As you probably have read already, I started very interesting test period day before yesterday. Yes, I received those Batis lenses.
Because there are many others also waiting for same samples I am now using, I needed to create a quick -and good- test plan. Because I have the last week of my summer vacation going on, I decided to make a normal procedure. Usually that means a roadtrip somewhere in Lapland, but this time I decided to respect my home municipality. Although we are in the middle of real countryside, the nearby Sastamala city has lot to see. Just because it is for example the Book Capital of Finland. The area is also well known because of an thousands of years old trade route goes through the city. Also one of the greatest Finnish painter, Akseli Gallen-Kalela has spent his childhood at Sastamala.
So, lot of history, traditions and culture. One of the most legendary signs about the history is the historic St. Olaf’s Church. Well, the history of that church is a pretty complicated one, including the sacrificial site and some signs of witch hunt also. The latest bump in the path of this ancient temple of Lord was when a drunken burglar decided to burn the whole building down to cover his fingerprints. Eh. Really smart, because the church is a stone building. Well, ofcourse all the wooden parts burned so the disaster was total. Especially because the long renovation project was coming to end and there was lot of fresh tar in the roof.
Anyway, the renovation needed to start again. This time volunteers made a big service to the city by making the church damn great…SORRY…really interesting attraction. Two of the currently famous painters, Kuutti Lavonen and Osmo Rauhala, created a beatiful piece of art out of this church. That is the reason why I selected this spot as a place for my second dates with Batis lens. This time I decided to dive deeper to the soul of both lenses, individually. I tested first the Batis 2/25 because I had a vision of some nice documentary photos inside the St. Olaf’s Church.
There are lot of contrast, interesting light and very nice colors inside the church. Painters with two totally different styles had created interesting details all around the church interior. Especially the highly graphical style of Osmo Rauhala pleases my eye. Maybe because I have been working with graphic design, icons and logos also myself.
So, roadtrip to the parking place of the church and naturally some snapshots outside the building. The 25 mm focal length starts to please me more and more. It is still a bit narrow compared to what I have used to, so I need to take still that one extra step away from the object to fit it to the photo. Still, the wide angle effect is nice. This is one great example of the fact that ZEISS really knows what to do. They are not always following the same, easy path than other manufacturers but they take their own. Most often they also find a hidden treasure. This time that extra millimeter compared to more common 24 mm focal length makes an interesting difference. The image looks very pleasant and natural in the full frame camera although it is still a wide angle lens. I really start to like this trait in the 2/25.
How about the optics quality? Hmmm…The church was naturally a very dark and full of contrast. I used mostly the aperture range f/2.2-2.8 inside. ISO setting varied between 250-640, leaving the shutter speed to be in 1/80 sec. No flash, naturally in this kind of historic place. What I first noticed was the lightness of the pictures. You know, I though I would need to use ISO over 1600, based on my previous experiences with other lenses. Nope, I used the sort of “normal” ISO range. I was not forced to go to “Sony Zone” as I call it. With that “zone” I mean the ISO setting OVER the capabilities of traditional DSLR’s. Naturally part of the lightness of this lens comes from the maximum aperture but here we have also a great example of how other characteristics affect also to the light transmission. The glass used in the lenses and the coating of them, I mean. Big objective lens collect more light than the smaller etc. Shortly: My statement currectly is that Batis 2/25 has better light transmission than most of similar lenses. I think the version of that magical T* multicoating used in Batis is an improved one. Don’t know for sure, I need to check it from ZEISS, but you got my point?
Second interesting finding made me shiver. Actually I got some goose bumps, and make that double. You know, when the aperture is as open as f/2.0 there are lot of uncollimated light rays flying though the lens. That means also lot of not so sharp parts in the picture because of the short depth of field. Well, take a look for example to the picture below. The aperture is f/2.2 but check which parts of the image are still sharp. Although there is question about the wide angle lens, what would you expect with such a f-stop? There is about a meter from the front surface of altar to the window frame. With a full frame camera like Sony (Which makes the depth of field typically short) the Batis handles the depth of field with a style. One sign of a close co-operation of ZEISS and Sony. Lenses fit well to cameras characteristics.
I think the smooth transition from depth of field to the unsharp parts of the image is partly related to the contrast and color management of the lens. The Distagon lens design might have also something to do with it. Anyway, Batis 2/25 handles the Circle of Confusion better than many other lenses. Thanks to the deep focus area it is more immune to the affects of aperture, and makes it also easier to shoot with. Great autofocus and good stabilizer just adds the easiness.
So, when you check the gallery pay attention to two main points: Lightness and depth of field compared to settings used.
DISCLAIMER: Photos presented in this article contain minimum amount of post-production. There is danger of natural looking photos here! That was ofcourse a joke but really, to be able to see what Batis in real life does these example images are pretty much straight from the camera. I have just corrected the exposure bit in some cases but not much. No Clarity or Saturation used here. You can see that colors are natural, not over-saturated as in many cheaper lens, and gradients run even smoother than with the Loxia which does the 3D pop very well thanks to the contrast. The overall feeling is very sophisticated, I would say.
How about those other technical/optical features like sharpness? A bit chromatic aberration in some of the window frames but that is in control. Check how bright the incoming light is. Otherwise the sharpness is good, from edge to edge. And then….Why I am talking here? Check the sample images and make your own conclusions! I personally start to like more and more the classic and sophisticated feeling this lens has. Ofcourse I need to shoot more to learn to utilize all the potential the Batis 2/25 has but we’re anyway still travelling together for a short moment. If we ended up to the altar already at the second dates let’s see where we are when the week ends…