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Zeiss OTUS 55mm f/1.4 APO Distagon T* ZF.2 lens (Nikon F mount) now shipping

Zeiss OTUS 55mm f-1.4 APO Distagon T ZF.2 lens Nikon F mount 2
Zeiss OTUS 55mm f-1.4 APO Distagon T ZF.2 lens Nikon F mount 3  Zeiss OTUS 55mm f-1.4 APO Distagon T ZF.2 lens Nikon F mount 1
Zeiss OTUS 55mm f-1.4 APO Distagon T ZF.2 lens Nikon F mount 7  Zeiss OTUS 55mm f-1.4 APO Distagon T ZF.2 lens Nikon F mount 5
Zeiss OTUS 55mm f-1.4 APO Distagon T ZF.2 lens Nikon F mount 4  Zeiss OTUS 55mm f-1.4 APO Distagon T ZF.2 lens Nikon F mount 6
Foto Hans Keuzekamp received their first Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* lens for Nikon F mount (US price: $3,990). As far I know, this lens has not started shipping in the US yet, even though it's listed as back-ordered at B&H (update: the lens is already shipping in the US in very limited quantities). Here are few more sample images taken with the lens on a Nikon D800E - full resolutions are available on flickr (more sample images can be found in previous posts here, here and here):

Update: more sample images can be found here.

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  • reilly diefenbach

    Another bloated, heavy lens for the fuzzy nose and ears brigade.

    • DOF

      perhaps, f/1.4 is not for your brigade of limited creativity….

      • guest

        He has two of three right on.
        ad hominems do you justice…

      • Mansgame

        Or perhaps the $500 50mm 1.4G works just fine for the unpretentious.

        • Anto de Chav

          You get what you pay for..the Zeiss is special,it was designed by the same team that design the Zeiss master movie lenses, I am not a shill for Zeiss but this lens is worth the dough to the people that want this kind of performance,and its really not that expensive as Leica,Phase one/Schneider,Hassellblad and Rodenstock etc are all as expensive or even more expensive.

          If you don’t like it or want something cheaper there are plenty of alternatives..

          • oj

            You get what you pay for? What a 5% improvement at most for $3k?

            • Anto de Chav

              more than 5%… and what about high end audio that costs in the tens of thousands for the extra 10%,pushing the limits of engineering always costs big money…

            • Ludwig Gerhardt

              5 times the price for something you need sophsiticated measuring equipment to find out what you paid for, and your ear can’t even hear. Here it is the same, you pay for something that only very old experienced people can see and that those who yu work for, or those to whom you show your usual pictures, care just nuts about. All is a question of need, or want. Here the question is simple, “who needs that?”.

          • Ludwig Gerhardt

            You get what you pay for. Are you sure about that? I don’t.

        • Ralph

          Its these lenses that push the envelope, they challenge other manufacturers to play catchup and reduce the cost with mass production. If we didnt have these sort of innovative designs we’d all still be using box brownies. You could make the same value argument of the D3200 vs D4, just about everyone printing a 6×4 or publishing to facebook wouldn’t notice any difference.

    • Aldo

      *achievement unlocked* take a picture at f1.4

    • zoetmb

      Well…if by the fuzzy nose and ears brigade you mean older men, those same older men also have fuzzy eyes. And fuzzy eyes don’t do well with manual focus lenses when you can’t have a split-image focusing screen in most Nikon cameras. (I can’t change my eyes, but I can cut the hair out of my nose and ears.)

      I did check out this lens at a photo show some months back (not that I would ever spend the $3K these days) and I did like the lens (although without outputting any “real” photography, I wouldn’t know for sure), but I did have trouble focusing it.

      I would love to have smaller and lighter equipment (and I think Sony is heading down the right path, even with the flaws of the A7/A7r), but there are times when only the best will do.

    • Joseph Farrugia

      Guys you should’ve known Reilly would bash this lens……it’s not “Nikon”

  • dbltax

    Holy optical elements batman, that thing is huge!

  • mikeswitz

    $4000 bokeh? meh.

