Coming soon… Some of you will have read that I am leaving the Leica M user base and expanding my Sony FE system in its place. With the 35mm f2.8 FE Sonnar, 55mm f1.8 FE Sonnar and Sony 70-200 F4 G OSS already in my bag, the obvious gap is at the wide angle end. This is an area where very few lens manufacturers have been able to compete with Leica (or get anywhere close in most cases). Very few lenses have been as good at any size and the Leica M optics have invariably been dramatically smaller. With Zeiss now having released the Zeiss 18mm Batis, to compliment the existing 25mm f2 Batis, we now have a number of options below 35mm.
Over the last few days I have been able to use and shoot the following lenses:
- Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Heliar III FE
- Zeiss 18mm Batis f2.8
- Zeiss 21mm Loxia f2.8
- Zeiss 25mm Batis f2
- Sony 28mm FE f2
- Zeiss 85mm Batis f1.8
… and in the process I formed very clear opinions, not all of which were expected! I was especially curious about the Zeiss 18mm Batis, because there are not many in the wild yet.
I will write a full overview in the coming week or so, but all impressed greatly. Each has a well-earned reputation, but they vary significantly in concept, application, performance, character and price. I ended up buying four and could not feel more comfortable about leaving the reassuring company of Leica M optics! Performance between about 21 and 28mm has been paramount for me, but I have wanted to ensure that I have a strong capability wider than that (a great deal of my Iceland work was shot in the 16-18mm region of my adapted Tokina 16-28mm, for example. That lens is a 1200g beast on a Metabones adaptor, but a very good performer). I have also been looking at a native 85mm and wondering if it was worth splashing out on a native lens rather than sticking with adapted Canon EOS optics. With Leica 75mm and 90mm lenses that perform so well on the Sony A7, I was wondering if the native lens could compare favourably. If the 85mm f1.8n Batis were to be an astounding lens, I could conceivably let go of both my Leica 75mm Summarit-M f2.5 and 90mm Elmarit-M f2.8 pre-ASPH. But as well as being good for portraits, it would have to be very, very good as a landscape optic for that to happen.
I’m going to write a summary report that will cut to the chase rather than faff about with lots of test shots. Those of you who know me and my work will probably feel comfortable trusting my conclusions. Those who don’t, these will not be the test results you are looking for. Thanks Obi Wan for that line.
Any of you interested in a 25mm Zeiss Batis or 28mm Sony f2 may well have read conflicting reports about these two lenses. Some users/reviewers concluded that the 28mm Sony is in fact the better lens at middle apertures, whereas others say it cannot hold a candle to the Zeiss. Equally, how does the Zeiss 18mm Batis stack up against the established Loxia, or much cheaper Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 FE Heliar? Let’s see 😉
Any guesses which four I settled on?