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A few years ago I had the opportunity to get my hands on the ZEISS Batis 25mm prime lens for the first time. I was using the Sony Alpha 7 at that time as well. I recently obtained the lens again and took to New York to obtain some new images with this lens, while using the Sony Alpha 7R III.
Afterwards I ended up purchasing this lens, even though I wasn’t sure if this would be a lens that I would use regularly for what I photograph, but it’s been a lens that stays on my lens quite often. I’m presently using this lens with the Sony Alpha 9, Alpha 7R III and occasionally the Sony Alpha 6000.
A bit of history into the ZEISS Batis line of lenses; these are the first full frame lenses from ZEISS that are auto-focusing lenses and are designed especially for the Sony E-Mount (Mirrorless) cameras. What’s also unique about these lenses are the OLED displays in the lenses, for your focusing distance information. It’s such a clean design that’s sleek and lives up to everything that you’d expect out of a ZEISS lens.
While reviewing this lens, I used it exclusively with the Sony Alpha 7 series and Sony Alpha 9 cameras. Should you be one who’s looking to use this lens on a crop sensor body then know that you’re still going to have excellent quality on it as well, as this lens works for APS-C camera bodies as well.
ZEISS Batis 25mm Specs & Images
Sony E-Mount (FE - Full Frame lens)
DISTAGON Optical Lens Design
Aperture Range: f/2-f/22
ZEISS T* Anti-Reflective Coating
67mm Diameter Filter Thread
OLED Display for Focus Distance/DoF
Metal Construction with Dust & Weather Seals
82 degrees - Angle of View
7.87′ inches (20cm) Minimum Focus Distance
0.74lb (335g) - Weight
Something to note is that this lens is a Full Frame (FE) lens for Sony’s Mirrorless E-Mount cameras, but it can be used on the cropped APS-C cameras, which will give you a 35mm equivalent focal range of 37.5mm.
What I think about the Batis 25mm
My initial impression was wow! When you pull the lens out of the box it just looks so beautiful! It reminded me of the Sony A-Mount Carl ZEISS 24mm f/2. They’re very similar, in that they’re identical in aperture and close in focal length. Where they differ is the A-Mount being an older lens design, where the focus was driven by a screw drive motor vs the E-mount lens being fly-by-wire.
I was mostly a wide angle photographer for many years and this focal length was one that I frequented when I photographed with my Sony E 4/10-18mm on the Alpha 6000. Having the f/2 aperture is a plus, as I’m able to capture a variety of images without needing a tripod and being able to utilize lower ISO’s and still having a fast enough shutter speed, compared to that of the f/4 aperture lens.
It’s a very light lens, but yet a very solid well crafted lens. I’ve had this lens in the rain more times than I can count and I’ve never had any issues from this lens under that condition.
When I get the chance to try out new gear I love to share my experiences about it on Instagram and of course here on my blog. Just as my ZEISS FE 1.8/55mm lens review was, this review is going to be a short one. I don’t share much technical information about lenses here and only share my personal experiences with them and the various images I’m able to take, to show a variety of shooting conditions that people may be interested in seeing what a specific lens is capable of capturing.
OLED Display - This is something brand new for any camera lens. It’s such a unique innovation and quite cool to see your focusing distance and depth of field displayed within the lens itself, which provides an accurate readout. Should you not want to use this you can disable the display for turning or you can have it only turn on for when you’re shooting in Manual Focus mode. This is something I’ve never used on this lens however and found it to be very useful on the Batis 40mm CF lens. It’s great on that lens for knowing exactly how much distance you can go in for focusing on a subject. I don’t find it to be something most would utilize on the non close focusing lenses.
Image Quality/Color - It’s incredibly sharp! This isn’t a lens you have to worry about being able to utilize wide open and the image being soft. I use this lens a lot wide open and it’s quite sharp. Straight out the camera the colors look great, with great contrast as well.
Build - You're getting an all metal design lens that’s weather sealed from the ending gasket to it’s all metal build, making this a great lens to have out in the most roughest elements possible. It has a great fluid body design that pairs well with the included plastic lens hood. Even though the lens hood is plastic it doesn’t feel cheaply made and is actually very durable. I kept it on the lens when I was out, to protect the front element from bumps, while it was hanging off the side of my camera bag.
Aperture - With an f/2 aperture it would be a great choice for anyone who may be photographing in low light conditions, even Astro-photography. In everyday use you’ll be able to get away with hand-held shots easily, especially at this focal length and also find yourself obtaining some great bokeh with this lens too, which you’ll see in one of the examples below.
