The 135mm is currently the longest lens of the Zeiss Batis line of lenses built specifically for the Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras. The Zeiss Batis 2.8/135 drew my attention when I outfitted my team with the Sony a7iii and a7riii cameras systems. After spending a summer with this portrait lens, it’s a good time for me to share my experience with this piece of glass.
Here are a few things that I absolutely LOVE about the Zeiss Batis 135mm lens:
The Zeiss Batis 2.8/135 (that’s the way Zeiss communicates the lenses maximum aperture and focal length) has a bokeh pattern that really appeals to me. It’s the reason why I chose the Zeiss Batis 1.8/85 over any other currently available option and is a strong point for the 135mm as well. It’s almost as if there is more to their bokeh pattern than just the circular-ish formation of the out of focus areas. It’s not easy to explain, but something I LOVE!
The lens focuses on-demand, quickly. This is another trait of the Zeiss Batis line up. Many of Zeiss’ most premium lenses are manual focus lenses, however, the Batis line up not only provides autofocus, but it does so with confidence. In the image below I had completed the pre-ceremony portraits and was walking towards my subjects when I noticed them holding hands as they walked off. It immediately hit me that this was a representation of the closeness of their relationship. When I lifted the camera to my eye I was afraid that I was too close to them (they were walking right past me) and that I wouldn’t catch the moment. The Zeiss Batis’s speed and focus assurance nailed the shot. Below is the full-frame capture, not a crop.
Sharp as a Tack
Another thing that is evident in every image example is that the lens is sharp as a tack wide open. The images above were photographed at f/3.2, and the remaining images below were photographed at f/2.8. What’s clear is that the lens provides a clarity and sharpness the pops the subject from the background.
The color provided by the Zeiss Batis line of lenses is simply remarkable. Color is something I don’t hear many lens manufacturers highlight about their lenses, but Zeiss has been providing a very pleasing color to sensors for decades! The skin tones are wonderful and the rendition of the color pop authentically.
Here is something that really caught me by surprise. This lens is very compact! I, like many of you, have achieved the 135mm focal length by means of a 70-200mm zoom lens. The Zeiss 135mm lens is about half the size of my zoom. And, it’s feather-light in comparison!
Is there anything I don’t like about the Zeiss Batis 2.8/135? When it was announced, it was the first and only native mount prime lens of this focal length. Today we not only have other options but faster apertures as well. However, you’ll want to ask yourself if you even want to photograph your subjects any shallower than the f/2.8. Most of the time I’m photographing couples and need to stop down in order to keep both in focus. Shooting at f/1.8 or so could prove problematic.
The Zeiss Batis 2.8/135 is now part of my small bag kit. That kit is completely Zeiss Batis, composed of the 2.8/135, 1.8/85, and the 2/40. It’s my default for couples portraits, allowing me to spend more time with my clients and less time wrangling gear. If you’re looking for a very compact + stellar tele portrait lens, the Zeiss Batis 135mm deserves your consideration.
Note: All images captured with the Zeiss Batis 2.8/135 on the Sony a7iii.