    • spend coz you can

      did you see… in B&H lens review, a owner posted a cat picture taken with the lens…. it has a use, when you have the $

      • Ludwig Gerhardt

        to shoot cats, I love those pussythings. And you see every hair around the eye, don’t you. 4000$. I better take the cat, spend a month by the sea with it, and leave the lens, hahaha.

    • silmasan

      Well, that, and $4000 _scharf_, said the owner of the cat.

      Then again for the money you can get Zeiss 55/1.8 AND A7R with some AF. Would like to see comparison between the two setup.

  • Hien

    It has started shipping. I received mine from B&H last Friday.

    • AF dependent

      do you do still objects or video?

      • Hien
        • mikeswitz

          You may be one of the few who will get their money back on that lens in about a week. Beautiful work, Hien.

          • Hien

            Thanks very much Mikeswitz!

          • KnightPhoto

            Let me see if got that right, he gets to do that for a living, AND he gets to own the OTUS ;-)

            Very nice work Hien

            • Hien

              Thanks very much! Actually, photography is my hobby :-)

        • AF dependent

          i like your “swim” gallery too… : )

          • Hien

            :-)

        • Spy Black

          Great work! How many people do you have on these projects?

          • Sri Lanka

            …and do you have room for one more?

          • Hien

            Thank you! Just myself, the model, and a hair stylist/makeup-artist.

            • AM

              Amazing work!

            • Hien

              Thank you!

        • Mercury

          Wow, very beautiful photography indeed!
          That Otus is in the right hands.

          • Hien

            Thank you so much!

  • Beso

    I preordered the Zeiss Otus through B&H when preordering became available and I received mine on November 19, 2013. So, I think the lens has been available for some time but is simply out of stock currently.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

      Thanks, I did not know anyone who has received one. I think the first shipment was really limited.

      • nightmedia

        I received mine more than a month ago, and already returned it. It was interesting, sharp, no question, but my copy was de-centered: when the left side was in focus at 100ft, the right side was in focus at infinity. That might not have been easy to spot with a lesser lens, but for the Otus the DOF is really, really thin where it matters. It was really interesting for close-up, where the de-centering was not really observable, and the Otus is very well corrected as the 50mm range goes. It could make a very good landscape lens.

        For those that complain about the price, Leica has lesser lenses for more money, and people line up to buy those. I think $4k is a bit much for a 55mm because this focal length is not that commonly used, and reasonably well covered by cheaper lenses. Wait for the new Sigma 50mm F/1.4 Art – that one is using a similar retro-focus design, would be less than half that price and I expect it to be 95% there, quality-wise.

        • Anto de Chav

          the big advantage of the Leica M lenses is the weight,the APO cron is less than half the weight of this …

    • Neopulse

      I ordered mine on the same day you received yours, and they said in Adorama that it was going to be in stock in November again and chances are they would be receiving a 2 batches in 10-12 days. I waited (and some) and ultimately had to cancel it because they kept telling me that they have received zero word from their supplier November and December. B&H said the same thing to me also. All I can say is that you’re lucky to have it. Will get one probably later this year.

      In the end had to settle for the 58mm and 85mm Gs :-/ It was available for pre-order they told me that they started shipping late October and early November those lenses and it far surpassed what they had previously had in stock. Quite disappointing if you ask me.

  • Mansgame

    4 grand huh? I bet the autofocus on that thing must be lightning fast.

    • slow

      AF is as fast as fingers and brain can set manual AF….

      • Mansgame

        But it’s 4 grand and huge. How can that be?? Did their engineers fall on their head and wake up and think it’s 1975?

        • guest

          Can you show anyone single lens reflex lens designs with F 1.4 speed that don’t have comparably-sized front optics?

        • mikeswitz

          Take a look at Heins Gallery @ http://hienhnguyen-photographe… and then complain about how rich asians are stealing all your creativity with their money.

        • orpickaname

          to-do:
          [v] Condemn Otus
          [ ] Condemn Summilux

          • TheInconvenientRuth

            [ ] Bring up D400
            [ ] Insult Nikon management
            [ ] Be a pedantic git online because I can
            [ ] Lick Nutella of my toast but don’t eat the toast
            [ ] Go out and acatully take pictures. Wait..What?!

