Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Cameras, Lenses and Shooting gear => Topic started by: FelixBelloin on December 11, 2016, 11:21:26 am

Title: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 11, 2016, 11:21:26 am
Hi everyone, I just sold my beloved Canon EF 70-200mm L f/2.8 USM to get the funds for superior optics. I shoot on a 5DSR, and lens performance makes quite a difference. I would qualify myself as a landscape photographer, with a certain enthousiasme for wildlife.
On the wide angle end of lenses, I have a trusty 16-35mm which works wonders, so I am looking into the normal/telephoto side of things.
I was wondering if anyone had any experience with any of these lenses: Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4, Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4mm.
I know 85mm is usually used in portrait photography, but I regularly used the 70-200 for landscape shots, as it's quite good at isolating subjects.
I am just slightly concerned to spend that much money on a lens that I would find too limiting, so if anyone use a 85mm of some description for landscapes I would be keen to hear his impressions.
Last but not least; I know camera bodies depreciate dramatically quickly, I was wondering if the same is true with high quality glass?

In brief:
For a landscape photographer would you recommend 55 or 85
Would the lens keep its value over time, better than a camera body would[/b]

Thank you so much for your time, sincerely, an undecided photographer.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: scyth on December 11, 2016, 11:39:21 am
I'd simply buy 2 new Sigmas (50 & 85mm) w/o even selling 70-200 instead of one Otus
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 11, 2016, 11:46:35 am
I'd simply buy 2 new Sigmas (50 & 85mm) w/o even selling 70-200 instead of one Otus

I understand your point, but that is not the purpose of my question. I have tried third party brands as well as Canon glass and nothing comes close to the Otus line. Thank you for your input but I am trying to get user feedback and 85mm and 55mm for landscapes, as well as time value conservation.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 11, 2016, 07:18:47 pm
I own the 3 Otii that I have been using on a D810 mostly for stitching purposes.

I love both the 55mm that is my main stitching/DoF stacking lens, but the 85mm f1.4n is perhaps even a tiny bit more impressive performance wise. Both lenses over perform the sensor of the D810 and convey the feeling that even 100mp in 35mm wouldn't be a challenge. The focusing is incredibly smooth and accurate.

You cannot go wrong with any of these 2, they are probably the best lenses available short of the few very best Rodenstock tech camera lenses, and IMHO ahead of any MF lens I have seen.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: shadowblade on December 12, 2016, 04:47:39 am
You're likely to find yourself very limited by focal lengths.

Of the two, I'd go for the 55mm - it's fairly useful in itself as a landscape focal length, but where it shines is in stitching wider panoramas. For longer focal lengths, you really need a zoom. Otherwise, you're either stuck cropping a lot or will find yourself having to go over cliffs, up into the air or other inaccessible places to get proper framing with a prime.

By the way, have you actually found a difference between Otus and other Canon or Sigma lenses at typical  landscape apertures? I'd expect the Otus to do better at f/1.4 (although the Sigma is very, very close) but doubt there is a visible, let alone measurable difference at f/6.3.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 12, 2016, 04:53:04 am
I own the 3 Otii that I have been using on a D810 mostly for stitching purposes.

I love both the 55mm that is my main stitching/DoF stacking lens, but the 85mm f1.4n is perhaps even a tiny bit more impressive performance wise. Both lenses over perform the sensor of the D810 and convey the feeling that even 100mp in 35mm wouldn't be a challenge. The focusing is incredibly smooth and accurate.

You cannot go wrong with any of these 2, they are probably the best lenses available short of the few very best Rodenstock tech camera lenses, and IMHO ahead of any MF lens I have seen.

Cheers,
Bernard


Bernard,
Thank you very much for the helpful feedback. Your statement corroborates with what I have read on various reviews, it seems that the 85 is a touch sharper, but I doubt I would be find a significant difference. I think here it's more a question of which focal length is most suitable. Would you say you use the 85 much outside of portrait photography? The obvious choice would be to start with the 55, but now that I am left without telephoto, I might experience withdrawal syndrome!
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 12, 2016, 05:00:04 am
You're likely to find yourself very limited by focal lengths.

Of the two, I'd go for the 55mm - it's fairly useful in itself as a landscape focal length, but where it shines is in stitching wider panoramas. For longer focal lengths, you really need a zoom. Otherwise, you're either stuck cropping a lot or will find yourself having to go over cliffs, up into the air or other inaccessible places to get proper framing with a prime.

By the way, have you actually found a difference between Otus and other Canon or Sigma lenses at typical  landscape apertures? I'd expect the Otus to do better at f/1.4 (although the Sigma is very, very close) but doubt there is a visible, let alone measurable difference at f/6.3.

