REVIEW - SONY ZEISS BATIS 85mm f1.8 LENS

The 85mm lens, also known as the perfect portrait focal length, is a key tool in any camera kit. I recently tested the Sigma 85mm art lens, and this past weekend, I tried the Sony Zeiss Batis 85mm. The first thing I noticed, was how dreamy this lens is. This lens is buttery smooth, rendering a very soft light in almost any situation. Unlike the sharpness you find with the Sigma lens, with its crisp bokeh and quick focus, the Sony Zeiss Batis offers a much more soft atmospheric approach to this classic portrait focal length.

Bokeh

It creates a soft dreamy effect to how it slowly pulls its focus. In a bright outdoor situation, you have an intense depth of field. However, it doesn’t handle bokeh like the Sigma 85mm art lens. My calculation is that due to the more compact nature of this lens, the glass is less and the reflection therefore is altered. So it’s not necessarily no bokeh, but rather a different and softer more subdued bokeh presence. Also, despite this not being an art series lens, there is no color grading on any of the footage shot on this lens shared above. The colors, clarity, and vibrancy is incredible.


Weight

This lens is as light as a feather. I didn’t think about weight once. This is enough to justify having both this lens and the Sigma 85mm art lens. For longer shoots, I would probably grab this lens, versus the 4.79 pound Sigma Art glass.

Focus

The focus is ironically not as quick as the Sigma 85mm. Typically, the biggest selling point for native lenses is their focus communication. This was pretty clear to me immediately, but as I continued to use the lens, I found a sort of rhythm to have the slow and smooth focus shift to work in my favour. It’s not necessarily hard to focus on this lens, but rather the focus pull is a lot slower and smoother. For quick fast moving events, you have to keep this in mind, and be sure you’re positioned in clear view of your subject.


Aperture

This camera comes in at f1.8. This is a solid wide aperture lens. However, compared to the Sigma 85mm art lens at f1.4, there is a slight difference felt. Now, this lens is still a very comfortable aperture for most of the things I’d shoot, however, as stated in my previous post, whenever I can go lower in aperture, I do. 


Low Light

The low light performance is solid, but when shooting at 120 FPS, with a shutter speed of 240, the shots became slightly grainy. This is a challenge in any lower light situation, but this is where that additional 0.4 f stop would come in handy.

Ultimately, if I had to pick one lens, I would go with the Sigma 85mm art lens. For the faster focusing, the lower aperture, and the way it renders bokeh. However, in an ideal situation, I would have both lenses. I never really understood the justification for having two lenses at the same focal length, before using these two lenses. They render totally different images, and can be best suitable for entirely different situations.

Drop a comment below, and let me know your visual preference. Dreamy soft footage versus sharp crisp bokeh?

REVIEW – SIGMA E MOUNT 85mm f1.4 ART LENS

Sigma and Sony seem to be cultivating a promising visual relationship as of late. So much so, that many faithful industry professionals have been advocating for, and anticipating such a partnership. The new release of Sigma’s Art series lenses for Sony is the closest we’ve gotten to an official partnership. As of now, Sigma and Sony are still operating quite independently. Although Sigma has managed to create a series of lenses for Sony that arguably surpass comparable Sony lenses, the Sigma art series lenses released earlier this year have been doing incredibly well. I recently had the opportunity to rent and shoot with the Sigma 85mm f 1.4 art lens. Here, I will discuss five elements of this lens that I found crucial to its performance: aperture, focus, low light performance, weight, and bokeh.

Bokeh

The wide aperture, high millimeter, and art lens cinematography makes this lens perfect for brilliant bokeh. Shooting at 85mm, in proper portrait mode, you’re already situated for great bokeh. However, with the addition of not only he aperture, but the way Sigma works it’s magic to design this art series lenses with that more more of a cinematic appeal, this lens created some of the best bokeh I’ve ever seen. Though seemingly simple, the way this camera handles light is it’s biggest selling point. The bokeh is a beautiful result of these three elements (aperture, focal length, and art series) coming together to create an incredible piece of glass.

Weight

This lens is weighted. It comes in at over four and a half pounds, and can be quite heavy when being used for duration all shooting. The heavy weight has both pros and cons. While it be a strain on your arms over time, it also makes the camera quite front heavy, meaning, it can add additional natural stabilization to a shot that is being done handheld, like most of my shots. Of course there is still a con within the pro, as sometimes the weight causes your arms strength to weaken, but none the less, at least during shorter durations, it can be a nice alternative to keeping a steady shot. 

Aperture

With an aperture of 1.4, I was well within my comfort zone with this lens. Add an ND filter attachment, and this lens offers a huge diversity to the potential of this lens. Being that I shoot primarily with natural lighting, a low aperture is the number one thing I use to access the value of a lens. As a rule of thumb, I don’t go past f2/2.8. This lens stacks up well.

Focus

The focus performance on this lens is quite good. Though there were one or two moments were the lens couldn’t quite comprehend where I was seeking sole focus, the overall performance was still impressive. Outside of those few moments, all my shots were in perfect focus, and the image was extremely clean, both in the low light and bright daylight. 

Low light Performance 

Given the factors outlined above, it’s safe to say this camera does incredibly well in low light situations. This was one of main takeaways when first watching a review on the lens a few weeks before renting it. Had I not rented this lens, not only would I have struggled with capturing the full range of the event, but I would have also struggled with a wider lens, in low light. When you’re already dealing with low light, a tighter focal length is ideal, as tends to carry much more of the available light around than on an extreme wide.

Overall, this lens is a very solid and worthwhile investment that I plan on making in the future. Though it is on the more expensive side, coming in at $1199, it covers any kind of shot you would need at a portrait style focal length. The mere fact that this level of performance is then coupled with the cinematic excellence that a Sigma art lens provides, makes it a worthwhile investment.

WHY AM I CREATING A YOUTUBE CHANNEL?

I started watching YouTube almost a decade ago. My seemingly innocent obsession with YouTube during my latter years of high school could very well have played a role in my trajectory of video art. None the less, as a video artist and writer, I find solace with many of the creatives on this platform. They have inspired me, reenergized me, and challenge me to continuously strive for truth in creating. Veterans like Evelyn from the Internets, Casey Neistat, JacksGap, Shameless Maya have been fixtures. Newly found creators like Dan Mace, Dale Roossein or family based creators like MazeLee, and Beleaf In Fatherhood are incredibly stimulating in their work. Without many of these artists, and this platform as a whole, I would not be the artist I am today, but more importantly, I would not have the space I am currently seeking to create, to hold myself accountable and challenge myself to create.

I am seeking a space to connect with other like-minded artist, practice and hone my creative skills, and keep myself accountable to doing consistent work. Additionally, I am excited to be a part of a conversation on YouTube that’s often dominated by one kind of artist. The technology and creative space on YouTube still has a ways to go in defying the norms of these same industries that exist outside of YouTube. In short, Black women such as myself are non existent as exclusive providers of knowledge in the creative tech community of YouTube.

I say all of that to say, hi. I’m Kim. You may know me as the author of this blog, or a video artist on and offline. YouTube and my blog will serve as a platform for me navigating my creative process.