A lot has already been written about the technical wotnots of the Zeiss Otus primes, and I have little to add – except to say that they’re big, heavy, and forged in the heart of a dying star by wizards out of magic glass that was stolen from a dragon. According to Zeiss, they’re created without compromise, and reviewers who shoot brick walls then compare notes all seem to agree that they’re excellent. Love or hate the design, there’s no denying that they’re sharp, contrasty, largely distortion and aberration free, and can out-resolve any of today’s full-frame digital sensors.
Which got me wondering, what would the Otus 55mm be like on film?
I bought the 55mm and 85mm f/1.4 for digital and after a year or so of use, I can tell you that they’re no more cumbersome than a good 24-70. Manual focus is only an issue if you have issues with manual focus (it’s an easily-learned skill if you stick with it, but I still fudge it sometimes wide open). I wouldn’t personally use them for fast-moving subjects, but they’re terrific lenses and when everything aligns the results can be beautiful.
My wife and I recently welcomed a new addition to the family, so I had the perfect excuse to haul the camera around without too much of the usual eye rolling. My apologies for making you all sit through a family slide show.
All shot wide open on Portra 160 – which I usually don’t get along with due to the weird browny undertones and unpredictability when underexposed. Un-retouched except for a slight S on the tone curve, and while I don’t really buy into the whole ‘Zeiss 3D pop’ thing, I was quite happy with the results.
Then again, it’s my family and I’m biased.
Notice the vignetting wide open, which largely disappears by f/2.8 – easily fixed but I kind of like it in these shots.
Developed and scanned by FilmNeverDie, who along with the great team at Hillvale Photo make shooting film in Melbourne an absolute pleasure.
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