First Look at the new Zeiss Batis 2.8/18

By | 2017-11-18T15:17:55+00:00 Apr 14th, 2016|

Back in December 2015, my primary contact at Zeiss gave me a call and said six words that, when arranged in this particular order, made me giddy with excitement. “I’ve got a surprise for you,” she said. A week or so later, I had one of the only samples of the Batis 2.8/18 lens in the world to play with…. and play I did. As a proud Zeiss Global Lens Ambassador, these unique opportunities mean a lot to me because it illustrates the level of trust between a company that I wholeheartedly support and the members of this program. It hasn’t been easy sitting on this news or these photos for all these months but that’s a simple price to pay to have early access to product development, right?

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If you’re at all familiar with Zeiss’ existing line of amazing Batis lenses—the 25mm f/2 and the 85mm f/1.8—then you’ll be right at home with the new 18mm f/2.8 little brother. The overall build quality and design features are still here and they’re second to none. You have that splendid rubberized focus ring, which is a blessing when you’re wearing gloves, and the crisp, bright OLED display giving you a focus distance readout—especially handy when shooting in manual focus under low light conditions and during the night. One difference between the Batis 2.8/18 lens and its two siblings is the filter thread size. Both the Batis 2/25 and Batis 1.8/85 support 67mm threaded filters and adapters. However, the Batis 2.8/18 has a 77mm thread, which is worth noting as you pack for your next shoot with the intention of using filters… and with a lens having an ultra-wide 18mm focal length, you’ll certainly love using filters with it.

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The combination of less-than-ideal weather and the limited time I had the lens led to only two viable shoots where I put it to use. Fortunately, it snowed on one of those shoots and I was able to get some shots at Latourell and Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. All in all, I was exceptionally impressed with the performance of this lens and the image quality it produced. All of the photos I’m sharing today were taken with this Batis 2.8/18 and the Sony a7R II back in January.

In addition to the stylized versions of these photos, I’m also including SOOC shots, too. They’re formatted in JPEG and sized to 2500 pixels on the long end at 72 PPI. I’ve decided not to provide the RAW files because these photos were taken with a pre-production sample and, as such, it wouldn’t be fair to evaluate the minutia of such a lens’ capabilities with distortion, chromatic aberration, etc. I’m sure there will be a plethora of review sites that will take care of that once they get their hands on a production version. In the meantime, enjoy these samples taken with the brand new Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8!

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18 Comments

  1. […] Brian Matiash posted an introduction with image samples: […]

  2. D.G. Brown April 15, 2016 at 12:39 am - Reply

    Small correction – I think you meant “Back in December 2015” :)

    • Brian Matiash April 15, 2016 at 10:40 am - Reply

      Wait? Did I accidentally spill the beans on time traveling being around? :)

      Thanks so much for the eagle eyes! I proofed the article several times before publishing and totally missed that!

  3. […] Brian Matiash: […]

  4. […] Brian Matiash verdict with sample images taken with Sony a7R II: “All in all, I was exceptionally impressed with the performance of this lens and the image quality it produced…” […]

  5. Sherry Laflamme April 18, 2016 at 9:12 am - Reply

    I really appreciate the SOOC shots. I know what I can do in post but it’s nice to see what the camera/lens really produces. Thanks.

    • Brian Matiash April 18, 2016 at 9:15 am - Reply

      Thanks, Sherry – I was going back and forth over whether to include the SOOC photos because I was using a preproduction model and didn’t want people to judge its performance based on that. Ultimately, I chose to share them at a lower resolution simply to allow readers like you to have an illustrative idea about its performance.

  6. Rowland April 21, 2016 at 7:57 am - Reply

    What camera body (bodies) do these lenses fit?

    • Tuomas Leidenius April 21, 2016 at 8:31 am - Reply

      All the Sony E and FE -mount cameras

  7. Mark Hackmeier April 21, 2016 at 10:10 am - Reply

    I already have the Zeiss 21mm loxia lens. Is there enough difference between that and the new 18mm batis to consider purchasing the 18mm batis lens. I am a landscape photographer.
    Thanks

    • Brian Matiash April 25, 2016 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      It’s a fair question, Mark. Beyond the obvious 3mm of focal length difference, the two main factors to consider are lens size and focus options. The Loxia 21 is rather tiny and lightweight, which can be wonderful for travel. The Batis 18 is larger and heavier but the build quality is very robust. It also has that brilliant OLED display, which makes manual focusing in the dark a breeze. Speaking of which, the Loxia is MF only, so if AF is important to you, then the Batis 18 would be a worthwhile investment.

      Ultimately, it’s a very personal decision. Both lenses have very distinct value propositions based on certain types of photography but if you’re trying to stick to one, I’d go with the Batis 18. It’s more versatile and is technically 3mm wider.

      • Mark Hackmeier April 25, 2016 at 3:02 pm - Reply

        Thank you so much! Getting started with ultra wide lenses for landscape work, is the 3mm difference enough to make it worthwhile to have both?

  8. Casey Grimley May 2, 2016 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Have you had a chance to use it for astrophotography? I’m curious to see how well it performs in the corners with stars. Thanks!

  9. […] Brian Matiash: […]

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  12. Joni Solis November 20, 2017 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Wonderful nature shots. The lens looks nice and sharp for great details.

  13. Garth Hayter November 21, 2017 at 3:52 am - Reply

    Hi Brian. I have a Batis 18mm and have used it for everything including astrophotography and like you I find the lens excellent in all conditions. I would recommend this lens to anyone looking for a wide angle and something that is suited astro.

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