Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* Review

November 17, 2015 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* is a manual-aperture, manual-focus standard prime lens for Canon and Nikon full-frame mirrorless cameras. It features an aperture range of f/1.4-f/16, 10 elements in 8 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* retails for £2699 / €3449 / $3999.

Ease of Use

Weighing 1030g and measuring 141mm in length, the all-metal Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* is a massive lens considering the moderate 55mm 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.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens alongside a Canon EOS 5DS R

The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 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 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The side of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The side of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The front of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The rear of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens

The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* has 12 lens elements in 10 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 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The side of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The side of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens in-hand

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

There’s no optical image stabilisation, but the lens’ moderate 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 round metal lens hood is supplied in the box.

Focal Range

The 55mm focal length gives an angle of view of 43.7 degrees on a 35mm full frame sensor.

 Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*Field of view at 55mm

Manual Focussing

The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 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 55mm f/1.4 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 55mm f/1.4 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 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*Light fall-off at 55mm

Macro

The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* is not a macro lens, with the close-focus point at 50cm from the film/sensor plane and a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.14x The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 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 55mm f/1.4 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 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*’s bokeh quality for yourself.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*
   
Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T* Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon T*

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Entry Tags

review, samples, test, sample images, lens, nikon, jpg, dslr, canon, jpgs, full frame, sample, full-frame, zeiss, 55mm, otus, Zeiss Otus 85mm f1.4 Planar T*, 55mm full frame, otus 55

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