ZEISS Batis Lenses – High-quality lenses for Sony E-mount cameras
Sony’s full frame mirrorless cameras with E-mount have grown to become very popular in the last few years. The advantages of the system are convincing to many photographers. The A7 and A9 camera series combine compact size with a handy but yet elegant design and great imaging features. There are various aspects to consider when deciding on the next lens to purchase.
The Batis® autofocus lenses from ZEISS were specially developed for mirrorless full-frame system cameras from Sony. The lenses are fully compatible with all E-mount cameras and offer not only fast, quiet autofocus, but also protection against dust and weather. For creative photography, the OLED display shows the distance and depth of field.
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At ZEISS we take pride in the build quality of our products. This is why ZEISS experts examine the production processes, management systems and measuring installations. ZEISS certifies the suppliers and provides all the equipment that is needed to ensure product quality, including the equipment of third-party suppliers. Every lens is hand checked and certified –to deliver the best tool possible.
All ZEISS Batis lenses are weather and dust sealed. This can bit a controversial topic since many manufacturers are too vague when defining what their products can or cannot withstand. We at ZEISS want to give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
For the water resistance tests we have our own environmental test lab on site. For the dust resistance we use an external test lab. Both tests are done in quite harshly. The lenses are directly exposed to water (simulating rain) and dust. Afterwards, we check whether any water got into the optics, whether the functionality is still given and whether any water reached electronic parts, which might lead to malfunction after later corrosion processes.
The dust test is especially interesting. The “dust” used in the test is extremely fine powder. A grain of sand is huge in comparison to this dust. The lens sits in the test chamber and the powder swirls around the lens for hours. After the simulation is shut off, the powder settles and at the end the lens is totally covered. This is an extreme and not typical situation. Nevertheless ZEISS Batis lenses passed all the tests.
ZEISS Product Manager Dr. Michael Pollmann shares more insights in this topic – Read more.
ZEISS ‘3D POP’
Many photographers notice something in their images what they interprete as the ZEISS 3D pop. But what are they refering too? This effect is enabled by the ‘contrast rendition’ of a lens. We must not forget that when we talk about ‘contrast’ we always mean micro contrast, i.e. structures, which we can just about see or just cannot see with the naked eye, for example on a slide.
MTF (modulation transfer function) measurements say nothing about this macro contrast. They gauge only the correction of the lens, i.e. the small deviations of the light beams, while the macro contrast depends on the veiling glare of the lens, i.e. on the large deviations. These result from undesirable reflections between the optical surfaces and from light scattering at the interior barrel components, so that they usually reach the image plane a long way from the original target. All these characteristics are often mixed up with each other in the term ‘brilliance of the image’. Good MTF values at low spatial frequencies are necessary, but they are no guarantee for brilliant images.
In photography, there are often situations in which bright light sources are present in the field of view or nearby. Such light sources are often brighter than other image contents by several orders of magnitude. At ZEISS these multilayer coatings were designated as “T*-optics”. These anti-reflective coatings have considerably improved the performance of optical systems providing you with results of incredible contrast, amazing color reproduction and reduced flare.
The development of the anti-reflective coating is the most significant achievement in lens design. It is applied in a vacuum by means of vapor deposition and serves to reduce the amount of light reflected from the surface of the lens, so it essentially improves light transmission and suppresses unwanted reflections. It is only thanks to this invention that we can now make optical systems with more than five or six lens elements –without this coating far too much light would be lost through reflections. The more elements an optical system has, the better the image quality –but only if we are able to adequately reduce the amount of reflection, which is precisely where the T* coating has played such an essential role.
Built-in Image Stabilization
Image stabilization cannot do anything if blur is caused by your subject moving too fast for your exposure to freeze the action; it only works to counter camera shake. Like the ZEISS Batis1.8/85, the ZEISS Batis2.8/135 has an optical image stabilizer so shake-free images can be taken even in unfavorable lighting conditions. As a result, you can capture poignant moments and moods with available light, without having to further increase the ISO setting and accept a deterioration in imaging quality. This is a big advantage, especially for sophisticated wedding and event photography, as it allows pictures to be printed later in large formats, if needed.
Less Purple Fringing
Reducing chromatic aberrations is becoming increasingly significant. Digitalization means that anyone can now view their images in unprecedented sizes. Nowadays we look at an image on the screen that corresponds to a picture measuring 2×3 meters from a distance of 30 centimeters, which in some ways provides an absurd, unnaturally enlarged view. It enables users to detect chromatic aberrations on an individual pixel level that they would never have seen before.
So it is our job at ZEISS to correct these aberrations by using more and more lens elements and increasingly specialist and more sophisticated types of glass. It is our ultimate goal that a lens should produce outstanding pictures: razor-sharp, distortion-free images –without any chromatic aberrations –that stay crisp and bright right to the edges.
Innovative OLED Display
For the first time, you can accurately read the focus distance and depth of field simply and intuitively on the OLED display on the lens. The electronic display is easy to read even in low light. It shows the distance between the camera system and the focal plane as well as the depth of field. Working with the ZEISS Batis lenses has been a fascinating experience. The OLED display is truly unique and differentiated from anything else on the market, showing exact focus distance and depth of field in any light condition.
Strict Production Tolerances for guaranteed Quality
Two factors lie behind the high quality of ZEISS lenses, namely low tolerances and an almost pedantic obsession with quality control. On its journey from the raw material phase to the finished product, each lens passes through more than 50 quality control stages.
None of our lenses can leave the production hall unless they have been thoroughly tested, and the same applies to components manufactured by our partners. And, on top of that, we demand extraordinary precision in the manufacture and assembly of our lens elements. The surface of a lens element is never entirely flat; the way it is constructed means that it will inevitably feature certain irregularities. By having lower tolerances for this surface unevenness we improve the image quality of the lens but simultaneously incur more costs in production. We set some of our tolerances as low as just a few hundred nanometers.