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Zeiss ZM 85mm F4/ GM 85mm 1.4 Tests

Guy Mancuso

Administrator, Instructor
I have two 85mm lenses . One is the new Sony GM 85mm 1.4 lens which just recently came to market and as most of you know i started a very long test on that lens. Its a winner all the way around. My one issue with it it is not small and light but it is my workhorse lens and its killer good. But I wanted something to travel with and shoot landscape type images as part of my small prime kit. So I purchased the ZM 85 F4 zeiss RF lens with the newest Hawk adapter as this lens is very small and lightweight, has a 43mm filter thread compared to the GM 85 77mm filter thread. Thats a big difference in size and weight. I have a photo of that Ill post later on here. Before i start i just wanted a lens that at least compared to the GM so I can leave that out of the bag when i go hiking about as I will many times also have the GM 24-70. So Im trying to cut weight and bulk as I am not as young as i once was and 40 years of this has taken its toll on my back.

Lets get onto the tests and I will first just post my Big Bronco wall but I also wanted to show people just how good the GM 85 1.4 lens is in the corners, which for a very fast 85mm prime designed to be a portrait lens has amazing flat field across the image. Lots of debates about this lens but it is far sharper and resolves much better than folks think even at 1.4 which as reported between 1.4 and 1.6/1.7 it loses a little contrast and some clarity. BTW you can just put it in at 1.4 and i can make it look exactly like 1.6/1.7. This lens has a lot of options how you want to display its character.

Okay enough of that on the ZM 85mm F4, I expected it to be good but I did not expect it to be this good. Lets get on with it

Full image of scene



Okay before we get into the direct comparisons at same aperture the GM 85 has several stops of speed so lets look at the upper left corner.










Okay lets get into o the direct comparison but as you can see even at 2.8 the corners are really coming alive


Going to show a quick shot of the upper Right on the ZM 85 at F4 just to show I have no lens issues and I'm well centered



Okay starting at F4 the direct comparison of upper left




















So that is the short range test. Im about 35 yards from the wall. If you notice the ZM is a touch wider than the GM, it does have a little CA at F4 but easily to correct and gone by 5.6. From my seat at F5.6 I'm actually going to give the ZM a very slight edge. Folks thats really freaking good to even be in the same park as the GM 85. If you look close in the light bulb you can see the CA at F4 gone by 5.6. For landscape work this is where you start with aperture

Quick center test of another wall





Need to remember here the ZM is wide open here at F4
 
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Guy Mancuso

Administrator, Instructor
Moving on to infinity tests and this is very good for both lenses. Here is the full scene



Center crops at F4





Going to extreme left corner






















I am actually quite impressed by both lenses here as they are doing a amazing job of getting full resolution. To me they look almost identical and putting the ZM against the GM as good as the GM is the ZM is right there following it. The good news for me owning both is the Gm is killer wide open and my workhorse lens. I do love it but for landscape , travel type stuff I really only need a F4 lens in hand so I feel taking the ZM to do that I am not leaving any quality at home. Totally comfortable with the ZM results. Im a happy camper.

The only downside I see is a little CA even at 5.6 now I look hard at it but thats a easy fix. Also given the ZM is F4 wide open it will have some vignette going on as the GM that totally clears out by F4 so you will have to work on that with the ZM but its about a stop that I am seeing. I corrected it doing this test so folks can really see the corners.

Now buying it here is the lens exactly but remember it does NOT come with a hood but you can buy one for a stupid price

Here is the lens

Zeiss 85mm f/4 Tele-Tessar T* ZM Manual Focus Lens - 1486-395

Here is the hood

Zeiss 1690438 Lens Shade for the 85mm f/4 Tele-Tessar 1690-438


FYI i bought a metal 43mm screw in on eBay . 84 dollars is a bit much to me but Ill be in NY next week and check it out at B&H and decide. I will also be shooting with it and follow up with some real images.

Hope this helps
 

Joe Colson

Well-known member
For the difference in price ($940 vs. $1,299) wouldn't the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 be a better travel option? AF plus lightweight and faster (f/1.8 vs. f/4). And the Batis can be controlled electronically with the camera with full EXIF. Not debating, just asking.

Joe
 
V

Vivek

Guest
There are many manual focus compact options.

Glad you like the Tele Tessar 85, Guy.
 

Guy Mancuso

Administrator, Instructor
For the difference in price ($940 vs. $1,299) wouldn't the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 be a better travel option? AF plus lightweight and faster (f/1.8 vs. f/4). And the Batis can be controlled electronically with the camera with full EXIF. Not debating, just asking.

Joe
In a way yes. If I wanted only one lens than the Batis 85 kind of fits both niches. Not wanting to give up my GM 85 which I like better than something really small is nice. My 5 small primes are all manual lenses so here I'm not that interested in AF. Having the GM 24-70 and 85 those are the work lenses.
 

thomas

New member
For the difference in price ($940 vs. $1,299) wouldn't the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 be a better travel option? AF plus lightweight and faster (f/1.8 vs. f/4). And the Batis can be controlled electronically with the camera with full EXIF. Not debating, just asking.
The Batis is MUCH larger than the Tessar.
The Tessar 4/85 is a special lens. It's slow... so it's pretty uninteressting for most people... certainly not for everyone. However, it's really small, it's fully manual, it handles just as smooth and precise as any other ZM lens and it's practically distortion-free (!!). My copy also does not show chromatic aberations (to speak of).
Beside being slow it's one of the most "accurate" and sharpest lenses I have ever used (including Digitar and Digaron large format lenses). And it really shines on the A7RII...
To me it makes much more sense to add a Tessar 4/85 to your bag when you already have a great, fast AF-lens like the GM85... because the Tessar is really totally different and unique...
 

Pradeep

Member
The Batis is MUCH larger than the Tessar.
The Tessar 4/85 is a special lens. It's slow... so it's pretty uninteressting for most people... certainly not for everyone. However, it's really small, it's fully manual, it handles just as smooth and precise as any other ZM lens and it's practically distortion-free (!!). My copy also does not show chromatic aberations (to speak of).
Beside being slow it's one of the most "accurate" and sharpest lenses I have ever used (including Digitar and Digaron large format lenses). And it really shines on the A7RII...
To me it makes much more sense to add a Tessar 4/85 to your bag when you already have a great, fast AF-lens like the GM85... because the Tessar is really totally different and unique...
Thomas, I have the 85 Batis and it is indeed wonderful for its portrait capabilities. Have not used it much for landscape where I tend to go a bit wider. I can see though, if you need longer FL, how a small lens would be perfect - the idea being to keep the bag as light as possible. However, given the need for an adapter for the A7RII, how much difference in size and heft is there in the end? I mean the Batis vs the ZM plus M-mount to E-Mount adapter.

I suppose if the characteristics of the lens are completely unique and worth having then it's all moot.
 

Joe Colson

Well-known member
And here's the GM 85mm vs. Batis 85mm size comparison (courtesy of sonyalpharumors.com):



Guy answered the question I had, so I understand his choice, especially given the price he paid.

The Batis is MUCH larger than the Tessar.
As Pradeep points out, if one includes the adapter, the Batis isn't radically larger than the Tessar. Larger yes. But "MUCH" larger? Not enough to aggravate my sciatica. :)

Joe
 
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