Zeiss Civil War. Batis 85mm 1.8 vs Milvus 85mm 1.4

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The Sony mirror-less revolution is in full swing. Now that the lens line up for Sony is close to being on par with other brands, its time to look at your choices for 85mm. We just found out recently the the new G Master 85 from Sony  is being praised by professionals for its stellar performance. Unfortunately I don’t have one yet and cannot comment on it.  However, I do have the Batis 85 and Milvus 85 and thought this would be a good time to compare the two from a users point of view.  Having said that, it’s no secret that the Batis is in high demand and the Milvus seems to have been left in the dark. It’s no wonder, considering the shift towards mirror less cameras.

The Milvus comes in a native Canon or Nikon mount, while the Batis comes in a Native E  Sony mount. As you probably already know, the Batis is an auto focus lens while the Milvus is manual focus. The Milvus weighs as much as a brick, while the Batis feels like it weighs as much as a lens cap. Both lenses are weather sealed and have electronic communication with a camera. The Batis communicates with the Sony while the Milvus ONLY communicates with a Canon or Nikon. However, thanks to my $50.00 adapter, I can use the Milvus on the Sony without any communication between the lens and the camera.

Although the Milvus is manual focus, the added focus peak and magnification of the electronic view finder really helps in nailing the focus just right as long as the subject is pretty steady. Obviously stopping down the lens is more forgiving than shooting wide open when manually focusing.  On the other hand, the Batis has the auto focus feature which makes focusing on moving subjects a breeze. However, I did feel the focus was very sluggish for some reason. The Sony/Zeiss 55mm 1.8 is very quick to focus while the 85 Batis takes it’s time when focusing from one extreme to another in terms of distance to subject.

The Batis makes for a great travel lens due to it’s size and weight. The Milvus makes for a great weapon due to it’s size and weight.  If you can’t carry a gun, carry a Milvus. Also, if you are looking for a light lens for your Sony, there is absolutely no way in hell you should even consider the Milvus. This is not a gray area. Its very cut and clear.

Both lenses render beautifully. Contrast, sharpness and bokeh are extremely pleasing from both. However, I give the edge on sharpness to the Milvus. But you can look at the sample images and decide fro yourself.

The Batis renders warmer tone while the Milvus is much cooler. In order to get similar looking images, I  had to adjust the color temp on both samples.

All shots where very bland and boring. No portraits at this time. Just stationary objects in an effort to capture the basics for comparison.  Most shots where taken at f2, 2.8, 4, 5.6 and f8. I did not Shoot the Milvus at 1.4 nor the Batis at 1.8. I gave each the benefit of a slight stop down to closely match performance. Both lenses were shot in manual focus with peak and magnification so focus could be reproduced from one lens to the other.


In the two images below, the focus point was on the sun artwork on top of the bird feeder post.


Batis at F2



Milvus at F2


In the following two Images, the focus point was the threads on the bolt sticking out of the bird feeder.


Batis at F2


Milvus at F2


Here is one with a little more colorful shot at at F4. Focus point was the sticker on the bottom right corner of the license plate.


Batis at F4


Milvus at F4


Focus point on the following was the white bud on the left near the wood beam.


Batis at F2



Milvus at F2

A more specific review of the Milvus can be found here at Milvus Review


I am having a hard time deciding which lens I would keep if I had to give one up. The two lenses perform extremely well and offer their own unique rendering. However, I would be a fool to ignore the fact that auto focus Batis has a major advantage over the manual focus Milvus. Do I want a lens that is engaging and fun to use like the Milvus or do I want a lens that makes you feel like your shooting a point and shoot but will give me focused subjects the majority of the time? On the other hand, I could use the Milvus on both the Sony and Nikon like the upcoming D5 :)  whereas the Batis will only work on the Sony. Luck for me, I can still keep both for now.

The following is a mini gallery of photos taken at different apertures. Check back in a few days when I should have some additional images posted.

Milvus 85 vs Batis 85

4 Comments on Zeiss Civil War. Batis 85mm 1.8 vs Milvus 85mm 1.4

  1. No way would I take the Milvus. First, the overall color and rendition looks better on the Batis IMO. Besides that, the auto focus alone is worth the cost of admission. It makes it incredibly difficult to capture spontaneous expression with a MF lens. With the Batis? Use eye detect and it makes nailing focus a breeze. The flexibility that offers doubles the value of the Batis.

  2. At first glance the Milvus bokeh appears smoother but on closer inspection the Batis is just higher contrast at wide apertures. The OOF objects are blurred as well, or better, to my eye with he Batis but there is more general contrast and that makes the OOF objects appear more distinct. NOTE: I’m biased because I’m waiting on a Batis but that would be my choice even based on IQ alone.

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