Zeiss Batis 85mm Lens Review

Sony A7ii w/ Zeiss Batis 85mm 13 sec f/11 ISO 100

Compression comes at the cost of having a more narrow field of vision, but the reward is paramount when referring to the Zeiss Batis 85mm lens. The moderate telephoto lens first hit the market in 2015 and is still a highly regarded because of the exceptional photo quality.

 Design

 With a compact and sturdy construct, it almost feels like you’re holding a really smooth grenade in shape without the lens hood on. It weighs in a just under a pound (15.9 oz) and looks very professional on the camera with a sleek overall design.

Sharpness

I was amazed at the level of sharpness in the pictures and it is my favorite thing to obsess about when it comes to photography. There is nothing betting in my opinion then getting a great subject focused so crisply that it becomes the first and only thing that draws the eye in. This lens does it perfectly and I can see why others say the photos have a 3D quality to them.

Sony A7ii w/ Zeiss Batis 85mm 1/640 sec f/2.2 ISO 640

Bokeh

On top of being razor-blade sharp, the bokeh rendering is silky smooth and very round. Some of the edges are a little jagged and the bokeh could be a little less transparent in certain areas, but this is only if you are nitpicking. You will be very happy with the depth it creates.

Sony A7ii w/ Zeiss Batis 85mm 5 sec f/11 ISO 50

True Color

The vivid colors and rich contrast stand out right away as being exceptional with very little color correcting needed when editing. If anything, I found myself turning down the saturation slider a touch while slightly boosting the vibrance to achieve the look I wanted in most photos. That ‘Zeiss Pop’ is certainly in full effect with this bad boy.

Sony A7ii w/ Zeiss Batis 85mm 1/2000 sec f/4 ISO 100

Overall Performance

This lens made its way onto my camera more often than any other since owning it and for good reason - it is phenomenal and so much fun to use! You really just need to use it for yourself to fully grasp how great it is, but every portrait photographer needs this lens and landscape folks like myself can get very creative with compression and depth. 

Sony A7ii w/ Zeiss Batis 85mm 10 sec f/14 ISO 160

You can buy the Zeiss Batis 85mm lens by using this link… https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1140833-REG/zeiss_2103_751_85mm_f_1_8_batis_short.htmlBI/20832/KBID/16655


Road Trippin’ with the Boys

My friends and I started 2019 with a road trip exploring mostly Utah while passing through Arizona and back into California. The excursion was filled with lots of good laughs, a bunch of great views and we captured some awesome memories along the way.

We left on New Year’s Day and headed up Interstate-80 into Nevada, through Reno and into the high desert country where we hopped out for a few shots. It wasn’t long before a Nevada State Trooper stopped and told us that “standing in the highway was a good way to get smushed”. 

*As a note, all the photos below are in chronological order in when they were taken*

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 1/640 sec f6.3 ISO 100

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 1/2000 sec f2.8 ISO 100

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 1/2000 sec f2.8 ISO 50

We made it to our hotel after sunset, which was a dud, so we got some sleep and set our alarms early to catch sunrise the next day. We headed to Capitol Reef National Park before the sun came up when the temperature was still in the single-digits. Hand and toe warmers only work so well in conditions like that, so using the car heater to thaw out is really your saving grace. 

After sunrise, we left Capitol Reef and headed towards Arches and Canyonlands National Park to only find out that both were closed after a full day of driving. It had recently snowed and this was still during the government shutdown, so the roads hadn’t been plowed. We ended up calling an audible before sunset and dashed over to Dead Horse State Park to catch the last bit of light.

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f2.8 ISO 640

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f16 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 70-200 GM 1/640 sec f6.3 ISO 160

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 1/13 sec f13 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 1/13 sec f14 ISO 50

The next day consisted of driving in the direction of Monument Valley, since it’s not a National Park being at risk of closure at this point. On the way there we stopped at Gooseneck State Park, which was blanketed in snow. The San Juan River sweeps through these massive rock formations in Mexican Hat, Utah - one of the coolest names for a town in my opinion. Felipe drove his Jeep on the trip so we had to get some beauty shots along the way, of course.

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 1/160 sec f13 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 70-200 GM 1/200 sec f2.8 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 70-200 GM 1/640 sec f6.3 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 70-200 GM 1/3200 sec f2.8 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 1/400 sec f2.8 ISO 100

Arriving at the famous Forrest Gump during golden hour allowed us to snap a few photos before heading into the actual park for sunset. After putting our suitcases in our room at The View Hotel, the boys and I went out for some astro before calling it a night. We captured sunrise the next morning from the balcony of our room (seventh photo below), which was worth the price of the hotel in itself.

