When I got the email if I wanted to test one of the first Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF lenses that arrived in the Netherlands I didn’t have to think twice.
Just a day later I had the new lens in my hand.
At a first glance it’s exactly like the other Batis lenses. Relatively small, weather sealed, lightweight and most important for me – it has a great grip when you hold it.
I only had a few days with the lens and took it with me to the desert in Egypt. This was the perfect opportunity to see if the lens would fit into the ‘ideal walk around lens’ category or not.
Let’s start of with all the technical charts and data and then move on to the important part, how does it perform and how would 40mm fit into your photography.
Technical data and MTF charts
|Performance||Focal length||40 mm|
|Aperture range||f/2 – f/22|
|Camera mount||Sony E-Mount*|
|Format compatibility||Full Frame|
|Focusing range||0,24 m (0.78 ft) – ∞|
|Free working distance||0,14 m (0.45 ft) – ∞|
|Angular field** (diag. | horiz. | vert.)||56° / 47° / 33°|
|Diameter of image field||43,3 mm (1.7″)|
|Coverage at close range (MOD)**||79 x 117 mm (3.1 x 4.6″)|
|Image ratio at minimum object distance||1:3.3|
|Lens elements | groups||9 / 8|
|Flange focal distance||18,0 mm (0.71″)|
|Entrance pupil position (front of image plane)||75.1 mm (2.96″)|
|Physical||Filter thread||M67 x 0,75|
|Rotation angle of focusing ring||Focusing not mechanically coupled. Rotation angle depending on rotation speed.|
|Diameter max.||91 mm (3.6″)|
|Diameter of focusing ring||78 mm (3.1″)|
|Length (with lens caps)||106 mm (4.2″)|
|Length (without lens caps)||93 mm (3.7″)|
|Weight||361 g (0.80 lbs)|
The Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF closes the gap between the Batis 25 and 85mm, but it’s a focal length that isn’t used very often by lens manufacturers. All I can say is that I really liked it!
It’s not so limited as a 50mm lens and wide enough to shoot anything with it ranging from architecture, landscapes to simple portraits and even street photography. To me it’s a truly wonderful focal length, which I’d love to use more often.
Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF Handling and Features
The Zeiss Batis 40mm f/2 CF completes the Batis family which has already the 18mm f2.8, 25mm f/2, 85mm f/1.8 and the 135mm f2.8 bringing the total to 5 lenses for the Sony E mount in the Batis line. The Batis 2/40 CF is of a Distagon design, just like the Batis 25mm and most Milvus lenses, which means that this lens features a “floating elements” design. The optical construction is 9 elements in 8 groups.
Zeiss truly embraces minimalism and elegance with their lenses and this lens is exactly like that. For the first time on a batis lens there is a small switch on the side of the lens barrel which can be used to limit the auto-focus to: full range, infinity to 0.4 m and 0.5 to 0.24m. This is very practical when you need to focus very close as this prevents the auto-focus from hunting the full range to find focus.
Focussing is fast, smooth and silent.
With other lens manufacturers you will find pancake design lenses in this focal length group of mostly 35 to 50 mm. I’m glad Zeiss didn’t go this way, as this lens sits perfectly in your hand when shooting. The focus ring can be easily reached and the weight is kept low with only 361 g. Personally I rather have a normal size lens in my hand while walking around with the camera instead of a pancake lens because of the handling.
The lens is dust and weather sealed so you can take it out anytime you need to take the shot. I’m using Zeiss Lenses for a few years now and have abused them in all sorts of weather from cold to hot, from rain to sand storms and the sealing never let me down. I’ve only once destroyed a Nikon lens in a big storm where sand came into the focus ring and onward into the barrel. With Zeiss this never happened and I’m very confident that it will never happen. The lenses are really made to last.
Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF: ISO 100, f/16, 1/90 + NiSi Benelux Landscape set
The performance of this lens is again of top quality. Both in design, ergonomics and image quality.
The Zeiss Batis 40mm delivers very sharp images full of micro contrast. When I took the first architecture shots of the hotel we stayed in, I got a big smile on my face when I zoomed in on the photo that I just made. It’s so exceptionally sharp and full of contrast. The image really pops of your screen.