Hi shadowblade,
I think you are right, 55 would be more of an allrounder, and I am pretty sure I could find some non IS f4 70-200 up for grabs.
Apart from better contrast on the Otus, there is not a 1,999 marginal difference in image quality when stopped down indeed. I just quite like the look of wide open landscape shots when it comes to isolating subjects. For now I have been using an old Leica Summilux R 50mm f/1.4 which is a lovely vintage lens, but the results on the 5DSr are not acceptable (horrendous CA, seagull coma, out of this earth distortion).
That is why I am only interested in the 55 and the 85, I rarely shoot handheld and most of my wide angle work is done between f/6 and f/16, where wide open performance does not really matter.
The fact that the 55 has a 77mm filter thread is a small plus as well, as I won't have to double my filter collection.
I will go with the 55, thank you all for your feedback!
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 12, 2016, 06:57:33 am
By the way, have you actually found a difference between Otus and other Canon or Sigma lenses at typical  landscape apertures? I'd expect the Otus to do better at f/1.4 (although the Sigma is very, very close) but doubt there is a visible, let alone measurable difference at f/6.3.

Per my experience comparing the Otus to some of the best non Otus lenses, you do see a difference.

The only lens I have seen coming close at f5.6 is the new Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 E FL.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: shadowblade on December 12, 2016, 12:17:53 pm
Per my experience comparing the Otus to some of the best non Otus lenses, you do see a difference.

The only lens I have seen coming close at f5.6 is the new Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 E FL.

Cheers,
Bernard

I can barely distinguish the 55 Otus and Sigma 50 on a 42MP sensor, even at f/1.4. Although Zeiss probably has less copy-to-copy variation.

Regardless, I'd take the zoom any day. When you need 116mm for an ideal composition, the zoom gives you that, at a quality level that is almost as good as the Otus (and equal to any other lens out there), while, with the prime, you're stuck at 85mm and cropping, giving up any IQ advantage you may have had. And, when you need 83mm, the zoom will give you that too, while the prime leaves you stuck cursing and wishing there wasn't a cliff/building/crocodile-infested river in the way to stop you from taking a few steps back.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 12, 2016, 01:10:05 pm
I can barely distinguish the 55 Otus and Sigma 50 on a 42MP sensor, even at f/1.4. Although Zeiss probably has less copy-to-copy variation.

Regardless, I'd take the zoom any day. When you need 116mm for an ideal composition, the zoom gives you that, at a quality level that is almost as good as the Otus (and equal to any other lens out there), while, with the prime, you're stuck at 85mm and cropping, giving up any IQ advantage you may have had. And, when you need 83mm, the zoom will give you that too, while the prime leaves you stuck cursing and wishing there wasn't a cliff/building/crocodile-infested river in the way to stop you from taking a few steps back.

I know what you mean but I quite light limitations in a sense. I have been using zooms almost exclusively apart from the odd 50 prime mentioned above, and I found that, even though zooms are more accommodating, having to work around the fixed focal length makes you think a bit more about your shot.
When and if the 70-200 mk iii comes out, I know I will be tempted, but for know I want to try something a bit more challenging!
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: shadowblade on December 12, 2016, 01:33:16 pm
There's no 'thinking about the shot' in terms of focal length when you've gone halfway around the world to shoot landscapes. When you do that, you'd better make sure you have the gear you need, just as you'd better make sure you have your tides, lunar and solar charts all calculated and expected climate accounted for. And it helps to plan all the key shots before you even book flights and accomodation. Otherwise, you're just not going to get the shot and you've wasted the trip.

In many places, you can't just stand somewhere else to re-frame the shot because you don't have the right focal length - usually, local geography or the lack of a jetpack get in the way. And no amount of 'thinking' can get around that - you either have the gear or you don't get the shot.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: scyth on December 12, 2016, 02:30:26 pm
Per my experience comparing the Otus to some of the best non Otus lenses, you do see a difference.

there is a difference between "see" and "measure", in the field you are not in the lab... but whatever makes you happy of course.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: BernardLanguillier on December 12, 2016, 05:49:08 pm
there is a difference between "see" and "measure", in the field you are not in the lab... but whatever makes you happy of course.

Of course.

Cheers,
Bernard
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: RobertJ on December 12, 2016, 09:31:05 pm
The 85 is probably a bit better, but less versatile.

Shooting landscapes, you're usually stopped down a few stops, so you kind of lose the main advantages of the Otus lenses: APO glass that gives you almost zero out of focus color fringing, and superb sharpness at very large apertures.

With that said, the Otus lenses, stopped down at f/4 or 5.6, will probably still have better corner to corner sharpness and higher microcontrast than anything from Sigma. 

The Sigma 85mm in particular has tremendous sharpness figures.  Some would say even higher than the Otus, but with the downside of purple and green out of focus fringing.  Shooting landscape, would you notice a difference?

