If you want quality you've got to pay for it. Today, the "world's best still lens," the short telephoto Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens, considered to be one, if not the, best lens in its category hit the market today and is now available for pre-orders.
When Zeiss set out to achieve "perfection in optical performance" in 2012, their Otus 55mm f/1.4 lens definitely delivered, even for filmmakers, who might've wondered how it would fare for film work -- and now that the Otus 85mm is out, it makes sense to assume that the same level of image quality will be found in it as well. We've shared this video before, but it's worth another look. This short piece by August Bradley, Zoetrope Optika, shows you just how beautiful an image the 55mm Otus provides, which probably means the 85mm Otus will follow suit.
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/85513805
Here's a bit from Zeiss' blog post about the lens:
Optically, the Otus 1.4/85 stands out for its high image quality, even with an open aperture — as is true for the entire Otus range. Specifically, that means a neutral bokeh in the background, highly detailed images without any bothersome optical artifacts, consistently high resolution power across the entire image field, no color fringing or distortion, and an extremely high image contrast all the way into the edges. The imaging performance remains entirely consistent for all shooting distances. High apertures can be used even for close-ups right down to a working distance of 0.65 meters. This freedom offers the photographer new opportunities to compose his or her subjects, without having to waste time thinking about a possible loss of quality.
It's been said all throughout the blogosphere; the amount of detail the Otus collection can provide to photographers and filmmakers alike is absolutely incredible, however Zeiss has made it a point to say that the lens was designed to also be versatile enough to fit in anywhere. Naturally, things that perform this well are usually pricey -- too pricey for your everyday indie filmmaker to go snatch up on her way home from work. So, I think it's safe to assume that this will be a hot item at renal houses. However, if you're looking to invest and own your own, you can always jump on the pre-order train. Zeiss is offering Canon EF and Nikon F mountings, both of which will set you back $4,490. Expected availability is set for September 16th.
Wow that's a beautiful lens and for that price - incredible!
September 8, 2014 at 1:59PM
Wow that's a beautiful lens and for that price -that's amazing.
September 8, 2014 at 2:03PM
I can wait, if it's anything like my Otus 1.4/55! My pro glass Nikon's
just don't compare... Unbelievable quality photos!!!
September 8, 2014 at 2:13PM
For an 85, I'm much more interested in seeing footage that shows the lens handling objects in the foreground/background. Also, I want to see how it handles direct light and what the bokeh looks like… something outside of a little room.
Most of the shots in that video seemed like they called for a 35 or 21. It looks sharp though ...if that't what they're going for.
September 8, 2014 at 2:40PM, Edited September 8, 2:40PM
Best typo ever, see if you can spot it :)
September 8, 2014 at 3:34PM
Renal house, I know. I got a chuckle out of it.
September 8, 2014 at 3:59PM
Hopefully there will be a medium/wide angle (something between 22-35mm) and we can have some nice comparisons with some cine lenses, which is what I´m most interested in. I saw some stuff with the Zeiss CP.2 and definitely the Otus are incredible. I would like to see them side by side with the Zeiss Super Speeds and the Standard Speeds, specially in natural light. I am still trying to decide between buying "old" PL glass or this when they become a set.
September 8, 2014 at 3:53PM
is there newer super speeds? my experience is with older model super speeds and zeiss cf (zf cine converted) . The super speeds have a "look", my experience with the 55 Otus is more contrasty and definitely sharper. I also felt the modern optics are more consistent at wider apertures.
But for me definitely the ability to have declicked iris is big. we'e never had any complaints from clients on even contax or zf adapted so the decision would be purely a subjective decision. with post/color in mind i would either shoot with both otus or all standard speed or all superspeed.
September 8, 2014 at 7:25PM
Testing what a lens is really about requires much more than a well made film like the one above. I don't doubt how good this lens is but assessing it from a vimeo or youtube film is a bit pointless.
September 8, 2014 at 5:49PM
I wonder how this compares to cinema lenses that cost twice as much
September 8, 2014 at 6:47PM
Depends whether it's a parfocal lens, and whether the focus marks are accurate. And how robust it is.
