Otus 1.4/55 – the perfect SLR standard lens
The Otus 1.4/55 contains all the expertise and experience that have been built up over more than 120 years in the field of optics and mechanics. Only the best materials and the highest-quality glass were good enough for a lens whose development was driven by one thought at every phase: offering the best-possible results when used by sophisticated photographers. The scops owl (Latin: Otus scops) is the name giver for this new family of lenses from ZEISS, to which other members will be added in the future.
For photographers who love precision, the Otus 1.4/55 offers the possibility for a more compact gear, without having to accept compromises in terms of image quality. It is meanwhile common knowledge that the latest 35-mm DSLR cameras with high-resolution sensors put enormous demands on the image performance of lenses. The Otus 1.4/55 can withstand these demands thanks to its superb sharpness and ultimate image contrast. Chromatic aberrations are almost completely absent. These features ensure perfect image quality – also with an open aperture. The new ZEISS lens sets a new global standard, whether it is used in advertising, fashion or studio photography – with no compromises when rendering the details in an image.
In developing the Otus, ZEISS set the bar extremely high, as Christophe Casenave, product manager with ZEISS Camera Lenses, explains: “Our goal was to bring the best standard lens onto the market. Otus achieves sharpness and contrast rendition all the way into the edges of the image. The only way to achieve this was through the complex Distagon optical design, which until now has only been found on wide-angle lenses. Thanks to the low level of longitudinal chromatic aberration, there are almost none of them. So, an illuminated harbor scene by night with many light sources in front of and behind the actual focal plane appears close to reality. The performance of Otus is consistently excellent for all shooting distances; the open aperture can also be used for close-ups.”
Especially for shooting situations where there is little light, the new lens delivers excellent results. Here the lens’s high speed pays off in particular. Even if the sensitive and low-noise digital sensors of DSLR cameras have meanwhile shifted the limits of poorly lit images, the perfection of the Otus continues to reveal itself at night. Especially for pictures with numerous image-dominant, open light sources, it is common for correction defects to show up. However, because the Otus 1.4/55 is an apochromatic lens, longitudinal chromatic aberrations are corrected by its lens elements made of special glass with anomalous partial dispersion. Color aberrations are practically absent. Bright/dark transitions in the image, and especially highlights, are rendered free of color artifacts. Although the Otus with its 55 millimeters is not a traditional focal length for architectural and landscape photography, the lens convinces by delivering excellent results. The edges of the image can be used for all apertures, without posing any limits to composition.
Other unique features of the Otus are its consistent high-resolution performance across the entire image field and the very high image contrast all the way to the edges, even for low f-numbers. The lens also delivers excellent performance when used with low f-numbers in full-frame 35-mm format. The technical structure of the Otus 1.4/55 is based on a floating elements design with 12 lens elements in 10 groups. This includes a lens with an aspheric optical surface and six lenses made of special glass with anomalous partial dispersion. The unique variable lens arrangement within the lens ensures excellent imaging performance over the entire focusing range – from 0.5 meters to infinity. Color fringing and distortions are not visible.
With its neutral bokeh, the Otus 1.4/55 delivers not only highly detailed pictures without any bothersome optical artifacts; it also stands out for its mechanical quality. The smooth focus operation with the large angle of rotation allows for the finest variations when focusing, and the stable metal barrel with the pleasantly smooth-operating focus ring make things easier for photographers during their professional everyday work. In addition, the yellow labels — just like those on professional cine lenses (ARRI/ZEISS Master Prime) – ensure easy readability of the settings.
For its innovative product design, the Otus 1.4/55 already received the iF product design award 2013. Here, too, the Otus 1.4/55 is setting standards, not only compared to other lenses, but as the first representative of a new ZEISS family of lenses. No doubt the Otus 1.4/55 and the focal lengths of the Otus range, which are still in development, will win further accolades. Ultimately, photographers across the globe will benefit from the new creative possibilities offered by these outstanding lenses — starting with the Otus 1.4/55 as a standard lens.