Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon

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The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon is the first lens in the new ultra-high-grade Otus line for Nikon and Canon DSLRs. The bird naming started with the Touit line (see Mirrorless Cameras for On-The-Go Shooting) and this convention continues with Otus, the genus to which owls belong. Zeiss has dropped hints that the Otus line will consist of extreme-performance ƒ/1.4 lenses.

The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon is a true professional-grade lens in every respect, thinking not so much in DSLR terms as in traditional medium format terms, with the associated high expectations for optical performance and top-flight build quality. The lens is a daring move in price terms, in being a manual focus lens, and in offering the ultimate in image quality.

The image quality that the 55mm f/1.4 delivers, even wide open, sets a new standard by which other lenses will be compared.

The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon is so strong a performer that it undermines the rationale for a medium format camera. This is already true with the 36-megapixel Nikon D800E, but certainly so when 50+ megapixel DSLRs arrive on scene. And that statement is not just about resolution, but about total performance.

Mechanically, the 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon is the best Zeiss DSLR lens yet (which is already a high-set bar): the focusing mechanism uses bearings, as with cine lenses, along with a very generous focus throw for a satisfying feeling of precision and velvety smoothness.

Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon (ZF.2 Nikon mount)

Just How Good is it Wide Open?

The image of this black cat is difficult for a lens to pull off well at ƒ/1.4. To be persuasive, the yellow eye and its interior iris structures should be razor sharp—the lens has to deliver high contrast in the black fur (with small white specks in it), there should be no veiling haze or violet color haloes, and there should be smoothly uniform bokeh (background blur), and all of that at ƒ/1.4, which is what the 55mm f/1.4 does, making the crispness of detail and micro contrast look more like ƒ/5.6 than ƒ/1.4. Only the depth-of-field clues tell the story otherwise. No other lens could put all those elements together this well.

Zeiss has chosen the name of Otus, which is appropriate, but one might also say that the lens is like the eyes of a cat, which are adaptable to all brightness and contrast levels.

Printed at 380 dpi (19.5 X 13-inch print), the finest details are rendered crisply and even with reading glasses at close range, there is nothing to fault in the sharpness department. It’s plain that the image would print very well at three feet wide and even larger. And yet, this was shot at ƒ/1.4.

Shooting notes: At dusk, the cat was starting to become alert and active; no easy task to focus on the eye at this distance! I spent ten minutes trying to get the pose just right: I wanted that yellow eye razor sharp at ƒ/1.4 for the effect. This is the challenge and the reward of the 55mm f/1.4 Distagon: it is a technical challenge to nail the focus on a 36-megapixel DSLR at ƒ/1.4 to garner the full optical quality, but when this happens, the results are spectacular in effect. I got the shot, if not exactly the pose, I wanted.

Black Cat Contemplating a Gopher Dinner
Nikon D800E + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon @ ƒ/1.4 (click to enlarge)

Shown below is an actual-pixels section from the 36-megapixel Nikon D800E image. Observe the fine details within the iris of the cat’s eyes as well as the small hairs which are shortchanged in smoothness only by the limits of the sensor resolution (and depth of field)!

ACTUAL PIXELS
Nikon D800E + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon @ ƒ/1.4

Overall Image Quality

When I first shot with the 55mm f/1.4, I was startled in a certain way: the images showed a transparency and three-dimensional quality, a sense of "presence" and immediacy. It is a sense of almost being at or in the scene, as if viewing through a window, only without glass to degrade the view. That sense of presence is the most compelling aspect of the 55mm f/1.4.

The visual impact of an image depends on a harmonious blend of sharpness and blur qualities, that blend being a creative choice for the specific subject, via choice of aperture. It is a complex interaction governed by sharpness, optical aberrations, flare control, and other factors. The lens that is highly corrected in these areas is more versatile and thus represents a greater value in all respects. That is what the Otus 55mm/1.4 accomplishes, and it is what produces the sense of presence seen in the images it captures.

Traditionally, there has been minimal choice in which aperture to choose for peak quality; most lenses require stopping-down in order to deliver acceptable performance. But the 55mm f/1.4 Distagon offers such high performance at every aperture that the choice of aperture can be made strictly for creative reasons, including shallower or deeper depth of field, with no need to compromise on aperture to gain lens performance.

