My Top 3 E-Mount Lens for Shooting Portraits
The Zeiss Batis 85mm was my first e-mount lens and it's still one of my favorite lens ever. The 85mm focal length is a classic for portrait shooters and has that iconic Zeiss look to it. The majority of Zeiss lens do not have autofocus which makes the Batis line is extremely unique especially with that OLED display which shows the focus distance and depth of field for more granular manual focus.
|Number of aperture blades
|Minimum focus distance
In my personal opinion, Zeiss lens are both built well and look much better than Sony GM lens. The Zeiss Batis line has a minimalistic metal body with no wobbly parts and weather sealing. The lens is protected against both dust and weather which make the lens much more durable.
While the outside is built like a tank, I had an incident around 2018 where the autofocus motor stopped functioning and I had ship it to Zeiss for repairs. I blame myself for this incident since I accidentally hit something with the lens while the camera was on, but wanted to share my story with everyone.
Unlike most Zeiss lens, this comes with built-in AF drive. You can optionally use manual-focus with this lens as well. I set a macro on my camera to toggle between AF and MF. When in manual focus mode, you can adjust the focus by turning the focus ring, but you'll need to adjust the aperture on the camera. The focus ring allows for very precise manual focus, but I didn't find it the most comfortable lens to manual focus compared to the Loxia series due to the size of the lens and the rubbery grip.
While the autofocus is good, I found my Sony a7ii has missed focus a bit and is generally slower to focus than the native Sony lenses. Maybe autofocus is better on the new Sony models with the amazing eye autofocus, but I have yet to test this out.
The lens also comes with optical image stabilization which has made it easier to handhold the camera and keep things nice and sharp.
I found this lens to be very sharp at the center, but there's minor image distortions and vignetting at the edges. My favorite part of this lens is the quality of the bokeh. At f/1.8, you'll gets nice and crispy circular bokeh balls. I also like the contrast and color this lens produces. All in all, the lens has a nice character to it.
All the images were taken on a Sony a7ii.
ƒ/2.8 | 1/500 sec | ISO 100
ƒ/1.8 | 1/250 sec | ISO 500
ƒ/1.8 | 1/1600 sec | ISO 80
ƒ/1.8 | 1/1600 sec | ISO 100
ƒ/2.5 | 1/1250 sec | ISO 100
ƒ/1.8 | 1/2000 sec | ISO 100
ƒ/1.8 | 1/320 sec | ISO 100
ƒ/1.8 | 1/1000 sec | ISO 100
ƒ/1.8 | 1/5000 sec | ISO 100
ƒ/3.5 | 1/250 sec | ISO 100
ƒ/1.8 | 1/15 sec | ISO 1000
ƒ/1.8 | 1/160 sec | ISO 200
ƒ/1.8 | 1/100 sec | ISO 1250
ƒ/1.8 | 1/320 sec | ISO 100
ƒ/1.8 | 1/80 sec | ISO 400
ƒ/1.8 | 1/1250 sec | ISO 100
ƒ/1.8 | 1/2500 sec | ISO 800
ƒ/5.6 | 1/1250 sec | ISO 100
The Zeiss Batis 85mm is still a bit expensive compared to other options like the Sony FE 85mm f/1.8, but the extra cost translates to an amazing build quality and image quality. I prefer this lens over the Sony GM 85mm f/1.4 due to the sheer size. It would've been nice to have included an aperture ring on the lens to make shooting full manual easier. However, I really do enjoy the sharp and contrasty look the lens produces especially at f/1.8. It's also a versatile and fast lens that can be used for portraits, street photography, and landscapes. In fact, this is my go to lens for portraits because how amazing the bokeh looks. I definitely recommend this lens even in 2020 even with all of the other options on the market.
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