Hong Kong with the Sony a7ii and a few Carl Zeiss lenses

This has been such an amazing year so far. I do not normally travel but so far this year I've been able to go to Iceland, Japan, and Hong Kong. On this last trip to Hong Kong I brought along the Sony a7ii and 2 Carl Zeiss lenses (2/35 Loxia and 2/50 Loxia). While I was there I located probably the only 1.8/85mm Carl Zeiss Batis lens available in the US or Hong Kong so I picked it up immediately.  Probably 90% of the time I kept the 35mm lens on set to 5.6, 1/125, and auto ISO with a pre-set range from 100 to 2000. 

The purpose of the post is to give a review of the Sony a7ii and each lens along with sharing some of my favorite photos. 

Sony a7ii

I carried the Sony a7ii around using my Peak Design Slide and with the 35mm Loxia it was a very lightweight but capable set up. I typically used the black and white picture setting on the street which worked pretty well. The battery life was sufficient in that I normally left the hotel with 1 fully charged battery and I was fine. In order to help on the battery life I leave the viewfinder turned off and shoot with the LCD screen.

There are 3 complaints so far about this camera:

  1. At least a couple times a day I would accidentally open the memory card door which is annoying (Sony, please fix this!!). 
  2. The ISO selection on the dial is easily bumped which causes the ISO to go to 50 and this is very inconvenient when I'm ready to take a shot at night and then notice my exposure is way off. 
  3. The image export function to my phone is awesome but they only come out at 1080px across which only really works for Instagram (follow me @tom.f.watson). When I want to export and upload to Facebook I'm always disappointed with the IQ.

Carl Zeiss Loxia 2/35 and 2/50

Yes, these lenses are manual which I hear from some people as a big reason not to buy them. You have to understand that I did not grow up in the film days shooting manual lenses nor do I have a lot of practice with these on the street and it really isn't that difficult (especially on the a7ii). When I was walking on the street I would typically have the lens prefocused at about 5ft and then just be ready to adjust when necessary. 

The performance of these lenses are excellent. I have no complaints. My only hope is that they come out with a 21 or 25mm in the Loxia line. I would prefer that over the 25mm Batis which is a big lens and also includes automatic focus which isn't quite necessary on such a wide focal length. 

Here are a few images using the Loxia 2/35 and 2/50. 

Carl Zeiss 85mm Batis

Now to my exciting find in Hong Kong! I mostly do portraiture and head shots so I've been waiting on this lens to become available for my Sony a7ii. This is the first autofocus lens I've have for the a7ii so I'm getting used to which settings work best for me. I was able to shoot a couple of corporate portraits in the ICC building (the tallest building in Hong Kong) which ended up being a pretty heavily back lit scenario. I noticed the camera was having a hard time finding focus at times. This of course isn't the lenses fault but just something to mention. I really like this lens. The focus ring and overall design reminds me of the Zeiss Otus lens I used in Japan. The IQ is outstanding. 

I'll mention 2 small things I wish would change:

  1. I want a metal lens hood like all the other Zeiss lenses I've owned.
  2. The fit of the back lens cap between the Loxia and Batis is different. The design is the same but the Batis cap causes the gasket on the Loxia to push out leaving me concerned about it wearing out over time. Easy solution is to always bring each back lens cap but I don't want to always have a loose rear lens cap to keep track of in my travel bag. 

Here are a few of the images using the 85mm Batis.

The last night of the trip I went up to Victoria Peak which gives you an amazing view of Hong Kong. A 35mm isn't quite wide enough to capture everything I wanted to show so I decided to try and stitch 8 images. Since the 35mm lens was shooting down there was a bit of distortion in the buildings which wasn't difficult to fix in Lightroom. I haven't done this before and considering the air pollution I'm pretty happy with the results. The settings on the camera were ISO 100, f8, 10 seconds (no remote unfortunately just manually pressing the shutter which I know isn't the best thing for IQ). The final image is 140mb and 9796px × 4777px.

Let me know what you think! I'd be glad to hear your experience with this camera or these lenses. If you have any questions I'll do my best to answer.