September 8, 2014 at 7:03PM
my knowledge is with the 55 but its all metal construction. very heavy. cosmetically beautiful. but the EF mount is electronic iris. im not sure if the nikon is.
my only fear is it feel slippery and not many places to grip and im afraid i'll drop it.
September 8, 2014 at 7:20PM
It feels like I just read an advertisement. I mean, to claim this is the worlds best 85mm without it even being in the market yet seems hasty. With that said, i am curious how it compares to some cine lenses. I assume it'll be better optics, just lacking in ease of film use.
September 8, 2014 at 6:51PM
The "world's best lens" part comes from DxO Mark scores on the original Otus 55mm, which was literally the highest performing lens ever tested in its category. Here's the quote from our original article on the 55mm.
"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."
If the 85mm performs anywhere near the 55mm, it will almost certainly outperform every other 85mm stills lens on the market.
September 8, 2014 at 8:59PM
I understood that, and if you titled the 55mm article in that way with the DxO score to back it up, then I could see how you got the title.
Either way, I was just being critical (as usual). The article read very "sale" oriented (at least for the beginning), be it intentional or not. Renee always writes really well, so maybe that's what is selling it to me.
September 9, 2014 at 1:01AM
I guess the caveat is that "the world's best lens" is in quotes, so as to make sure readers know that a third party said it, not NFS.
September 9, 2014 at 3:31PM
we own the Otus 55 in canon mount on a red epic mx and used it recently for an adv shoot. the color rendition was stunning. im hoping we make this purchase too but we just upgraded to a dragon and red rocket x so im not sure if we can afford it...
September 8, 2014 at 7:18PM, Edited September 8, 7:18PM
It is my understanding that when shooting 4K video, that equates to approximately 8 megapixels a frame. Aren't lenses far lesser than this expensive beauty 'out resolving' our current video needs?
September 8, 2014 at 8:23PM, Edited September 8, 8:23PM
That's something I've also been wondering
September 9, 2014 at 12:34AM
Most lenses cover 4k without a problem. my problem was shooting at 6k on a red dragon.
i got some vignetting on wider angles (24/28mm range) with Zeiss super speeds and also vintage leica's
i know 6k sounds un-necessary theoretically but the resolution aside the dragon sensor is so much better than the mx. but that's another discussion
September 9, 2014 at 6:16AM
Well, some vignetting is to be expected in that case, what with the Red Dragon sensor's 6K read-out covering a larger area than the image circles of most Super 35 mm-format lenses.
Besides, Johann wasn't talking about 4K in the sense of sensor size, but in terms of resolvable detail.
September 9, 2014 at 3:35PM
In some cases, yes.
Remember, though, that despite this lens potentially appealing to us as videographers, it's mainly released as a still photography lens (on Canon EF and Nikon F mounts). In the case that one is shooting with a 24 or 36+ MP camera, these lenses will still make a somewhat noticeable difference.
Besides, the Otus 55 mm was known for more than its high resolving power; it had excellent corner sharpness, extremely low levels of aberration, and great build quality. Perhaps going forward, these lenses will be more important for video as full sensor readouts become more common (for still-video hybrids like DSLRs) and as video progresses to higher resolution standards. They could be a good investment for the inevitable transition to 8K, etc.
September 9, 2014 at 3:43PM
September 9, 2014 at 12:02AM
September 9, 2014 at 12:02AM
Crisp edge to edge! This lens has some wonderful characteristics! Seeing as it was my birthday yesterday, I might talk myself into a purchase ;)
September 9, 2014 at 1:53AM
I guess I'm going to stick to vintage lenses and these Rokinons for the time being. :(
September 9, 2014 at 7:14AM
Tack another one to the "drool-over-but-can't-justify-the-cost" board
September 9, 2014 at 6:11PM
I love the texture of the image... very pleasant.
September 23, 2014 at 4:32AM
Wonder how they compare to CP2.
September 30, 2014 at 9:49AM, Edited September 30, 9:49AM