Zeiss Milvus 50/1.4 vs Zeiss Otus 55/1.4 vs Zeiss Planar 50/1.4 – Comparative Lens Review
During testing of three Zeiss 85mm lenses – http://www.verybiglobo.com/zeiss-milvus-851-4-vs-zeiss-otus-851-4-vs-zeiss-planar-851-4-comparative-lens-review-2/2/ we spent some time with their 50(55)mm versions too. Large portion of our findings from already mentioned – 85mm review, can be simply copy pasted here, with exception of Milvus 55/1.4 bokeh, which does show some onion ring effect, because it have aspherical element in its optical design (unlike its 85 counterpart).
Before we start with the review, we’d like to write few words about lens testing in general. If you don’t want to read it, just go to the 2nd. page in the above navigator.
Understanding lens testing and related limitations
Even with the LAB tests, it is almost impossible to create 100% fair playground for all candidates, because of too many variables involved in the image processing, including optical deviations caused by sensor covers, camera chamber reflections, micro-lenses, production tolerances, in camera RAW software corrections etc.
With the field tests, this is just more complicated, because we have to deal with change of light, lack of large monitors for focus control and last but not least – live subjects that are permanently moving.
Lenses might be also tested on the optical bench or other, sensor independent measuring device, or their performance figures could be synthetically created, but even if the first method will give most reliable results in terms of optical qualities, same might have little impact on a real life pictures, because cameras those lenses will be used on, will contribute (in good and bad) to the final results.
Respected review sites are giving us (lens/camera) system achieved results but that’s why cross-platform comparisons are hardly relevant, no matter how fancy awarding and evaluation method is created and presented.
On top of system based results, most resolution chart based tests are performed at close to minimum focus distances, where another bunch of limitations arise, not to speak about lens optimization for a certain focal length, usually closer to the infinity (While with floating element lens design, focal plane distance deviations are minimized, they are still present, especially with the zoom lenses).
100% even lighting on the test chart (very difficult to achieve), 100% exact alignment (nightmare), 100% elimination of possible shutter shake and 100% accuracy in achieving critical focus are all necessary if we want to get closer to “absolute” comparison between two systems.
Even if all that is accomplished successfully, proper test should include representative number of production samples, in order to eliminate production variations.
All that being said, I know that almost every lens that I ever tested was somehow different, has stronger and weaker sides and is certainly unique enough to represent specific view to the captured scene. This is why comparing lenses make sense, but it is very important to clarify what are we comparing and what we want to find out with such a comparison.
This review is attempting to compare 3 Zeiss DSLR lenses, of the same focal length and same maximum aperture, not to find which one is best, but to give our readers different point of view on obtained data and images, in order to help them decide, which one will serve better their purpose.
We did our best to give you comparable results, but keep in mind, that with super shallow DOF, high-resolution sensors, breathing subjects, inability to check for critical focus etc., field test results shouldn’t be considered as a merit for absolute sharpness e.g. They are serving purpose of indicating rendering characteristics, (such as field curvature, highlight rendering, CA, spherical aberration, practical importance of distortion, flare resistance etc.)
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