Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Otus
Now, if you come to my site regularly, you know that I cover mirrorless cameras and lenses on the gear side. However, I couldn’t walk past the absolutely enormous (and strangely beautiful) Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Otus. This lens is an absolute monster, in quality, size and price. It’s the size of a lens you’d design to intentionally look comically large on a camera. It’s massive. However, it surprisingly handles rather well on a nice full frame DSLR. I tried it on the Canon 5D Mark III, and it felt pretty good (though heavy). The rubber focus ring, which I’ve noted that I don’t like in my Touit reviews, actually feels very nice on the Otus. The focus feel is absolutely perfect.
I also found the lens quite easy to focus for the most part, due to the high native contrast, even at f/1.4. Image quality is, of course, stunning. I will never end up owning a lens like the Otus, for multiple reasons (the big two being cost and size), but it is a beautiful piece of glass.
Leica S Type 007
The James Bond of medium format cameras: Leica S 007. Ok, perhaps it’s just the next number in the series (they also announced the type 006), but it does look rather killer. I am not a medium format shooter. In fact,this hands on was the very first time I have held a medium format camera in my hands, so I certainly won’t pretend to speak about the controls or operation in any meaningful analysis. However, coming from DSLRs and mirrorless, the Leica S is obviously a rather large camera, but it’s not too large. The grip is fantastic and fit my hand like a glove, and the viewfinder, as you’d expect is quite large. A few general things: The interface is quite a bit different from a typical DSLR. I had to ask the Leica representative multiple times how to change things, and a lot is handled by the four soft buttons on the rear and the unmarked dial near the shutter button. The display on the top of the camera is color and digital, and shows current settings, etc.
I will say that a medium format DSLR certainly makes quite the ‘thunk’ when the mirror flips up and down. Also, while the autofocus was decent in speed, shutter lag was very significant, which was somewhat surprising, but may be normal for most medium format cameras. Even though I felt out of my depth with the Leica S, it was great to get a hands on.
I also swung by the M booth for a while, since I’d never held a modern Leica M rangefinder either, and took a few snaps with the very small and very good 35mm f/1.4 Summilux. Rangefinder focusing is a bit odd, even though I’ve used it before, but I don’t know how well I’d like it full-time. I think with enough practice I could get quite good with it, but I don’t know if I’d like it. I know what I did like, though, and that was the 35 Lux. Even though I was only taking shots of the Leica rep and looking at images on the rear LCD, it was very apparent that this lens is unbelievably good. Incredibly contrast and POP to the images .
By the way, the award for ‘best lit booth for taking press photos of gear’ goes to Leica – hands down. Olympus finishes last here…their under cabinet lighting made taking photos of the new gear incredibly hard.
Canon 400mm f/4 DO IS II
Canon replaced their unique 400mm Diffractive Optics supertelephoto with a new version, the 400mm f/4 DO IS II, which features a new design that keeps the size and weight benefits from using diffractive optics, while eliminating the flare and sharpness issues that came with the first lens due to placing the DO elements towards the front. The new lens places them in the rear, removing flare and increasing sharpness. I took the 400mm DO II for a spin at the Canon booth, and while I unfortunately couldn’t hold it to feel the weight (It was on a sort of gimbal rig), I can tell you it’s no larger than the 300mm f/2.8, and significantly smaller than its faster f/2.8 400mm brother.
Autofocus was absolutely blazingly fast, even in the very dim light of the Canon booth. The lens was locking on nearly instantly no matter where I pointed the camera. You can also tell just through the viewfinder image that this lens is sharp. Good on Canon for continuing this unique line of lenses.
That’s it from the show! I’ll have a roundup tomorrow or Monday recapping the show, with some new insights on several of the things I’ve covered this week, now that they’ve marinated in my head for a while, as well as that discussion of a trend I noticed during the show. I head back to the US tomorrow. It’s been a great week!