The 55mm f/1.4 is particularly well suited to contre-jour shooting (strict flare control), to architectural photography (low distortion and minimal field curvature), and to very high-resolution digital cameras in general. Its exceptional bokeh and sharpness also make it applicable for any application where one wishes to direct and control viewer attention to a particular subject and its context.

Color correction is at a level that is equal to or superior to the best lenses designated as "APO." The exceptional correction for color errors contributes to image quality in multiple ways, including an unusual transparency to the look of the image but also to greater actual depth of field, as well as the absence of any strong out-of-focus color blurs or harsh transitions on blur shapes.

Every optical characteristic is tightly “nailed down” by the 55mm f/1.4: sharpness and contrast, bokeh, color rendition, vignetting, distortion, freedom from color errors, exceptional flare control. It is a sum total effect. One might call it a cine-grade lens for still photography, but in a manageable form factor.

A real strength of the 55mm f/1.4 Distagon is in delivering total image quality across the entire frame. For example, the very high-performing Zeiss 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar performs nearly as well over the central areas of the frame, but it cannot deliver the same quality to the edges and corners and it doesn’t have quite the same level of flare control. Compared to other ƒ/1.4 lenses at ƒ/1.4 and ƒ/2, the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon is in its own class of one.

The 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon is so well corrected that even pushed beyond its design range into macro territory (using an extension tube), the same beautiful qualities remain intact, including its superb color balance and correction for color errors.

Macro range shooting at 1:3.3
Nikon D800E + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon @ ƒ/5.6 (click to enlarge)

Vignetting and Contrast Wide Open

Vignetting is quite low wide open, but is still useful and can be put to good effect. And while depth of field is very shallow at ƒ/1.4, the net impression is one of very high sharpness—because it is! Even to the extreme corners.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine (thousands of years old)
Nikon D800E + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon @ ƒ/1.4 (click to enlarge)

Contrast

Preservation of contrast ranges sets the 55mm f/1.4 apart, even from the very best competing DSLR or rangefinder lenses: dark areas do not suffer from any veiling glare, a fact that allows exposing for bright highlights and then raising shadow values in brightness in raw conversion or post processing. Ordinary lenses add a haze to the shadows that results in a dull image, lacking that lifelike sparkle.

In this image of the Kuna Peaks in Yosemite, the greens near the river were nearly black in the original and have been brightened in conversion, with the highlights also brought down.

The 55mm f/1.4 Distagon is the ideal lens for a camera having a sensor with a very wide dynamic range, such as the Nikon D800/D800E.

Kuna Peaks
Nikon D800E + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon @ ƒ/11 (click to enlarge)

Flare Control

With ordinary lenses, veiling haze and lens “ghosts” can present troublesome issues in the field. Not so with the 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon. Images like this 30-second exposure of the rising moon, along with its bright reflection on the water, were handled with ease. The Otus 55mm f/1.4 Distagon is not troubled by such applications, and as seen here, the Otus 55mm f/1.4 holds deep black shadows under the mountain so well that the inky-black areas had to be brightened to show the details by the maximum of +100 in Adobe Camera Raw!

Moonrise over Tuolumne River 
Nikon D800E + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon @ ƒ/5.6, 30 second exposure Shadows +100
(click to enlarge)

Portraits

The Otus 55mm f/1.4 is an excellent lens for portraits, but because it is so bitingly sharp wide open, a slight “miss” on focus is visible as a razor-sharp slice through the wrong area, such as one razor-sharp eye and another slightly soft eye (at ƒ/1.4). Ordinary lenses mask focusing error by virtue of not being particularly sharp at ƒ/1.4. The Otus 55mm f/1.4 does not fake it for the photographer who “missed.” As a challenge for all manual focus lenses, the focusing screens in current DSLR cameras are generally unfavorable for manual focus.

For both those reasons, stopping down to ƒ/2.8 is advisable, with ƒ/4, ƒ/5.8, and ƒ/8 offering more margin for focusing errors and/or slight shifts in subject or photographer position. But on high-resolution digital cameras, subjects might see more detail than they really wanted, portraiture being one place where not every client appreciates seeing all the details. Call it a “portrait lens for perfect skin.” It is this reason that makes the razor-sharp eyes at wider apertures so appealing; one can allow a “fadeaway” in other areas while delivering the impression of incredible sharpness.

