The 25mm Zeiss Batis produces an absurdly good performance at f2 for a 25mm lens. It beggars belief how sharp and even (subtle decentering aside) this lens is across the frame at f2. The centre is very sharp and the edges and corners are very useably good. In fact, it is better at f2 than some lenses (especially some zooms) ever get. For documentary/reportage, at f2 is is easily as sharp as you could ever need it, anywhere. At f2.8 there is a slight tightening of resolution from centre to corner and it is only a hair from its best performance. This is staggering… and nothing improves beyond f4 because it doesn’t need to. Personally, I did not see an obvious drop off in performance past f4 that some commentators have noted. I’d have no hesitation shooting away at f8 or f11, as the situation required. Colour and pop go to the Zeiss by a hair, but I do not think the difference is significant. Optically speaking the 28mm Sony was so close on centre to the Zeiss 25 Batis that you’d never know the difference on print, but it trailed at the edges. The 25mm Batis is very noticeably better around the periphery at f2 and f2.8, although the Sony is no slouch. At f4 the difference is slight but noticeable and at f5.6 is is….. gone. At f5.6 and f8, the Sony 28mm FE is every bit the lens the Batis is from corner to corner. The Sony 28mm f2 FE does have more CA under harsh lighting conditions, but I did not find it to be an issue.
Here are some shots showing the image centre for the Zeiss 25mm f2 Batis at f2-f5.6. As you will see, there is an increase in resolution. Just. Mostly it is boosted contrast at play. Resolution is already absurdly good for f2.
Now back to the corners:
Distortion! The native distortion of the 28mm Sony is horrific, but it fades into irrelevance for all but architectural use once lens profiles are applies in post. ‘Oh, but those profiles destroy the corners by stretching them out’, I hear some say. No they don’t, I say. I compared the files from the Sony 28mm f2 against the Batis 25mm after profiles had been applied and the Sony frames were to all intents and purposes just as good by f5.6 and at this point my interest in further dissection of pixels, pixel stretching etc ended. Fine detail is there. Texture is there. Is it as good as the centre? No, of course not, but think A1 and magnifying glass before you’d ever care.
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