        • grev

          Do you know about a brand called “Leica”?

  • ok20500

    Is it just me or should a 4000$ (or euros) lens have a better looking design? To me this one looks as good as Stanley measuring tape (and the weight is probably similar to some Stanley tool as well)… The bokeh looks very good and creamy though (as it should for that price). If I had the cash and need for such a lens I would still be tempted by the Nikkor 58 f/1.4G (it’s not all about the sharpness) … I do understand those however, who feel they need the best sharpness they can get at this focal length …

    • McGraffix

      I like my drills colored. They drill better.
      I like my tape measure by Porsche design. The lenght is more accurate then.
      Sorry. Could not resist.
      A $4000 lens should have an optical design that justifies that price. It should work and handle like a top-notch lens. Luckily you’ll hopefully be looking through the lens and at the results it produces, not at the lens itself :).

      • silmasan

        Yes, but that neon green-yellow markings… unnecessary. :D

        • Anto de Chav

          The markings are taken from the Arri Zeiss master prime lenses,they are easier to read..

  • t8t

    in b4 sigma mops up?

  • broxibear
  • JR

    Looks like a really expensive lens cup.

  • phosgene

    Too bad the sigma’s going to probably be nearly as good and toss in some AF as well

    • Guest

      Factoring in Sigma’s build quality and lack of anytime/anyplace professional support, yes the price will be lower.

    • Anto de Chav

      Nearly is the key word.. it won’t be as good as there Otus,I’m planning to buy the Sigma,the 35mm Art is very impressive,but the Zeiss will still be better and thats what you pay for here.the best

  • rt-photography

    can you imagine the price with autofocus?

    • orpickaname

      $4,099?

      • Otus_Lover

        If AF motor costs us USD99, then manual focus Nikkor 58mm f1.4 still cost us USD1601? Nikon really knows how to make money.

  • rt-photography

    just stick a short handle on the slender side and it looks like a bell.
    why isnt there a windows cover the scale area?

  • itsmyname

    Those photo,s look just like any other ..

  • MB

    Look how terrified is that guy on the first picture … no wonder when the lens resembles to some kind of cannon barrel …

  • Joseph Li

    No doubt it’s a great lens. I tried the zeiss 135mm f/2 for 2 months, superb lens extremely sharp and precise mechanical built quality. But I really cant manual focus fast enough, plus camera and subject movement, I had to give it up and succumb to technology and its AF for my street and wedding photography. If I shoot something stationary like studio or landscape or my sleeping cat i would get it in a heartbeat. Would be the same for the 55mm, just it’s even harder to justify since it cost twice as much as the 135mm

    • silmasan

      135 f/2 AF-S VR (let’s pray together).

      • broxibear

        Hi silmasan,
        I can see a 135mm f/2 AF-S late 2014 or early 2015, not sure it will have VR though.

        • KnightPhoto

          Well the 105mm Micro has VR, can we pray Nikon primes from 105mm and up will all have VR?

          I really do want the 135mm with VR. If it doesn’t I may just goto the 85mm f/1.4G, tough call and probably price will be an influence too.

          • broxibear

            Hi KnightPhoto,
            I just think it may work out too expensive to have VR and f/2…but then again they did make the super expensive 58mm f/1.4 G ?

      • Neopulse

        If the 135mm comes out to being a G-style plastic lens I think I would pass. I think it should be something better built like the old AF-Ds were. And also definitely will have VRIII.

        • broxibear

          Hi Neopulse,
          To be honest the plastic of the G lenses has never bothered me. At first they felt odd because they were so light, but they can take a knock and seem as durable as any other Nikon lens I’ve had.
          If it’s optically sound and does what I ask from it, I don’t care if it’s made of plastic or reclaimed coke cans.
          It looks as if they’re going through the AF-D range step by step and making AF-S versions, but they’re behind schedule as Nikon stated, and who knows which lenses they’re going to leave and not update ?

