#489. The OTUS (28) and the Architect (in Aix en Provence)

By pascaljappy | Opinion

Jun 17

You mention Aix-en-Provence, you mentally see this.

DSC03143Or this

Famous fountain in Aix-en-Provence, Sony A7rII and Zeiss OTUS 28Or this

A study in Pink in Aix en Provence. Zeiss OTUS 28 Street restaurant in Aix en Provence, France. Zeiss OTUS 28/1.4And that’s what most of the old town is like. But modern architecture has recently invited itself into the heart of this Roman city turned student paradise.


Optimus Prime !

So, this is one of those posts where I serve you the leftovers from an OTUS 28 review session (just like my recent walk in the vines), leftovers that often taste far better than the frames I came for and which test for distortion, chroma and other aberrations to which this lens is almost ridiculously immune.

Maybe it’s because the formal review promises to be a little bland that I feel obliged to post this. Maybe it’s just so much more fun, I can’t get myself to do the job properly 😀 😀 😀

A group of students sitting on stairs in Aix en Provence. Zeiss OTUS 28.


At any rate, the lens is with me for another 10 days, so the review isn’t far away and I’ll try to fit in as many of these side-dish posts as possible 😉

And, even though my photography could hardly qualify as architectural (do I hear sloppy in the back row ?), here’s a brief presentation of what architects could expect with that lens. Follow the guide 🙂

A woman dressed in black in Aix en Provence. Zeiss OTUS 28

Interestingly, the lack of aberrations might just be a turn-off for me. With a lens such as the C-Sonnar, the idiosyncrasies create a special look (which you love or not) at wide apertures which are not apparent in this OTUS. And, used at f/11, many lenses will perform perfectly well (if not with the exact same look), making the extra weight and cost of the OTUS a little bit moot for all but the most demanding users.Zeiss OTUS 28 in Aix en Provence

But it’s hard to question the fact that the OTUS delivers superb architectural imagery with a blend of lovely colours, great transparency, great 3D and a distinct feeling of everything falling into place very naturally and elegantly. A lovely, lovely performer. Stairs and modern architecture in Aix en Provence, Zeiss OTUS 28DSC03166Sony A7rII & Zeiss OTUS 28 DSC03163-Pano-2DSC03156DSC03148 DSC03158-2So, what do you think? Should every architect have one in the bag ?


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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    If I had the cash, I’d buy one tomorrow, Pascal. I am seeing colours and tonings (light & shade) in those photos which I don’t see in other shots on the net. And that is exactly what I get from my Otus 55. Of course, my opinion counts for nought – I am a self-confessed Zeiss addict. And Ming Thein has already published a review of this lens, with far greater knowledge and experience than I could ever aspire to.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Pete, your opinion matters to us 🙂 I also see those shadings and tones that other lenses don’t provide. Ming and I suspect there may have been two versions of this lens but Zeiss have neither confirmed or denied this. We both feel the look of the earlier versions we tested was slightly different and mine had a bit of chromatic aberration that’s simply not there in this one. It’s truly universal lens, it does so such so well …

  • Brian Nicol says:

    I have never had a romance with the 28mm lens (always had 35mm and 24 mm lenses). However you are tempting me. I do not currently own a 24mm but do love the Zeiss zm 35 1.4 on my Leica m240. But the rendering of this lens is also gorgeous but close in focal length. we have so many fabulous choices in glass these days! Thanks for your website!

    • pascaljappy says:

      Thanks Brian 🙂

      That 35 is indeed an absolute gem and, in my mind, the greatest advocate for a Leica M camera or a Sony A7x 😉 The Otus is slightly cleaner on the edges, sometimes has even more spectacular 3D is a bit more neutral. Both really excellent performers.

  • Brian Nicol says:

    I mentioned earlier that I was starting to think about this lens but when I looked up the specs I fell off of my chair when I saw the 95mm filter size! Wow! You called it big-I think that is a wee bit of understatement. I love the rendering but maybe they will come out with an even more exciting 21/1.4 that has an only 150mm filter. I love your site as I appreciate your intelligent insights but I am now hoping for a Zeiss zm 25 1.4 or 28 1.4 with a lens that I can carry more than one lens. Keep up the great site, as the artistic photographic realm is better for it.

    • pascaljappy says:

      That’s very kind Brian, and much appreciated.

      Frankly, I’m surprised Zeiss even considered an Otus 28 in the first place. It was always going to be huge. As it is, vignetting is on the high side so any smaller entry-pupil would make that far worse. You’re probably correct with that 150mm filter for a 21/1.4 😉

      However, Otuses are minimum-compromise lenses. With some compromise, you can create lenses such as the Distagon 1.4/35 ZM we both love. So a 28/2 in a compact format is probably feasible and a very tempting proposition.

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