Zeiss has decided it is time to bring the ZE and ZF.2 DSLR lens lineup into their avian age with the introduction of the Milvus family, which is named after medium-sized birds of prey and accommodates Canon EF and Nikon F mounts. Embracing the skill and power of the birds it seeks to emulate, Zeiss has struck hard with this series, releasing a 21mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm simultaneously, as well as a 50mm and 100mm macro, each with a vast range of improvements, both internal and external, that will ensure these new options live up to Zeiss’s demanding standards.
On first glance, the series offers a redesigned barrel that embraces the company’s current aesthetic and brings these DSLR lenses in line with their modern releases, such as the Otus and Batis. This includes a frosted anodized surface, rubber focusing ring, and laser-engraved markings, all crafted with care and fit snugly into place for optimal operation. Along with this, the lenses retain the classic, durable metal construction with the precise manual focusing for which Zeiss is known. Another nice addition is weather sealing, thanks to a blue rubber ring placed at the lens mount, similar to the Loxia series announced last year, which ensures the lenses will deliver in some of the most trying atmospheric conditions.
Unique to the ZF.2 Nikon F mount lenses is the ability to de-click the apertures using an included key, enabling smooth control that is well suited to video shooting, a major growth area in DSLRs. Zeiss has also made other enhancements that will help streamline the videographer’s workflow, including color matching throughout the line and consistent performance throughout focusing distances. Benefitting both stills and video are an improved coating to further control ghosting and flare, and exceptional resolving power that ensures maximum quality, with high-resolution imaging sensors and 4K video cameras.
With completely new optical designs, the Milvus 50mm f/1.4 and Milvus 85mm f/1.4 see the largest number of changes compared to their predecessors. The 50mm features Distagon-type optical construction that uses 10 elements in nine groups, with four elements using anomalous partial dispersion glass and one using an aspheric design. It specifically shows improved performance when wide open, along with exceptional control over ghosting and chromatic aberrations. The 85mm, on the other hand, implements a Planar-type design with 11 elements in nine groups with seven anomalous partial dispersion elements. This portrait-length prime has a spherical design that allows great control over depth of field, with a smoother transition between the areas in and out of focus. Additionally, Zeiss points out that these lenses are the best in their class, second only to its own top-of-the-line Otus.
Moving on to the macros, the Milvus 50mm f/2M and Milvus 100mm f/2M both embrace revamped T* coatings for images that have the minimum amount of ghosting and flare. They also utilize a floating lens design that ensures high-quality imaging at both the maximum 1:2 magnification ratio and at normal shooting distances. The lens barrels themselves see a specific improvement with new engraved macro markings. And, to note, the f/2 apertures are the best in their class, as no other full-frame macro lenses offer this speed.
Going to the wide side now, Zeiss has brought out the Milvus 21mm f/2.8 and Milvus 35mm f/2 lenses. These do not offer any notable differences in optical design compared to their predecessors, but will offer all of the advancements universal to the Milvus lineup. These lenses already delivered incredible results, and Zeiss is likely holding to the thought that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
|Milvus 50mm f/1.4||Milvus 85mm f/1.4||Milvus 21mm f/2.8||Milvus 35mm f/2||Milvus 50mm f/2M||Milvus 100mm f/2M|
|Lens Mount||Full-Frame: Canon EF, Nikon F||Full-Frame: Canon EF, Nikon F||Full-Frame: Canon EF, Nikon F||Full-Frame: Canon EF, Nikon F||Full-Frame: Canon EF, Nikon F||Full-Frame: Canon EF, Nikon F|
|Focal Length (35mm Equivalent on APS-C)||50mm (Nikon: 75mm; Canon: 80mm)||85mm (Nikon: 127.5mm; Canon: 136mm)||21mm (Nikon: 31.5mm; Canon: 33.6mm)||35mm (Nikon: 52.5mm; Canon: 56mm)||50mm (Nikon: 75mm; Canon: 80mm)||85mm (Nikon: 150mm; Canon: 160mm)|
|Angle of View||45°||29°||90°||62°||45°||25°|
|Minimum Focusing Distance||1.5' / 45 cm||2.6' / 80 cm||8.66" / 22 cm||11.81" / 30 cm||9.45" / 24 cm||1.44' / 44 cm|
|Max. Magnification Ratio||1:6.7||1:8.3||1:5||1:5.3||1:2||1:2|
|Lens Construction||10 elements / 9 groups||11 elements / 9 groups||16 elements / 13 groups||9 elements / 7 groups||8 elements / 6 groups||9 elements / 8 groups|
|Filter Thread||67mm||77mm||82mm||58mm||67mm||Not specified by manufacturer|
|Dimensions||Canon: 3.3 x 4.3" / 8.3 x 9.8 cm
Nikon: 3.3 x 4.2" / 8.3 x 9.4 cm
|Canon: 3.5 x 4.5" / 9.0 x 11.3 cm
Nikon: 3.5 x 4.3" / 9.0 x 11.0 cm
|Canon: 3.8 x 3.7" / 9.5 x 9.5 cm
Nikon: 3.8 x 3.6" / 9.6 x 9.3 cm
|Canon: 3.0 x 3.2" / 7.7 x 8.3 cm
Nikon: 3.0 x 3.3" / 7.7 x 8.1 cm
|Canon: 3.2 x 3.0" / 8.1 x 7.5 cm
Nikon: 3.2 x 2.9" / 8.1 x 7.3 cm
|Canon: 3.2 x 4.1" / 8.1 x 10.4 cm
Nikon: 3.2 x 4.1" / 8.1 x 10.3 cm
|Weight||Canon: 32.5 oz / 922 g
Nikon: 30.9 oz / 875 g
|Canon: 45.2 oz / 1280 g
Nikon: 42.7 oz / 1210 g
|Canon: 30 oz / 851 g
Nikon: 25.9 oz / 735 g
|Canon: 24.8 oz / 702 g
Nikon: 22.9 oz / 649 g
|Canon: 25.8 oz / 730 g
Nikon: 23.3 oz / 660 g
|Canon: 29.7 oz / 843 g
Nikon: 28.5 oz / 807 g