I am expecting Zeiss to announce a new Zeiss telephoto Loxia lens within the near future. I’m guessing around September time. I believe manually focusing with a mirrorless camera is much, much easier than manually focusing a lens using a DSLR. I also believe that manual focus is essential for macro lenses. As such, it would be quite nice if we could see a macro Loxia lens. In my opinion, a Sony a7rII and a Loxia macro lens could arguably be the best macro setup possible with the cameras currently on the market.
I think Zeiss would be foolish not to release some macro lenses soon. However, the focal length runs in line with a portrait lens. In my opinion, this creates a certain dilemma for design choices. For example, Zeiss already have the design for an extremely small 85mm f/4.0 lens where the back focal distance is suited to sensors closer to the lens mount than on a DSLR. They wouldn’t have to change the optical formula much to make it suitable for the Sony mirrorless e-mount system. If they could create a Loxia macro lens based around this design, it could be small–in keeping with the Loxia idealogy–and it could also be fairly lightweight.
For a lot of macro photography, I do not believe an aperture of f/2.8 is required. When photographing bugs for example, you get very little in focus with an aperture of f/2.8. There are obviously situations in macro photography where a large aperture is required (jewellery photography for example) but I think it would still satisfy a lot of people if the maximum aperture wasn’t that large. However, for portrait photography, an 85mm f/2.8 lens isn’t considered to be a large aperture lens. Many photographers like to use smaller apertures for portrait photography, but it’s still generally assumed that a portrait lens should have a large aperture.
Zeiss make a 100mm f/2.0 lens but there lies a problem with these for mirrorless cameras. They’re designed for DSLRs, so an extender would need to be added if the same design was used. It’s a heavy lens, and it’s quite large.
I think it’d make sense for Zeiss to create a 135mm f/2 Batis lens and an 85mm f/4.0 Loxia Macro lens but I certainly wouldn’t bet on them doing that. Their 100mm f/2 lens is stellar and it’d almost be a shame not to see a similar lens available for the Sony e-mount system. My main gripe with that lens is it is not a 1:1 macro lens, it has a 1:2 maximum magnification.
In some ways, I’d like to see a 100mm f/2.0 Zeiss Loxia Macro lens, an 85mm f/4.0 Zeiss Loxia Macro lens, and a 135mm f/2.0 Zeiss Batis non macro lens. It might not be a wise business choice for them to announce all three lenses with similar focal lengths at the moment though. There’s one further advantage with a smaller aperture lens and that’s that they can keep their trend of 52mm filters. It’s somewhat hard to guess as to what they’re going to release. I just really, really hope they release a macro lens for the Loxia lineup and not necessarily the Batis (a Zeiss 100mm f/2.0 Macro Batis lens sounds nice though!)
We must wait and see :).