Lens review

Carl Zeiss Otus 85 mm f/1.4

13 October 2014
Arkadiusz Olech

3. Build quality

There are plenty of 85 mm f/1.4 full frame lenses available on the market so we had no problems whatsoever with putting together the following chart and making appropriate comparisons. The physical weight of the tested lens is clearly conspicuous here. The Sigma, featuring the equal number of optical elements, is almost half a kilo lighter than the Otus; other lenses are over two times lighter. Its physical dimensions, the number of optical elements and the minimum focusing distance - the shortest in the whole group - are also impressive. At the very start you can immediately say you deal with an outstanding device.

The dimensions of the Otus can be property assessed while glancing at a photo below where it is positioned next to the Canon EF 85 mm f/1.8 USM.

Carl Zeiss Otus 85 mm f/1.4 - Build quality

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The tested lens begins with a metal mount, surrounding a contact plate and a rear element, 30 mm in diameter. That element is positioned on the same level as the contacts when you set the focus at infinity; when you pass to the minimum focus it hides over 1 cm inside the casing, never revealing any mechanical parts of the inner construction of the tube.

Carl Zeiss Otus 85 mm f/1.4 - Build quality

The first part of the proper casing (when it comes to the ZF.2 version) is an aperture ring. The Canon mounting version doesn’t feature such a ring and its metal barrel becomes more narrow very quickly. In that part of the lens you can only find a blue dot, making the alignment with a camera body easier, the mount markings, the parameters of the lens along with its serial number and the info that it was produced in Japan.

Then, on a smooth barrel, you can see a depth of field scale with markings ranging from f/16 to f/2.0 (but only the values by f/16, 1/8 and f/4 are signed). Above the depth of field scale there is a distance scale, expressed in feet and meters.

Carl Zeiss Otus 85 mm f/1.4 - Build quality

Further on you see a manual focus ring. It is 31 mm wide and completely covered by smooth rubber armour. The rubber sticks to your fingers very well so the ring is a joy to use but the whole solution has one minor flaw: the rubber also catches every speck of dust around so it gets dirty very quickly. The working range of the ring amounts to as much as 270 degrees, a quite significant value ensuring great precision of settings. The comfort of using such a ring is really incomparable, the grip, the smoothness of movements and their precision being really beyond reproach. However, in my humble opinion the ring could have been better damped.

The next part of the lens consists of a huge, immobile ring made of metal on which you can find the name and the parameters and the producer’s logo. It turns smoothly into a hood mount.

The front element of the lens is 71 mm in diameter and completely immobile as well. It is surrounded by a ring with „ZEISS” and „Apo Planar 1.4/85 ⌀86 T*” inscriptions and a non-rotating filter thread, 86 mm in diameter. Such dimensions are really impressive when it comes to an 85 mm f/1.4 instrument.

Carl Zeiss Otus 85 mm f/1.4 - Build quality

As we’ve already mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, the Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 is a very complex lens. Its design consists of 11 elements positioned in 9 groups, one element with aspheric surface and as many as six elements made of special glass with anomalous partial dispersion. Inside you can also find a circular aperture with nine diaphragm blades which can be closed down to a value of f/16.

The buyers get both caps and a metal hood. We do regret the producer didn’t add any stylish pouch or even a good quality protective bag case. After all a high-end lens deserves a special treatment; apart from that, with such a price tag, such a piece of accessory kit would be not only expected but completely justified.

Carl Zeiss Otus 85 mm f/1.4 - Build quality

At least the carton box the device is sold in makes a huge impression. When the specimen we had ordered was brought to our editorial office we initially thought Fototechnika had mistakenly sent us not one but five lenses…

Carl Zeiss Otus 85 mm f/1.4 - Build quality