The anti T* reflective coating does a great job of minimising flare. Only in a few very unfavourable conditions I was able to produce some flare, but in real world situations you won’t see any flare.
The auto focus is really fast and precise, further more the AF motor is virtually silent.
The AF limiter switch on the side can be used in situations where the AF could start hunting when you need to focus very close but I have to say that I didn’t really needed it. When I shot the flowers together with the Amsterdam Canals I’ve used it because the flowers kept moving pretty fast in the wind and with the switch set to 0.5-0.24m the auto focus did a great job of maintaining the focus on the flowers. In all other occasions the AF did a great job with the switch set to FULL.
The 40mm is practically free of distortion and vignetting is somewhat there wide open but is easily corrected afterwards.
All in all it’s again a wonderful work of art by Zeiss.
Why do I need a 40mm lens or better said, the Batis 40mm?
This question is probably the biggest one everyone has and it’s probably the hardest part for Zeiss to really sell the lens as it’s a not so commonly used focal length.
But as I experienced, it’s a fantastic focal lengt to have on your camera when you need to shoot all sorts of images. It’s an ideal travel lens!
An other thing is that from 35mm and up you can use any adapted lenses to the Sony camera. I’ve used a Zeiss Milvus 35mm which is a wonderful lens and will work like a charm on the Sony as well, the same applies for Canon or other Nikon lenses. But with the new Zeiss Batis 40mm you get so much more.
- Fast and reliable auto focus with eye auto focus (which you won’t have with adapted lenses).
- Light weight lens with beautiful design.
- Close focus of only 24cm
- Beautiful images straight out of camera
- That Zeiss “pop”
Most manufacturers go for the 35mm prime and Zeiss decided to change this and go for the 40mm and spiced it up with the close focus ability.
The advantage of 35/40mm opposed to 50mm is clear. You are way more versatile in what you shoot and it is way easier to tell a story with 40mm as you can include more of the background or surroundings into the frame. Think about street portraits with the background thrown out of focus which helps to tell the story. Or you can go out and shoot landscapes or even architecture with it.
On this point Zeiss has it spot on: It’s absolutely a perfect all purpose lens!
Youtube personality Kai Wong has made a video about why he loves the 40mm prime lenses.
Personally I disagree with the pancake design. I rather have a little bit bigger lens on my camera which helps me keeping the body steady (although this isn’t necessary on a DSLR but this lens is for the Sony mirrorless camera’s so…. yeah.. I like the lens a bit bigger)
I could write up so many more reasons why the 40mm is really the ideal walk around lens, but I think you should just try it. At the beginning I was also thinking; “what am I going to shoot with 40mm? I never use that kind of focal length.” But as I had it on my camera for only a short while, I really loved it. But again, if you are not convinced, just try it. For real.
Zeiss did deliver a fantastic new lens in the Batis family.
Fun fact: did you know that all Zeiss lens families are named after birds? The Batis is a small singing bird.
The close focus ability will be embraced by the cityscape and city portrait photographers as well as landscape photographer who like to change things up now and then. Image quality is outstanding. The lens is sharp from corner to corner and has little to none CA and flare. Microcontrast is what we are used from Zeiss, which delivers that sought after “pop” in the images.
Because this lens is dust and weather sealed there is no limit on your creativity, just go out and shoot.
The handling and ergonomics are really great with the new Batis 2/40 CF, something I find very important as you shouldn’t be thinking about the camera and lens when you are taking pictures. It all should feel naturally and so it does with the Batis 40 CF.
If you are on the Sony E mount system and are looking for a great new lens which you can take with you where ever you go… you should really consider the Zeiss Batis 2/40 CF.
I only had one day (sunset) in Egypt with this lens but I tried to shoot a pretty diverse image gallery.
Special tip for my Dutch readers!
Speciaal voor de Nederlanders heb ik een extra tip!
Zoals ik al zei is het een aanrader eens deze lens te proberen, vooral om dat voor veel mensen 40mm iets ongewoons is. Ik verzeker je dat je als je houd van het fotograferen in de stad of dat nou architectuur of mensen is of als je graag een lens wilt die je mee kunt nemen naar feestjes om mensen te fotograferen maar tegelijkertijd ook die mooie locatie en de omgeving wilt vastleggen, dan is dit een lens voor jou.