2019-04-29

Zeiss Otus 100mm f/1.4 Lens First Look Review

The new Zeiss Otus 100mm f/1.4 lens

Introducing the brand new Zeiss Otus 100mm f/1.4 lens. We were lucky enough to be in Germany at Zeiss HQ for the launch of this lens and there’s a lot to be excited about.



Build and Feel

We managed to get our hands on two, one on the front of a Nikon D850 and one on the front of a Sony A7 III using an adapter and the first thing you’ll notice about this lens, much like other Otus lenses, it’s not small. In fact, it’s pretty big, it’s a little bulky and it’s fairly weighty as well. The idea with the Otus lenses is that nothing is held back and the Zeiss engineers are able to focus on absolute quality both in terms of optical quality and in terms of the build of the lens.

Shot with the Otus 100mm f/1.4
Andreas from Zeiss explained to us: “In optical design, the more you put in, the more you get out and that’s the reason the lenses look the way they do. These lenses are the only ones which have almost highest performance starting at f/1.4”

The lens certainly isn’t small, but you can feel the quality as soon as you pick it up.


Image Quality

We took the lens out for a couple of hours of shooting photos and video to test it out and what Andreas was saying about getting optimum performance even wide open at f/1.4 definitely seems to be true. You can get incredible sharpness, contrast and colours, even when shooting wide open at f/1.4. You don’t need to stop it down to 2.8 or 4 like you might need to do with other lenses to get that extra bit of sharpness, it’s right there at 1.4 and that is amazing for anything from low light shooting through to shooting portraits and getting nice sharp focus on your subject.

Shot with the Otus 100mm f/1.4
Speaking of focus, as an Otus lens, it is manual focus which at 100mm and f/1.4, can be a little hard to get perfect but, within about 10 minutes or so, we had pretty much got the hang of it and we were quite happily shooting away. It’s actually very rewarding to shoot using manual focus and using focus peaking certainly made it a lot easier.

But let’s focus on that f/1.4 aperture for a moment. Obviously, shooting with an aperture that big and with a focal length like 100mm, you’re going to get a particularly shallow depth of field and this lens does not disappoint. The bokeh here is astounding, it’s so smooth, it blurs so nicely and you get that lovely Zeiss look. Your subject seems to pop in the frame and the background separation is incredible.

Shot with the Otus 100mm f/1.4
I also got the chance to shoot a little bit of video on this lens as well and while I imagine most people will be interested in it for photography, it was actually lovely to shoot video with. The weight of it meant that I wasn’t getting that kind of micro judder that you can sometimes get with lighter lenses and I was able to get some really lovely bokeh in video as well.

Shot with the Otus 100mm f/1.4


You can watch more of our impressions on this lens as well as seeing sample shots and hearing from Andreas in the video below:



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