Update: Zeiss Batis 25/2 VS Sony 28mm f/2 FE – FIGHT!

Update: I’ve had a few questions about this article, so I want to be very clear about the purpose of this article and its conclusion. As a long time photography instructor I often get asked by students if they should purchase expensive lenses to make their images better. I then ask the photographer what kind of images they take, and they usually tell me they’re photographing their family mostly and occasionally doing photographic work.

The Batis is a great series of lenses, we’re looking forward to a whole range of Batis lenses. But the reason I wrote this was to point out that a $1200 lens doesn’t come with magic powers. The Sony 28mm f/2 FE creates images in many real world conditions, for many types of photographers that are incredibly similar, and at a fraction of the price.

Sigma: The wait is over. Shop e-mount primes.

So to the photographers that ask me “do I need to buy the [insert name of expensive lens] here to get great photos?” I always say no. And then I point out that better lenses provide better features (the Batis is noticeably sharper than the Sony, for example, and better at high contrast areas) but unless you know you need the Batis, you probably don’t. We evaluate the Batis lenses under more controlled conditions, and will continue to do so. But for the photographer looking to see the Batis vs. the competitor Sony, here are some images.

Also, the gallery images are compressed JPEG. If you’d like to see the larger images, please see the Flickr gallery.

After the first day I spent with the Zeiss Batis 25mm/2 lens, I started to notice a strange thing—the images looked a lot like the photos I was getting from the Sony 28mm f/2 FE lens. The Zeiss can pull out a level of sharpness in some conditions  that the Sony 28mm cannot, but when it comes to handling mixed lighting, environmental lighting and a variety of real-world situations, the $1300 Zeiss Batis 25/2 lens looks an awful lot like the $500 Sony 28mm f/2 FE lens. We decided to look at the Zeiss Batis 25/2 vs Sony 28mm f/2 FE. I’m not by any means saying that the Zeiss isn’t a better lens, it is, and next up I’ll shoot under some controlled lighting and try to pull out the sharpness this glass can yank out of a scene.

But for the daily photographer, the non-studio Sony shooter on a budget, I wondered—can you even tell if you’re shooting with the Batis or not?

A quick note before I continue – these results and comments are based on the Batis on the Sony a7R and the Batis lens. The Sony a7R, with the high resolution, can often be less tolerant of high dynamic ranges than the rest of the Sony family. I will be testing the Sony a7RII as soon as it’s available with the Batis and I fully expect to see different results. In fact, our upcoming a7II tests with the lens already look great. But these results are an indication that the glass is highly dependent on the scene, and that not all photographers need to purchase the top-end lens in order to get great results. 

I took the Sony a7R and the Batis 25mm and the Sony 28mm f/2 FE to a local park for a hike, and I switched between lenses. Since I only have one a7R body at my disposal I decided to switch instead of shooting side-by-side with the Batis on on the a7R and the Sony on our a7II (or vice versa) for fear of skewing the results with different sensors.

So here is a gallery of images shot with the Sony a7R and the Zeiss Batis 25/2 and the 28mm f/2 FE. The best way to do this is to look at the Flickr gallery, where you can see these images at a larger size. Try to pick out which is which without looking at metadata and see if you’re right. Honestly even I forget when I look at the images in the slideshow.

My daily shooter is Sony a9 with a vertical grip and various Sigma lenses attached like the 14mm 1.4 Art. Find more gear recommendations in our shop.