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Friday, 16 October 2015


They might just well have called it the equally searchable ' Llog'
(Large lump of glass).

...Oh, there's a company of that name:

Sllog doesn't work, either..

Maybe Otus isn't quite so otiose, after all.

"The very best" does not sound very useful in modern times.
By modern times I mean digital photo shooting and viewing times, when most photographs are digital and are viewed just on the screen. Who cares for prints? At least large prints.
Right now, the more useful idea is "good enough". Good enough for the screen, that is.
There are thousands of pictures on my hard disk, just like on any photo enthusiast's hard disk. How many of them needed the very best lens in the market? None.
More over lenses as big as f1.4 are not particularly useful in every day use.
We need to have reasonable DoF for almost any picture. Extremely shallow DoF pictures are just technical snobbery and equipment show off.
The concept of "the very best" can, at best, satisfy the hard core gadget snobs who do not actually shoot pictures. And that too only till the next manufacturer comes up with a "better" design. That does not even make good business sense.
I am looking forward to the day the big guns aim to make sensible, small, just adequate, economical and intuitively user friendly cameras and lenses. To my untutored mind that is what engineering is all about. Saving money and energy is the soul of engineering. And cameras and lenses are products of engineering effort.

...and yet, I've looked at some of the stats on the lenses that have already been delivered, and they're just not "nth degree", worth 4000 dollars! They may even be superior for a f/1.4 lens, but maybe a 500 dollar f/3.5 lens would be sharper than that! Since client input on the job rarely needs me photographing more open than f/5.6 (which I'm sure, is true of most of my professional compatriots), it's got to be designed for a very tiny market!

I took advantage of a Lens Rental discount to try the Otus 55/1.4 a few months ago and was unimpressed by the results. It is a very cool looking lens with impressive heft but very odd... the depth of field indicator is an open gap that would allow grit and moisture into the lens, there is no weather sealing. The manual focus ring is kind of slippery and there is no index to know where you are. Given the state of focusing screens on modern DSLRs, you pretty much have to tripod mount and use live view for critical focusing, similar to using a medium format digital camera. And in the end, compared to my $200 normal OEM lens... I had to zoom into 300% to distinguish any difference. I really couldn't find any difference stopped down other than the Zeiss has a bump in contrast. 13 x 19 prints looked the same, other than slightly different contrast and color casts.

Now granted I am a paleo-redneck and didn't photograph test charts in a lab....

It would make an excellent paperweight.

I can just imagine the restrained titters and ticks of excitement that managed to escape the Zeiss optical design engineers during the early meetings concerning Otus. Their brethren at lesser lens shops must look on in envy.

In real life, I'd infinitely prefer an A7R2 with a 28/2, since it won't be a boat anchor and unusable without a tripod.

I don't need the very best just the very good.

Who is this kind of thing aimed at? If you work for Nat Geo perhaps but I can't see the average amateur getting one.

And how much better could it be from the nearest comparable Canikon offering?

Dear Mike,

These lenses put me in an unusual position (for me). In the whole “which is more important––camera or lens” argument, I lean towards the camera side, especially in the digital era where the “film” is baked into the camera. Because pretty much for any camera out there I can find good lenses. My needs aren't that specialized.

Now I seem to be pushed uncomfortably into the other position. I've got two A to A+ lenses for my Olympus–– the 45mm (90mm equiv) and 75mm (150mm equiv) f/1.8's. The 45 is in fact my standard lens; I tend to see long.

A column like this has me thinking, “Well, that Otus 85 f/1.4 would be a close enough match for the 45 if I moved to full frame.” And it's very likely to be a match in image quality, maybe even slightly better.

And then I look at the weight. And worse yet, I look at the price, which is more than my entire current 2-camera, 6-lens kit cost me.

And I think, “Naaaaaaaah.”

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

>>The new Otus 28mm, which will sell for between $4,000 and $5,000, weighs three pounds.<<

Good grief, even comparable Zeiss lenses for Hasselblads don't weigh that much! (They cost that much though; but then too, most Hasselblad lenses come with built-in shutters.) Lucky for me, I'm not worthy of such perfection.

I had heard that these designations are also the Latin genus names for various kinds of birds. The Otus genus includes owls (sharp eyes, see in the dark... ) However, as with many things in the interwebs era, this could be urban legend. Perhaps someone with more zoological expertise can confirm or de-bunk this?

Whether true or not, they are certainly great choices for getting search engine hits!

I believe that the Otus is actually named after the Otus Scops Owl.

My camera's gonna get lumbago...

If you can afford to buy it, you can afford an assistant to carry it. So I really don't see a problem with weight or size...

For handheld it's not an issue, but for tripod mounted work Zeiss really should have placed, or offered as an add-on, a tripod mount on the three pound lenses. Those little, semi-plastic Sony A7's will have a questionable amount of weight hanging from the lens mount.

For a little perspective, the Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/50 FE (for the Hasselblad 200 series focal-plane shutter cameras), weighs 1010 grams or 2.2 US pounds.

For my tastes, Zeiss lenses are overly sharp, and produce a harsh look. For street shots of bag-ladies the harshness may be appropriate. For normal portraits Zeiss lenses magnify all the imperfections. This may be perfect for people who like to waste time in Photoshop, for the rest of us there are filters.

Tiffen makes many filters to kill the harshness (Pro Mists, etc). A Double Fog (provides a slight glow) is good for portraits of women.

