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Close Range with the Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8

Get Zeiss Batis and see my Sony mirrorless wish list at B&H Photo.

See my reviews of the Zeiss Batis lenses.

Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon

It’s easy to fall into the trap of shooting everything at medium-far distance as “classic landscape”: it becomes a visual habit and pattern just as quickly whether it’s my own shots (I consciously prompt myself, asking what can I do differently this time?), or National Geographic, which suffers from the same flaw of articulation, namely, failing to show the intimate details of a place; the stuff that won’t make the tourist brochure (so to speak). The overall look of any location often leaves me wondering: “well, what is it really like there?”. The “stunner” stuns but doesn’t say much at all about what it’s like to walk through a place, paying attention.

With the images below, I hiked from stone to stone along and in the creek, I squatted, I got down on my belly, I literally took the path less traveled (or no path at all). It takes a conscious mental effort to do so, contrasting sharply with the risky habit (photographically speaking) of walking down the grooved and dusty boot-trodden trail—I try to avoid trails and follow countours, streambeds, etc whenever I can. In fact, it is very difficult to find good images in the Yosemite area in August: most days are blue-sky wonders. Pretty, but same-old day after day.

Accordingly, going very close and wide can be stimulating, creatively speaking. At close range, the depth of field is minimal even at f/13, but context need not be sharp: it is often the juxtaposition of sharpness against unsharpness that makes an image “pop”.

The about $1499 Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 focuses to 25 cm / 9.8 in at 1:9.5, making juxtaposition of very near and very distance elements possible. Unlike the Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 which is manual focus, the autofocus of the Zeiss Batis 18/2.8 helps greatly when flowers are waving in the wind, or when perched on a slippery rock in the middle of a stream or on a loose steep slope, etcetera: it’s just to awkward to focus manually. Similarly, the low shutter speeds used here are a testament to the value of Sony IBIS (SteadyShot image stabilization).

The Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 Distagon is the highest performing 18mm lens on the market today, outperforming the Leica 18/3.8 SEM without any doubt, particularly at the periphery and in control of color fringing (and at about half the price). As such, the Batis 18/2.8 is surely a must-have for the Sony mirrorless shooter.

All images shown here were shot handheld with IBIS (SteadyShot) enabled.

White Daisy by Stunted Pine and Grasses, Creekside
f3.2 @ 1/80 sec, ISO 100; 2016-08-28 18:08:50
Sony A7R II + ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

[low-res image for bot]
Bones of a Bygone Pine
f6.3 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 800; 2016-08-28 19:12:30
Sony A7R II + ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

[low-res image for bot]
Yellow Daisy, Creekside
f5.6 @ 1/25 sec, ISO 200; 2016-08-28 18:22:23
Sony A7R II + ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

[low-res image for bot]
Cottony Seedheads on Willowy Shrub
f5.6 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 200; 2016-08-28 18:31:50
Sony A7R II + ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

[low-res image for bot]
Yellow Daisies View to Small Waterfall, Lee Vining Creek
f13 @ 1/15 sec, ISO 200; 2016-08-28 18:28:10
Sony A7R II + ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

[low-res image for bot]
Red Flowers on Green Stalks, with View to Conness South Ridge
f7.1 @ 1/50 sec, ISO 200; 2016-08-28 18:54:19
Sony A7R II + ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

[low-res image for bot]
Yellow Flower at Spuller Lake
f13 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 100; 2016-08-26 17:20:15
Sony A7R II + ZEISS Batis 2.8/18

[low-res image for bot]

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