Zeiss Batis Lenses Add Value to Sony A7 Series

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The problem with reviewing Carl Zeiss lenses is that in the end there’s often little to say.

Yes, I could repeat the press release or the articles published at the time of the announcement, which would tell you that Zeiss introduced a new line of autofocus lenses for the Sony full-frame E-mount, called Batis.

And that the first two lenses in this series are a 25mm f/2 and an 85mm f/1.8. That the 85mm is stabilized. That they’re both weather sealed. That the 85mm sets you back $1,200, while the 25mm goes for $1,300.

I could share with you the layout and the optical elements, dimensions and other things that one can put into a lens review to flesh it out and increase the chances that the search engines will find the fruits of the writer’s efforts.

But I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to tell you that these are some fine lenses and that they would be a worthwhile addition to your Sony kit if you can spare the money, are interested in these focal lengths and have the patience to wait for them, as they are in extremely short supply.

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Zeiss Introduces Otus 1.4/85 for Canon, Nikon; Review to Follow

Zeiss Otus 1.4/85

As expected ahead of Photokina, Carl Zeiss today added the Otus 1.4/85 telelens to its offerings of no-holds-barred manual focus lenses for Canon and Nikon DSLRs. The 85mm f/1.4 lens will be available mid-September for the recommended retail price of $4,490 (€3,360). It will also be shown at Photokina, starting September 16.

Zeiss calls it more than a traditional portrait lens. “This is a fast all-rounder for photographers who do not accept any limitations when it comes to detail – whether it is for general studio work, or fashion, advertising, product or architectural photography,” the company’s press release says.

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Updated: Zeiss Introduces Loxia Lenses for Sony Full Frame

Updated with Zeiss’ answer as to why the first lenses are a 35mm and a 50mm.

loxia

Carl Zeiss today announced two lenses in its new Loxia line of full-frame, manual lenses for the Sony E-mount, most notably the Sony A7, A7r and A7s: the Loxia 2/35 and the Loxia 2/50, a 35mm/f2 Biogon and a 50mm/f2 Planar.

The lenses closely match the two existing FE primes for the Sony A7-series, the 35mm/f2.8 and the 55mm/f1.8, which also carry the Zeiss logo but which offer autofocus but lack the aperture ring, the metal body and the weather sealing that the Loxia line offers. The Loxia lenses also have an aperture de-click feature for video production.

Still, it’s somewhat of a mystery why Zeiss chose to introduce two lenses with identical reach as the two Sony Zeiss lenses, both of which are highly regarded in their own right. Surely, Zeiss would have immediate success if they instead offered prime wide angle lenses for the A7 series.

Update: I couldn’t leave the mystery alone, so I asked Richard Schleuning, Senior Director, Americas for Zeiss’ Camera Lens Division for a clarification. This is what he replied:

“The goal with the new Loxia family was to develop a new lens line that can be used for both still photography and for video. We will not compete with the existing Sony/Zeiss branded AF lenses for the FE mount, since they are already well received for still photography. However, there are limitations to using an AF lens when focus pulling and in this regard, the Loxia lenses will provide better control. We’ve incorporated a manual iris on the lens (which is unique to E mount lenses) and the user has the option of ‘de-clicking’ the f/stop detents to allow for continuous aperture control.”

“We started with the 2/35 and 2/50 first, since these are the most popular focal lengths for video. The 35mm focal length is also the most popular among rangefinder shooters – especially street shooters, who we will target with this new lens line as well. Zone focusing will be a snap when using the focus and DOF scales on the lens – also unique to E mount lenses.”

“Of course, there are customers who will adapt their M mount lenses to use with the A7 series, but these do not offer any direct communication with the camera and have to be used 100% manually. The price of the Loxia lenses (which includes a lens shade) is less than the cost of a M mount lens + adapter + shade. So there is both convenience and a cost savings to the customer.”

“We’ll add to the family in the future with wide-angles and short telephotos. The challenge with these mirrorless cameras is designing an ultra wide angle lens that does not exhibit vignetting, lens shading and the ‘smearing’ effect common when using adapted wide-angle M mount lenses.”

In summary, Zeiss is clearly aiming these lenses at video shooters and the Leica M plus adapter crowd. Mystery solved.

The new lenses will be featured at the upcoming Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany.

That bird above this post is a Loxia, by the way. Zeiss has made it a habit to name its lens lines after bird species.

These are the lenses:

loxia_35_50

B&H has the lenses available for pre-order (afilliate links):

Loxia 35mm f/2 Biogon T* Lens for Sony E Mount  $1,299

Loxia 50mm f/2 Planar T* Lens for Sony E Mount  $949

De-Click Key for Loxia Lenses (5-Piece Set)  $28