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Author Topic: What the Otus gives - compared to a cheap and good Canon  (Read 10984 times)

ErikKaffehr

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Re: What the Otus gives - compared to a cheap and good Canon
« Reply #40 on: December 27, 2015, 04:05:27 am »

Hi,

I would think that a lot of posters on these forums use best practices, which are (at least in my humble opinion) is to use a tripod, focus magnified live view, cable release or self timer, near optimal apertures and EFSC (Electronic First Shutter Curtain). Personally I do that and also use stacking, both manually and also using a stackshot.

Being the OP, the point I wanted to make is that an immense effort goes into developing a lens that is virtually aberration free at large apertures. A medium aperture lens can be constructed with much less effort.

In a sense, Zeiss has acknowledged this with the APO 135/2.0, which as you say performs on the same level as the Otuses but about half of the price, but also with the new Batis line, like the 85/1.9. On the other hand I don't know how the Batises perform.

Personally, I wanted a really good 85 mm lens that was fully usable at maximum aperture. In that I was considering the following candidates:


  • Zeiss Otus 85/1.4 - very good but a bit to expensive and to large, and I definitively did not need f/1.4
  • Zeiss 135/2 APO Sonnar - I would have bought this lens, but I feel 135 mm doesn't fit my working style
  • Zeiss 85/1.9 Batis - This came out whyle contemplating my choice. It was really all I was asking for, if it was good enough.
  • Sony 90/2.8G Macro - a bit on the slow side but being a macro lens more useful


So I put an order for the Batis 85/1.9. But I never got a firm delivery date. Meanwhile the Sony 90/2.8G macro got very good reviews, so I canceled the Batis and bought the Sony. Not so sure it was the best choice.

I have some reflections on chromatic aberrations. Axial chromatic aberration is difficult to correct, there are just a few large aperture lenses that don't suffer from it. But it goes away at moderate apertures, AFAIK. A lens having significant axial chroma is not really usable at large apertures, because it will have magenta/green fringing in OOF areas. That was the exact reason I wanted a well corrected lens.

Lateral chromatic aberration is not dependent on aperture, but it is easy to correct in software. The 90/2.8G is well corrected for this, as far as I know. Did not make a lot of testing, though.

So my take is really, shooting at large apertures, the Otus is worth it's money. Shooting stopped down any well designed lens will do a good service. Once shooting beyond optimal aperture (which is around f/4 - f/5.6 on both Otus and Sony 90/2.8G) we start to loose sharpness to diffraction. Personally I often use f/8, it is a good balance between sharpness and diffraction and it still offers some depth of field.

I enclose the MTF at f/4 charts from Zeiss for the Otus 85/1.4 (top) and the Batis 85/1.9 (bottom). My take from the MTF-plots is that the Otus is quiet a bit  sharper on axis but shows astigmatism off axis. The Batis is almost as sharp centrally but has no astigmatism. That is of course not the whole story. But I guess one could buy all three Batis lenses for the price of one Otus.

Best regards
Erik

I have the the Otus 55mm, 85mm, and the 135mm f/2 (which I consider of similar quality), and the 28mm f/1.4 Otus on order.

I happen to shoot on a tripod, which I donít consider a shortcoming of any kind. For the stacked, close-up work that I do, it is necessary.

I use the Nikon D810 in LiveView, along with an early Zacuto Z-Finder, and find no problem focusing, although anything earlier from Nikon (D800E, etc.), does not quite make it for me in that regard.

I ended up with the Otus lenses only because they are more highly corrected than other lenses that I have, and I have about eighty very high-quality lenses, although since acquiring the Otus series, I am selling off more and more of them, because I never use them anymore.

In my work, sharpness IMO depends on color correction, and many of my older lenses, like the Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar are just is not corrected well enough, although that lens is sharp. And I am fighting an uphill battle with the Otus series, because they really are not made for close-up work. I use the thinnest of extension on some of these lenses, the Nikon K1 Ring (5.8mm), which allows me to work a bit closer without too much degradation of the lenses.

My point here is that I am sure I am part of a subset of a subset of a subset of photographers and donít really count, number-wise. I mean: who wants to shoot on a tripod and stack focus, with extension and also viewfinder enhancement, using highly corrected lenses aside from a few?

I did not get where I am by being trendy or going for high prices. I resisted the Otus series of lenses for quite a while for the obvious reasons that they donít fit my very specialize close-up workÖ and they are way expensive. Then, based on reviews of people I respect, I broke down and tried the Zeiss 135-f/2 and was shocked at what that lens could do, compared to the other Zeiss lenses I own, like the 50mm, 100mm Makro-Planars, which I, as mentioned, never use.

