Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* Review

January 28, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* is a manual-aperture, manual-focus wide-angle prime lens for Canon and Nikon full-frame mirrorless cameras. It features an aperture range of f/1.4-f/16, 16 elements in 13 groups, a nine-bladed circular diaphragm for smoother bokeh blur in out of focus areas, and a precision-engineered full-metal casing. The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* officially retails for around £3630 / €3999 / $4999.

Ease of Use

Weighing 1390g and measuring 154mm in length, the all-metal Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* is a massive lens considering the 28mm focal length on offer. It feels fairly well-balanced on the Canon EOS 5DS R that we tested it with, although we'd suggest fitting a vertical grip as well for greater comfort and all-day usability, not to mention mounting it on a tripod if possible.

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens alongside a Canon EOS 5DS R

The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* boasts superb build quality. The lens’ all-metal casing is dust and moisture resistant and it features a metal mount. With no need for a zoom ring, the manual focussing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with a useful depth of field scale and hard stops at either end.

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The side of the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The front of the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The rear of the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens

The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* has 16 elements in 13 groups and a floating element design that delivers consistent image quality, minimal aberration and field distortion throughout the focus range. A nine-bladed rounded diaphragm, combined with the fast maximum aperture, helps provide smooth bokeh blur.

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The side of the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The side of the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens in-hand

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

There’s no optical image stabilisation, but the lens’ short focal length and very fast maximum aperture alleviate the need for it. A special sealing ring on the bayonet also protects the interface between the camera and the lens. A large petal-shaped metal lens hood is supplied in the box.

Focal Range

The 28mm focal length gives an angle of view of 75 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor.

 Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*Field of view at 28mm

Manual Focussing

The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*'s manual focussing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with a useful depth of field scale. It also has a large rotation angle which enables precise focusing and moves smoothly without any play, thus also supporting the intuitive interaction with the focal plane. The precise engravings in meters and feet, together with the depth of focus scale, help make manual focusing easier, although the Canon EOS 5DS R that we tested the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* with is not very well suited to accurate manual focusing.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is rarely an issue with the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*, so much so that we couldn't find any instances of fringing in our test shots.

Light Fall-off and Distortion

Light fall-off is noticeable wide open at f/1.4 though this is to be expected for such a fast lens. Stop down to f/2.8 and the vignetting is already less prominent, but it is still visible when shooting pale scenes that fill the frame.

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*Light fall-off at 28mm

Macro

The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* is not a macro lens, with the close-focus point at 30cm from the film/sensor plane and a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.16x The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*Close-up performance

Bokeh

A major appeal of fast, wide-aperture prime lenses is their ability to produce an eye-catching separation between a sharp subject and a very soft out-of-focus background. The Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* generates exceptionally smooth out of focus areas through its use of a nine-bladed diaphragm, which provides smoother bokeh than seven or five-blade designs. Bokeh is however a fairly subjective part of a lens’ image quality, so check out these 100% crops to see the Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T*’s bokeh quality for yourself.

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