Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 DxOMarked (it’s a hell of a lens)

The Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 55mm f/1.4 lens has been DxOMarked. Results are pretty good, as expected for a $4000 Zeiss lens. They write:

Without doubt Zeiss has achieved their goal of producing the finest fast standard prime available on the market today for full-frame DSLRs, but at a shade under $4000, image quality like that doesn’t come cheap.

See also the comparison with two Canon 50mm lenses, the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and EF 50mm f/1.2L.

Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* First Impression (it’s “scharf”)

Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 OtusZeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus

Scharf is a German word that can mean “sharp” or “hot”, depending by the context. That’s the notion Roger Cicala starts his review of the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* lens – Zeiss’ latest $4000 optical marvel:

After testing our first copies of the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus lens I felt the term scharf was just perfect to describe this lens.

It’s a pity they tested the lens on a Nikon instead of a Canon. However, I think the test is interesting anyway. About building and handling:

I can’t say what you’ll think of the appearance, but I love it. Very sleek and minimalist. The focus ring has the typical smooth Zeiss throw with a cinema-like 248-degree rotation. I found it extremely accurate.

In the conclusion Roger writes:

I won’t try to say whether the Otus is worth $4,000 to you. But I can certainly say that Zeiss did what they said they had done: gave it exceptional performance even in the corners at widest aperture. From a resolution standpoint, it is, as Zeiss said it would be, “the absolute best SLR lens in the world today.”

As written before, this is a $4000 lens – not everyone’s toy. Check the price and availability of the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus: Amazon USA, Amazon CA, B&H Photo, Adorama, Digitalrev, KEH Camera, eBay US, Canon USA, Canon CA, BestBuy

Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus
Shot with a Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* – Image courtesy: lensrentals.com

[via lensrentals]

And Here It Is: Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Lens Available for Pre-Order

Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus

It was just a few hours ago I wrote about this lens, and that it could be released very soon. Well, it has. Pre-orders are possible at B&H (click here) and Adorama (click here). The lens costs $3990. More information from Zeiss about the Otus 55mm f/1.4 here, plenty of sample shots on Zeiss’ Flickr page. Lloyd Chambers had the opportunity to test the lens, and his review is more than positive.

Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 OtusZeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus

Specifications (from B&H’s product page, more specs here):

Focal Length 55 mm
Aperture Maximum: f/1.4 – 16
Camera Mount Type Canon EF
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 43.7°
Minimum Focus Distance 19.7″ (.50 m)
Magnification Not Specified By Manufacturer
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:6.8
Groups/Elements 10/12
Diaphragm Blades Not Specified By Manufacturer
Image Stabilization None
Autofocus None
Tripod Collar No
Operating/Storage Temperature Not Specified By Manufacturer
Filter Thread 77 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.64 x 5.66″ (9.25 x 14.38 cm)
Weight 2.27 lb (1030 g)

Product description (from Adorama’s product page):

The ZEISS Otus 1.4/55 stands out with technical features ideal for all-around professional photography with 35mm DSLR cameras

With an imaging performance that has hitherto only been seen with medium format systems, the new ZEISS Otus 1.4/55 offers ambitious photographers who do not accept any compromises in image quality the possibility for a more compact gear. DSLR cameras with high-resolution 35mm sensors put enormous demands on lenses.

The Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 can deal with these demands thanks to its outstanding sharpness, high image contrast and no visible chromatic aberrations. It creates the highest-possible image quality, even with an open aperture.

The new ZEISS lens is especially suited for advertising, fashion and studio photography, and professional photographers working in these fields will not need to make any compromises in terms of performance and quality.

The Otus 1.4/55 is the first lens in a family of uncompromising professional lenses from ZEISS. Additional focal lengths will follow. Otus is the Latin name for a type of owl known for its excellent vision in darkness just like this new high-speed lens from ZEISS.

Other unique features of the Otus 1.4/55 are its high image contrast all the way to the edges (even for low f-numbers) and the consistent high-resolution performance across the entire image field.

The lens has a completely new optical and mechanical design, which was developed taking into account the special and increasing requirements of high-resolution DSLR cameras. The Otus 1.4/55 is equipped with a floating elements design with 12 lens elements in 10 groups, including a double-sided aspheric lens and six lenses made of special glass with anomalous partial

The performance delivered by the Otus 1.4/55 is especially obvious with night shots. When taking pictures with many image-dominant, open light sources, it is common for correction defects to show up. Because the Otus 1.4/55 is an apochromatic lens, longitudinal chromatic aberrations are corrected by its lens elements of special glass with anomalous partial dispersion. The color defects are therefore significantly lower than the defined limits. Bright/dark transitions in the image, and especially highlights, are rendered with no colorful artifacts.

Although it is not a traditional focal length for architectural and landscape photography, here, too, the lens can deliver very good results. The edges of the image can be used for all apertures, giving full rein to the photographer’s creativity.

For portraiture, the Otus 1.4/55 render the finest details precisely, and thanks to the maximum aperture of f/1.4, the photographer can consciously play with the depth of field and create a smooth bokeh.

The Otus 1.4/55 stands out not only for its highly detailed pictures with no bothersome artifacts, but also for its mechanical quality. The smooth focus operation with the large angle of rotation allows for the finest variations when focusing qualities that are only possible in a metal barrel. Its design as a manual focus lens allowed the engineers to work with much smaller tolerances during the construction. The lens’s robust metal barrel with the easy to grip focus ring makes it perfect for the demanding everyday situations of professional photographers, and guarantees a long product life. The yellow labels on the scales, which are borrowed from the professional ZEISS cinema lenses, contribute to better visibility.