Perhaps I am an exception because I shoot them (mostly) wide open, where the depth-of-field is razor thin, but I stack focus, which practically amounts to painting (layering) focus to make what I wish stand out, and allow the rest to got to bokeh. Yet, I also find that single-shots at f/16 with the Otus series stand up very well.

For a while I had a shoot-off going on my mind between stacking wide-open and single photos at around f/16, but for me, the stacking won out.

SoÖ as I browse through this thread, I can understand most of the opinions here and why they might be held. I just wanted to add my own: that for very specialized work, these lenses are the best I have ever used and worth every penny.

P.S. I tend to have a whole series of lenses that I love, each of which has its own special style and reason for use, like the Voigtlander 125mm f/2.5 APO-Lanthar, the Leica 100mm Elmarit-R APO, and many industrial lenses like the El Nikkor 105mm APO, the CRT-Nikkor, the Printing Nikkors, and others. I feel the same way about ultra-Wide-angle lenses like the Venus 15mm macro, etc.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 09:19:36 pm by ErikKaffehr »
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ErikKaffehr

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Re: What the Otus gives - another view...
« Reply #41 on: December 28, 2015, 01:57:50 am »

Hi,

I recalled that Jim Kasson did run a bunch of lens tests back in spring 2015. Here is a test he made on five medium telephotos. What his samples show is that the high end lenses still show significant advantages in corners at f/8. The Canon lens is not included in this comparison: http://blog.kasson.com/?p=9090

Here I link some samples from Jim's article. If you find them soft, keep in mind that this is 200% and with just Lightrooms default sharpening.
Otus 85/1.4 at f/8 extreme corner


Nikon 85/1.4 at f/8 extreme corner

So this certainly contradicts DxO mark results, unless the 85/1.8 really shines in the corners.

By the way, here are the results of Jim's testing at f/5.6: http://blog.kasson.com/?p=9073

Jim used to be a scientist at Kodak and I think chief of engineering at Rolm later. A very good (and nice) guy sharing a lot of good information on his blog:http://blog.kasson.com

Another site I have checked a lot recently is "The digital picture", they have a lot of test chart images, here is a link that points to the Canon 85/1.8 to Otus 85/1.4 at f/8 comparison: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=106&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=5&LensComp=957&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=6

Now, I have some reservations about shooting test charts, mostly that they need to be shot at significant distance, like 50 times focal length. Also, test charts don't show out of focus rendition.

Anyway, Jim's findings certainly contradict my expectations that there would be ignorable difference between a decently well designed lens (like the Canon 85/1.8) and the best possible design (like the Zeiss Otus 85/1.4).

Best regards
Erik
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Michael Erlewine

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Re: What the Otus gives - compared to a cheap and good Canon
« Reply #42 on: December 29, 2015, 01:43:40 pm »

Just to remind myself of why I value the Zeiss Otus Series, this on with the Otus 55mm APO from last summer comes to mind. Nikon D810.
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kers

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Re: What the Otus gives - compared to a cheap and good Canon
« Reply #43 on: December 29, 2015, 02:15:02 pm »

Just to remind myself of why I value the Zeiss Otus Series, this on with the Otus 55mm APO from last summer comes to mind. Nikon D810.
Hello Michael,
Are you certain you can show the difference of an image made with an Otus 50mm to -say- a Sigma art 50mm with the help of this little downsampled example of 963x 1024px
I guess not?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 02:18:53 pm by kers »
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Michael Erlewine

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Re: What the Otus gives - compared to a cheap and good Canon
« Reply #44 on: December 29, 2015, 02:20:11 pm »

You guess is as good as mine. Not trying to prove anything, just reminding myself as to the virtues of the Otus series.
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chrisgibbs

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Re: What the Otus gives - compared to a cheap and good Canon
« Reply #45 on: December 29, 2015, 02:38:57 pm »

The first thing I noticed in the Michael's example were those two aperture shaped highlights in the lower right displaying onion rings, that's exactly what I see out of my Sony FE 1.8/55, and to my eye something that makes the Sony design somewhat undesirable for shots like this or certain portrait shots with OOF specular highlights.  Again, an interesting topic and I appreciate your input Michael, and after looking at the examples on your site, and your explanation of what you are doing, I'd agree the OTUS is probably the best choice for you.  However, the OTUS isn't exactly the Holy Grail some like to think it is, but its a darn good lens for people like yourself no-doubt.  But for me, its a big square peg (literally), and one requiring an oversized hammer to pound it into that round hole!

Regards,
Chris

Hello Michael,
Are you certain you can show the difference of an image made with an Otus 50mm to -say- a Sigma art 50mm with the help of this little downsampled example of 963x 1024px
I guess not?

