Preview: Zeiss Otus 1.4/55

Today, German optical manufacturer Zeiss (formally Carl Zeiss) announced a completely new line of lenses. The first lens from this line is the 55mm f/1.4 Otus. Otus is actually the Latin name for a type of owl known for its excellent vision in darkness (this name was not picked by accident – Zeiss actually claim that the lens is especially suited for night and low light shots).

So what is so special about the new Otus lens? well, according to Zeiss the main goal was t create the best standard lens for DSLR cameras and more specifically high resolution cameras such as the D800 with its 36 Megapixels. In order to do that Zeiss used an unusual optical structure – complex Distagon optical design, which until now has only been found on wide-angle lenses (the Otus is a 55mm normal lens). The 12 element (10  groups) design has an unprecedented performance according to Zeiss which is especially obvious with night shots. The lens also has high image contrast all the way to the edges (thanks in part to its large front element – the lens itself use a huge 77mm filter – interestingly the prototype had an even larger 82mm filter but Zeiss decided to make the production unit slightly smaller). Finally Zeiss also mentions that the lens has no visible aberrations – not a small claim if indeed true.

The new Zeiss Otus 1.4/55  – unique design


The Otus 1.4/55 will be available with Nikon F bayonet (ZF.2) and Canon EF bayonet (ZE) starting at the end of October in all global markets. The recommended retail price for this super high-end pro lens will be €2,940 or $4000 (you can pre-order it on B&H).

Last year we had the privilege to interview Mr. Bertram Hoenlinger from Zeiss during the Photokina 2012 shown in Germany and ask him a few questions. Part of the interview was dedicated to the Otus 1.4/55 (than only a prototype). Make sure you crank the volume up (the microphones was a bit to too far from Mr. Hoenlinger):