Best In Class
ZEISS OTUS 55MM F1.4
IS THIS THE best prime lens on the planet for D-SLRs with full-35mm size sensors?
If looks are anything to go by, then Zeiss’s Otus 55mm f1.4 is a winner even before you put it on your camera. Unlike the more classically-styled ZE and ZF.2 mount models, the Otus 55mm is much more contemporary, borrowing cosmetic design elements from the Touit series of lenses for compact system cameras. This means a manual focusing collar that’s completely flush with the barrel and covered with a plain matte rubberised grip material to give a very sleek appearance.
What hasn’t changed is the heavyduty metal barrel tubes and an all-glass optical construction which comprises 12 elements in ten groups. For the record, this is first time that the Distagon-type design has been used in the optical construction of a standard lens.
As you’d expect on a Zeiss lens, all the markings are engraved and painted in rather than screen-printed… in yellow, however, rather than standard white. The full Zeiss logo (in blue) is inset into both the barrel and the lens cap. The mounting index marks are also in Zeiss blue which is a nice little touch.
The Otus 55mm f1.4 fast prime lens is designed to give a very high level of optical correction via the use of an aspherical element and six made of special glass with anomalous partial dispersion characterics. Zeiss says this design eliminates “nearly all possible flaws” from distortion to axial chromatic aberrations. With the highest contrast performance over the entire image field even at the maximum aperture of f1.4, the 55mm delivers a convincing “medium format look” when used on the high-end Canon or Nikon D-SLRs with full-35mm sensors (at the moment these are the only two mount choices).
Notable performance characteristics include phenomenal levels of detailing, exceptional uniformity of sharpness and brightness, and consistently high contrast.
The Otus 55mm f1.4 focuses down to 50 centimetres and has a mimimum aperture of f16. It is just over 14 centimetres in length and weighs 970 grams (the ZF.2 mount version for Nikon). It accepts 77 millimetres diameter screwthread filters.
Operationally, the precision engineering is very evident in the smoothness of the focusing collar and the positive action of the aperture ring. This lens really is a work of art and it delivers a superlative image quality in terms of its sharpness and contrast – even when shooting at f1.4 – as well as extremely effective correction for both distortion and chromatic aberrations.
Zeiss lenses are distributed here by C.R. Kennedy & Company. For more information: www.crkennedy.com.au
For the record, this is first time that the distagon- type design has been used in the optical construction of a standard lens.