Carl Zeiss Otus Review
In December Zeiss Kindly sent me their stunning Otus range of lenses down to test out.
After hearing only great things about the Otus range of DSLR lenses, I thought I’d have a look at what the fuss was all about
The Carl Zeiss Otus lenses are a trio of fixed focal length lenses offering an uncompromised medium-format look with the choice of focal lengths from 28mm, 55mm and 85mm lenses producing a full frame image of edge-to-edge clarity with the absolute minimum amount of aberration and distortion.
My experience with the Zeiss Otus allowed me to test out the how the lenses functioned in a few different scenarios. After familiarising myself with the lenses at home, I was quick to attach one to my camera and head out to test them out.
I currently shoot on the Canon EOS 5DS, a 50.6 megapixel DSLR, bordering on medium-format camera specifications for resolution and sharpness, the perfect match for testing the quality and performance of such quality, professional lenses.
When first handling the lenses out of the box, it becomes apparent that the build quality is outstanding. The lenses are constructed of an all-metal design including the lens hood being made from metal. Separated by a firm rubber focus wheel located centrally on the lens. All finished with contrasting yellow print on the lens along with the blue Zeiss badge nearer the objective lens.
Shoot 1 Landscapes in Tyneham
My First outing with the Otus lenses was at Tyneham in Dorset where my first lens of choice was the 85mm f1.4. With such a tight angle of view, I got to work testing out angles within this deserted town. The depth of field at f1.4 is truly unbelievable and I witnessed sharpness like no other lens I have used thus far. One slight downfall of the 85mm lens that I experienced was that the distance between the minimum focal distance and infinity on the focus ring was very far which took quite a long time to go between.
Whilst exploring Tyneham and Worbarrow, I shot a few photographs of landscapes using the 28mm.
Below are a selection of photographs taken in the small village of Tyneham.
Shoot 2 Portraits at Upton
Enjoying the golden light during the winter, I arranged a portrait shoot with local model, Vicki Wentworth-Brown. My chosen location was Upton Country Park in Poole, Dorset, UK. I chose this location due to its abundance of natural light and dramatic scenery, in particular, the reeds along the marshland which look absolutely stunning during golden hour.
The 85mm Otus performed fantastically, however, I found manual focus to become quite a task when I was shooting from angles where I couldn’t look down the viewfinder. The Otus does have an AF chip, however there is no AF (autofocus) drive motors. The lens is able to detect when you have sharp focus, this is made clear in my case by the audible ‘beep’ from the 5DS I was shooting with. I feel that although the AF chip gives me extra confidence when composing a shot by giving me feedback on sharp in focus images, it would be even better if Zeiss were to add auto focus options in the future.
On the shoot, the world famous bokeh that Zeiss lenses are so sought after for in both photography and videography shone through, with the 85mm lens wide open at f1.4, shooting the model against the reeds and other areas in Upton produced some truly stunning results which myself, and the model were thrilled with.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience using the Zeiss Otus Lenses. They proved to be the sharpest lenses that I’ve used and they worked hand in hand with my Canon 5DS producing truly breathtaking photographs. An added note to the Zeiss lenses is the colour reproduction when shooting with these compared to my current kit, consisting of Canon’s flagship L seris lenses, although these lenses are extremely clear and sharp, the Zeiss lenses pushed above and beyond with colour that seriously ‘pops’ and edge-to-edge clarity and sharpness. One additional point would be that the Onus lenses produce quite a moderate vignette around the image, I myself am a great fan of vignetting in photographs, however, this isn’t always a desired feature, of course this is an extremely easy thing to fix in post using a range of software packages. I reduced the vignetting using Adobe Lightroom CC and Adobe Photoshop CC to produce my desired amount of vignette and final image.
The Otus range of lenses retail from the Carl Zeiss store starting from around £3,269.99 for the 55mm lens.