Gear Review: Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Lens

June 03, 2015  •  2 Comments

web_20141118_Nikon_D800_DSC_7219_Otus85mm_WTMRKweb_20141118_Nikon_D800_DSC_7219_Otus85mm_WTMRKPhotograph taken by Eric H. Adeleye of Eric Adeleye Photography. © Eric Adeleye Photography. All Rights Reserved. http://www.ericadeleye.com

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens is breathtaking behold.  Prior to receiving the lens from Carl Zeiss for this review, I had done some extensive research about the lens and it's features.  When I received the box in the mail, I was extremely impressed with the packaging and design of the box the lens came in.  The size of the lens amazing, it's the largest 85mm lens that I have used.  Weighing in at 1140 grams (2.5 pounds), you immediately know that the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 is made for serious business.  The all metal build design of the lens is one of the best I have seen, everything about the lens speak to Carl Zeiss' attention to detail and desire to deliver the absolute best lens for a photographer that demands the optimum performance from their gear. 

web_20141118_Nikon_D800_DSC_7212_Otus85mm_WTMRKweb_20141118_Nikon_D800_DSC_7212_Otus85mm_WTMRKPhotograph taken by Eric H. Adeleye of Eric Adeleye Photography. © Eric Adeleye Photography. All Rights Reserved. http://www.ericadeleye.com web_20141118_Nikon_D800_DSC_7217_Otus85mm_WTMRKweb_20141118_Nikon_D800_DSC_7217_Otus85mm_WTMRKPhotograph taken by Eric H. Adeleye of Eric Adeleye Photography. © Eric Adeleye Photography. All Rights Reserved. http://www.ericadeleye.com web_20141118_Nikon_D800_DSC_7223_Otus85mm_WTMRKweb_20141118_Nikon_D800_DSC_7223_Otus85mm_WTMRKPhotograph taken by Eric H. Adeleye of Eric Adeleye Photography. © Eric Adeleye Photography. All Rights Reserved. http://www.ericadeleye.com

For this review I shot the photographs with the  Nikon D810 in several settings to test out how I would use the lens.  To find out more information about the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens, please visit the Carl Zeiss website at http://www.zeiss.com/camera-lenses/en_us/camera_lenses/otus/otus1485.html.

DESIGN

The physical build of the Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 lens is beautiful. The all metal body design of the lens makes the lens look like a tank in every way.  You know that the lens can stand up to just about whatever you can throw at it.  The manual focusing ring is very smooth, and has a good size to it to allow for problem free focusing when using this lens.  The Otus 85mm f/1.4 is a manual focus only lens.  If a photographer is used to working with manual focus lenses, they will be fine with using the Otus.  Zeiss even has a fine YouTube video about how to manually focus for people who may not be familiar with the process of manually focusing a lens.  To view the Zeiss YouTube video about manually focusing, go to https://youtu.be/T5JTww9jdPI.  This lens is physically large and heavy compared to other 85mm lenses.  The weight and size of the lens did not pose any problems with using the lens handheld.  I felt that the lens was balanced well with the Nikon D810 and the Nikon MB-D12 Multi Power Battery Grip.  Because the lens is manual focus, it does take some practice to steady the camera and lens when focusing on a subject. 

 

Iphone photograph of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens on the Nikon D810.

20141118_Zeiss_Otus_85mm1420141118_Zeiss_Otus_85mm14Photograph taken by Eric H. Adeleye of Eric Adeleye Photography. © Eric Adeleye Photography. All Rights Reserved. http://www.eaphotography.us

HEARTS APART

My first test of the lens  was during my Hearts Apart photo shoot.  I specifically set out to use the Otus 85mm f/1.4 for as much of the shots I took.  I really wanted to push the lens in the studio setting to see what the glass could and could not do. 

