Update 2: Zeiss just published a video about this awesome lens.
Thanks to the reader who sent in the links! :)
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:
|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|
|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)|