30 Apr 2019

The Zeiss Otus 100mm f/1.4 gives results "comparable to a medium format system"

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The Zeiss Otus 100mm f/1.4 gives results "comparable to a medium format system" Zeiss

Zeiss has released a telephoto addition to its Otus series of f/1.4 high-end lenses..

Available in and mount varieties, the 100mm joins the existing 28, 55 and 85mm primes in this range.

With a street price of around $4,990, the full-frame lens is primarily aimed at professional photographers. Filmmakers may note, however, the extended focus ring rotation and "smooth operation of mechanical components" which should make for easy and accurate focus-pulling in moving-image work.

As you would expect from the venerable Zeiss, the demo images are extremely sharp and clean. In fact, Zeiss' product manager Björn Pados claims that the results are comparable with those of a medium format system.


Particularly impressive is a shot of backlit leaves which shows very little blooming or flare, due apparently to the T* anti-reflective coating. "The lens design, with aspheric lenses and special glass materials keeps chromatic aberrations and distortion to a minimum," Zeiss elaborate.

Otus 1.4 100 Application sample 20190423 03.jpg

The wide aperture, long focal length and full frame coverage make super-shallow depth-of-field very much an option, and the bokeh certainly seems attractive in the demo images.

The Otus 1.4/100 features an all-metal housing, which Pados says makes it ideal for the rough-and-tumble of professional photography. "It will last a long time," he concludes.


Many filmmakers with this sort of money to spend will be looking more to cine lenses than stills glass, but these days the boundaries between the two are beginning to blur (no pun intended). If you're looking to capture a clean, crisp image on your Canon or Nikon full-frame SLR then the Zeiss Otus series is certainly worth considering, if you can afford it.

Neil Oseman

Neil is a UK-based director of photography who has worked in the USA, Europe and Japan. Upcoming features he shot include The Little Mermaid with Academy Award winner Shirley MacLaine, and supernatural thriller Heretiks with Michael Ironside. He has photographed another half-dozen independent features, innumerable shorts, several music promos and two multi-award-winning short-form action/adventure series. In the last couple of years Neil has been nominated for nine Best Cinematography awards and took home the gong at Festigious International Film Festival 2016 for his work on the short drama Night Owls. Second only to his love of cinematography is his passion for sharing his knowledge of it on his blog neiloseman.com and his Instagram feed.

Website: neiloseman.com

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