If you go with 85mm, the Milvus might be worth renting...

Edit: If you're isolating things in your landscape photos, the Otus is probably worth it.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 13, 2016, 04:55:00 am

The Sigma 85mm in particular has tremendous sharpness figures.  Some would say even higher than the Otus, but with the downside of purple and green out of focus fringing.  Shooting landscape, would you notice a difference?

If you go with 85mm, the Milvus might be worth renting...

Edit: If you're isolating things in your landscape photos, the Otus is probably worth it.

Hi Robert,

The sigma is truly impressive indeed, it's incredible to see this company offer incredible glass with their art series. If I was using it at a typical landscape aperture, I would definitely go for the sigma, however, I am planning on using the lens for isolating subjects, for this nice 3D effect that gives a nice sense of depth in wide open images. I also think that the Otus will outlive me, while I am not so sure about the Sigma (I am slightly biased here, as the sigmas I have owned in the past were quite poorly made).
I went out with a 50 and an 90mm yesterday to make up my mind, and I am more confortable with the longer end, so will probably change my mind and go for the 85.
The Milvus familliy has one strong argument going for it: weather sealing. I am planing on going to the Philippines and Iceland in the next two years, and I don't know how to Otus would cope, with salty air, humidity, extreme cold. Any feedback welcome!
Thank you,

Felix
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 13, 2016, 05:00:35 am
There's no 'thinking about the shot' in terms of focal length when you've gone halfway around the world to shoot landscapes.

You are perfectly right, and I can guaranty you I am an utter maniac when it comes to trip planning, I am no stranger to suncalc, stellarium and spending hours on end on google street view/flickr to mark my POIs. I count on my 16-35mm to provide me with the flexibility I need most of the time. Of course I will look rather foolish on the edge of a cliff should my 85 be too long, but that would probably be a rare occasion. And as I said, 70-200 f/4 non IS can be purchased really cheap these days, so might get one of those as backup.
If I end up incapable of taking a shot in any of my upcoming trips because of the lack of flexibility, I will put a caption saying you warned me!
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: shadowblade on December 16, 2016, 10:31:36 am
The wide end tends to be where you can get away with primes a lot more. Scenes shot at those focal lengths tend to be more amenable to stitching, using a 35mm or 50mm lens, or a 24mm tilt-shift; with a 35mm or 50mm prime, it's easy enough to replicate the angle of view of almost any wider lens. That often isn't as practical at longer focal lengths, due to subject considerations.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: scooby70 on December 16, 2016, 12:00:08 pm
I know what you mean but I quite light limitations in a sense. I have been using zooms almost exclusively apart from the odd 50 prime mentioned above, and I found that, even though zooms are more accommodating, having to work around the fixed focal length makes you think a bit more about your shot.
When and if the 70-200 mk iii comes out, I know I will be tempted, but for know I want to try something a bit more challenging!

Does working around a prime focal length and thinking about the shot include changing position to get the framing you want with a prime? If it does you're changing perspective but I'm sure you know that.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: -chrille- on December 16, 2016, 12:23:34 pm
What about Canon TS-E 90? How does this lens qualifies against the Otus 85 in terms of sharpness and lack of abberations?

I dont know what distance you usually shooting when isolating nature subjects. If you are close the TS-E at f/2.8 gives a better isolation and shallow depth of field due to shorter minimum focus distance than Otus 85 at f/1.4.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: Eric Brody on December 16, 2016, 01:06:41 pm
It appears your question is really 55 vs 85. You plan to get an Otus regardless, lucky you. I am reminded of a question I had when I was a view camera photographer. I asked a friend, more accomplished than I whether to get a 47 or 55 super wide for the 4x5. His reply was to go for the wider lens, his comment, "sometimes you just can't back up." Realizing you're looking at the best of the best, you can crop (horror of horrors :-)) the 55, you can't "widen" the 85.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 19, 2016, 06:17:04 am
It appears your question is really 55 vs 85. You plan to get an Otus regardless, lucky you. I am reminded of a question I had when I was a view camera photographer. I asked a friend, more accomplished than I whether to get a 47 or 55 super wide for the 4x5. His reply was to go for the wider lens, his comment, "sometimes you just can't back up." Realizing you're looking at the best of the best, you can crop (horror of horrors :-)) the 55, you can't "widen" the 85.

I am yes, changing my approach to gear as I found Canon glass does not hold value over the years. I am tempted to think a solid piece of high quality glass will! I know what you mean, and I thought about this. A non practical solution would be to stitch whenever I can't back up. As I am going for a lens capable of resolving my sensor, I would be horrified to have to crop my shots (even though it will happen one day or the other).
I have put aside an 85 and a 55 and will make my final decision at the end of the week after further testing.

