Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* Review

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Introduction

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* is a manual-aperture, manual-focus short telephoto prime lens for Canon and Nikon full-frame mirrorless cameras. It features an aperture range of f/1.4-f/16, 11 elements in 9 groups, a nine-bladed circular diaphragm for smoother bokeh blur in out of focus areas, and a precision-engineered full-metal casing. The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* retails for £3299.99 / €3360.50 / $4490.

Ease of Use

Weighing 1200g and measuring 141mm in length, the all-metal Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*4 is a massive lens considering the moderate 85mm focal length on offer. It feels fairly well-balanced on the Canon EOS 5Ds that we tested it with, although we’d suggest fitting a vertical grip as well.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5Ds

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5Ds

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* lens alongside a Canon EOS 5Ds

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* boasts superb build quality. The lens’ all-metal casing is dust and moisture resistant and it features a metal mount. With no need for a zoom ring, the manual focussing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with a useful depth of field scale and hard stops at either end.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

The side of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* lens

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

The front of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* lens

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

The rear of the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* lens

The 85mm f/1.4 has 11 lens elements in 9 groups. One of the lens elements has an aspheric optical surface and six are made of special glass. A nine-bladed rounded diaphragm, combined with the fast maximum aperture, helps provide very smooth bokeh blur.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* lens in-hand

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

There’s no optical image stabilisation, but the lens’ moderate focal length and very fast maximum aperture alleviate the need for it. A special sealing ring on the bayonet also protects the interface between the camera and the lens. A large round metal lens hood is supplied in the box.

Focal Range

The 85mm focal length gives an angle of view of 28.24° on a 35mm full frame sensor.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

Field of view at 85mm

Manual Focussing

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*’s manual focussing ring spans a significant width of the lens barrel and is exceptionally smooth to operate, complete with a useful depth of field scale. It also has a large rotation angle which enables precise focusing and moves smoothly without any play, thus also supporting the intuitive interaction with the focal plane. The precise engravings in meters and feet, together with the depth of focus scale, help make manual focusing easier, although the Canon EOS 5Ds that we tested the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* with is not very well suited to accurate manual focusing.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration (purple fringing) is rarely an issue with the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*, so much so that we couldn’t find any instances of fringing in our test shots.

Light Fall-off and Distortion

Light fall-off is noticeable wide open at f/1.4, though this is to be expected for such a fast lens and can easily be corrected in Photoshop. Stop down to f/2.8 and the vignetting is much less prominent.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

Light fall-off at 85mm

Macro

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* is not a macro lens, with the close-focus point 80cm from the film/sensor plane and a maximum reproduction ratio of 0.10x The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

Close-up performance

Bokeh

A major appeal of fast, wide-aperture prime lenses is their ability to produce an eye-catching separation between a sharp subject and a very soft out-of-focus background. The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* generates exceptionally smooth out of focus areas through its use of a nine-bladed diaphragm. Bokeh is however a fairly subjective part of a lens’ image quality, so check out these 100% crops to see the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*’s bokeh quality for yourself.

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T*

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Sharpness at 85mm

Our sharpness tests were conducted using a 50-megapixel Canon EOS 5Ds body mounted to a tripod. The camera’s shutter release was also set on a timer-delay to avoid any possible camera shake. The test subject was shot using ambient lighting, hence some colour and contrast variation is to be expected between apertures.

The full frame at 16mm

The full frame at 85mm

Both centre and edge sharpness are incredibly high right throughout the entire aperture range, with peak performance between f/2.8-f/11. Only f/16 is marred slightly by diffraction.

Aperture Centre Crop Edge Crop
f/2

f/2.8

f/4

f/5.6

f/8

f/11

f/16

Specifications

Focal length 85 mm
Aperture range f/1.4 – f/16
Focusing range 0,8 m (31.50’’) – ∞
Number of elements/groups 11 / 9
Angular field, diag./horiz./vert. 28.24° / 23.71° / 15.97°
Coverage at close range 278,85 mm x 185,61 mm (10.97‘‘ x 7.31‘‘)
Filter thread M86 x 1.00
Dimensions (with caps) ZF.2: 138 mm (5.43‘‘)
ZE: 141 mm (5.55‘‘)
Diameter of focusing ring ZF.2: 101 mm (3.98‘‘)
ZE: 101 mm (3.98‘‘)
Weight ZF.2: 1140g
ZE: 1200g
Camera mounts F Mount (ZF.2)
EF Mount (ZE)

Conclusion

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* is simply a superb prime lens for portrait photographers looking for the ultimate in image quality. You’d expect sharpness to be high across both the frame and aperture range from such a premium optic, and it doesn’t disappoint. In conjunction with the new Canon EOS 5Ds test camera shooting at 50 megapixel resolution, detail is exceptionally detailed and sharp. Shooting at the maximum f/1.4 aperture does reveal a minor reduction in sharpness compared to the rest of the aperture range, but the image is already pin-sharp by f/1.8.

The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* is also a pleasure to use, thanks to its superb build quality and smooth focus ring. As this is a manual-focus only lens, you’d expect this aspect of the operation to be intuitive, and so it proved, although the Canon EOS 5Ds isn’t really geared up for accurate manual focusing.

There is only really one drawback to the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* – yes, you’ve guessed it, the price. £3299.99 / €3360.50 / $4490 is an incredible amount of money to pay for any lens, even one as good as this. If you shoot enough portraits to justify the cost, though, and you can learn to love the manual-focus only nature of the lens, the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* is a superb choice for full-frame DSLR owners that’s capable of truly stunning results.

(photographyblog.com)

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