Powerful Portrait Prime Lens - Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 Review
This past weekend, I had a couple of shoots on my schedule that required me to get tight shots of people having fun. I've been using the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master lens to do a lot of that and while the versatility of that lens is perfect, I wanted a different look this time around.
I've been a fan of YouTuber Jason Vong's work before I picked up the Sony A7 III as my primary camera and noticed how he gravitated toward the Zeiss Batis series of lenses, a group of Sony E-Mount Prime lenses designed the pair with the Sony A7 series. The way that those lenses help create an image through contrast, color, and depth of field all make them ideal for assisting the creative process of capturing an image that pulls the viewer into the photo. I get similar results with my Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens, but with the need for a longer focal length, I wanted to use this opportunity to try out the Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8.
I spent the weekend shooting a mix of wider and tighter portrait shots, and it performed great, getting tack sharp shots (thanks in part to the A7 III's EyeAF) with buttery smooth swirling bokeh in the background. At 135mm the lens forces me to move a bit to get the shot if I need something closer to 200mm, or use crop mode if I can't physically get any closer swirling bokeh in the background. At 135mm the lens forces me to move a bit to get the shot if I need something closer to 200mm, or use crop mode if I can't physically get any closer.
The only downside I've noticed is AF feels a nanosecond slower than my Sony 24-105mm G lens but not by much. It still tracks fast moving subjects with great accuracy and sharpness, but it wouldn’t be my first choice to use it if autofocus speed was the highest priority. Another thing is that I miss the programable button on some of the Sony’s lenses that you can program for EyeAF which is super useful for portraits. I want to try the Sony 135mm f/1.8 to compare since I've heard the autofocus speed is superb on there and being able to open up to f/1.8 offers more opportunities as far as depth of field is concerned and come back with a side by side analysis.
Overall I've appreciated using this lens as the way it performs helps add something different to my images. If you're shooting a subject against a background that offers some character, the bokeh on this lens will make your subjects stand out in a whole new way.