What does the perfect lens look like? Is there even such a thing? We have a lot of philosophical lens conversations here at Rule. We’ve always had an affinity for vintage glass, and all the gritty imperfections that come with them. There are, however, plenty of shooting scenarios where a vintage look isn’t appropriate. Those modern, cutting edge, sharp-as-a-tack shoots. We’ve always had sharp glass, but the Zeiss Otus Primes (avail in 28mm, 55mm, 85mm) are a cut above.
As we work within the film and photography world when it comes to glass, there has always been a clear division between the two. Lenses that were very sharp, but not suited for on set use. Lenses that were geared and friendly for all our film accessories, but weren’t really that crisp — and if they could be both, they were pretty pricey. In this way, the Zeiss Otus series is a bridge between worlds. An expensive stills lens, and an affordable cine lens. Whichever way you decide to group them, the fact of the matter remains – this is extraordinary glass.
The Zeiss Otus series was designed over a 3-year period, deep in the underground Zeiss bunker — somewhere, I assume, in the Alps. Zeiss made one thing clear upon announcing their new “affordable” lenses — they would not be compromising quality, in any regard. Did you know there are 6 elements in the construction of these lenses that are more valuable than gold? Vibranium unconfirmed. The body is a beautiful machined metal, and the overall feeling one has when shooting with them is a profound sense of modernity. These are the lenses of right now, and they’re great.
Using these, I’ve found myself saying things like “Wow, the GH5 looks great!” “Wow, this FS7 looks great!” It took a second to realize that this lens is just a very nice addition to any camera. We can get into the weeds all day long about sensors, debayer patterns, relative sharpness, crispening — but at the end of the day, it comes down to the thing you put on the front of the camera. They are, on one hand, larger than every stills lens I’ve ever used or even heard of, which can be a bit of a bummer for compact shooters. They are no bigger than a Canon 24-70, though, and the weight trade-off is certainly warranted. Speed is also a consideration, as our 28mm, 55mm, and 85mm are all f1.4. While some lenses can achieve an f1.2, I find that to be an aperture I seldom use. I’ll trade a stop for the improved performance, no questions asked.
In addition to freakish clarity, the Otus primes handle chromatic aberration with ease. Edges I found ringed with purple with my Canon L series glass were made pure and clean with the Otus. Even the edges of frame are well-defined and are not only very sharp, but match the sharpness of the entire frame. They are extremely reliable in their projected image, and certainly deliver on the promise Zeiss made — they’re the new standard.
For me, I’m finding them to perform as a budget-friendly option to the Zeiss Supremes – and that’s an enormous credential to boast. So, if you’re looking for the Lens of The Future (or, perhaps, today), give rentals a call (or click here to email), and come check these things out!
– Alex Enman, Engineer