Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Otus

For the ultimate in image quality for a DSLR or mirrorless camera, the Zeiss Otus is about the best you can get. But it comes at a high price compared to other lenses that are designed for smaller cameras – all of which have very effective autofocus systems.

So dropping several grand on a manual-only lens that’s not specifically for cine may seem like madness. Especially for a lens that goes as wide as f/1.4, where focusing is super-critical. So, perhaps manual focus is the only way to go, as AF might focus on the end of the eyelashes rather than the eye, say.

However, the Zeiss was tricky to use, especially outdoors, wide open. We used a Nikon mount version on both a Nikon and Sony with a Metabones adapter. The Sony has the advantage of focus peaking. Modern DSLRs like the Nikon aren’t really geared up for an optimal manual focus experience, and the Sony’s peaking is tough to see. But when in sharp focus, results are breathtaking. 

The Otus is a no-compromise lens focused on image quality. There are six special glass elements and five aspheric lenses. At 1140g with an 86mm front filter thread, it’s a big lens that oozes quality and will last for years. When you get it right, you get superb detail and contrast, accurate colours and no distortion.But shooting manual focus on DSLRs with a shallow depth-of-field is a huge challenge.  

With a lens like this, the law of diminishing returns means you are paying a lot extra for quality that is definitely better and with smoother bokeh than a cheaper 85mm lens.



Type: 85mm manual focus lens

Aperture range: f/1.4-f/16

Format: Full frame

Optical design:

11 elements in 9 groups

Diaphragm blades: 9 rounded

Minimum focus: 80cm/ 2.62ft

Filter thread: 86mm

Dimensions DxH:

101x124mm/ 3.98x4.88in

Weight: 1140g/ 2.65lb



If you demand the ultimate in optical and build quality, this lens is it

Pros: Simply the best image quality

Cons: Pricey, hard to focus wide open, heavy

Login to post comments

About us

Targeting independent commercial filmmakers and small production companies, Pro Moviemaker delivers the latest industry tech innovation and gear scoops to creatives, entrepreneurs and decision makers hell bent on staying ahead of the game. As early adopters, Pro Moviemaker readers want news, reviews and technique features focused on kit so that they know what to buy next and how it will drive the continued success of their business. Diverse in their roles and shooting genres, Pro Moviemaker readers are united by their thirst for knowledge – a thirst which is quenched not only by our hands-on production, post and business advice features, but also our inspirational interviews with leading pros.

Contacting the team


+44 (0)1223 499462


Editor-in-chief Adam Duckworth

+44 (0)1223 492246


Staff writer Chelsea Fearnley

+44 (0)1223 499450



LIKE our Facebook page


Latest posts


Subscribe to the Pro Moviemaker newsletter to get the latest issue, news, tutorials and offers delivered to your inbox for free.

Cookies are important to the proper functioning of a site. To improve your experience, we use cookies to remember log-in details and provide secure log-in, collect statistics to optimize site functionality, and deliver content tailored to your interest.

By continuing to use this website site you are giving us your consent to do this.

For more information you can read our Privacy Policy.