Lens review

Carl Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2 CF

28 August 2020
Maciej Latałło

3. Build quality

The following chart presents a comparison between different 35-45 mm full frame lenses with apertures ranging from f/1.8 to f/2.0. It is clear that the Batis is optically the most complex device in this group; physically it is also the biggest and it comes with the highest filter diameter. What's interesting, it is hardly the heaviest - when it comes to the weight the Milvus is almost two times heavier than the Batis. Its minimum focusing distance, amounting to just 24 cm, also makes the Batis stick out among its rivals.

In the photo below on the right side of the Batis you see two other Sony FE lenses – the Samyang AF 45 mm f/1.8 FE and the Voigtlander Apo-Lanthar 2/60 Macro. Next to the huge Zeiss the faster Samyang seems to be really dainty.

Carl Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2 CF  - Build quality

The tested lens starts with a metal mount surrounding a contact plate and a black 29×24 mm window made of plastics. That window shelters an inner tube of the lens, also made of plastics, which is nevertheless nicely blackened and matted.

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Carl Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2 CF  - Build quality

The rear element doesn't move and is about 27 mm in diameter. Its cross section is not circular because it is put in another window, a bit smaller than the element itself. From the side of the mount you can't notice any slits or electronic parts. The lens is weather and dust sealed.

Carl Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2 CF  - Build quality

The proper body starts with a black, metal ring which diameter increases as you move further from the mount. On that ring you can find a blue dot, making an alignment with a camera easier, a mount type (E-mount), the name and serial number of the lens along with information that it was produced in Japan.

Carl Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2 CF  - Build quality

Then you see a manual focus ring, 18 mm wide, completely covered by smooth, rubber armour. The armour sticks to your fingers very well and the ring is a joy to use. Still, it also catched dirt and dust rather easy. The focus throw depends on the speed of your turning – if you move the ring fast you can cover its range with an angle of about 180 degrees. If you move it slowly, it might take even about 540 degrees. Both these values allow you to get very precise setting. It should also be noticed that the Batis has to serve a pretty wide range because it focuses already from 0.24 of a meter. The focusing distance of its rivals usually starts from 0.3-0.4 of a meter.

Over the ring you find a widnow with a distance scale and depth of field scale. That window is nothing more than an LCD panel which works only when you switch the lens on and put it in the manual focusing mode. Then you can see your focusing distance and DOF range.

Carl Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2 CF  - Build quality

To be honest I am not a big fan of such electronic fireworks. Not only the lens siphons energy out of a camera's battery but also the scale is too bright. While it might be not such a big problem during the day, at night it is bothersome. On the other hand, though, it is not as bad as focus-by-wire rings of some other producers that allow you to glimpse the distance and DOF scale only on the camera display.

The same smooth, metal ring that features the distance scale window features two Zeiss logotypes put on both sides. Under one of them you see an autofocus distance limiter switch, with three ranges: FULL, 0.4 m–∞ and 0.24–0.50 of a meter.

At the very end the lens gets a bit wider and turns into a hood mount. The front element doesn't move, is 37 mm in diameter, and is surrounded by an inscription „ZEISS Distagon 2/40 ⌀67 T*” and a non-rotating filter thread, 67 mm in diameter.

Carl Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2 CF  - Build quality

When it comes to inner construction you deal here with 9 elements positioned in 8 groups. Among them there are three elements made of a special kind of glass, two aspherical elements and one which combines those two features, being aspherical and made of a special kind of glass at the same time. Inside there is also an aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to a value of f/22.

Buyers get in the box with the lens: both caps, and a petal-type hood. It's a pity the producers didn't add any case or pouch for the lens; when you have to pay $1100 for an optical instrument such piece of accessory would be more than expected.

Carl Zeiss Batis 40 mm f/2 CF  - Build quality