Greg Watermann on Photographing Cosplay with the Zeiss 135mm f2 Milvus

All images and text by Greg Watermann. Used with permission from Zeiss.

Recently, Zeiss Ambassador Greg Watermann got the chance to shoot with the new Zeiss 135mm f2 Milvus lens. In order to test it, he decided to try his hand at something he hasn’t ever done: cosplay. Here’s where a lot of photographers would sit there flabbergasted because they don’t know where to stat. But Greg took to Instagram and decided to collaborate with actress Tahnee Harrison. It ended up working out and being much more straight forward than one would think.

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I’ve always loved the classic Zeiss Apo Sonnar 2/135mm lens so I was very excited to get the brand new Milvus version and decided to try a cosplay shoot for the first time. I started cruising Instagram looking for possible subjects and found LA actress Tahnee Harrison (@tahneeharrison). She does a lot of characters really well, especially Disney princesses, but her Harley Quinn is amazing. And she takes it all very seriously – she makes her costumes from scratch and even hand colored the wig with Sharpies – all of which made it a much more interesting shoot than just using a model. So we headed to downtown Los Angeles to find some cool backgrounds and lights.

To document everything we also made a behind-the-scenes video. For that we used the new Milvus 15mm on a Sony a7Sm2. The 15mm is perfect for BTS work, giving a big beautiful view of every situation. It’s virtually distortion-free and is awesome to use on a Glidecam.

All the photographs were shot with the Milvus 135mm wide open at f/2 on a Sony a7Sm2, and I only used available daylight or just the street lights once it got dark. The lens’ compression and high contrast rendition really make the subject “pop off” the background, giving the images a true sense of depth. The fast aperture and the camera’s IBIS make it possible to handhold this lens in any situation for stills or video.

The Milvus 135 is truly an amazing lens and it’s my favorite for shooting outside. Of course I love my Otus 85mm for portraits. But it’s bokeh is nothing compared to the 135, which does a wonderful job of separating the subject from the background, even when shooting full-length.

And the lens is a dream to shoot with. The manual focus is buttery smooth and so precise you can easily decide exactly where you want your focus point to be. There’s so much clarity that the image simply snaps into focus in the viewfinder. Colors are rich and vibrant and detail is everywhere. The new optical coatings and weather sealing are a big plus. And you get legendary Zeiss build quality and ergonomics.