What makes a DSLR lens the best in the world? I called August Bradley, professional photographer and filmmaker, to get his expert opinion.
It quickly got technical, “As DSLR cameras get larger sensors with higher resolution, starting with the 36-megapixel Nikon D800, their resolving power exceeds many lenses. As a medium format photographer, I'm used to 40-80 megapixel digital backs; MF lenses are designed to handle that extreme resolving power. Now that some DSLR's are approaching that level of sensor power, the fact that DSLR sensors are smaller makes it even more challenging for lens makers.”
Here's a clue – the Carl Zeiss Co. made August Bradley a Zeiss Ambassador, invited him to tour their factory in Germany to see how their newest DSLR lens line is made, and when he got back home, he used it to shoot a short film. We'll all have to wait for that film to see how the “world's best DSLR lens” performed.
Carl Zeiss' Otus 1.4/55
Spectacularly detailed portraits full of contrast. High fidelity images and exceptional performance into the corners even at full aperture. The Otus 1.4/55 makes absolutely no compromises and brings together over a century of ZEISS optical and technical excellence. This standard lens is the exception to the rule: perfect optical correction eliminates nearly all possible flaws, from color fringes and distortion to chromatic aberrations. With the highest contrast performance over the entire image field, even at an aperture of f/1.4, this lens offers the spectacular medium format look when working with a modern SLR camera. Phenomenal detail and exceptional performance, regardless of whether it’s using available light or in the studio, the Otus 1.4/55 is the absolute best lens in the world today.
The Otus 1.4/55 is “…highest performing standard-type prime in our database.”- DxO Labs
Zeiss already make a range of manual focus lenses for Canon and Nikon, but this new model is the first in a new range of high-end Otus lenses from the maker optimized for the next generation of full-frame high-resolution DSLRs. As with the Touits, the new naming of the series follows the maker’s liking for adopting scientific names of birds for their lenses.
Unlike those earlier lenses designed for mirrorless cameras, this fast standard is a retrofocus full-frame (35mm format) model, but the 55mm focal length also works well on APS-C cameras, where it has a field of view equivalent to that of a 85mm.
August Bradley knows lenses.
We first met August Bradley in a previous planet5D post where we learned he is an accomplished photographer and filmmaker. In our conversation he stressed how good the Otus lenses are, and how they “…deliver a sharp focus that gives a heightened illusion of 3D when contrasted to the creamy out-of-focus of backgrounds. It makes in-focus objects pop!”
(cover photo credit: snap from Zeiss)