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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Surfaces and Strategies – Zeiss Pro Event

On July 26th, I had the opportunity to attend a Zeiss event organised by Clifton Cameras in Dursley.  The event was organised to introduce the attendees to the extensive range of Zeiss lenses.

There were 2 sessions organised to get hands-on access to the lenses.  The event took place at the beautiful Rendcomb College in Gloucestershire.  The site is absolutely stunning and a fitting venue to try the lenses out in.

Other companies represented at the event were Gitzo, Manfrotto, Lee Filters and Lexar Professional Memory. Zeiss were supported by their ambassadors, Luke and Mandy Woodford as well as Luke Tait and Matt Brooks from Zeiss.

I decided to trial the Otus 1.4/85 on my Nikon d810. We had 2 photographic sessions during the day. These were – 

  1. Session 1 –  Landscape/Woodland session with Luke from Zeiss and Gareth from Clifton Cameras.

  2. Session 2 – Indoor Portrait session with Luke and Mandy

I was initially thrown by the fact that the lens was a manual focus, but this was quickly overcome.  The quality of the images produced by this lens is impressive.  I was surprised at how well this focal length worked for all the subjects I tackled on the day. The depth of field was very shallow at short focus distances (as seen in figure 3), allowing background distractions to be eliminated. This allowed my creativity with compositions to be challenged.

I was able to achieve shots such as figure 2, using only ambient and available light.  The f1.4 aperture allows a lot of light to reach the camera sensor so this image was possible to shoot at ISO 400 and 1/160s. The image is sharp across the whole frame, with the background again sufficiently out of focus, allowing the viewer to concentrate on Mandy.

The manual focus of the lens is very smooth.  It is easy to precisely focus the lens and get exactly the shot you intend (well, it was for me). The front element of the lens does not rotate during focusing so would be extremely useful when using filters such as circular polarising filters.

The lens is stylishly designed and has an attractive curved appearance (figure 1). The solid metal construction adds robustness to the lens. The weight was not noticeable to me when placed on the camera and carried via a Black Rapid sling strap. I could quite happily work with this lens in the future.


Figure 1: Otus 1.4/85. 2017

The lens is not cheap. Priced at around £3,299, I will just have to dream of owning one at the moment.  However, 3 images from the day have been into a competition to win a £500 voucher.  I have chosen 3 images and explained why I chose them below.  Keeping fingers crossed!  I did offer to look after the lens, but surprising Zeiss declined that offer!!!

Video 1 was produced by Clifton Cameras after the event so show what happened during the day.

Video 1


Figure 2: Sutherst. 2017

I chose to enter this image of Mandy (figure 2) as I just love the intense direct gaze that she has with the camera and ultimately the viewer. This was shot using only available natural light and really shows how easily a Zeiss lens can produce a portrait without additional light sources.  I was able to take advantage of the high speed the lens offered me in this light and did not need to use flash to produce a sharp image.  As a portrait photographer, this is very important to me.


Figure 3: Sutherst. 2017

I chose to enter this image of the piano wire fixings (figure 3) as this really shows the true quality of the Otus lens.  The lens was a perfect companion to my Nikon d810 and I was able to explore the creative nature of the lens. I am a perfectionist when it comes to the focusing of my images, so to be able to easily focus and produce this image on a lens I am not experienced with was a highlight of the day.


Figure 4: Sutherst. 2017

The final image I chose to enter was figure 4. The lens really pulled out the finest details in the tree stump.  The wet weather and soft outdoor light have enabled me to capture all the details and textures of the bark.  The lens even enabled me to pick out the spider webs on various parts of the tree. A simple black and white conversion has enhanced this further.

Other images produced on the day are shown below.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to experience the Zeiss lens during this event.  The images I achieved have really whetted my appetite for a lens of this calibre and I can see lots of potential for its use.  Now to work on how to become an ambassador for Zeiss so I can try out other lenses 🤔.

The event was well organised and for useful to me.  Thank you to all involved in such a lovely and informative day.


Figure 1: (2017). Otus 1.4/85: the new world-class lens. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Aug. 2017].


Video 1: YouTube. (2017). Zeiss Event | Rendcomb College. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Aug. 2017].

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