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Lens reviews update: test data for the Zeiss Otus 1.4/55
DxOMark has just reviewed the Zeiss Otus 1.4/55, a $4000 standard prime for full frame SLRs, and as part of our ongoing collaboration we've added the test data to our lens widget. We've also added test data for the Nikon mount version of Sigma's exceptional 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM.
Also this week, DxOMark has published a review of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm F2.8 PRO for Micro Four Thirds, and its lens recommendations for the Nikon D610. Click here for a full round-up of DxOMark's recent reviews.
Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 lens test data
Here we're showing DxOmark's lens test data for the Zeiss Otus 55mm F1.4 on both the full frame D800 and the DX format D7100, along with a quick summary of the main findings. We're also showing a quick comparison to the AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G, which isn't quite as expensive, but still costs more than most camera bodies.
Click on any of the images or links below to open our interactive lens widget, and explore the data further
1) Tested on Nikon D800
On the D800, the Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 gives a simply breathtaking performance. It's super-sharp even wide open, and impressively even across the frame too. It's so good that stopping it down doesn't make a huge difference on measured sharpness here - the centre peaks at F4, but it's not obvious that you'd see the difference in real-world shots.
In all other aspects the Otus does equally well. Lateral chromatic aberration is negligible, and while there's a little measurable barrel distortion, it's unlikely ever to be visible in real-world use. Vignetting reaches 1.6 stops wide open, but with a very gradual falloff profile which means it won't look objectionable. At F2 it drops to just 1 stop, and at F2.8 it drops to a photographically-irrelevent 0.5 stops.
Zeiss claims that "the Otus 1.4/55 is the absolute best lens in the world today", and can we see why the company is so confident about it (although we're pretty sure that Leica's latest APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPH will give it a run for its money). We were hugely impressed by the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM, but the Zeiss manages to surpass it in every measurement here. Then again it is more than four times the price, and doesn't have autofocus.
2) Tested on Nikon D7100
It's very much the same story on the DX format D7100 as on full frame. Sharpness is exceptional, chromatic aberration is very low, and vignetting and distortion are minimal. It's difficult to imagine any lens doing much better, in terms of optical test results.
3) Compared to the AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G
The difference in test results here is startling, and really accentuates the optical quality of the Zeiss. It's simply much, much sharper wide open, and while the Nikon has slightly lower vignetting, the Zeiss has less distortion. It's important to understand that the Nikon isn't a bad lens - the designers have clearly been thinking about more than just sharpness, and the images it produces on the D800 actually look really nice - but Zeiss's 'no compromises' approach shows what can be done when size and price are taken out of consideration in the overall design.
Sigma 18-35mm F1.4 DC HSM for Nikon test data
The test results for the Sigma 18-35mm on the Nikon D7100 merely reinforce the excellence of this lens that we highlighted in our in-depth review. Few zooms come close - in fact the Sigma is a match for a bag full of primes. Crucially, though, we've found the lens to focus more reliably on Nikon bodies compared to Canons, which allows you to make the most if the lens's wide open sharpness.
A comparison between test data on the Nikon D7100 and the Canon EOS 7D shows remarkable consistency of results. Measured sharpness is higher on the D7100 in the centre of the frame, due to its higher resolution 24MP sensor which doesn't have an image-blurring optical low-pass filter (compared to the Canon's 18MP). Other differences are very small, and can generally be attributed to the slightly larger size of the 1.5x Nikon DX sensor compared to Canon's 1.6x APS-C.
Overall, this data reinforces our opinion that the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM is probably the standout lens of the year so far, for its combination of speed, image quality, and reasonably-accessible price.
Our lens test data is produced in collaboration with DxOMark. Click the links below to read DxOMark's own review of the Zeiss Otus 1.4/55, or see other recent reviews on the DxOMark website.