What are the Perfect Zeiss Otus 85mm Lens Subjects?
The perfect Zeiss Otus 85mm Lens subjects are people. An 85mm focal length results in a working distance that provides a portrait perspective similar to what you would commonly see when talking to someone with facial features not being distorted or overly-compressed. The f/1.4 aperture permits a shallow depth of field that removes background distractions. The incredible image quality this lens provides is the icing on the cake.
I'll contend that people are also the most valuable subjects available, both in terms of the value of those people and the returns available for photographing this subject. Finding paid gigs involving people is much easier than finding paid landscape, wildlife and other non-human subjects. Paid shoots are of course helpful in justifying the cost of this lens. Making portrait subject happy leads to great job satisfaction.
85mm f/1.4 1/500s ISO 100
The Power of f/1.4: Bee on Orange Sunflower
Sunflowers, with their large size and bright colors, make great photo subjects. Add a bee to take the overall composition one step further.
For this image, I moved in close to the foreground flower, keeping it completely in the frame which places the center about 1/3 into the frame. I then moved to position a similar flower in the background. Again, that flower is fully contained in the frame and the green leaves anchor the bottom of the composition.
The shallow depth of field created by the combination of an 85mm focal length and f/1.4 aperture draws a viewer's eye directly to the bee and to the sharp flower petals (with strong contrast also pulling the viewer's eye to this location).
This image is razor sharp across the back of the bee (thanks to the Zeiss Otus 85), but details quickly soften in front of and behind that plane of sharp focus.
85mm f/1.4 1/640s ISO 100
Distortion Stress Test: Architecture
Few subjects demand a distortion-free lens more than architecture and other human-built objects. While nature is big on curves and angles, very few perfectly straight lines are found in nature. The horizon is sometimes an exception, but very often that is not perfectly straight.
Man loves straight lines and they work very well in construction. Building foundations are generally straight as are many of the other lines found in buildings, often including roof lines and windows.
One key to keeping those lines straight (avoiding converging lines) is to shoot from a straight-on perspective. Another key is to shoot with a distortion-free lens.
While I was not able to get my elevation high enough to prevent the vertical lines from converging (I would need a very tall shooting platform or a tilt-shift lens for that), I was able to keep the horizontal lines straight. The lines of brick running across the bottom edge of the frame and the roof lines across the top of the frame would quickly highlight distortion issues.
85mm f/11.0 1/50s ISO 100
Shooting the Milky Way with an 85mm Lens Sans Star Trails
When shooting the night sky, I am usually using a wide angle lens. However, a telephoto lens renders stars larger and provides a different look to a night sky photo.
To avoid star trails, a telephoto focal length requires a shorter exposure than a wide angle lens. A simple rule of thumb to use for determining the longest exposure time that can be used without star trails becoming problematic is 600/(focal length). By this formula, a 14mm lens requires a 43 second or shorter exposure. An 18mm lens requires 33 seconds or less and 24mm can use no more than 25 seconds.
I tend to like an at-least 1/3-stop shorter exposure than this rule calculates. If you are happy with relatively-sharp stars at 14mm at 30 seconds and at 24mm at 20 seconds, you probably do not want to exceed roughly 5 seconds at 85mm.
Obtaining an adequately bright image at these exposure limitations generally means using the widest aperture the lens has with an f/2.8 or wider lens being my preference. A lens that opens to f/1.4 as this one does is ideal for night sky photography. Even with ultra-wide apertures, a high ISO will still be required. In this case, ISO 5000.
Note that, unless you need shot-to-shot times to be short, enabling long exposure noise reduction will make a nice difference in the noise levels of your results when shooting the night sky.
85mm f/1.4 5s ISO 5000