Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4 review

The Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4 is a wide-angle zoom lens and the third model in the much acclaimed Otus family. So expectations are very high, matching the incredibly high price tag of 4500 EUR which makes it the most expensive lens of this series so far.

Like its longer siblings the new Otus is available with Canon mount “ZE” and with Nikon F-mount “ZF.2”, but can be used via adapters on other manufacturers’ bodies, such as the Sony A7 / A7r. And like most Zeiss lenses, excluding the Touits and Batis models, it is manual focus only.

Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4

The lens is one-of-a-kind as there is no other 28mm f1.4 full-frame zoom lens out there. But even though you appear at 24/1.4 lenses or 35/1.4 lenses non-e carries this sort of price nor describes themselves to be “The world’s best wide-angle lens”. Therefore the queries are: Will this lens continue steadily to redefine what efficiency level you can find from today’s design and top quality cup? And just how much better is certainly this lens compared to the (near) comparative providing from e.g. Nikon or Sigma? Can the zoom lens justify a cost of 4500 EUR? In my own Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4 review-in-progress I’ll talk about my results, including sharpness results, contra-light overall performance, Bokeh, and a selection of sample images when mounted on a demanding 36MP Nikon D810 body.

Details from the catalog Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4

As usual I’ll have a look at the technical data first. I’ve rated the features with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s better than common or even state of the art, a [0] if it’s standard or just common, and [-] if there’s a disadvantage. All sizes and weights are from the Nikon version, length is certainly measured from the lens-mount.

Size (size x duration): 109 x 127 mm. This should be the biggest ever wide-angle zoom lens for full-body bodies. Although the size of the concentrate ring is approximately 4mm slimmer than on the 85/1.4 Otus and therefore a little simpler to grasp. The lens-hood provides 35mm to the distance of the zoom lens getting it to a complete of 162mm and includes a diameter of 118mm. [-]

Fat: 1310g. As in proportions the lens pieces a fresh record in fat too: It’s the heaviest ever wide-angle zoom lens for full-frame bodies. The metal lens hood adds another 62g. The respective f1.4 lenses from Nikon, Sigma and Canon are about half the weight. [-]

Optics: 16 elements in 13 groups. This is a pretty complex design with 26 glass/air-surfaces and 10 special lens elements including two aspheric surfaces. [0]

Filter-thread: 95mm. Even bigger and more expensive than the 86mm filter-thread of the 85/1.4 Otus. All 24/1.4 lenses use 77 mm filters – which is the size that most pro-lenses use. So expect to invest heavily into new filters with the new lens. [-]

Image stabilization: No f1.4 prime lens offers optical stabilization. And with the tiny magnification at a focal amount of 28mm it really is no big reduction. Still: capturing dim interiors or landscapes in fading light hand-kept can prove a significant problem without stabilization. [0]

Auto focus: Zero! Manual-focus only. [-][+]

Price: around 4500 EUR new (incl. 19% VAT). The f1.4 wide-angle 24mm primes from Nikon or Canon price around a third, the main one from Sigma only a sixth. And the ones all give autofocus. [-]

Includes no zoom lens pouch but a steel lens-shade is roofed, reversible for transportation, and the lens-caps act like Nikon’s. [-]

Distance information isn’t relayed to the surveillance camera, the zoom lens delivers a worth of 0.01m regardless of the distance you choose. This disables some of the advanced exposure-related stuff e.g. a Nikon body can do although the lens does have electrical contacts and communicates some EXIF data with the body. All of the competing autofocus lenses from Sigma, Nikon and Canon relay subject-to-camera-distance. [0]

Aperture band: yes (Nikon ZF.2 edition only), so that you can control aperture from the zoom lens exactly like in old situations. [+]

Sealing: zero rubber-grommet in the lens-mount. I asked Zeiss about their zoom lens getting “hardened” for the components. They replied that the enclosure of the optical groupings successfully seals the zoom lens against dirt and wetness. But nonetheless: with out a seal between the lens and the body there is the risk of moisture getting in there. [0]

The score in the “features-division” is 6[-]/5[0]/2[+]. The new Otus is much larger and heavier than the competition, has no AF, no lens-pouch, no digital distance details, and an exorbitant price tag. In some recoverable format it looks a whole lot worse compared to the 55/1.4 Otus, the excess minus getting the 95mm filter-thread. So just a fantastic optical performance can make this zoom lens interesting to anybody.

