The Phoblographer’s Guide to Zeiss Milvus Lenses

Zeiss released their Milvus collection of lenses as an update to their lineup of standard DSLR lenses. They all incorporate weather sealing, an amazing metal build exterior, a giant rubber focusing ring, and enhance optics that make you really feel like you’re shooting with a Zeiss lens. Some words that come to mind are beautiful, masterpiece and long lasting.

The site has reviewed every Zeiss Milvus lens so far, and so all of the reviews are being compiled into a guide for those interested in Zeiss lenses. This guide features tidbits about each lens along with sample photos.

Editor’s Note: this guide is not sponsored by Zeiss. With that said, Editorial judgement has been left in tact.

Zeiss Milvus 15mm f2.8

The Zeiss Milvus 15mm f2.8 is a lens that renders a pretty fantastic view overall. Zeiss tends to give us very saturated photos and a large amount of contrast. For landscape photography and if you’re one of those that uses Nikon film cameras, you’ll have a whole lot of amazing fun with this lens.

In our review we state:

“The Zeiss 15mm f2.8 Milvus lens is one of the best wide angle lenses that I’ve used. My favorite feature is the color rendition, but you can also just get great image quality from it due to the overall design in most uses. Want bokeh? It’s there! Sharp images? Yup, that’s there too. Plus you’ll get weather sealing, great build quality and a beautiful sight in the viewfinder every time you look through it.”

Focal length 15 mm
Aperture range f/2,8 – f/22
Focusing range 0,25 m (9.84″) – ∞
Number of elements/groups 15 / 12
Angular field, diag./horiz./vert. 110° / 100° / 76°
Coverage at close range 340 x 221 mm
(13.39 x 8.70″)
Filter thread M95 x 1.0
Dimensions (with caps) ZF.2: 114,0 mm (4.49″)
ZE: 117,0 mm (4.61″)
Weight ZF.2: 880 g (31.0 oz)
ZE: 947 g (33.4 oz)
Camera mounts F Mount (ZF.2)
EF Mount (ZE)

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Zeiss Milvus 18mm f2.8

The Zeiss Milvus 18mm f2.8 offers image quality that isn’t as saturated as the 15mm lens, but it’s still really there. I’ve shot it digitally and on CineStill 50D. With both types of imaging products, I really like it though I typically have a hard time choosing between this lens, the 15mm and the 21mm.

In our review we state:

“Maybe it’s because I’m doing more work for La Noir Image these days, but what I really enjoy doing with this lens is shooting in black and white. You’ll get incredible images no matter what. However, you’ll also get them when shooting in color. However, this lens is designed for shooting large, sprawling scenes overall. Real Estate, landscape, cityscape, architecture and travel photographers will surely make the most of this lens. This is indeed a tool–you mount it onto a DSLR and you work ever so carefully to get an image that you’ll really care about. To that end, you’ll work harder to make that happen. When you do, you’ll realize that the results will payoff and what you get with the Zeiss 18mm f2.8 Milvus lens will be very lovely.”

Focal length 18 mm
Aperture range f/2.8 – f/22
Focusing range 0,25 m (9.84’’) – ∞
Number of elements/groups 14 / 12
Angular field, diag./horiz./vert. 99,9° / 89,4° / 66,5°
Coverage at close range 274 mm x 180 mm
(10.79‘‘ x 7.09‘‘)
Filter thread M77 x 0.75
Dimensions (with caps) ZF.2: 107,0 mm (4.21‘‘)
ZE: 109,4 mm (4.31‘‘)
Weight ZF.2: 675 g (23.8 oz)
ZE: 721 g (25.4 oz)
Camera mounts F Mount (ZF.2)
EF Mount (ZE)

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Zeiss Milvus 21mm f2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Milvus lens product images (4 of 5)ISO 4001-180 sec at f - 2.8

The Zeiss Milvus 21mm f2.8 is an excellent lens for architecture, landscapes, and real estate photographers. For a wide angle lens, it tends to keep distortion down and it also tends to render great colors.

The review states:

“The Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Milvus lens is what we’ve been waiting for a while. At least, we have a lens designed for a DSLR that has weather sealing, the Zeiss branding, Zeiss build quality and Zeiss image quality. What more could you ask for? At an angle this wide, autofocus isn’t really a problem because you’re shooting objects that are so wide and with such a large depth of field that you shouldn’t worry about it.

For what it’s worth, manually focusing also makes you pay more attention to your composition.”

