Had the opportunity to see both the new Zeiss OTUS 55/1.4 (world beater ) and the Nikon 58/1.4 . Two lenses that have similar focal lengths and speeds but couldn t be more different .
First the OTUS ...the lens is huge by any standard short of cinema and very heavy . Makes my S2 lenses seem light by comparison . The build quality is the very best I have seen equal my Leica lenses . The focus (manual ) is exceptional ..highly dampened but easy to focus with two fingers . Focus throw is very very long ...you have to rotate the lens a few inches to go between 6ft and 10ft ..now thats slow . But of course it fits obtaining real precision in focusing .
I was able to speak with one of the product specialists (that knew his stuff) ...he had comparisons to vendor H,L,M (guess?) and a D800 with the OTUS . The results were all essentially the same with maybe an edge to the OTUS (test was a fashion model close and wide open ). He stressed the absence of aberrations . The new line of lenses is aimed square at the MF market . But at the photographer moving to MF from Nikon or Canon . Zeiss is betting on the release of high MP Nikon and Canon products before photokina next year . The expect to have an 85/1.4 and maybe a wide angle by then.
Of course you could ask about the just released TOUIT line that was for the Sony NEX line ? What were they thinking ?
The OTUS 55/1.4 has been designed to produce the very best image quality wide open at f1.4 . Not being a landscape photographer ..I am a little lost at how you would actually use this lens and why? It is clearly too large and heavy for street,travel or most anything off a tripod ....its heavier than my S2/70/2.5 which is joy to walk around with . The focus is manual and very very slow ....how could you possibly use this for fashion ? And finally what am I shooting at f1.4 where the subject is out on the edge of the frame . I saw nothing in the book of prints that made any sense "to me " . I appreciate the use of selective DOF but I can t take forever to fine tune my focus when I use it .
The Nikon 58/1.4 is totally different . First it is small about the size of a 50/1.4 but at a 72mm filter size . The front element is deeply recessed and would for me eliminate the need for a hood in many situations . AF is blazing on a D4 ..at the top of the class in responsiveness . No excuses for missing focus here .
There is a nice report on the Nikon website about the design objectives ...its not about maximum resolution ..Nikon wanted a smooth roll off of the plane of focus and great bokeh . This was easy to see even on the Nikon D4 LCD ...looks very similar to my 50 summilux R lens . The other goal was to minimize coma (similar to the NOCT Nikkor ) .
This is clearly a lens that matches my needs ...small,fast,responsive,sharp and with great bokeh .
If zeiss had built the OTUS ..to be the very best IQ but at F2.8 the size could have been half ...but I expect that Zeiss bulids these lenses with cinema in mind ...it seems to fit . I know but wait until you see the IQ on the next generation cameras ......