As I told in my previous blog post, the city of Sastamala is the Book Capitol of Finland. Why and what it means?
First of all, it is remarkable how much different kind of artists have been living in Sastamala. I already mentioned Akseli Gallen-Kallela, the national artist of Finland. He has been important factor in creating the Finnish identity and nationality. Gallen-Kallela affected in the time when Finland started to struggle away from the Russian control. So, he was one important person when Finland started to go towards independency. By the way, there is now interesting display of Gallen-Kallela’s early sketches in Juselius Mausoleum, Pori.
Another great artist who has had a big affect to Sastamala region is Rudolf Koivu. He was an artist who specialised in storybook illustrations. I assume over half of the Christmas cards sent every year in Finland are based on Koivu’s illustrations. He had an great style which is well known over the whole country.
Anyway. I decided to arrange second dates with Batis 1.8/85 to the Sastamala book museum Pukstaavi, mostly because there is an interesting art exhibition related to Rudolf Koivu ongoing. When you live in the visual world you want to learn from other visualists.
Why I took the portrait lens to the architecture work? Jut because the environment in this kind of museums is very interesting. I am always excited about the lightning and the atmosphere of these museums. Spotlights, glass walls of showcases, shadows and also some sunlight pushing in through the windows. And ofcourse lot of interesting objects lying in the edge of light and shadows. You know, that is a heaven for a photographer, but a very challenging one. Setting the white balance correctly is an interesting task, but that also brings the characteristics and quality of your gear visible.
I sort of trusted to the combination I had in my hands. Although there was going to be lot of low light conditions and I was going to shoot without tripod, I was still excited. Sony/Batis combination should show it’s true colors in these conditions. It should be easy to see whether they perform together as well they should. You know, Batis is actually the first truly professional level lens series designed for the Sony Alpha series and their sensors. Full frame mirrorless has now got the counterpart which should make the wedding photography easy. Same requirements apply in both, museums and churches. Lot of variation in lightning conditions, free hand shooting, fast and dynamic situations which could not be reproduced. A pro should perform in those conditions all the time, photo by photo, and bring something special to the photos easily.
How we succeeded? Did our dates went well? Hmmm….You can check it yourself from the images below.
Personally I was quite satisfied. As I thought one challenge was the white balance. I actually forgot the WB setting first to the “cloudy” mode but thanks to RAW and the Sony sensor it was quite easy to fix the white balance in the postproduction. When I realised my mistake, I switched the WB setting to “Fluor.: Cool White” and continued shooting. That setting was closest to the actual lightning inside the museum.
It was very interesting to see that the Sony/Batis pair fought well in that environment. This time most of the images were taken in ISO640, with 1/80 sec. shutter speed and varying apertures. Many of the photos were taked with the f-stops 2.0, 2.5 and 2.8. When there was direct backlight coming through the window I used f/5 etc. Just depending on the situation.
How about my findings? First of all, the image stabilization works nicely. 1/80 is not yet a challenging one for free hand shooting but anyway, there was no problems with the image sharpness. I have shot some test shot also with 1/50 and there is still not a single sign of shaking hands in the picture. The autofocus worked also well, although I had some challenges in the first shootings, as I mentioned in the first Batis post. This time the autofocus worked quite precisely without extra pumping. It is slower than in Batis 2/25 but it is also precise. And totally silent…This would be a very nice combination with Sony a7S (With a silent shutter) also in nature photography! As I use the basic a7 I have only the phase detection and normal shutter in use, but still no problems with focusing.
The ergonomics of the Sony/Batis combination is nice. Batis 1.8/85 is actually quite compact and well balanced packet with Sony. There is enough weight to stable shooting but the packet is not too “nose-weighty”. New construction in the lens tube and most probably also in internal parts makes the lens ergonomic and comfortable to shoot. That new construction might be a reason also to many other things…Let’s get in to that later.
How about the image quality? Now when I have shot more with both Batis I have noticed that the typical ZEISS 3D Pop is there. It is a bit more sophisticated and subtle than for example in Loxia but anyway, it is there. You will see more in the final part of the series of test articles. Batis also draws colors nicely. Rich but still sophisticated, sharp but still moody. With that I mean that Batis is not as clinical and clean than for example Voigtländer Nokton 40 mm with Sony. Batis transmits the mood and the atmosphere the museum has to the sensor well, still the sharpness of photos is very very convincing. The micro contrast of Batis 85 is remarkable…Comparable to many much much more expensive lenses.
But most of all, the overall feeling in the photos…Just look them!
BTW: The final decision is approaching. Stay tuned for the last part of this lens test with some conclusions!