Alternatives Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4

As there is absolutely no other 28mm f1.4 zoom lens you must make some compromise if you are searching for alternatives:

For owners of Nikon DSLRs, there may be the 28mm f1.8G ED, which is a lot, much smaller sized (73 x 81 mm), lighter (330 g), and cheaper (550 EUR) compared to the Otus. Find my Nikon 28/1.8G review where it received a recommendation. After that there will be the pro-grade AF-S Nikkor 24mm f1.4G ED (1750 EUR, see my Nikon 24/1.4G review) and the Nikon 35mm f1.4G ED (1500 EUR, see my Nikon 35/1.4G review). A 24mm prime gives a 14% wider view than a 28mm lens which you can very easily compensate for by cropping – if you’re willing to give up 26% of the pixels. With a 35mm lens, things are probably not so easy as it has a crop-factor of 1 1.25x built in compared to a 28mm lens. And that means you need to step back a quarter of your subject -distance (and switch the perspective accordingly) to capture the same framework or you shed parts of the image.

Sigma supplies the 24mm f1.4 DG HSM Artwork and the 35mm f1.4 DG HSM Artwork lenses which both earned an extremely Recommended (find my Sigma 24/1.4 Artwork evaluate and Sigma 35/1.4 Art review). They are not the smallest or lightest wide-angle primes but they are clearly dwarfed by the Otus and actually buying them both would only set you back one third of the price of the Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4 lens. My remarks concerning the viability of a 24mm or 35mm prime replacing a 28mm prime from above apply as well.

From Canon there is the EF 28/1.8 USM which is small, lightweight and costs below 500 EUR. Plus Canon gives pro-grade f1.4 “L” lenses at 24mm and 35mm. Their latest “II” versions set you back around 1300 EUR resp. 1900 EUR.

Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4 itself offers the 28mm f2.0 Distagon for 1100 EUR which is an easier 10 elements/8 groups design – and manual focus, too. If you’re a Sony mirrorless shooter, additionally, there is the Zeiss Batis 25mm f2, which features AF.

You may also consider full-frame zooms albeit non-e has a bigger than f2.0 aperture. However, many have picture stabilization which enables you to shoot in light that’s as low or also less than with the Otus:

Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4

The Tamron SP AF 15-30mm 2.8 Di VC USD (around 1000 EUR). It earned an extremely Suggested in my own Tamron 15-30/2.8 VC critique. It reaches a remarkably wide 15mm on the brief end and its own stabilization is wonderful for at least 2 stops.

Nikon’s fresh AF-S VR 24-70mm 2.8E ED may be the priciest alternative at 2400 EUR . It gets to 2.5x further using its 70mm focal size at the extended end and includes a very effective picture stabilization best for at least 3 stops. Discover my Nikon 24-70/2.8E VR review.

From Sigma there’s the 24-35/2.0 DG HSM Art. It isn’t stabilized but its shiny f2.0 focal ratio compensates a little for that. In my own Sigma 24-35/2.0 Art review it earned a Highly Recommended and costs around 950 EUR.

Focus Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4

As with the 55/1.4 Otus, I can only say: if you cannot have the ability to properly concentrate you manually better just forget about this zoom lens, skip this examine to avoid becoming infected by the first-class picture quality, and mind to normal alternative lenses offering autofocus. If a shooting style permits going for a second or third shot to nail concentrate properly, then it’s likely that that the Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4 Otus is among the most accommodating lenses for the intricacies of manual concentrate. And to become honest: Despite having all of the auto focus lenses I take advantage of I more often than not check for ideal concentrate because with significantly less than ideal targets there’s always a chance the camera pulled focus to a different spot than you intended it to.

The focus ring has no slack/play between its movement and the focus-action and a throw of 120 degrees, which is ideal for accurate focus spacious. The focus band is easy to grip despite having gloves though it has no framework. It moves extremely smoothly and may be managed with one finger. It offers hard stops on both sides of the length scale, and that means you know precisely when you’ve reached one or the new end of the concentrate range. However, the hard prevent on the significant end can be a little beyond infinity, and that means you star-gazing photogs still have to find precise concentrate manually if you would like to capture the Milky Way in all its sparkling glory.

Build quality

The lens has nine rounded aperture blades and the aperture ring has half-stop clicks up to f11, although there’s no smooth step-less option that videographers would have liked. To operate the aperture from the camera simply set it to f16 where it is automatically arrested with a small latch/switch. The zoom lens is built just like a container with a completely metallic outer barrel, metallic innards, and a metallic lens-color that suits seamlessly at the lens-front and will not rattle. This full-metallic build can be frowned upon by some fearing complications at sub-zero temps. But I examined the 55/1.4 Otus from the night in the deep-freezer and neither did my naked fingers adhere to the cool metal surface area nor did the focus-actions become too stiff. Operating the zoom lens at -22 degrees Celsius (-8 degrees Fahrenheit) was no issue at all and I expect the 28/1.4 being no different in this regard.

Now it’s time to check out some results in my Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4 quality and Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4 sample images pages, or if you’d like to skip to chase, head straight for my verdict!