Performance
Focal Length 21mm
Aperture Maximum: f/2.8
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Canon EF
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 90°
Minimum Focus Distance 8.66″ (22 cm)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:5
Elements/Groups 16/13
Features
Autofocus No
Physical
Filter Thread Front: 82 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.76 x 3.74″ (95.5 x 95 mm)
Weight 1.87 lb (851 g)
Packaging Info
Package Weight 3.4 lb
Box Dimensions (LxWxH) 11.575 x 6.693 x 5.433″

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Milvus review photos (8 of 25)ISO 1001-640 sec at f - 5.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Milvus review photos (11 of 25)ISO 1001-60 sec at f - 8.0

In this image above, there is genuinely a curve in the front of the venue. You can even look it up on Google Maps in Brooklyn, NY to verify it with us.

In this image above, there is genuinely a curve in the front of the venue. You can even look it up on Google Maps in Brooklyn, NY to verify it with us.

Zeiss Milvus 35mm f1.4

The Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Milvus lens is a semi-wide angle lens from Zeiss and one that we’ve been waiting for for a while. It’s got all the Milvus build quality that you’d expect and a ton of great image quality to boot. Oddly enough, Zeiss is touting this lens to be great for portraiture.

In our review, we state:

It goes without a doubt that the Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Milvus lens receives our Editor’s Choice award. Zeiss was ballsy enough to say that they wanted to create a lens for portraiture at a wide angle. And lo and behold, they did it. The Zeiss Milvus 35mm f1.4 keeps the distortion down a whole lot. That’s great for portraits but even then you still may want to to get uber close to a subject. However, you’ll be very happy with the skin tones that can be delivered when you lock your white balance to either Tungsten or Daylight. In addition to that, you’ll love the sharpness and the token Zeiss micro contrast that gives a 3D look to the images.

Performance Focal length 35 mm
Aperture range f/1.4 – f/22
Camera mount Canon EF-Mount* (ZE) | Nikon F-Mount* (ZF.2)
Format compatibility Full Frame
Focusing range 0,30 m (11.81″) – ∞
Free working distance 0,14 m (5.43″) – ∞
Angular field** (diag. | horiz. | vert.) 65° / 55° / 38°
Diameter of image field 43 mm (1.69″)
Coverage at close range (MOD)** 170 x 112 mm (6.68 x 4.41″)
Image ratio at minimum object distance 1 : 4.6
Lens elements | Groups 14 / 11
Flange focal distance ZE: 44 mm (1.73″) | ZF.2: 46 mm (1.83″)
Entrance pupil position (front of image plane) 122 mm (4.80″)
Features Autofocus
Image Stabilization
Physical Filter thread M72 x 0.75
Rotation angle of focusing ring 227°
Diameter max. ZE: 85 mm (3.34″) | ZF.2: 85 mm (3.34″)
Diameter of focusing ring ZE: 83 mm (3.25″) | ZF.2: 83 mm (3.25″)
Length (with lens caps) ZE: 144 mm (5.66″) | ZF.2: 142 mm (5.57″)
Length (without lens caps) ZE: 125 mm (4.91″) | ZF.2: 126 mm (4.94″)
Weight ZE: 1174 g (41.40 oz) | ZF.2: 1131 g (39.90 oz)

Zeiss Milvus 35mm f2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 35mm f2 Milvus lens product images (4 of 4)ISO 4001-180 sec at f - 2.8

The Zeiss Milvus 35mm f2 is capable of delivering some really, incredibly dreamy bokeh. For that reason, I really recommend it to be used with a film camera and maybe even with a black and white film. Its colors are pretty standard, and honestly there are better 35mm lenses out there for a more affordable price point.

The review states:

“The Zeiss 35mm f2 Milvus lens is really nice, but it’s also very expensive. You’ll get excellent image quality, weather sealing, Zeiss colors, Zeiss sharpness and only a bit of fringing that can be eliminated. It also controls distortion well. However, with autofocus on the Tamron 35mm f1.8 along with weather sealing, better sharpness and image quality overall on the Sigma 35mm f1.4, and with both lenses having a more affordable price, it’s a very tough sell.”

