Letters to the Editor: A Lens for Still Life and Nature Photos

Letters to the Editor is a recurring series where Chris answers specific emails/letters that could benefit more than one photographer, interesting questions or questions that come in often. Have a question? Send it to chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com with subject: Letter to the Editor: (Your name here).

In today’s letter, a reader that I’ve helped before looks for a specific lens for nature photography. No, today’s sponsored post by Zeiss isn’t a coincidence, he genuinely was thinking about getting one for the type of stuff he does and the quality that he wants.

As always, be sure to send in your letters for me to answer! And also be sure to check out our Kickstarter!

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

Hello Chris,

You helped me in the past with a lens choice, and I’m hoping (if it isn’t asking to much), maybe you could help again.

First off, just want to say, thank you for the site. I read it as one of the first things in the morning. Your site is kind of my go-to for photography news and reviews.

I’m looking to invest in one of the new Zeiss Milvus lenses. I’m a little confused at which one to get though. Currently, my only lens is the Sigma 35 art lens, which I love.
My typical type of photography is usually still life nature (plants, forests, sometimes creatures if I am lucky), and sometimes I take the occasional portrait.

In my mind, that brings me to one of two lenses (unless I am mistaken). The Milvus 85mm and the Milvus 100mm.

I’ve seen pictures from both, and photos from both look very nice, though I feel the 85 might have a slight edge in the microcontrast dept.

Not sure if anyone has an opinion on either lens. I guess what I’m wondering is would I disappointed using say the 85 over the 100 or vice versa. I know each has their strengths and weaknesses. Just not quite sure which one would be the better investment for the long haul.

Thanks for any advice! And thank you for Thephoblographer!

– Terry Warner

I assume for nature photography, such as flowers and plants and such. The MFD of either the 85 or the 50 wouldn’t be a huge issue?

I enjoy macro work, but I don’t always want to be tied to a tripod to get the best results. I have the Sigma 35 now. So in my head and correct me if I am wrong, it makes more sense to go for the 85. Unless having a 50 and a 35 is OK.


Model: Natalie Margiotta

Model: Natalie Margiotta

Hi Terry,

I don’t believe I’m saying this, but go with their 50mm. Personally I don’t like the 50mm field of view, but the Zeiss Milvus lenses are very good. I really, really like the 85mm though and the 100mm is a lens that is solid but I’m not so smitten for. I’d say go for the 85mm or the 50mm based on the distance that you think you’re going to be shooting from more often. They’re both very good.

This can help.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Milvus 50mm f2 Macro image samples (2 of 7)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 4.5

But since you own the 35mm, then it would make more sense to go with the 85mm lens. It’s my favorite of the bunch and will give you a totally different field of view. If you don’t want to be tethered to a tripod then the 85mm lens may be the easiest to use. I wouldn’t at all recommend using the 100mm lens without a tripod because of the lack of image stabilization and the fact that turning the manual focus ring tends to move the lens around with more of an effect on the scene due to the long focal length. The longer you go, the more the effect will be emphasized.