Lens review

Carl Zeiss Otus 85 mm f/1.4

13 October 2014
Arkadiusz Olech

11. Summary

  • solid, huge and stylish casing,
  • brilliant image quality in the frame centre,
  • excellent image quality on the edge of the APS-C/DX,
  • very good image quality on the edge of full frame,
  • very good correction of the chromatic aberration,
  • splendid correction of spherical aberration,
  • zero distortion,
  • slight astigmatism,
  • moderate vignetting on the APS-C/DX,
  • very nice appearance of defocused images,
  • sensible performance against bright light.


  • significant vignetting level at the maximum relative aperture and on full frame.

I don’t doubt that the Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 is one of the sharpest and the most interesting lenses I’ve ever had an opportunity to hold in my hands. I honestly say it belongs to a group of devices I like testing the most – the whole process is definitely more exciting than just another procedure concerning a cheap kit lens, similar to many other kit lenses. Of course it doesn’t mean that you don’t need any kit lenses tests at all.

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Still the list of pros and cons and the achievements of the Otus don’t leave the slightest doubt that it deserves our ‘Editor’s Choice of the Optyczne.pl’ award. The same distinction was won by the 55 mm Otus and the 1.4/85 mm model seems to be even better, especially near the maximum relative aperture and on the edge of full frame- a really significant fact.

The price of the Otus deserves a separate commentary I suppose. 15,000 PLN for the 1.4/55 model seemed already a huge amount of money and here you have to pay 2,000 PLN more. Is this lens horribly expensive? That depends on your financial possibilities. If you compare the Otus to any Leica M system lens you will see it is hardly the most expensive lens available on the market. Some Leica f/1.4 instruments can be similarly priced and they are hardly the best devices in the appropriate parameters category.

However I have a distinct impression that the pricing and the sales volume of the Otus series lenses are really secondary issues for the Zeiss company. Flexing their optical muscles and proving that Zeiss can produce the best lenses in the world seems to be the main reason such a series exists at all. However, if you need and can afford the best device available on the market, you can buy them exactly from Zeiss.

Carl Zeiss Otus 85 mm f/1.4 - Summary