Thank you for the feedback
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 19, 2016, 09:28:41 am
What about Canon TS-E 90? How does this lens qualifies against the Otus 85 in terms of sharpness and lack of abberations?

It's a nice lens but does not come close to the resolution capabilities of the Otus. In fact, it seems that only the Canon 300mm f/2.8 IS USM II out-resolves the Otus (but it also out-resolves my wallet...). You are right about the MFD, but I have a couple of extension tubes which will come in handy for macro work.
The one question I have an maybe a reader might pick it up:

Manual focusing an f/1.4 is not easy with an OVF, I still have good eyes but I am not sure it will last. I am more of a tripod/live view guy, but I do enjoy a good handheld session once in a while. Considering the Otus has electric connections, would the focus confirmation work in the view finder? i.ee, would the selected AF point still blink when focus is achieved?

Thanks,

Felix
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: shadowblade on December 19, 2016, 11:14:36 am
Shooting landscapes, you often have little say in what angle of view you need to use. You can't fly 20m into the air to suit the lens, nor can you walk off a cliff, excavate a hill or knock over a building to put your camera where your lens needs to be. Often, the spot you have is the best one you're going to get (because you scouted out all the vantage points on Google Earth before you got there). You need to make your lens fit the angle of view, not the other way round.

There are three ways to achieve this - crop, stitch or zoom. Cropping is out for anything less than an 80- or 100-megapixel MFDB. That leaves stitching and zooming. Stitching with primes works well for wider angles (where the ability to use the sharp, central part of the frame helps make up for weaker corners in almost all UWAs) but not so well at longer focal lengths, due to the number of large, heavy lenses you'd have to carry to cover all bases. This is where a zoom really comes into its own.

Landscape photography is uniquely suited to zooms - you need the flexibility of a zoom, but also don't often need the wide aperture of a prime, and most decent lenses, whether prime or zoom, will have similar performance at your typical apertures.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: shadowblade on December 19, 2016, 11:22:52 am
Otus lenses are very nice... when you can use them. In other words, for stitching, as well as the odd occasion where the needed focal length matches exactly with the focal length of the lens. A wider (55mm, since there's no 35mm option) one works well for stitching, but longer primes just aren't very flexible for landscape use.

I wish Zeiss would make super-sharp, no-compromises 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 and 200-500 Otus lenses, sacrificing the primes' aperture for zoom capabilities. They'd be the ultimate set of landscape lenses. I guess that's basically what the Sony GM series is, though...
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 19, 2016, 01:16:28 pm
Landscape photography is uniquely suited to zooms - you need the flexibility of a zoom, but also don't often need the wide aperture of a prime, and most decent lenses, whether prime or zoom, will have similar performance at your typical apertures.

You are right, and that's why I have the 16-35 f/4 L to suit my needs, however I found many applications for my old Leica 90mm for landscape images, so I think I will not find the 85 that different. Furthermore, I found a refurbished copy online today for 2,000 which is really good value, so I am definitely going for it.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 19, 2016, 01:18:39 pm
I wish Zeiss would make super-sharp, no-compromises 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 and 200-500 Otus lenses, sacrificing the primes' aperture for zoom capabilities. They'd be the ultimate set of landscape lenses. I guess that's basically what the Sony GM series is, though...

The day they will accept to pay the AF license to canon and open to more versatile optics will be a great days for photographers indeed.
Even without AF, I am still keen on a 16-35 70-200 combination. One can dream!
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: Manoli on December 19, 2016, 01:28:19 pm
Furthermore, I found a refurbished copy online today for 2,000 which is really good value, so I am definitely going for it.

A refurbished copy of which one , the 55 or 85 ?
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 19, 2016, 01:50:18 pm
A refurbished copy of which one , the 55 or 85 ?

85!
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: shadowblade on December 21, 2016, 12:00:33 am
The day they will accept to pay the AF license to canon and open to more versatile optics will be a great days for photographers indeed.
Even without AF, I am still keen on a 16-35 70-200 combination. One can dream!

Even if Zeiss doesn't make the lenses AF, Sony could easily add AF (as well as tilt/shift) to any lens by moving the sensor.

They already have five-axis IBIS. Adding a Z-axis wouldn't require a huge jump.
Title: Re: Zeiss Otus 85mm or 55mm
Post by: FelixBelloin on December 21, 2016, 10:11:07 am
And here it is! I literally received it 10 minutes ago and had a play around in the office. It is as good as new and feels incredible.
I would like to thank you all for your feedback and input on the topic, it really helped me make up my mind.
I know some of you made it clear that I will face limitations with it in my regular shooting style, but I hope they will only be occasional, as I went telephoto for a reason.
I will certainly upload a few shots after christmas on my 500px, feel free to have a look around!
Many thanks to all of you and merry christmas.

Felix