          • Neopulse

            Yeah, you are right about them being behind on their updates. I think though that they will release lenses according to a new body coming out which they have been doing for some time now. D7100 + 18-140mm, D5300 + 58mm, D600 + 70-200mm f/4, etc.

      • Jer

        Did you read Jiayi Chong guest blog on bird photography hear on NR? He shoots with AF-S 300 f/4 with either the 1.4 or 1.7 TC’s. He does this handheld and with a D800. No VR and his work is very good…the shots are quite sharp.

        • peterw

          hihi
          quite sharp is sometimes acceptable for nature photography, but never enough for professional model work.
          However, I guess in a studio VR will only be a burden.

  • RBR

    The only thing sharp in the two portraits I looked at were the chins and just barely so. I do not know why they did not focus on the eyes, but these are not overly attractive photos to have chosen to sell an expensive lens. I guess Nikon are preparing a series of “What a bargain!” commercials for the 58mm f/1.4. ;-)

  • doge

    wow
    such affordable
    very price
    much cream
    wow

  • Steven Foon

    Good to hear that it’s finally shipping. I’ve been waiting for over two months and now that Sigma is making claims that their new “Art” 50mm f/1.4 is right up there with the Zeiss, it might be too late for Zeiss. If Sigma indeed has a lens that comes to about 90% of the Zeiss and is significantly lower in price…. game over.

    • TheInconvenientRuth

      Zeiss:
      That’s it man, game over man, game over! What the bleep are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?

      Sigma:
      Maybe you could build a cheaper lens, throw in autofocus, huh? Why don’t you try that?

      • Ric

        nice Aliens reference

    • Jayson Xu

      im really looking forward to the sigma 50 1.4. If its as good as they claim to be, I will order it in a heart beat

      • KnightPhoto

        The only thing about the Sigma ART is the MTF didn’t look that promising, in fact the MTF looked disappointing. Am I missing something?

        • http://inthemistphoto.com/ InTheMist

          Compare to the Nikon 1.4G and you’ll see a big difference.

          Maybe not so much to the 1.8G.

        • Jayson Xu

          yes, the MTF chart isnt that overwhelming, but i still anticipate great image quality to be delivered by Sigma, given the 35mm 1.4′s performance.

    • http://www.davidkasman.com/ David Kasman

      The Sigma will likely be very good and much less expensive that the Otus … but, I expect, not >= to the Otus.

  • Spy Black

    $4000 to shoot a brick wall at F/5.6…

    • Dpablo unfiltered

      Bricks are sexy. All the good photographers shoot bricks.

      • Spy Black

        My 50mm f/1.4 Ai is probably about as sharp at f/5.6. You can pick one up for ~$150…

  • Bernard

    It’s a great lens, the mother of all the 50mms. Got mine on X-Mas day from B&H having ordered on the day of announcement.

    Since 50mm happens to be my most used pano focal length, accounting for probably 50% of what I do, it is a no brainer really but I do understand that the price if extremely high and that the lack of AF does prevent a lot of the value from being delivered in many applications.

    This being said, I have found the lens to be reasonably easy to manual focus on the D800, but my success rate on portrait is of course higher with the, also sublime, 85mm f1.4 AF-S.

    It is were not for my predominently landscape/pano applications, I would probably go with the Nikon 58mm f1.4 that delivers the nicest OoF rendering I have ever seen, even nicer than the Otus in my book.

    • KnightPhoto

      Just curious, is a 50-55mm-ish FOV a particularly good one for pano due to perspective?

      • Bernard

        Yes, indeed. It makes it possible to cover many scenes in one or 2 rows of 4 to 5 images which is sufficient to cross the 100 megapixels barrier and keeps the time needed to shoot the pano very short. It is pretty much ideal for wide angle panos of close to mid-distance subjects.

        I do of course also shot with longer lenses like the 100 or 180mm for distant subjects.