Performance
Focal Length 35mm
Aperture Maximum: f/2
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Canon EF
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 62°
Minimum Focus Distance 11.81″ (30 cm)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:5.3
Elements/Groups 9/7
Features
Autofocus No
Physical
Filter Thread Front: 58 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.03 x 3.27″ (77 x 83 mm)
Weight 1.54 lb (702 g)
Packaging Info
Package Weight 2.6 lb
Box Dimensions (LxWxH) 10.079 x 5.512 x 4.724″

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 35mm f2 Milvus lens review photos (16 of 16)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 35mm f2 Milvus lens review photos (8 of 16)ISO 1001-125 sec at f - 4.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 35mm f2 Milvus lens review photos (2 of 16)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.2

Zeiss Milvus 50mm f1.4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 50mm f1.4 Milvus lens review product images (8 of 8)ISO 4001-200 sec at f - 4.0

I’m not the biggest fan of 50mm lenses, but this one really stood out from the pack. Great colors, a fantastic feeling in the hand, excellent skin tones, and for those of you who are sticklers for it: no purple fringing. You’ll really like it.

The review states:

“The Zeiss 50mm f1.4 Milvus lens is highly capable–there should be absolutely no doubt in your mind. What I’m most in love with about this lens is the bokeh. Of any 50mm lens that I’ve tested, I’m very inclined to say that the best bokeh comes from this lens. I wouldn’t really expect any less considering that this is a Zeiss lens. Then there is the sharpness that is absolutely purely incredible. Mix in the fact that we couldn’t find any color fringing and you’re all set.

The colors aren’t all there–they’re great, but they’re not excellent like Sigma’s Art lens.

But what this lens has over all the rest is its weather sealing and excellent, solid build quality. It’s even better built than the Otus and Sigma’s lens because they both don’t have weather sealing.

When you consider this fact, this lens seriously deserves lots of praise–and that’s why I’m giving it an Editor’s Choice award. The results are great and for the price point, you’re getting quite a bit including weather sealing for only a couple hundred dollars more than the Sigma Art.”

Performance
Focal Length 50mm
Aperture Maximum: f/1.4
Minimum: f/16
Camera Mount Type Canon EF
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 46°
Minimum Focus Distance 1.48′ (45 cm)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:6.7
Elements/Groups 10/9
Features
Autofocus No
Physical
Filter Thread Front: 67 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.25 x 3.84″ (82.5 x 97.5 mm)
Weight 2.03 lb (922 g)

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 50mm f1.4 Milvus lens review photos (23 of 23)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 2.2

Model: Natalie Margiotta

Model: Natalie Margiotta

Zeiss Milvus 50mm f2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Milvus 50mm f2 Macro product images (5 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.0

The 50mm f2 Milvus lens isn’t as amazing and jaw dropping as its f1.4 variant, but it can still deliver mesmerizing color, It can focus very closely, offers super sharp image quality, and great bokeh. There is very little to hate about this lens.

The review states:

“There is very little that I dislike about the Zeiss Milvus 50mm f2 lens; in fact as a lens by itself I don’t hate a thing about it at all. Sure, it’s expensive, but you come to understand that when you deal with Zeiss lenses.

These lenses are a work of art. They’re built well, they deliver incredible image quality, and they perform exactly how you expect them to. A lens like this is best left in the hands of a very experienced shooter though.”

Performance
Focal Length 50mm
Aperture Maximum: f/2
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Canon EF
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 45°
Minimum Focus Distance 9.45″ (24 cm)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:2
Elements/Groups 8/6
Features
Autofocus No
Physical
Filter Thread Front: 67 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.19 x 2.96″ (81 x 75.3 mm)
Weight 1.61 lb (730 g)
Packaging Info
Package Weight 2.6 lb
Box Dimensions (LxWxH) 10.0 x 5.4 x 4.7″

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Milvus 50mm f2 Macro image samples spyder (1 of 1)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Milvus 50mm f2 Macro image samples extras (1 of 2)ISO 1001-160 sec at f - 3.5

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Milvus 50mm f2 Macro image samples (4 of 7)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 4.0

Zeiss Milvus 85mm f1.4

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Milvus lens product images (3 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.0

My absolute favorite lens from the Milvus series has to be the 85mm f1.4. Incredible bokeh, class leading sharpness, wonderful colors, and maybe one of the best portrait lenses currently on the market.

But the price tag…ouch!

The review states:

“Where Zeiss’s 35mm f2 Milvus failed to impress me that much, the 85mm f1.4 Milvus more than makes up for it. Zeiss has always done incredible portrait lenses and this one is no exception. It’s super sharp wide open and you may never even need to stop it down. It renders beautiful image quality with solid color performance, no fringing and it even features weather sealing.