 

Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4mm lens, A: f/9.0, SS: 1/200 sec, and ISO: 100 WEB_ONLY_HeartsApart_Otus85mm_003Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4mm lens, A: f/9.0, SS: 1/200 sec, and ISO: 100

The lens is very sharp.  I didn't experience any problems with focusing the lens in well lit conditions within the studio.  At times I would use a tripod which did make manual focusing easier as the lens and camera were steady.  With the Nikon D810, the manual focus indicator is located in the lower left corner as a green circle.  When I would focus on a point and then glance in the lower right corner to make sure the focus was circle was green, I noticed that I would unconsciously shift the camera slight.  With practice, I was able to get used to shooting both on the tripod and handheld with the lens and maintain an steady hold on the camera a I focused on a point.  The colors produced by the lens were accurate and the focus was sharp across the aperture range.   The Otus really performed very well with the 36MP D810.

 

Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4mm lens, A: f/8.0, SS: 1/200 sec, and ISO: 100

WEB_ONLY_HeartsApart_Otus85mm_001Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4mm lens, A: f/8.0, SS: 1/200 sec, and ISO: 100

Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4mm lens, A: f/4.5, SS: 1/200 sec, and ISO: 100

WEB_ONLY_HeartsApart_Otus85mm_018Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4mm lens, A: f/4.5, SS: 1/200 sec, and ISO: 100

As you can see in the next two screen shots I took of the photographs zoomed in while using Adobe Photoshop CC, the Otus can really capture some detail and bring out the best in the Nikon D810 which demands the best glass to be used with the camera.

Zoomed in at 128.4% Zoomed in at 211.7%oomed in at 211.7%

TESTING THE BOKEH

I took more test shots with the Nikon D810 and the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens to test out the bokeh.  The bokeh that the lens creates is beautiful.  Below are some of the photographs.  Hover your mouse pointer over the photograph to view the EXIF information.


web_20141123_Alekz_Nikon_D810_DSC_2844_WTMRKNikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens, A: f/2.5, SS: 1/200 sec, and ISO: 160

web_20141123_Alekz_Nikon_D810_DSC_2849_WTMRKNikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens, A: f/2.2, SS: 1/250 sec, and ISO: 160

Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens, A: f/2.2, SS: 1/250 sec, and ISO: 160 web_20141123_LeanderD_Nikon_D810_DSC_2827_WTMRKNikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens, A: f/2.5, SS: 1/125 sec, and ISO: 160 Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens, A: f/2.5, SS: 1/125 sec, and ISO: 160

CONCLUSION

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens met and exceeded all of my expectations.   Retailing for $4,490.00, the Otus 85mm is worth every penny.  This lens is for the advanced and professional photographer that wants to produce the best photograph possible at the 85mm focal length.  I really had fun with the 85mm f/1.4 beast.  The all metal construction is phenomenal and a welcome design choice.  Most professional glass from Nikon and Canon are not built to the level of artistic design that is displayed in the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4.  The lens is a work of art, and will impress anyone who is fortunate enough to see the Otus in action.  Because of the size of the lens, it would be challenging to use this in a stealth like fashion if you were doing street photography and wanted to remain anonymous.  I wouldn't recommend this lens to anyone that is interested in photographing action because of the manual focus.  The Zeiss Otus shines in the studio which is where I would definitely use this lens.  As a portrait lens, I don't think you could find a better 85mm prime lens on the market.  I would recommend the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 to anyone who wants a stellar 85mm f/1.4 prime lens, this is the best 85mm DSLR lens money can buy!  I look forward to adding the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens to my camera bag. 

To view more of the photographs that I have taken with the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens, please visit my Flickr Album at https://goo.gl/6FL38N.

 

Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens, A: f/9.0, SS: 1/1000 sec, and ISO: 125

 

 


Comments

Doctor Detroit(non-registered)
Eric,

What wonderful well written review on this top flight piece of glass. The color rendition, bokeh and crispness speak to the price tag. Make no mistake this lens is exclusively made for those that want to stand apart from the pack. Excellent work Nikon man. Keep shooting.
Jon Manning(non-registered)
Very good review, Eric!
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