Update – Zeiss Apo-Distagon 55mm f/1.4 “Otus” Close to be Released

Update 2: Zeiss just published a video about this awesome lens.

Update 1: more information about the Otus 55mm f/1.4 here, plenty of sample shots on Zeiss’ Flickr page.

Thanks to the reader who sent in the links! :)

Zeiss Apo-Distagon 55mm f/1.4

Looks like the high-end, manual focusing Zeiss Apo-Distagon 55mm f/1.4 (part of the “Otus” line-up, Otus means owl) may be close to be released (source: CR). Prototypes appear to be already in use by selected photographers (source: photoscala). I a new post, called “Mit einer perfekten Optik ein perfektes Bild erschaffen” (translated: Obtaining a perfect image with a perfect optic), Zeiss touts the outstanding features of their new lens. Lloyd Chambers had the opportunity to test the lens, and his review is more than positive, some excerpts:

The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon is a true professional-grade lens in every respect, thinking not so much in DSLR terms as in traditional medium format terms, with the associated high expectations for optical performance and top-flight build quality. The lens is a daring move in price terms and in being a manual focus lens, and in offering the ultimate in image quality.

Sharpness and contrast wide open care unmatched by any ƒ/1.4 lens for a DSLR or rangefinder. The lens is actually sharper at ƒ/1.4 across the frame than many 50mm prime lenses offer at ƒ/5.6.

A real strength of the 55/1.4 Distagon is in delivering total image quality across the entire frame. For example, the very high performing Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar performs nearly as well over the central areas of the frame, but it cannot deliver the same quality to the edges and corners and it doesn’t have quite the same level of flare control. Compared to other ƒ/1.4 lenses at ƒ/1.4 and ƒ/2, the Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 Distagon is in its own class of one.

The 55/1.4 APO-Distagon is so well corrected that even pushed beyond its design range into macro territory (using an extension tube), the same beautiful qualities remain intact, including its superb color balance and correction for color errors.

The review comes with lots of sample images and covers most aspects you want to learn about such a lens. In the conclusion he writes:

Photographers looking for the very best in imaging quality need look no further. When everything is considered, the Zeiss Otus 55m f/1.4 APO-Distagon is without a doubt the finest lens ever produced for a 35mm SLR or DSLR (or rangefinder). It sets a new benchmark.

The lens will be available for Canon and Nikon mounts, official release date is November, 11 – the price should be around $4000. Tech specs:

Focal length 54.5mm
Aperture range f/1.4 – ƒ/16
Number of lens elements/groups 12 elements in 10 groups
– floating element design*.
– Double-sided aspherical rear element.
– 2 elements with very low index and dispersion and large positive partial dispersion ratio deviation** +
4 elements of special glass having negative partial dispersion ratio deviation which together help to improve chromatic correction***.
Focusing range: 0.5 m / 19.68 in – infinity
Free working distance at MOD: 330 mm / 13.2 in (300 mm with hood)
Angular field (diag./horiz./vert.) 43.7°/36.7°/24.9°
Diameter of image field 43.2 mm
Flange focal offset ZF.2: 46,50 mm (1.83′′)
ZE: 44,00 mm (1.73′′)
Coverage at close range (MOD). 36 X 24mm frame 246 x 163 mm = 9.69 x 6.42 in
Image ratio at close range 1:6.8
Filter thread 77mm
Length with caps 142 mm (ZF.2) / 144 mm (ZE)
Diameter max 92.4 mm (lens only), 98.5 mm (hood)
Weight (nominal), ZF.2: ZF.2:  970g / 2.2 lb, 1040g with hood
ZE:   1030g / 2.43 lb, 1120 g with hood
Mounts ZF.2 (F bayonet), ZE (EF bayonet)

Zeiss Apo-Distagon 55mm f/1.4Zeiss Apo-Distagon 55mm f/1.4


Zeiss Close To Announce New High End Lenses (first lens is a 55mm f/1.4)


Zeiss (nowadays without the “Carl”) revealed plans for those lenses some time ago. The first lens they are going to release – in Autumn 2013 – is a 55mm f/1.4. The new lenses will embrace a new design philosophy that Zeiss exposed in an article titled From brand personality definition to prize-winning design. Prototypes were shown at Photokina 2012. They write:

The project had been discussed internally at ZEISS for a long time. The first concepts were already discussed in 2008, but it was not until 2010 that things became concrete. Back then it was clear to the experts at ZEISS that the image sensors in the new generations of cameras would make such a big leap forward that there would already be a need for corresponding high-performance lenses in the medium term. […]  ZEISS wanted to offer photographers a range of high-end SLR lenses that would enable them to use the full potential of such cameras. Such a combination would achieve performance values that would be comparable to those of medium-format systems.

“When the 1,4/55 comes onto the market at the end of 2013 as the first in this family of lenses, it will be one of the best lenses in the world,” summarizes [the project manager]. “There will be nothing of comparable quality, and that not only applies to this specific focal length range.  With this product ZEISS has truly opened up a new dimension of digital full-frame photography.”

More on Zeiss blog. For a selection of Zeiss lenses for Canon cameras see here.

[via ephotozine]