In 2012, Zeiss announced that a brand new stills lens was in the works, one that would achieve perfection in optical performance through a no-compromise approach. Fast forward to November of 2013, and the company released the Otus 1.4/55, a prime lens that truly is uncompromising in all aspects of its design. While many of us are familiar with the Zeiss ZE glass for video work (great lenses), we have yet to see how the Otus would fare in a video setting. Luckily, filmmaker August Bradley managed to get his hands on an early pre-release version of the Otus, and he shot a delightful little concept piece called Zoetrope Optika that truly showcases the flawless performance of this marvelous lens.
First and foremost, when Zeiss claims that the Otus 1.4/55 is the world's best stills lens, they aren't indulging in hyperbole. In independent testing done by DxO Labs, the Zeiss Otus, when coupled with a Nikon D800. literally provided the single best set of results ever seen in their testing.
The new Carl Zeiss Otus 1,4/55, mounted on the Nikon D800, is categorically the highest performing standard-type prime in our database. With a DxOMark lens rating of 45 points, and a 29P-Mpix Sharpness score, the Zeiss Otus achieved the best results the labs have ever seen.
The lens itself is definitely no joke. But how does it look, you ask? Well, take a look at this beautifully shot concept piece from August Bradley to find out. This was shot on the Sony F5 with only the Otus 1.4/55:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/85513805
To my eye, the optical characteristics of the Otus 1.4/55 are absolutely immaculate. It is stunningly sharp (but not to its detriment), and the contrast is nothing short of beautiful. With that said, this lens might not be entirely practical for extended videography or cinematography work for several reasons. First and foremost, the 55mm is the singular focal length in the Otus family of lenses, at least at this point, so having a matched set of these lenses is out of the question. Also, this lens clocks in at a whopping retail price of $3,990, which puts it squarely out of most of our price ranges.
However, in certain settings, such as high-end fashion photography/videography, the Otus 1.4/55 might just provide the perfect aesthetic for that line of work. In that case, it could make for a fantastic piece of kit, or at least a compelling rental option.
What do you guys think of Zoetrope Optika and the optical performance of the Otus 1.4/55? Does this lens have a place in the filmmaking community? Let's hear your thoughts down in the comments!