting. Many other lenses would have more trouble with this, but the Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2.0 CF does an exemplary job. 

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Close Focus

The Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF differs from other bright standard lenses not only with its deviating focal length, but also due to the ability to focus very close. The shortest setting distance is 24 cm measured from the sensor. If you measure from the front lens, you're left with 14 cm of workspace between your subject and the lens. That's not much for photographing shy critters, but more than sufficient for shots of details or, for example, close-up food photography. The maximum magnification factor is 1:3.3, and the field that you can then capture is 79x117mm. A real macro naturally goes further, to at least 1:2 and preferably up to 1:1, but you can still do a lot with the macro capabilities of the Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF, and if that's enough, then you don't need to take along an extra macro lens. And that's a plus.

If you'd like to see some practice shots at full resolution made with this lens, then click on the button below and visit our new gallery:

Batis 40mm Viewfoto3840

ConclusiON: Review Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF @ Sony A7R III

Use the Lens Comparison or look in 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, with all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".


Focal Length
mm @ FF
Total score
Resolution
lat. C.A.
Vignetting
Distortion
AF accur.
AF speed

40
40
9.8
9.5
9.7
8.3
9.0
8

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 use lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom to convert RAW files, then the RAW scores for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration are even better.


Focal Length
mm @ FF
Total score
Resolution
lat. C.A.
Vignetting
Distortion
AF accur.
AF speed

40
40
9.5
9.3
9.2
8.5
8.1
8
Price @ Amazon

PROS

  • Sharp
  • Virtually no problems with lens errors
  • Weather resistant
  • Good Close-Focus mode
  • Good autofocus
  • Handy OLED screen

CONS

  • Hefty price for an f/2.0 standard lens

The Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF, with its slightly larger field of view, weather resistance and macro capabilities, is perhaps the most versatile standard lens for the Sony full-frame cameras.

The Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2.0 CF is a very good lens. It has to be, of course, because in terms of price, the Zeiss falls between the Sony Zeiss 55 mm f/1.8 and the Sony 50 mm f/1.4 GM. Anyone looking for an excellent standard lens for a Sony A7 or A9 thus has a nice selection. Optically, all three are excellent. The Sonys are both brighter than this Batis. On the other hand, the Sonys have no close-focus capability, and the 55 mm f/1.8 is not as weatherproof as the Batis or the GM. The 50 mm f/1.4 GMaster is not only more expensive, but also a lot bigger and heavier than the Zeiss. The Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF, with its slightly larger field of view, weather resistance and macro capabilities, is perhaps the most versatile standard lens for the Sony full-frame cameras. The dimensions and weight are such that you can easily take this lens with you, and the image quality is great. If you already have a Batis set, for example the previously released Zeiss Batis 2/25 and the Zeiss Batis 1.8/85, then you need have no doubts about this Batis 2/40 CF at all. It beautifully fills the gap between those two lenses and offers the same optical quality and ergonomics.

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Jan Paul Mioulet
Author: Jan Paul MiouletWebsite: https://www.mioulet.nl/
Jan Paul Mioulet is zelfstandig fotograaf sinds 1994. Hij heeft zich beziggehouden met veel vormen van fotografie, van portret tot sport, van bruidsfotografie tot reclamewerk. Inmiddels is hij al bijna vijftien jaar gespecialiseerd in architectuurfotografie. Hij is een van de oprichters van DAPh, de Dutch Architectural Photographers, een collectief van een aantal van de beste Nederlandse architectuurfotografen. Van 2010 tot 2014 was hij hoofdredacteur van PF, Professionele Fotografie, het magazine voor de Nederlandse en Vlaamse vakfotograaf. Naast zijn fotografie schrijft hij voor PF en CameraStuffReview over techniek en allerlei bijzondere wetenswaardigheden rondom fotografie en camera’s.

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