Michael Erlewine

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Re: What the Otus gives - compared to a cheap and good Canon
« Reply #46 on: December 29, 2015, 02:53:08 pm »

Yes, I think that was my point in my earlier post, the reasons why, for me, this is a great lens for my work. I am glad to find such a lens and see the interest on the part of Zeiss to make this level of lens available, much less a series of them. I wish more companies would offer this kind of correction at whatever price the market will bear. If all we can think about is the price, that is another story. I paid for my Zeiss APOS by selling lenses I no longer use. As for it being a Holy Grail, I am glad there is a Holy Grail for my work, not that I think of it as that. What about the El Nikkor 105mm APO. That too is a Holy Grail that produces its own kind of special images. Here is one with that lens on the D810. To me this lens  too has a special quality, and I have others. No need to buy an Otus if it does not suit your work, right?
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chrisgibbs

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Re: What the Otus gives - compared to a cheap and good Canon
« Reply #47 on: December 29, 2015, 03:17:54 pm »

I'm going the other way to you, spending a great deal of time admiring modern work shot with 150 year-old Petzval lenses to >8x10 Calotype glass plates, when I see those images and the extra special "look" that combination produces I want to bin all my soulless modern kit.  Each to his own, and that's what makes art wonderful isn't it!

Namaste,
Chris

Yes, I think that was my point in my earlier post, the reasons why, for me, this is a great lens for my work. I am glad to find such a lens and see the interest on the part of Zeiss to make this level of lens available, much less a series of them. I wish more companies would offer this kind of correction at whatever price the market will bear. If all we can think about is the price, that is another story. I paid for my Zeiss APOS by selling lenses I no longer use. As for it being a Holy Grail, I am glad there is a Holy Grail for my work, not that I think of it as that. What about the El Nikkor 105mm APO. That too is a Holy Grail that produces its own kind of special images. Here is one with that lens on the D810. To me this lens  too has a special quality, and I have others. No need to buy an Otus if it does not suit your work, right?

Michael Erlewine

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Re: What the Otus gives - compared to a cheap and good Canon
« Reply #48 on: December 29, 2015, 03:46:47 pm »

I'm going the other way to you, spending a great deal of time admiring modern work shot with 150 year-old Petzval lenses to >8x10 Calotype glass plates, when I see those images and the extra special "look" that combination produces I want to bin all my soulless modern kit.  Each to his own, and that's what makes art wonderful isn't it!



Yes. I have been admiring the Petzval look myself. Also looking at the various Helios/Biotar lenses, the Fujinon 55mm, and all of those lenses that have strange bokeh, and are very specialized. I love the CRT-Nikkor, which shares some of these qualities. There are lenses like we are discussing here with a special character that we can learn to use, not for everything, but just for what they can do that delights us. The Zeiss Otus have a very special look, as well. For me they are worth the money. Before the Otus lenses I made due with some of the APO Voiglanders, Leica, the Coastal Optics, etc. But the Zeiss Otus series is better for my work. I just wish they would make a macro lens of that quality and a rectangular fisheye. 
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muntanela

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Re: What the Otus gives - another view...
« Reply #49 on: December 29, 2015, 05:09:24 pm »

Jim used to be a scientist at Kodak and I think chief of engineering at Rolm later. A very good (and nice) guy sharing a lot of good information on his blog:http://blog.kasson.com

But he doesn't clean the sensor ;D
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chrisgibbs

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Re: What the Otus gives - compared to a cheap and good Canon
« Reply #50 on: December 29, 2015, 08:00:07 pm »

I like the eclectic mindset of the filmmaker crowd, they're not too bothered with perfection, because then everything simply looks like HD video for them.  I discovered these guys over on Newsshooter's site, they have some interesting optics, cool name too. :-)

http://www.newsshooter.com/2015/02/20/in-conversation-with-dog-schidt-optics-an-old-world-alternative-to-modern-lenses/

Like you say, some of those old Nikons are lovely things, but so spendy!

Chris





Yes. I have been admiring the Petzval look myself. Also looking at the various Helios/Biotar lenses, the Fujinon 55mm, and all of those lenses that have strange bokeh, and are very specialized. I love the CRT-Nikkor, which shares some of these qualities. There are lenses like we are discussing here with a special character that we can learn to use, not for everything, but just for what they can do that delights us. The Zeiss Otus have a very special look, as well. For me they are worth the money. Before the Otus lenses I made due with some of the APO Voiglanders, Leica, the Coastal Optics, etc. But the Zeiss Otus series is better for my work. I just wish they would make a macro lens of that quality and a rectangular fisheye.
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