Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus lens review: Does this $4,000 monster beat the Sigma 50/1.4 Art?


posted Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 5:32 PM EDT


Hot on the heels of our Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art review comes its intended competition, the $4,000 Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T*. This stupendously large, all-metal, normal focal length prime lens is aimed squarely at professional photographers who demand the utmost in sharpness, resolution and contrast for portrait shooting

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Sigma mentioned to us that their goal wasn't necessarily to surpass Nikon and Canon (they were confident of that), but rather the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 -- a monster of a lens costing US$4,000. Knowing Sigma's lofty ambitions for its new baby, it's no exaggeration to say that the 50mm f/1.4 Art was among our most eagerly-anticipated reviews of the year. With the Sigma review behind us, we were itching to get our hands on the drool-worthy Otus.

Thanks to Roger Cicala of LensRentals.com we got the Otus in-house for a couple days of  testing against the Sigma. While it's not surprising that the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus displays spectacular results -- we were wowed by its razor sharp images, extremely low CA and tank-like build quality -- the big story here is that the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art lens stands toe-to-toe with the Zeiss on most fronts. 

From left to right: the Nikon 50/1.4D, Sigma 50/1.4 Art, Zeiss 55/1.4 Otus

Head over to SLRgear to read our in-depth Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* lens review to see if this ultra-high-end, $4000 professional prime is worth all that weight and the serious dent to the wallet. You can also check out our Sigma 50mm f/1.4 review, which we've updated with some interesting (and perhaps surprising) information about the micro contrast of the two lenses.

This premium full-frame prime lens ships with a bayonet-style lens hood plus front and rear caps. If you're ready to take the plunge, the Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* is currently available for purchase in Canon and Nikon mounts for a retail price around $3,990 - (Adorama; B&H in Canon or Nikon mount). By purchasing this lens, or any other product, by clicking on one of our trusted affiliates, you help keep these reviews coming!

In the meantime, check out some sample photos shot by our senior lens technician Rob Murray. You can view more sample photos, plus download the full-resolution files, over at our Flickr page.

1Ds Mark III: 55mm, f/1.4, 1/8000s, ISO 100
1Ds Mark III: 55mm, f/1.4, 1/1600s, ISO 100
1Ds Mark III: 55mm, f/7.1, 1/160s, ISO 100