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Zeiss Otus f/1.4 28mm: Fast, large and probably costly

Create: 10/14/2015 - 22:59
Zeiss Otus f/1.4 28mm


  • 16 elements in 13 groups, APO Distagon design
  • All-metal construction
  • Zeiss claims almost no chromatic aberration or geometric distortion

Zeiss is "all in" when it comes to digital. It now has numerous lines of lenses, depending on your needs, your camera and the amount of cash in your bank account.

The newest lens, a f/1.4 28mm, is the third in the Otus series, which is for now the highest-end line of optics produced by Zeiss.

Zeiss says it has eliminated chromatic aberration and geometric distortion and claims performance equal to medium format when paired with a full-frame digital camera.

This an APO Distagon and features 16 elements in 13 groups. In a press release, Zeiss adds, "One of the lens elements has an aspheric optical surface and one element is aspheric on both sides. Eight other lens elements are made of special glass. ... The special glass has anomalous partial dispersion, as is typical for an apochromatic lens. This corrects the longitudinal chromatic aberrations superbly, which therefore lie considerably below the tightly defined boundaries."

Like its other Otus lenses, Zeiss uses a patternless rubber focusing ring. All of the lenses focus internally. Zeiss says the internal construction is all metal.

The close focus of APO Distagon is just under one foot (0.3 meters). As you might expect of a lens with 16 elements and metal construction, the Otus 28 is heavy, roughly 4 pounds (1,350+ grams) and is about 6 inches (152mm+) long. The filter size is a massive M95. The exterior follows the design of Zeiss' other recent offerings with the fitted lens shade gently flaring outward at the end.

The 28mm lens, which is available in the Canon EOS (ZE) and Nikon F (ZF.2) mounts, will begin shipping in the second quarter of 2016. The buyer gets the matching lens hood at no extra cost. There are minor differences in the weight and length for the Canon and Nikon lenses, and the Canon model has no aperture ring.

Zeiss hasn't yet priced the lens, but for comparison, the f/1.4 55mm Distagon introduced in 2013 sells for US$3,990, and the f/1.4 85mm APO Planar announced in 2014 sells for US$4,490.


The Canon model, left, lacks an aperture ring. The Nikon model is to its right, and the lens diagram shows the 16 lens elements.

The Otus family of lenses includes, from left, the f/1.4 55mm Distagon, the f/1.4 28mm APO Distagon and the f/1.4 85mm APO Planar.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.