  • Guest

    You want bokeh? How about a 150mm f/2.8 Xenotar on a Linhof Technika. Probably not terribly much heavier than a D800+Grip+Otus, but equivalent to a 45mm f/0.85 in DOF terms. And probably will only cost you about $3500 for both the lens and the camera! So you’ve got $500 left over for film. It’ll be sharper at equivalent print sizes to boot.

    • Bernard

      Yes, there are other ways to achieve nice bokeh, and the Xenotar rendering is indeed beautiful, but 4×5 is nowhere near as convenient as 35mm digital.

      Besides, in terms of image quality, the gap between Imacon scanned 4×5 and the D800 with the Otus is in fact extremely small. I believe that the image quality of the Otus at f1.4 is probably superior to that of the Xenotar at f2.8, assuming that both are focused optimally which is less likely to happen with 4×5 with anything that is not totally static.

      • Guest

        I have to disagree. A typical scan of a 4×5 sheet shot at f/22 (diffraction limited with most modern lenses) on a flatbed will about equal a D800 shot and good lens at optimum aperture. With a real scanner you’ll absolutely destroy the D800. I’ve tested this myself and many other people have as well. Have you?

        Both will be hard to focus accurately on anything besides static subjects w/ camera on tripod. That’s true of any fast lens.

        • Bernard

          Yes, I still own an Imacon scanner as well as a Betterlight Super 6K scanning back… and I do disagree with your findings… and many other do also.

          There is probably still a slight advantage to 4×5 Provia sheets that I use(d), but it is far from “absolutely destroying” the D800 with a good lens. Drum scans would be a bit better still, but the gap would still not be huge on A1 prints (I own an Epson 9900 as well before you ask).

          But anyway, this wasn’t the initial point since your focus was on producing shallow DoF with 4×5. I maintain that the sharpness of the Otus at f1.4 is probably significantly superior to that of the Xenotar at f2.8.

          • Guest

            And I maintain that you are wrong. You are correct that bringing in the f/22 remark was irrelevant, but going the other way it would only improve the 4×5 shot (not being diffraction limited).

            If we equalize everything, including DOF, you would shoot the Xenotar at about f/4.5. I guarantee that at f/4.5 it’s screaming sharp and as sharp as the Otus, and with a huge negative that could easily be scanned at the equivalent of 80mp, will simply outperform the D800 in every aspect. Provia is a great film of course, and any good b&w emulsion will also be in the same league.

            If you really split hairs, you are probably correct that the Xenotar is slightly softer wide-open than the Otus, but it hardly matters since there is so much more raw resolution in that sheet of film. Either way, as far as I’m concerned it is still super-sharp even wide-open.

            The only disagreement would be the totally bogus LL article that was debunked when the drum scanner was found to be completely out of alignment and the scanner op was an amateur at best.

            You are quite simply wrong sir.

            • Bernard

              To tell you the truth, I don’t really care, but you have picked my curiosity. :-)

              Just 2 questions to help us progress here since you do not own a copy of the Otus and I do not own a copy of the Xenotar:
              1. Do you agree that an optimally performed scan with a Betterlight Super 6K is totally superior to the best drum scan of a Provia 4×5 sheet?
              2. Do you agree that a Rodenstock APO Sironar Digital 150mm f5.6 at f8-f11 is superior to the Xenotar at f4.5?

              If you do I’ll be able to re-do a test in the coming days comparing that set up to the D800 + Otus.

              Does that work for you?

            • Guest

              I honestly have no experience or interest in scan backs so I would not want to comment on such a thing. That said, a really hi-rez scan of a 4×5 sheet can be 16k-20k pixels on the long side, while the 6K specs say it is only 12k across at best. Of course there is the debate about digital pixels vs. scanned film pixels, but I’m not even going to go there.

              Second, I would expect that the APO lens might have somewhat better performance with regard to chromatic aberrations, obviously, but with sharpness, maybe not superior to the Xenotar. The Xenotar at f/4.5 is pretty much at peak aperture and less limited by diffraction than a lens at f/11…

              I welcome a test though, so by all means, go for it. BTW, I tested my scenario with a 55mm Micro, a very good lens, on a D800E, and came up with my results. I have also examined lots of film shot with my Xenotar at peak aperture.