BTW the Otus is an owl and the Touit is a parrot.

I suppose there must be a use for a 3lb 28mm, but sure street photography it is not... :)

Those strange names Zeiss is using are also genera (the plural of genus, I checked) of birds. Enter them into your web search engine for decriptions, photos, etc. 'Course, you'll have to ignore the photos of the lenses...

Why do they even bother to put distance and DOF scales on it?

What detectable benefit is there to these lenses, outside of Veblen Status and possibly aesthetics (they're kinda pretty?)

Don't know if this will work from other parts of the world, but in the UK, Googling "three" or "3" will give you www.three.co.uk (the mobile phone company) as the top hit. So it might seem crazy to name your company after a single digit, but it can be done. Of course, they might have an army of Internet wonks gaming the system to get those top hits...

They sound like nice lenses, though I'm sure I won't buy them.

But how are you getting "Otii" as a plural of "Otus"? If you're treating it as made-up Latin, "Oti" would be more likely. The plural "Otii" suggests that the singular form should be "Otius".

Please, Mike, if Otus is presumed to be Latin, then the plural should be Oti, not Otii. To be Otii, the singular would have to be Otius, which it looks like the lens isn't.

Thes names of these Zeiss lenses are all Genus names of birds.


When it comes to these current Zeiss lens names, based on bird genera, they really should make one for Cookie Monster:

Oreoscopus (fern wren) - probably a line of macro lenses to get all the crumby details.

A ne plus ultra optic and a behemoth in all other respects.

I'm wondering, is there a conspiracy amongst photography bloggers against proper Latin pluralization? Or is there a joke here I'm just not in on?

[Curses, conspiracy unmasked. --Mike]

I love it when people say "Image quality is all that matters". If that really were the case, we'd should all lug around 8x10 large format cameras and have the output drum-scanned.

Size, weight, price, convenience, desirability, ease of use...they all matter in some capacity.

Light is not as bad a name as pentax's *ist.

Of course it could be worse

Did you know that a significant portion of the population can not hear any difference between Hugh and you ?

[I can hear the difference between Hugh and every other commenter! --Mike]

"Light" is down there in stupidity with the Pentax cameras with * in the name, the *ist, *ist D, etc.

Of course, Apple just pulled the same stupid, renaming iPhoto to Photos. Never going to be able to search for help with bugs in Photos.

Regarding the names of the lines of lenses from Zeiss they are all indeed named after genera of birds...but some of the choices are, well, interesting. Otus is a genus of owls (great low-light high-resolution optics on those birds), so that makes sense to me. Ditto the logic of Milvus (kites, a group of raptors found in all both the Americas and Antarctica), because again there's the connotation of high-resolution vision. But Loxia? Why name a line of lenses after crossbills, a group of finches most notable for all having the upper and lower mandibles of their beaks crisscrossed at their tips to facilitate opening conifer cones to extract seeds. Are Loxia lenses supposed to double as nutcrackers?

I fail to understand the purpose of an expensive fast lens that is sharp to the corners wide open.

It's nice and all, but in most real life situations when you are shooting wide open, you are not shooting a flat-field subject that would require the corners to be as sharp as the center. The only real life exception I can think of is astrophotography in which you want the widest possible aperture for light gathering power and a pin sharp rendering of stars all over.

Almost always, when you shoot wide open you have a subject in the centre or thereabouts, and less important stuff in the corners which is usually at a different distance from the camera than the subject.
And you shoot wide open to isolate the subject from the other stuff.

What you are aiming for is typically defocus and bokeh at the periphery when you shoot wide-open. By definition, pin-sharp corner performance is not only not needed, it's the out of focus performance that counts.

If, on the other hand, you are shooting wide open because you are in low light, it is still unlikely you would do so with a flat field subject. Flat field subjects are stationary, and you can stop down and use a tripod as a strategy.

Any other low light photography (with the exception noted above) again usually has a central subject and less important peripheral matter that does not need to be perfectly sharp.

A five thousand dollar, three pound 28mm for 24X36?


Now that's what I call engineering. /s

Mike, dada it is not. All the oti, milvi, batites and touiti are genus names of more or less well-sighted birds.

Dear Alan,

I don't recall anything in the post that said that Zeiss was emphasizing sharpness in the corners. Maybe you read that somewhere else. If not, it's a big assumption not necessarily supported by fact.

But let's run with it.

First off, focal plane sharpness affects the out of focus areas. Two of the big aberrations that clobber off-axis sharpness, coma and spherical aberration, have a big impact on boke. The former makes out-of-focus blurs asymmetric, the latter moves high spatial frequencies out of the plane of focus and makes the boke less smooth. Those aberrations are often dominant problems in very fast optics, so cleaning them up simply to produce better boke is going to increase edge sharpness.

Second, you're projecting your ideas of what kinds of photography are important to you (you're not the only reader doing this). In most situations I can think of (not limited to what I photograph), there can be important subject matter all over the field of view, even in available-darkness conditions. That's especially true with wide angles lenses (otherwise, less reason to use a wide angle in the first place).

Also, in real-world available light conditions, you are often working with subjects far enough from the lens that they are effectively at infinity (for a 28mm lens, that'd be beyond five meters, not exactly long distance). At that point the scene does effectively become "flat, parallel field" optically speaking.

I could give a whole bunch of specific examples for all three focal lengths, but tl,dw. [grin]. Theatrical, sports, nature, etc.etc.

It's enough.

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

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