Printed at 42 inches wide (42 X 28 inches at full size), this image is strikingly sharp and would easily print to two meters wide.

Portraits demand precision focus
Nikon D800E + Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon @ ƒ/2.8 (click to enlarge)

Conclusions

Photographers looking for the very best in imaging quality need look no further. When everything is considered, the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon is without a doubt the finest lens ever produced for a 35mm SLR or DSLR (or rangefinder). It sets a new benchmark.

The Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon on a high-resolution DSLR makes a strong challenge to medium format on total imaging quality (not just resolution). Moreover, in resolution terms, the 55mm f/1.4 has ample reserves for a future 60/70/80-megapixel DSLR.

Watch a B&H Exclusive First Look Video  

 

The Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon is available for both Canon EF and Nikon F mount types.

An extensive in-depth review of the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon can be found in Guide to Zeiss at diglloyd.com.

Biography

Lloyd Chambers publishes the popular diglloyd blog at his eponymous diglloyd.com and a wide variety of articles and guides geared toward professional and advanced photographers, including Guide to ZeissGuide to LeicaGuide to Mirrorless CamerasMaking Sharp Imagesdiglloyd's Advanced PhotographyGuide to Digital Infrared Photography, as well as various print articles.

A longtime photographer, over the years he has used a wide variety of film formats and lenses including 35mm, 4X5, 6X7, 645, 617, and numerous digital cameras. 

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Precise focus is a must to utilize high resolution camera sensor.
Not every photographer is able to precisely focus a manual lens.

Shocking audio from a company that sells Pro Audio? I couldn't understand a work they were saying in the video.

The absence of AF system makes the use of this lens very limited. No way to use in a wedding.

    I remember the old days when there was no such thing as auto-focus ;-)  LOL  You couldn't beat this lens for small product shots & landscapes.  I don't know many models with skin perfect enough to use this lens on. LOL  It reminds me of my 120mm Tele for my old Hassselblad 500CM Manual focus.  I had to use a Hassy or a B&W fog filter if I got in there for a tight shot of a models face.  This lens would be about 6500.00 if they added AF to it.

Very curious to see how the Otus will compare to the CP.2 50/T1.5 in image quality for HDLSR use, besides the ergonomics...

Carl Zeiss products, be it binos, camera lenses, microsopes - whatever - are absolute top class. But please Carl, start producing a/f camera lenses for Canon/Nikon. Manual to tricky and difficult to obtain the results what these lenses are capable of.

What a lens, they should have used it to "focus" on the guest speaker, unless he wanted to be out of focus.

Not a single word about the cost or value of this lens?
No negatives whatsoever? Even the lack of AF is considered a postive by the writer
Whats with the overly effusive language?

I think the lens looks amazing, but come on....

  They now have the price on the B&W website.  I think it was around $4500 :-(  

DSLRs don't have appropriate focusing screens - or LCDs - or firmware (unless you are using Magic Lantern) - for manual focus. And it looks like the lens has a ridiculously short focus throw, so it would be difficult to get your focus correct even if you could see it.

Without autofocus this is a non-starter for me. Yes, I can manually focus. And yes, I prefer to have the camera do it.

4000 for a 50mm lens
Expensive .... Dumb whoever accept these high not real prices ,

Thank You Zeiss!
But ***please*** make a 18mm or 20mm f2 in the same class. There is no competition and many photograpers need this for night photography.
Claus from Germany - thanks to the friendly B&H staff and Lloyd for this early review.

Very nice and glowing review about the PERFECT LENS. I wonder how much Zeiss had do pay for it. Or maybe just giving him the lens was enough ;)

Excellent review Lloyd. Thanks to B&H for sponsoring it, I'd love to see more of this.

And best of all, now the Internet has a *reference* cat picture :-)

QUOTE "....the images showed a transparency and three-dimensional quality, a sense of "presence" and immediacy. It is a sense of almost being at or in the scene, as if viewing through a window, only without glass to degrade the view." QUOTE

HUH? Whatever. This is the silliest comment ever on describing image quality.........way to justify that $4000 price tag! LOL!

