If you saw my last blog post on using the Zeiss Otus on the Nikon Df, you’ll know just how excited I am about this beast of a lens. Since writing my first impressions, there have been many questions as to whether this lens is as good as I say it is. Firstly, let me say, I have never owned and kept any lens longer than a year at a time, other than the basic trinity lenses for Nikon > 14-24mm/24-70mm/70-200mm. I am very picky with my lenses and have owned every top Leica and Zeiss lens over the last 20 years. Now that doesn't make me an expert, but it does make me picky, and this lens tops them all out convincingly!
Zeiss Otus on the M240 with it’s 24MP Sensor
So how does it perform on the Leica M240? Well as you’d expect on any camera. Incredible! We know it easily resolved the 16MP Nikon Df sensor, and it does exactly the same here with the Leica M240, and I expect it to do the same with the D800e – which is the main camera being used in most Zeiss Otus lens tests. I expect this lens to resolve sensors up to around 50MP or more looking at its amazing ability to record the finest details wide open.
I connected the Zeiss Otus to the Leica M240 using a Novoflex adapter. This has a blue ring that allows manual selection of the aperture for Nikon G lenses that do not have an aperture ring, so it was somewhat redundant here. The problem with having this ring is that it overrides the aperture ring on the Otus, so if I want to use it, I need to have the Otus set to f/16 (auto selection mode), and change aperture using the blue ring, which means accurate selection of aperture isn’t possible as I cannot tell what aperture is selected as I turn the blue ring. Besides that, the Novoflex adapter is fantastic and better built than any Chinese model I’ve used. The next best is the Kipon model, which doesn’t have a manual aperture ring. So if you’re wanting to use G lenses on the M240 or other mirrorless cameras, the Novoflex is the only way to go (as far as I know).
On the Leica M240, the balance is obviously heavily tipped to the lens so you need to support the lens, with the camera hanging off it, instead of the usual. This doesn’t exactly make it a comfortable setup, and for heavy 50mm use, I would recommend using the excellent selection of M lenses. Focusing MUST be done using Live View, and for accurate focusing I use a combination of live view and the focus assist function. The focus peaking feature on the M240 is only visible in certain situations and nowhere near as easy to read as the Sony, though I’d say it’s quite accurate. The focus assist feature is imperative to achieving accurate focus on the M.
I have to admit, when Leica announced the M with Live View features, I cringed and felt quite negative towards Leica’s direction away from the traditional rangefinder focusing of the M. By adding live view, this now meant that ‘anyone’ could use an M. I have always taken pride in being able to successfully focus the M with ease, as it’s a skill I have developed over 20 years of using the Leica M system. Since owning the Leica M240, I have come to fully appreciate Leica’s addition of Live View as I can now achieve a much higher hit rate of focus using any fast lens on the Leica M. Previously using the rangefinder my hit rate for a fast lens like the Noctilux would be around 75%, and now I can easily achieve around 85-95%. The same applies to the Zeiss Otus. As long as I am steady and careful not to change focus distance when recomposing (same with subject), I am very confident I can focus even more accurately than using my SLR.
>>> Please note, no images have been sharpened after resizing or being cropped <<<
Chromatic aberrations and fringing have plagued digital since it’s move into mainstream photography and I am happy to report that I have seen no fringing against bright light sources. So far my tests are far from extensive and conclusive, but I am confident if any is to show up in pictures, it will be a non-issue.
Back to Resolution
I won’t bore you with the details, here is a selection of pictures with 100% crops, so I’ll let you do your own evaluations. Enjoy the pixel peeping and thanks for reading.
So what's next in the Otus Line?
An 85mm f/1.4. This lens will have some serious competition as the Canon 85/1.2L and Nikon 85/1.4G are regarded as being some of the best lenses ever made for 35mm photography. Exciting times ahead and it seems that in this field Zeiss have taken it upon themselves to lead the way. Who's following?