Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 APO Distagon

18 December, 2015

The Best of the Best.

That’s it.  Review is done.  Thanks for coming.


I take, with a huge grain of salt, when people say a lens is ‘sharp as a tack’ or ‘razor sharp’.

What one person’s version of what they deem sharp to anothers… ‘that’s soft as’.  So I always ask, what other lenses do they deem as ‘sharp’

so you can gauge if said person knows what they are on about… or not.

Sharpness is only ONE small factor in determining if a lens makes my bag to put into play.  There are other equally valuable attributes that I look for

before I make my mind up and pony up the dough.  Right across the board, the Zeiss Otus is ONLY the second lens that

I have ever used, owned and put in play that is what I call…

‘perfect’…  Optically.  The other is the Nikon 200mm f2.  But there’s more.

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Haptically, it’s actually quite awful.  The look of it on modern DSLR’s doesn’t ‘match’, shape, weight… it all seems odd.

It’s a very heavy lens for a 55mm.  It is over 250grams heavier than Leica’s Noctilux.

Length wise it is as long as Nikon’s 85mm f1.4.  For a 55, that’s big.

In the world of 50mm lenses, each manufacturer produces various versions at various prices and performance.

My next favorite 50 would be the Leica Summilux, followed by the Noctilux then Nikon’s 58.

But all three of those pale in performance against the Otus.  It’s not even close.

There are sigma lovers out there that scream black and blue that the 50 Art is sensational.

It is, especially at it’s price point, but across the board, it’s no Otus.

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There is one MAJOR difference NOT in favour of the Otus and it’s not price.  (although alot of people would argue that price should come into it).

It’s that it’s manual focus ONLY.  On today’s viewfinders, even the top end bodies, at f1.4 to f2.2… it’s a lottery for critical focus.

You have to use Live View.  No if’s or buts.  Sure you can TRY using the OVF but you will find that

1; the green dot confirmation has too much play thus rendering it useless and

2; what you see through the viewfinder is not a representation of f1.4.

So it’s not built for speed shooting, or fast moving objects.  Can you still get shots of moving objects?  Of course, you just need to skill up.

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The Otus 55 resolves even the D810 sensor right out to the corners.  Where other lenses hide in fear, the Otus sings radiantly.

Lack of Chromatic Aberrations , veiling, ghosting, distortion are superbly controlled.

The image renders wonderfully transparent and slices the plane of the image exquisitely.  The clarity and detail, even at f1.4 is astounding.

Comparatively, against the other 50′s it’s only when you stop the other primes down to approximately f4 that it resembles the Otus at f1.4.

Now that is incredible and we are not talking about chump lenses from Leica, Nikon, Canon, Sony or Sigma either.

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Sure if it had autofocus ability, then, well… the $4300 asking price would be an absolute steal.  Maybe one day, technically this could happen.

But until that day, the Zeiss Otus 55 is permanently welded to my D810.

A very very specific tool to be sure, but in the right hands… well, it’s going to take one hell of a lens to kick it from being my favourite…

there is something coming though.  (it should have been here before Christmas but alas, no.)

The Leica Q.

The Leica Q was nicknamed ‘Hemingway’ by Leica, I will name it my ‘Madison’.  It will complement the Otus beautifully.

That will be some kind of review!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

Stay safe and Jolly!  (yes, I said Jolly).  :)

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