It's a given that Digiloyd will rave about anything marked Zeiss. But since it's pretty easy to make very fine 50mm lenses, I wouldn't be surprised if this one is remarkable and priced appropriately for a lens made in Germany.

I like to read Lloyds articles and most are clear cut explainations of the equipment he uses in his field of photography, Landscapes !!!

but saying this 50 mm is an excellent lens for portraits and clearly his example shows he aint got the slightest idea about portrait photography, which he proved with another poor example recently on his blog criticizing Martin Schoeller´s work citing the catchlights.

and by the way, 35 mm is 35 mm, no matter how many Mpx or how sharp or costly a lens is, it aint gonna give you the MF quality ,let alone the MF look ;-)))
nice try though Lloyd ( and Zeiss);-).
cheers ,
Ken

Honestly, I think this lens is about 10 ***** overpriced. I wouldn't pay much more than 300 Dollar for it.

The perfect lens is more than just a collection of great optical parameters. Speed and accuracy in acquiring focus should ***** heavily for the perfect lens. Reviewer spent 10 minutes getting the focus right of one image. I am sure when you practice you can get it down substantially but still. Also unimpressed with the nervous bokeh,so still not the perfect lens sorry.

May I suggest that if you want a fabulous near normal manual focus Nikon lens that is much more versatile, you may wish to consider the Nikkor 45mm tilt/shift lens? It's about half the cost, but two stops slower.

so no AF is good, and taking forever to get a cat in focus is okay. i don't believe that time will come down with practice. so lloyd has no exp manual focusing? really...? just a thought, if no AF is good, then i suppose the resale value of AF lenses with broken AF function just went up? and that is a good portrait? 55mm. really? not all AF lenses, in fact nearly all of them don't have any sort of fly by wire manual focusing system. only a few special case SLR lenses. sure, loads of mirrorless stuff but who cares about that. also like the guy below stated, modern expectations are much higher than they were a short while back. now brides want their shots perfect and they don't care that the venue is very dark and you aren't allowed to use a flash. that's across photography as a whole. just flip through some mags from the 80's 90's or early 2000's. now days almost all of it would be considered out of focus with boring lighting. compared to the current level it's very shabby. just looking in my latest issue of "real simple" i can see interesting lighting work and perfect focus on just about every silly thing in the mag. personally if you are going to fool around with something like this, you might be better off getting into MF (as in medium format, not manual focus) or LF film. i mean if you are going to take 10 minutes to take a photograph, why not go bonkers and use a man camera? or, wait, if squeezing out every drop of resolution is your goal why not use a sigma 35mm f1.4, and fire off two shots, then composite them together for something like that 55mm FOV and get perhaps 50% more resolution in a matter of seconds?(you can manually focus the sigma if it makes you feel better) yeah, i'm something...

  I guess you were referring to a 4x5 or an 8x10 when you said Man Camera?  I'll tell you that it is a great learning exp. having to shoot on a 4x5 and really think & compose your shots. I guess that's why the photogs who shot the covers for Playboy in the film days used 8x10 cameras.   During my 2 yrs. at Photography School in Daytona we had to use 4x4 for ALL of our product photography. I just hated to upside down images ****. LOL  

so for some reason this morning i realized i had say something silly on here about stitching two 35mm shots together to get a 55mm lens FOV. yeah, forget that part. my wife always says i stink at multitasking, and that is just what i was doing while typing that up. actually, we could just pretend i said to use one of the very good AF 85mm or 100mm lenses that exist for one tenth the price of this zeiss.

Looks like an incredible piece of optical engineering that anyone with the money and the ability to maximize it's usefulness would love to own. Having just purchased the new Sigma 35 1.4 and also using the Canon 50 1.4 extensively, I know with my ageing eyes that I would need to have AF to be able to use this amazing lens wide open. The focus point is just so small it's nearly impossible to hit it without excellent AF capabilities, especially when working close up. Still it is great to see Zeiss push the limits of what's possible and hopefully Canon will take up the challenge. Or Sigma!

I can certainly afford it, but would never buy a lens named Otus.

Like *****, a really silly name.

Hard to believe that a company that can make good lenses would choose such dumb names.

I predict this will become the new Edsel.

Ten minutes to get THAT shot of a cat? OK and stuff.

