Michael Topham pairs the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 by with the flagship Sony Alpha 7R II and puts its delight factor to the test
Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Review – Image quality
Opening this lens to its maximum aperture creates a very pleasing shallow depth of field and although it’s not at its sharpest when used wide-open, real-world images captured at f/1.8 are very attractive to look at. The edges of images are marginally softer than the centre at f/1.8 and as the aperture is gradually stopped down to f/4 the centre sharpness steadily improves. By closing the lens down to f/8 you’ll find the perfect balance between centre and edge sharpness. Pushing beyond f/8 will naturally create a larger depth of field, but users will want to be wary of closing it down too far due to diffraction starting to take its toll on overall sharpness at f/16 and f/22.
As one can expect from a fast prime, vignetting makes an appearance when it’s used at its widest aperture settings. It’s less obtrusive when the lens is closed to f/2.8 and by the time you reach f/4 there’s virtually no sign of corner shading whatsoever. Chromatic aberrations are well controlled by the lens and it was only when I started to study the images I’d captured wide open at 100% that I noticed some purple and green fringes of colour along high-contrast edges. Pincushion distortion was flagged up on our distortion chart too, but as I discovered you’ll be hard pushed to notice it in real-world images. If the thought of it really bothers you, there’s always the option to fix it by applying the appropriate lens profile that’s available in the latest updated versions of Lightroom 6, Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop CC.