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Zeiss Officially Unveils 85mm F/1.4 Otus, US Price $4490

By Anthony Thurston on September 8th 2014

We have been saying it was coming, and true to form, Zeiss announced their latest addition to the Otus line this morning, the 85mm F/1.4.

The lens itself sticks to the same design and quality standards established by the original 55mm Otus lens. The sleek black design is accented by small yellow colored text, and the performance leaves nothing (except autofocus and maybe stabilization) to be desired.


Zeiss Otus 85mm F/1.4 Specs

  • Canon EF & Nikon F Mounts
  • Aperture Range: f/1.4 to f/16
  • One Aspherical Element
  • 6 Anomalous Partial Dispersion Elements
  • Apochromatic, Planar Optical Design
  • Floating Element System
  • Zeiss T* Anti-Reflective Coating
  • Internal Focus; Manual Focus Design
  • All-Metal Barrel, Yellow Scale Markings
  • Rounded Nine-Blade Diaphragm


These lenses really are a thing of perfected beauty. Sadly, one that most of us will never get to enjoy due to the absolutely ludicrous asking price of $4,490. I understand there is a lot of prestige to the Zeiss brand, and that these lenses are expertly crafted, but $4,490, really? I can’t help but wonder how many more copies they could sell if they cut that price in half.

Still, I know some of you out there are jonesing for this lens, regardless of price. If you actually have the money to plunk down on this beautiful hunk of metal and glass, you can find the pre-order links over on B&H.

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rui Pinto

    Here it is a comparison between the Zeiss, Canon and Nikon.

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  2. Rafael Steffen

    Can someone actually explain me why this lens at this price level does not have AF?

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    • Stan Rogers

      Eww. Must you be so pedestrian?

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    • Matthew Saville

      Haha, I used to just assume that AF was indeed too “pedestrian” for Zeiss, kinda like how they say there are Ferraris that don’t have A/C. But then Zeiss started making AF lenses for Sony left and right, and now I am just about as confused about this as you are.

      Honestly? Because it would probably suck, compared to Canon and Nikon’s decades of research and experience in developing AF technology. Do some history fact-finding / reading on how USM and SWM autofocus came about, and how the likes of Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina are just now barely getting around to being able to implement a similarly quiet, accurate AF system in their own lenses.

      That, and there’s nothing quite like focusing a truly manual focus lens. If you think the manual focus rings on your L glass are smooth, you haven’t lived until you’ve felt the MF ring on a dedicated MF lens. It’s butter, on butter. :-D


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    • Kim Farrelly

      I love focusing with manual lenses on my on my 35mm camera, the feeling of everything is somewhat lost in todays efficient designs. Focusing with a lens that has a well balanced resistance and almost 360º of throw is like nothing else.

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  3. Rafael Steffen

    As Mathew mentioned there are certain products that appeal for quality and design. These lens are like buying a Ferrari F50. It does not have air condition and no stereo just because it was designed to go fast. These lens are for the people who love to focus in manual and get amazing pictures. I would love to rent one.

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  4. Vince Arredondo

    I think this is a perfect candidate for renting. At least for me. I’m more expectant to see what Sigma has to offer with the rumored Sigma Art 85mm f/1.4.

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  5. Kim Farrelly

    Just a 35 and 135 (oh and a 24) to go and I can get the box set & a divorce. I know plenty of people who spend well over €25K on their hobby toys. Sure they could spend €10K on similar stuff but they all would say it’s not the same to ride/drive/sale etc…

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  6. Chuck Eggen

    I only want it to say I have it. I don’t need it. Of course my needs don’t always dictate what I get…

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  7. Matthew Saville

    No, it’s not over priced, it is simply not meant for mere mortals like you and I. This is a Rolex, a Lamborghini. Most people would say the same “why not cut the price in half” about those items, too, but as someone else mentioned price itself, to the types of people who ARE going to buy this lens, is a key part of the prestige…

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    • Dre Rolle

      You think I can trade in an annoying family member for one of these?

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Oh, I totally get it Matt. I just never understood that business decision, seems like its leaving money on the table just to appeal to a richer audience (who would be buying your item if it was the best anyways)

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    • Matthew Saville

      Anthony, I think you are indeed missing the “placement” of these types of high-end products. If Prada / Louis Vuitton were all half as pricey as they are now, then do you think all the absurdly rich folks out there who buy tons of those products would just say “oh yay, I get to save some money!” No, they’d be pissed that 2-5X more OTHER people would soon be walking around sporting their same stuff, thus making it far, far less of a fashion statement, or mark of prestige, or whatever. So you know what? I bet they’d find some other brand to latch onto and pay that same original absurdly high price for.

      That, in my extremely UN qualified opinion lol, is how prestige / status symbols work. Zeiss is not just a tool for the elite artists, it is also a status symbol for anybody with boatloads of cash. If they even remotely considered competing with the likes of Sigma on price, even if Sigma can match 95% of the image quality and 75% of the build quality, …then Zeiss would cease to be Zeiss.

      In other words? It’s OK if none of us will ever be able to afford this. Zeiss doesn’t care, and we have incredibly high-quality products to look forward to from the likes of Sigma, at 1/4 or 1/5 the price.

      Honestly IMO Sigma is its own status symbol, to me. I’m an under-dog, and I root for the under-dog, and yet I still know an insanely sharp lens when I see one, and I have absolutely no regrets about the lenses I buy. In fact I ENJOY the chance to out-shoot some “L” elitist, or a Zeiss zealot, with my “inferior” Sigma / Nikon glass… :-D

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    • Jim Johnson

      You are right Matthew. It is not meant for mere mortals. It is also not meant for professionals. Professionals want to know that they will get $5k worth of work from this lens. And it would be a fair bet that they won’t.

      Just like Lamborghinis and Rolexes, this lens is meant as a way to quiet the insecurities of old men with performance issues. :-)

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  8. Tyler Friesen

    Im curious to see if Sigma puts a new one out and how it will compare to this for the everyday working photographer. I cant imagine the price justifies the performance at all.

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  9. Rui Pinto

    If they cut that price in half, the “Zeiss status” would be lost…but yeah, you’re right!

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    • Anthony Thurston

      $2,200 is still a pretty expensive by most peoples standards. Yet, for pros, its still an acceptable price for a high quality lens, and more importantly a price they can justify. Even pros look at the Otus 85mm(or even the 55mm) and go “Really?” when they see the price…

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    • Jim Johnson

      People want it because it is a luxury item, but pros will have to think about ROI. I cannot imagine a way that this lens will pay for itself (by itself), much less turn a profit.

      IMO, it’s a hobbyist lens for those who want to feel special by the things they own.

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    • Michael Young

      “IMO, it’s a hobbyist lens for those who want to feel special by the things they own.”

      Why can’t it be for pros who can afford it? Heck, why can’t it be for anyone who can afford it, pro or hobbyist, and doesn’t mind manual focusing?

      If I were a pro portrait photographer, and could afford it, I’d buy it. The images I’ve seen from the lens are gorgeous. Super sharp and contrasty when wide open. I think many people scoff at something b/c they can’t afford it. It’s a beautiful piece of glass, and there isn’t anything on the market at the focal length that seem to match it optically when shot at 1.4.

      Why are people acting like Zeiss doesn’t make some of the best glass on the market?

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  10. Ryan Bartels

    Yah, I’ll be getting in line for one…

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