...The thing is, it's not just Lloyd raving about this lens - it's everyone who experiences it! People on forums & comment sections love to berate anything & everything without saying anything. From what I have read, and I have read a lot, this lens is a huge forward step - a bigger step than we have experienced in a while. Rather than designing for the status quo, here Zeiss is designing for the future of sensors. This is essentially a medium format (sensor) lens for 35mm (sensor). It is one of a small group of lenses to get excited about.

Obviously if you are not a professional (or wealthy) this lens is not the pragmatic choice. However, in a world were the $30k digital back is king, is it really so hard to believe Zeiss has created an amazingly machined standard prime lens, apparently the first of three, with superior optics for $4k for a $3k body? I think not. You needn't look any further than Leica to see that this lens is not simply a fashion accessory. For all you people saying you can get the same results out of a lessor lens I suggest you learn how to read an mtf chart.

Point is, buy is if you can justify buying it. If no then just be happy with what you have. No need to go on a comment section rampage when you really have nothing to back up your claims outside of reckless opinion. After all, this lens IS exciting. It is the beginning of a time where legendary Leica sharpness has a less expensive competitor...

As I was reading I realized that the words and phrasing were very similar to other items I read. I couldn't figure out what. Finally, I had it. This is the same over-the-top type of language found in Stereophile, in that case to describe what various audio components sound like.

BS there, and BS here.

Pricing is relative to how big your pocketbook is, right?
Some of us have no problem paying over a 100k USD + for a new car and change it every few years or so with a different one. Others can’t afford to buy a 16k Toyota and keep it 10 years. People’s ability to pay is different. As a photographer that shoots MF in studio and uses a Leica as a pocket camera $4000 for a lens is not unusual. In my shop we also use Nikon’s and this lens on a D800E will be interesting.

Can't wait to see if its worth the extra several thousand dollars, or would a normal 50/f1.4 G lens and a ice cream make me just as happy.

One of the nice things having 36, 60 or more MP is the ability to crop the **** out of an image and still make a good size print and having a great lens makes that possible so for me its worth it.

First of all; Can I expect a Leica-R mount on the Otus 55/1.4? (for my Leica-M(240). Despite the formality, I plan on purchasing this lens to utilize with live-view and focus peaking on the M240. I'm very excited about this lens. But of course I'm just as excited still, about the Apo-Summicron-M 50/2-asph and the Noctilux-M 50/.95! However, a $4000 investment in something this astounding makes for a quicker acquisition than a $7300 or $11K purchase...Besides, my summilux-M 50/1.4-asph has been in the shop for a while.

No thanks.

Forget the fact it's manual-focus only, in an era when other third-party lens companies have figured out how to deal with Nikon and Canon AF systems. Gee guys, Nikon's AF system has only been on the market since 1986 when the N2002 shipped, and Canon's since 1987 when the EOS 650 shipped.

The simple fact is, it's a $4000 standard lens whose greatest attributes are things you will never see on an actual print. You can't stop down below f/16, and good depth-of-field will get you a lot farther on real jobs than being able to resolve the entire USAF 1951 test target across the lens's entire field of view. And you know those 50-megapixel files everyone's waiting for? Unless you shoot for printing on a press, 6 to 10 megapixels is plenty. I have an old ancient slide scanner that makes 10-megapixel files. Those print to 20x24 beautifully. Fifty MP does two things: eats disk space and renders slow.

Go upthread and look at the photos. The picture of the bristlecone pine is a good example: the tree is soft, the rocks at its base are closer to being sharp. Why? Easy: at f/1.4 your depth of field is almost nonexistent. If you stopped down to...oh, f/11...you'd have gotten a great picture. But what's the point of spending $4000 to get great pictures at f/11 when you can buy a whole bag of lenses that give great pictures at f/11 plus a used Honda Civic to get you out to where the great pictures are for the same money?

"Kuna Peaks" and "Moonrise" are also out of focus. Come to think of it, every photo in this review is out. I would have to rent this lens and shoot a few rolls of Velvia 50 slide film with it to be able to really judge it, because going only by the photos in this review, I would call this a soft lens. And the thing is, Zeiss lenses are traditionally not soft - quite the opposite in fact; they had to invent the Softar filter to make Hasselblads usable for portraiture. I'm certain this lens would be great on my F4S. I'm also certain a 600mm f/4.5D lens that I can pick up in Excellent used condition for the same money would be greater on my F4S because it'll take the pictures I want to take and this 55mm really won't. But seriously, guys, I can get sharper pictures than the ones in this review out of a Nikon Series E 50 f/1.8 I bought at a pawnshop 20 years ago.

