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Supporting the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon on the Sony A7R

Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 APO-Distagon

Get the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon at B&H Photo.

I have now shot the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 APO-Distagon on the Sony A7R, coverage to follow in Guide to Zeiss in time*.

The 55/1.4 shows its unrivalled and unparalleled mettle wide open at f/1.4 corner to corner**, and at any distance***. I reiterate my “world’s best DSLR lens ever made” and tack on “also for mirrorless”.

Of course the 55/1.4 is not perfect (mild field curvature is about the only weakness), and my in depth review of the Zeiss 55/1.4 APO Distagon goes into great detail, and will see further expansion.

* Specialty non-native adapted lenses 'stick' to their respective publications, the 'digital back' being treated with its own native lenses.

** No lens is perfect and the APO Distagon has some small weaknesses, including a mild field curvature. No normal lens of any brand is entirely free of at least a trace amount of field curvature, and I have tested 30 or so and own fifteen or so normal lenses.

*** Lab tests (“thin slice of thick apple”) fail to see, for example, that performance of a certain competing lens is cut in *half* at closer distances.

Supporting the 55/1.4 and other large lenses

On the Sony A7R, shutter vibration is a serious issue*, but proper support can both take stress off the lens mount and raise the odds for minimizing vibration. I don’t yet have solid data on the 55/1.4 on Sony A7R vibration control. Looks promising, but a fix is really needed.

Using the Novoflex Nikon to Sony lens adapter + ASATA tripod foot, the 55/1.4 gets mounted in a way similar to that shown below with the Zeiss 135/2 APO-Sonnar, using the Really Right Stuff MPR CL II multi-purpose rail. The fit is actually better than shown in terms of offset/padding with the 55/1.4 + A7R. But I need to look into the proper support cushion material for the front end under the lens hood; so far I’ve used padded neoprene.

* Readers asking me to compare the Otus 55/1.4 to the Sony 55/1.8 must understand how difficult that actually is: sharpness-killing shutter vibration makes any such test highly suspect for both lenses. I *can* say that wide open, the Otus is already spectacular on the A7R and by f/2 matches or beats the best Leica lenses at f/5.6. And is obviously superior at wide apertures. Assuming shutter speeds that avoid vibration.

Zeiss ZF.2 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar on Leica M Typ 240 with Really Right Stuff MPR CL II rail

Eleanor B writes:

Well my Zeiss Otus just arrived and my initial impression on the D800e is WOW. Has a "different" look…yes very "medium format" like…very very sharp and interesting "near to far", sharp vs blur, 3D look and feel!!

DIGLOYD: when I said “best DLSR or rangefinder lens ever made”, it was not hyperbole.

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