In previous post I’ve shared my impressions of all Zeiss lenses I’ve used during this project throughout the year. I’ve already dealt with the Loxia 2/50, the Touit 2.8/12, the Batis 1.8/85, the Touit 2.8/50M, the Loxia 2/35 and today I’m going to write about the last one of them, the Batis 2/25. I spared the Batis 2/25 for the last because in some ways it is my favourite, 'the perfect match' – or at least I’ve used it more often than others during this year. Follow the post to hear more about it.
When I started my yearlong project at first of January I initially thought that the Batis 2/25 would be a difficult lens to put use in my photography as it was so wide. Well, it’s not that wide, but it was my brain that was wired for the 85’ish field of view which I had been using for years. Compared to that The Batis 2/25 felt like a fisheye at the start but it grew on me. The 85mm field of view feels often like I would concentrate on a one single aspect of the scene (a human face typically). The 25mm is obviously different and it often lets the context to show in the picture which also makes it a bit like documentary field of view. Like I have already written, while discussing the Batis 1.8/85, during this year I really started to like this wider field of view and for many reasons it was particularly the Batis 2/25 which I found myself picking up very often.
The first reason is the technical excellence which the Batis 2/25 exemplifies. The lens delivers very good sharpness already from wide open at f/2 and I have absolutely no hesitations to place my subject near the edge of the image field. Stop it down a bit and it only gets better. Similarly to other lenses in my setup the full contrast is recovered around f/4, but the difference is minor compared to wide open performance. At smaller apertures, for example at f/5.6, the whole image field is very sharp from edge to edge and there is no field curvature which makes it very easy to use in many situations. One thing I really like with this lens is that is has a certain clarity how it renders scenes. Peeping images at the pixel level reveals that this lens achieves its great resolution with a certain easiness that is, for example, different from the Batis 1.8/85 which output looks sometimes a bit aggressive compared to Batis 2/25. Maybe this is due to fact that the lens is optically a very well corrected and in majority of scenarios it doesn’t show any aberrations. The only weakness is sometimes the rather high level of lateral chromatic aberrations when shot wide open at f/2, typical behaviour for fast wide angles, which only happens at high contrast edges and is often visually blocked by photographic content of the image, at least in my use. And in any case, these lateral chromatic aberrations (green and purple outlines at the blurred area of the image) are totally gone at f/4 and the resulting image is optically superb. I should also mention that there is quite a bit vignetting when working at wide open, but again, it isn’t distracting as it fades so smoothly and often adds to the image. If one doesn’t like it the Lightroom profile corrects it nicely.
One great aspect of this lens is the ability to use shallow depth of field by shooting wide open. While the Batis 2/25 doesn’t exactly do bokeh balls (unless you focus on something very near) it does have a very pleasing capability to blur out the background. Place your subject to nearfield and just watch how nice and three dimensional the subject separation is. This is definitely one reason why I just love this lens as I think having a bit of shallow depth of field in a wide angle lens makes the Batis 2/25 such a great story teller lens – always showing the image context but also able to focus on a single subject on a scene.
So, from the technical point of view the Batis 2/25 is great if not superb lens. But if you have followed my project you certainly know that I’m all for colors and here lies the last delicious part of this lens: I just love the clear and vibrant colors the Batis 2/25 delivers. And I’m not alone with this as I’ve noticed that there are many other Batis 2/25 users who have mentioned it.
I have hard time deciding whether the Touit 2.8/50M or the Batis 2/25 has the best color output in my setup. They are definitely similar, I would describe ‘clear and vibrant but definitely not oversaturated’, but not exactly the same. If someone would put me against the wall and demand me to announce the single winner, maybe I would give it to Touit 2.8/50M, but then again it might just be because I’ve shot more fitting pictures with that lens. In any case both of them are up there at the top in my list, and in fact I would go as far to say that if you want to experience the famous Zeiss high quality which goes with the blue badge (and the focal length doesn’t matter) the Batis 2/25 is the one I would recommend from this setup.
But as great as the Batis 2/25 is both technically and aesthetically, I don’t want to keep it a secret that I am intellectually more attracted to the Loxia family than the Batis lenses. While the Batis lenses definitely deliver performance (image quality, fast AF, compact size), the Loxia lenses carry within them self an aesthetic interpretation of photography and have changed the way I photograph – limiting yourself using only manual focus does change things a bit as it forces you to reconsider many things in throughout the whole process of photography. In my dreams I would love to limit myself only to Loxia lenses and create series of images that really exemplify my photographic vision, that’s the romantic and ideal person talking in me. In real world there also the practical side of things where I need to admit to myself that working with AF-lenses does bring me more results in many situations where I can’t control the subject or the environment (read: the family photography foremost). This is also the second reason why Batis 2/25 is the lens I pick up so often. While I don’t always enjoy using AF-lenses as much as manual focusing, they get the job done when I ‘just need the pictures and be done with it’. On the other side, when I have space to concentrate on shooting I’d rather pick up the Loxia and let myself be delighted with the slower process. Life vacillates between these types of scenarios and in ideal world I would work with the both Batis and Loxia lenses – kind of like I have done through this year.
For these reasons the Batis 2/25 is, in my setup, ‘the perfect match’ – the lens that I pick up the most and the one that I have used so much during this year. Technically it’s very very good. Aesthetically it has ability to render beautiful images with often just a right amount of shallow depth of field. Autofocus is quick and precise even with the vanilla Sony A7. And for the last, it has a field of view which supports story telling easily. Like I said a perfect match!