Focus - The focusing is quick and nails focusing very well. Just be careful at the wide open aperture, you may want to use the smaller focusing point, as to make sure you nail your focusing. The wider the aperture the harder it can be to focus, as you have to be so precise, but it’s certainly not impossible to focus at the wider aperture by any means.
T Coating* - ZEISS lenses are popular for this coating, which reduces lens flare drastically and enhances overall performance of the lens. Whether it’s a filter or lens with this coating you’ll notice the difference from having it vs a lens or filter that doesn’t. It’s always very effective and really brings more contrast to your images. There are times when I do want to have a little bit of lens flare but the coating of these lenses are so good that it’s sometimes hard to do. The irony!
Why the ZEISS Batis 2/25mm over Sony 1.4/24mm G Master?
I’m asked often why did I purchase the Batis 25mm over the Sony 24mm GM lens. I’m currently a ZEISS Ambassador, but I purchased my lens before becoming one and while I was still a Sony Ambassador.
I purchased the Batis 25mm because my entire lens lineup has been all ZEISS full frame lenses and I love the look of their lenses. That’s not to say that the Sony lens has a bad look, as it’s far from that and is a VERY good lens. I’ve had a chance to try this lens out and it’s one of my favorite GM lenses (along with the Sony 2.8/100mm STF). ZEISS is an optics company and Sony is an electronics company and ZEISS knows how to make solid quality lenses. Sony doesn’t have the years of experience that ZEISS does for their lenses.
In my entire career I’ve had Sony lenses fail and their lenses aren’t matched like those of ZEISS lenses. Regardless of any of the Batis lenses (or any of the current ZEISS lenses for that matter) I’m going to obtain the same quality in color and sharpness between them (grant it the Otus lenses are going to be the best you can ever obtain, while the others have some compromises - but you’re still obtaining the ZEISS look in any of the lenses), which is important for anyone doing post production work. The Sony’s aren’t consistent in that, but they do make very incredible lenses.
Strangely Sony is the producer of the Sony/ZEISS branded lenses, but those are the only lenses I’ve never had issues from, unlike the Sony only branded lenses. It seems ZEISS holds Sony to a higher standard for their co-branded lenses than Sony has for their own production line. Reliability is very important and just that basis alone is why I’ve always chosen the ZEISS lenses, but the overall look of their lenses is why I choose them as well. Ultimately it’s the reason I’m no longer at Sony and decided to go over to ZEISS, when they invited me! I have many in my community that have bought ZEISS lenses and I’ve never heard any complaints from them but I’ve had some from those with the Sony GM lenses.
Now size and weight wise there’s not that much different between them. The Sony GM is a bit heavier (445g vs the Batis at 335g), but it’s not a drastic amount to where it’s a back breaking difference. They’re both 67mm thread lenses and quite compact. The f/1.4 of the Sony lens is great for those doing Astro-photography, but I’m not doing much of that and having that aperture wasn’t a deal breaker for me to choose the Sony over the ZEISS lens. It’s still an f/2, which is perfectly fine for me and still a good lens for Astro as well. The difference in price isn’t that much ($1,119 for the Sony and $950 for the ZEISS at the time of the writing of this blog), so it really comes down to preference in what you’re looking for in terms of image quality. Both are exceptionally BEAUTIFUL lenses and you can’t go wrong with either of these lenses.
Conclusion: Who is/isn’t this for?
Anyone who enjoys a good wide angle prime would love to own this lens. This is a part of my trio for Street Photography, along with the Batis 40mm CF and Batis 85mm lenses. This lens is never out of my bag and is my most used lens, tied with my Batis 85mm.
If you’re more into video then you may not like having the fly-by-wire focusing of this lens, but you may be more interested in the Carl ZEISS Loxia FE 2.8/21mm Distagon or Carl ZEISS Loxia FE 2.4/25mm Distagon. What makes that lens great is that it’s entirely manual and it also has a de-click feature to have the focus ring on that lens either click with each stop or be fluid smooth, something that many cinematographers would prefer.
I will note with this being a hybrid lens it’s still useful for cinematographers, because of the OLED display that I mentioned earlier, which makes focusing in manual a lot better with the fly-by-wire system, something that other E-Mount lenses with this system are harder to do, with there not being any kind of focusing guide.
All images featured in this review were photographed with various cameras in the Sony Alpha 7 series and the Sony Alpha 9.