Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1,4/55 ZF.2 (Nikon) lens review: Outstanding Optical Performance

By Kevin Carter - Thursday November 21 2013

Lens Review
Introduction | New Zeiss takes first place in rankings | Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 Nikon lens performance | Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 Nikon D7100 vs Nikon D5200: How might it perform on the D800E? | Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 Nikon vs Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G: New Nikkor Outclassed? | Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 Nikon versus competition: Zeiss eclipses rivals | Conclusion

As a full-frame model, the new Carl Zeiss Otus 1,4/55, mounted on the Nikon D800, is categorically the highest performing standard-type prime in our database. When tested, it achieved the highest DxOMark score we’ve yet seen of 45 points and it attained a record Sharpness score of 29P-Mpix (out of a theoretical maximum of 36P-Mpix on the Nikon D800), prompting us to speculate that the Otus would achieve 30+ P-Mpix with the D800E.

Best standard prime:

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 Nikon39994529
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D3293216
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G4483216
Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Nikon4993216
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 50mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon12803117
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G2193116
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D1342917
Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D4602818
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G17002818
Carl Zeiss Planar T 50mm f/1.4 ZF2 Nikon7252613

Best prime: 

Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 Nikon39994529
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G21994022
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G6904019
Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Nikon8993923
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED VR II58993928
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 100mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon18403617
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherique IF Nikon3283617
Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Nikon9693518
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm F2.8G ED VR89993525
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED22003417
Samyang 35mm F1.4 AS UMC Nikon5993415
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/1.4 ZF2 Nikon18433417
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 25mm f/2 ZF.2 Nikon17003422
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II59003424
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G6993321
Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF12303316
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon10053317
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G17973317
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D3293216
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G4483216

When comparing the new Otus with the previous best performing fixed focal length lens in our database, the latest version of Nikon’s specialized high-speed portrait lens, the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f1.4G the Zeiss easily out-performs it. However, it’s also close to twice the price and a serious investment. Fortunately, it will serve double duty on a Nikon DX format DSLR with the equivalent field of view to a 85mm.

Best DxO Mark score ever measured:


The Carl Zeiss Otus 1,4/55 has the highest optical quality of any retrofocus 35mm format design to be assessed by the labs at DxOMark.

Highest sharpness score ever measured:


Prior to the new Otus, the lens with the highest sharpness score was the ultra-fast Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2.0G ED lens, which the Zeiss has just beaten by one point.  Although that’s an excellent achievement, it demonstrates just how good that particular Nikon lens really is. Even the highly acclaimed Sigma 35mm f1.4 HSM A is still some way behind in sharpness, albeit with a excellent 23P-Mpix score on the Nikon D800.