To be fair, you’re paying quite the price for that. But when you consider weather sealing, image quality like this and almost Otus levels of sharpness, then anything like the Canon 85mm f1.2 L or Nikon’s 85mm f1.4 look inferior.

And if you can justify the price of those lenses to yourself, you can absolutely justify this one.”

Performance
Focal Length 85mm
Aperture Maximum: f/1.4
Minimum: f/16
Camera Mount Type Canon EF
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 29°
Minimum Focus Distance 2.62′ (80 cm)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:8.3
Elements/Groups 11/9
Features
Autofocus No
Physical
Filter Thread Front: 77 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.54 x 4.45″ (90 x 113 mm)
Weight 2.82 lb (1.28 kg) 

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Model: Natalie Margiotta

Model: Natalie Margiotta

Zeiss Milvus 100mm f2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 100mm f2 Milvus lens product images (5 of 8)ISO 4001-200 sec at f - 4.0

Quite the pricey lens indeed, but it’s capable of delivering great image quality. With excellent colors, weather sealing, good sharpness and fantastic bokeh there isn’t much to hate about this lens except, once again, the price.

The review states:

“The Zeiss 100mm f2 Milvus lens is highly capable of helping you deliver a great photo. It has incredible bokeh and great colors but isn’t as sharp wide open as I personally expected it to be. Stopped down though–it’s much sharper than I thought. We’re not at all doubting that great images can be created with this lens, but we’re more wondering about who would purchase one.”

Performance
Focal Length 100mm
Aperture Maximum: f/2
Minimum: f/22
Camera Mount Type Canon EF
Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Angle of View 25°
Minimum Focus Distance 1.44′ (44 cm)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:2
Elements/Groups 9/8
Features
Autofocus No
Physical
Filter Thread Front: 67 mm
Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 3.17 x 4.09″ (80.5 x 104 mm)
Weight 1.85 lb (843 g)
Packaging Info
Package Weight 3.4 lb
Box Dimensions (LxWxH) 11.575 x 6.693 x 5.433″

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 100mm f2 Milvus lens review images (8 of 24)ISO 1251-160 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 100mm f2 Milvus lens review images (9 of 24)ISO 1251-1000 sec at f - 2.0

Model: Amanda Aiken

Zeiss Milvus 135mm f2

When you look at the output from the Zeiss Milvus 135mm f2, you’ll see just how gorgeous it is. The lens exhibits a character that I personally feel is different from what many of the other competitors do.

In our review, we state:

“The Zeiss 135mm F2 Milvus lens is one that offers class leading image quality, weather sealing, durable build quality, and clearly defines itself as a lens intended for the professional headshot photographer. It’s tough to make anyone look bad with this lens. Optically speaking, it offers lots of great sharpness, beautiful bokeh, and fantastic colors. Further, while delivering contrast to the output it doesn’t do it as much as Sigma’s and so therefore relies on nothing else but pure absolute sharpness in the scene vs using the way that the human eye looks at black levels to discern sharpness.”

Performance Focal length 135 mm
Aperture range f/2.0 – f/22
Camera mount Canon EF-Mount1 (ZE)* | Nikon F-Mount1 (ZF.2)*
Format compatibility Full Frame
Focusing range 0,80 m (31.49″) – ∞
Free working distance 0,62 m (24.40″) – ∞
Angular field** (diag. | horiz. | vert.) 19° / 16° / 11°
Diameter of image field 43 mm (1.69″)
Coverage at close range (MOD)** 145 x 96 mm (5.71 x 3.78″)
Image ratio at minimum object distance 1 : 4
Lens elements | Groups 11 / 8
Flange focal distance ZE: 44 mm (1.73″) | ZF.2: 46 mm (1.83″)
Entrance pupil position (front of image plane) 35 mm (1.36″)
Features Autofocus
Image Stabilization
Physical Filter thread M77 x 0.75
Rotation angle of focusing ring 268°
Diameter max. ZE: 90 mm (3.53″) | ZF.2: 90 mm (3.53″)
Diameter of focusing ring ZE: 85 mm (3.35″) | ZF.2: 85 mm (3.35″)
Length (with lens caps) ZE: 132 mm (5.20″) | ZF.2: 129 mm (5.08″)
Length (without lens caps) ZE: 115 mm (4.53″) | ZF.2: 114 mm (4.49″)
Weight ZE: 1123 g (39.6 oz) | ZF.2: 1059 g (37.4 oz)

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