Sony FE 55mm f1.8 ZA review

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Sony's FE 55mm f1.8 ZA is a prime lens for full-frame Alpha mirrorless cameras that delivers close to standard coverage. It was one of the first lenses available for the FE mount, and has since been joined by a selection of alternatives, but it remains a popular option due to its compact size and decent quality. In his review Thomas compares it to several 50mm rivals.…

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Zeiss Otus 55 1.4 extended preview/ Medium format in a 35mm body? Yes, with the right lens.

Zeiss Otus 1.4 55mm ZE

Zeiss Otus 1.4 55mm ZE

Every now and then a piece of gear appears, which changes not only the photo gear landscape and forces the competition to alter their plans, but also pushes photographers into working differently using new equipment. The Fuji X system managed to do this, with lots of people switching to this system. The Nikon D800/e had a similar effect just as Canon 5D. And so we come to the Zeiss Otus 55mm 1.4, which might also be such a game changer, although matching its qualities will be very difficult for the other lens makers.  For now let us look at the basics.


Looking at the cosmetics, the lens has a modern look, an all metal barrel and a rubber like focusing ring, which is easy to detect with your fingers when looking through the viewfinder, easy to read distance and depth of field scales. Apart from the brilliant design (it won the 2013 IF product design award) the first thing you notice is the sheer size of this prime. It is after all a standard lens. It’s not a 50mm nor a 45mm, which is in fact closer to the diagonal 43.3mm, but a 55mm, yet the size and weight is much closer to a medium format 80mm, then the standard fifties we are used to.

All of this has a reason. The Otus, with the diastagon optical construction, is a very complex lens; 12 elements in 10 groups with floating elements design. The specialists at Zeiss worked on the whole project for 3 years, but the time from starting the work to building the first prototype was just one year. According to Dr. Nasse, scientist from Carl Zeiss and one of the first people to shoot with the lens, this was possible thanks to the extensive experience in building high performance cine lenses.

zeiss otus construction

zeiss otus construction

When designing the lens, the engineers and scientists had a totally free hand, not restricted neither by size, weight nor cost. Richard Schleuning from Zeiss says this was a new approach, as normally these restrictions are a part of every project of a new lens. This time there were no compromises with just one goal in mind, the absolutely best lens for 35mm.

The diastagon is normally used for wide angle lenses, it is a more complex, but also gives a possibility of correcting both for chromatic aberrations and field curvature. Schleuning claims both of these parameters are controlled across the whole aperture spectrum, if so, this is an amazing achievement.

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