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 1/8000 sec f2.8 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 0.5 sec f16 ISO 50

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 15 sec f2.8 ISO 5000

Sony A7II w/ 85 FE 6 sec f1.8 ISO 6400

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f2.8 ISO 5000

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 175 sec f2.8 ISO 1600

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 1/320 sec f11 ISO 500

Sony A7III w/ 70-200 GM 1/3200 sec f2.8 ISO 100

It took us most of the day, but we got to Zion National Park before sunset and stayed up to see the stars. We took turns driving the Jeep in the canyon while the other two guys snapped long exposures while communicating on walkie-talkies. Sunrise the next morning was the first time we saw clouds since Nevada, so you could imagine how stoked we were to get color in the sky.

Sony A7II w/ 24-700 GM 6 sec f16 ISO 50 using Haida 10-stop ND Filter

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 15 sec f2.8 ISO 6400

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f2.8 ISO 6400

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f2.8 ISO 2000

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 20 sec f2.8 ISO 6400

Sony A7II w/ 16-35 GM 30 sec f4 ISO 100 using Haida 10-stop ND Filter

Death Valley National Park was our last major stop as we knew a major snowstorm was brewing in the Sierras and we needed to start heading home. We were greeted with moody skies that lit up a bit during golden hour as Jeff skated into the sunset. It is such a huge park and we only had about half a day to spend, so I’ll be back to check out the other cool spots we had to pass up.

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 30 sec f13 ISO 50 using Haida 10-stop ND Filter

Sony A7III w/ Canon DT 70-200 1/500 sec f4 ISO 400

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 1/640 sec f/2.8 ISO 200

Sony A7III w/ 85 FE 1/200 sec f1.8 ISO 2000

Sony A7III w/ 85 FE 1/320 sec f1.8 ISO 2000

You could see the storm clouds closing in as we got to Alabama Hills, so it wasn’t long before we were in the Jeep as Felipe drove through the night back to Sacramento. We had a great group of guys and creators on the trip, including Felipe who has been like a brother since he taught me how to shoot in manual mode almost four years ago. Our good friends Will and Jeff, who took his Subaru, were also in the main calvary and we eventually met up with talented shooters, Neil and Josh, in Utah. Adventures like this one are great for the soul, but they become unforgettable when you’re with the right people.

Check out my friends accounts on Instagram using their handles below…

Felipe (@the_lost_coast)

Will (@goodthompson)

Jeff (@jeffhook_)

Neil (@neilbennett3)

Josh (@j.snow_photo)

Sony A7II w/ 24-70 GM 30 sec f2.8 ISO 4000


Bruce Munro at Montalvo

My incredible wife always finds the coolest adventures and ‘Stories in Light’ at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California, was certainly no different. It’s a truly unique light exhibit and British artist Bruce Munro is the mastermind behind the gallery, his first on the West Coast. It is a total 10 different installments that will fascinate and inspire all ages. 

I had first seen photos of Munro’s lumens in action from the other side of the world - in Australia when the Sony Alpha Imaging Collective explored the Outback and ‘Field of Light’ at Uluru, Northern Territories. The concept is essentially illuminated ‘lilies’ that have spheres at the top and fiber optics that allow them to glow in rhythm. This was my favorite part of the exhibit because I was able to incorporate Astrophotography in the shots you’ll see below. 

15 sec f4 ISO 4000

10 sec f2.8 ISO 1000

13 sec f.28 ISO 2500

15 sec f4 ISO 50

The next set of photos are a mix of the other visuals you can see spread throughout the Montalvo Arts Center. From a huge, fiber optic wave, to color-changing flamingos and unique light fixtures that all captivate your imagination. 

According to the munromontalvo.org, “Works on view are inspired by Munro’s experiences reading C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia as a child, drawing on imagery that stayed with him over the years. They also reflect on personal recollections and society’s collective memories.”


30 sec f5.6 ISO 100

15 sec f5 ISO 250

5 sec f6.3 ISO 100

10 sec f11 ISO 100

10 sec f6.3 ISO 50

5 sec f6.3 ISO 200

Along with what you’ve seen so far, there are even more cool pieces to check out and viewing will be through March 17, 2019. Adult tickets are $27 while both seniors and children are $20. Parking is set up at West Valley College with a frequent shuttles into the Montalvo facility. Hope you enjoyed this write-up and get a chance to visit for yourself!

**All photos were taken with the Sony Alpha A7ii and 16-35 G Master lens**

Using Format