            • Bernard

              BTW, have you checked Xenotar prices on ebay recently? The only copy I could find costs… 3500 US$… I understand that is the result of inflation on second hand valued lenses… but the net result is that the value proposition compared to the Otus.

            • Guest

              Shop around, they frequently sell for under $1500.

        • umeshrw

          Sorry to butt in . But I believe the original point was about boheh. So doesn’t f22 on 4×5 destroy that at the cost of sharpness? (I have worked only on medium format and 35 mm hence the question)

    • mikeswitz

      You forgot the neckstrap.

      • peterw

        and the scanner

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    This lens does not AutoFocus on my D400. What a fail…

    • AM

      I think the problem is the D400. I returned mine because of the same problem. I hope this issue and the lack of retro style are solved with the D410.

  • Larry

    The latest Sigma 50/1.4 ART will easily eat OTUS for breakfast.

    • http://inthemistphoto.com/ InTheMist

      I wouldn’t go that far, but it’ll have AF, be smaller, lighter and not to mention cheaper.

    • Bernard

      I own both the Otus and the sigma 35mm f1.4. Both are lovely lenses and the sigma is an excellent performer… but it is not at Otus level. I have high expectations of the new 50mm f1.4, but I would be surprised if it did better than the Otus as a whole on the complex set of KPIs defining what a good lens is. Future will tell.

  • nukunukoo

    It would have been a nice extra if Zeiss would have included AF via the higher-end Nikon on-camera focusing motor. Or is that tech proprietary?

    • Steven Foon

      I’ve been told that Nikon and Canon are not allowing Zeiss to incorporate AF in the lenses. Sort of make sense in order for Nikon and Canon to have something proprietary.

  • Steven Solidarios

    They say this lens is so sharp, your subject will be cut in half after the shutter release is pressed.

    • AM

      (silence)….. Oh, are we supposed to laugh now?

      • Steven Solidarios

        Humor is good for the soul. It seems you don’t have one.

    • Anto de Chav

      I prefer the saying “its so sharp it makes your eyeballs bleed”

  • photdog

    Bernard Languillier showed, what’s in the box shooting with the Otus. As some of the shots I admire are stiched, I hope for an Otus 21 mm in the near future.
    I do not believe that Nikon lacks on capability but on courage and willingness to cope with an Otus or at least with Sigma Art series. And that is a shame for a company with this history.
    I bet that a third of the produced Otus are melted in again to keep up the high standard – right the oposite of mass producers. And still Zeiss appeals their customers with an extremely high price and without AF and weathersealing. This certainly leaves Nikon a space to succeed with top end products, but for some reason they occupy themself with enforcing consumer products knowing verywell, that the time of these products (incl. Nikon 1) is running off.
    Ignorance has seldom proved itselves as a strength!

    • Bernard

      I don’t know about Nikon.

      The 58mm f1.4 is really top notch in terms of look (maybe better than the Otus from what I could see in some samples) and that is what they were trying to achieve.

      It is extremely successful in Japan where many influencers think that look is everything nowadays. Nikon is a very Japan centric company – a lot more so than Canon for example – and they put a very heavy weight on meeting the needs of those Japanese photographers they consult with.

      So it does seem like they have a few niches they target, the main one is the wedding photographer working tools (the zoom lenses), the second one is consumer zoom lenses and it seems like they have invested huge amount in new development tools that are best in class in terms of designing lenses that deliver on some very specific look related metrics like the way sharpness transitions away from the plane of sharpness. Optimizing bokeh only looks very crude compared to the level of refinement they are shooting for.

      So I am not sure Nikon is lacking capability, they are just focusing on something else.

  • optical

    some real world use of the lens, brother bought it for studio work but I use it to shoot anything http://www.flickr.com/photos/rvegaphotography/12038677264/

    I to was confused as to why someone would buy it but after I used it, i started to like it, the focusing ring is butter and its pretty easy to focus with focus confirmation, even got a good amount of keepers taking some pictures of moving kids beating a pinata. Its a optical masterpiece.

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