So...four grand for a normal lens that won't stop down below f/16? Pass.

I am a close-up/macro photographer of mostly nature subjects. I have done close-up work since 1956 including many years of focus stacking. I have been very concerned about sharpness in a lens and most concerned with corrected lenses, commonly known as APO lenses, although there is no official APO standard.
I mostly use the Nikon D800E body at this time, although the new Sony A7r looks interesting, and have some 80+ lenses, most of them used for close-up and macro work, including the Coastal Optics 60mm APO, Leica Elmarit-R APO, Voigtlander 125mm APO, and many other Nikkors including some of the finest industrial Nikkors (Printing Nikkors, APO El-Nikkor, etc.)

The Zeiss 135mm APO lens is not macro or even a close-up lens, but because of the raves I had to find out if this new Zeiss APO was possibly useful at close range. I bought one. To my astonishment it is, and amazingly so at that.

My point here is, of all the lenses I have used, the new Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO is probably the finest of the lot, and by a good margin. Originally I did not buy it because it was not a "macro" lens, but just a standard prime lens with a near focus of 2.62 feet, not very close for my work, and forget about macro. I was wrong.

Anyway, the long-story-short is that the Zeiss 135mm APO, even at a distance, is an excellent close-up lens, beyond anything I would have expected. And it takes reasonable extension very, very well.

I have other Zeiss lenses including the two Zeiss Makro-Planars which I never use because of their harsh contrast and lack of correction. Please don't imagine that the new Zeiss APO 135mm is anything like the Makro-Planers except perhaps in being built well.

This new APO Zeiss is for me (and in my opinion) a game-changing lens.......

I have every reason to expect the new Zeiss 55mm APO Otus to be of the same quality, and probably better for my work, and it also takes extensions well, according to Chambers. I have one on order, and am selling some lenses I will never use again anyway because in reality I would always choose one of the great lenses, like these APO Zeiss.

Looking at the MTF-numbers ( lensrentals-blog) it is clear that Zeiss has made an awesome lens that shows what is possible for 35mm. It is sharper at f1,4 than most are at f5,6! We may applaud for this achievement.
Since a lot of MTF photographers will come to 35mm there will be a market for such a lens since the price is about the price of an MF lens. MTF is not the whole story and Nikon seems to think so putting their 58mm lens in that is not so sharp but distinctive in other ways- less easy to measure, but clearly showing in photographs. We are lucky to have so much choice !

Yes, I agree that the lens is a bit pricy and that's why some of the photo enthusiasts herein are a bit perturbed. It would have been nice to have seen it sold at the $2K range. However, the contrasts seen in these pictures are "the wave of the future, Baby." I remember when digital first came out, I hated it. It took me nearly four years to accept that it was here to stay; now all I can do is just marvel at the advances. Furthermore, if you are a Zeiss loyalist (like I am), you're probably drooling over this new lens and scheming how to unload your other lenses and get your hands, not just on this lens, but the whole series.

P.S. I hate you Zeiss for being so **** good!

I bought Otus 55mm f/1.4 used it for 2 weeks with D800E and had to return it back to the shop in Melbourne. The lens started returning 'err' message on the camera screen rendering it useless. The lens was replaced with another new Otus 55mm f/1.4 lens and it happened again this is 'err' message was on the screen of D800E. I returned it back again, got money back and bought Sigma Art 50 mm f/1.4. The picture quality by Sigma Art are excellent and there is NO 'err' message on the screen of D800E anymore.

I may have been one of those who find a brick falling on their head in the wooden built church but that's what happened to me with Otus and D800E.

What's the different than cheap lens 50mm f1.8??

Zeiss lenses in general are of the highest optical quality and exceed the standards of quality of most other brands.  The optical formula, optical coatings and the materials used in making this and all their lenses are all extremely high quality.  Their lenses are of the sharpest with great contrast and color fidelity.  Its the same type of differecne between a Ford and a Rolls Royce.