The Zeiss Batis 18mm is a super-wideangle autofocus fixed lens for Sony E-Mount system, and for the moment is the only one of this kind. Thinking about Zeiss is synonymous of high quality images, good materials, innovations and indeed every these qualities are present in this lens. Talking about its appareance, this lens is very beautiful, with smooth finitures and good material, a part the plastic hood: for this kind of lens I find that is too cheap, too plastic and sometime hardly to insert in the lens.
But a part this problem, the Batis 18mm is really good lens and with an high-res camera (as the Sony A7RII/A7RIII) makes amazing images. A feature really useful is the OLED display that show some information like the distance focus and depth of field. An other interesting feature is the T* anti-reflective coating, that work well in almost every backlight situation, and we don't forget the maximum aperture of 2.8, really useful in low-light condition.
Like the others Batis lens, also in this version there's the OLED display which shows the focus distance and depth of field.The depth of field describes the sharp focus range and depends from some different factors as, for example, the focus distance and the lens aperture. In close-up situations the display shows the focus distance on the left side, while in right side shows the depth of field. In long distance situations the focus distance is shown in the upper part of the display, while the depth of field values are shown in the bottom side (depth of field and focus distance shown are the same).The real utility of this display is for me during the night, for example with the Milky Way in order to set properly the focus, or when you want control if an element in foreground is in focus.
I've never put this lens into the water, but with some rain I've never had a problem, or in situations with a lot of humid, so the weather sealed is right, also with the dust.
T*-coating reduce the reflections in the lens really well, in fact I've taken many picture in backlight condition with no problem. Of course in some situations it could be some flare, but in general T* works well and reduce ghost too.
But we start with the bad thing, actually only one for me: the lens hood. Really beautiful and well integrated with the lens, but the plastic material is very cheap and I can't understand the reason of this choice from Zeiss.
For the rest the lens is fantastic, really sharp in every situation. Talking about the sharp the best aperture values to obtain it is f/8; in the following pictures you can value the differences about bokeh, sharpening and the deep of field:
The bokeh is really soft to be super-wideangle lens, as you can see:
This lens can be used for many situations, but I think the best use is in landscapes photos, where you can appreciate sharpness and good colors. Also with buildings can be useful, because distorsions aren't so evident, even if in post-production you can quickly correct them. An other situation where you can use this lens is the astrophotography, indeed with the Milky Way it permits you to take photo really nice, with a good contrast and good sharpness, even in the corner too but with some coma, as you can see in the photo below.
The lens has a small macro capacity (in the flowers photo above the lens was very close to the subject) and this permit you to take some very interesting pictures with something in foreground, even if it's difficult to have everything in focus, so you should take different shot to merge together. The weight is low so traveling with it will be simple. The focus ring has made of soft rubber and it's really soft to turning, even if you have wet hands or gloves.
Some pictures taken with the lens.
Like the others Batis lens series, this one is really good. It costs much but the general quality of the lens justify the price. Of course if you want a lower focal lenght you ought to try other lenses like the Sony 11-24mm f/4 or the Sigma 14mm f/1.8.
Photoseiki TB-101 gimbal head is an accessory that should never miss a naturalist photographer I think is just a gimbal head !!
Like so many photographer, I started with a normal aluminum tripod and her beautiful ball head, but when you start using some lenses of a certain level, and weight, you see that the tripod is not enough.
The problems that most are with ball heads are essentially three:
1. Need to continually 'lock' the adjustment knobs after setting the lens + camera system
2. little control in the pursuit of subjects to be photographed
3. Poor accuracy of the settings since there is always a slight gap between the parts
So in the end I decided for a good gimbal head and after a long search on the net, evaluating features and prices, I came to the Italian Photoseiki with the TB-101 model.