Often with wide-angle lenses you have to live with either a slow aperture speed or excessive bulkiness. Example: the Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4 is fast and produces beautiful results, but it’s brick-heavy and as long as many 100+mm lenses. Smaller wide-angle lenses usually range from f/2.8 to f/4 if you aren’t paying the big bucks for something like a Leica Summicron lens.
The Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2.0 attempts to find a middleground. It’s reasonably fast, and while it’s far from small for a 25mm, it’s fairly lightweight and the length isn’t too out of control. It is a fat lens, and would probably be a bit much for the smaller Sony E-Mount cameras.
As for results, it combines excellent optical performance with minimal distortion to produce high-quality, straightforward results. This makes it a good travel photography lens for me. I don’t look for personality traits such as bokeh quality as much in wide-angle lenses as I do in 50+mm lenses. With something like the following shot, taken at Lake Lugano in Switzerland, the priority is catching a big field of view with maximum clarity.
Cramped spaces can also call for wider angle shooting. I turned to the Batis when walking the narrow streets and alleys of the old Medina of Rabat, Morocco
When in manual focus mode, this lens has a readout on top of it that displays focus distance, as well as depth-of-field (circle of confusion) range:
It can also be set to always on or off. I’ve seen reviews call this feature a gimmick, with photographers saying they don’t see the point. I couldn’t disagree more – this readout is wonderful feature, and I hope to see it on more lenses in the future. I often rely on zone focusing for things like street photography and concert photography. When I’m walking through a city trying to quickly capture slice-of-life moments, I prefer older lenses that have markings showing focus distance and aperture so I can know at a glance if the focus will be right. This readout brings that feature back with a new level of accuracy.
If you’re someone who uses autofocus a lot, this feature won’t be of much use to you. But I would also suggest you turn your autofocus off – I consider autofocus much more a pointless gimmick than this readout!
Getting back to lens performance, I’m also happy with how it does in low light, as seen here crossing the Arno River in Florence, Italy:
I don’t chase after sharpness performance as much as many photographers, but I was happy to have the Batis’s sharpness when I came across this tree on the shore of Lake Como in northern Italy: