We all knew additions to the Milvus line were eminent – we just couldn’t share details such as focal length and speed. Well now we can! The Milvus family is growing by way of a new 15mm f/2.8, 18mm f/2.8, and 135mm f/2.0, bringing the line to a total of nine lenses, 15mm through 135mm. So how do these new lenses fit in with their older brothers and sisters?
The Milvus line can basically be summed up as Zeiss’ means of giving customers what they’ve been asking for, in a shiny, sexy new package which now includes 2.8/15, 2.8/18, 2.8/21, 2.0/35, 1.4/50, 2.0/50 Macro, 1.4/85, 2.0/100 Macro, and 2.0/135 The Classic line of ZF.2 and ZE primes had some holes in it, in terms of image quality and usability such as the 50mm f/1.4 or the 85mm f/1.4 which were rather dated designs. But at the same time, most of the lenses in the Classic line were pretty darn good. So when Zeiss began making the Milvus line, they took what was working well in the Classic line and wrapped it in a newer, better jacket, and tossed out the older designs that weren’t up to the challenge of modern hybrid stills/motion lenses, like the 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4 that we just mentioned. The new, improved lenses were a breath of fresh air that really put Zeiss back on the correct path of absolute optical and mechanical performance.
These three new lenses are no exception. The 15mm f/2.8 Classic is a phenomenal lens. It’s highly corrected with little to no distortion, relatively fast for such a wide angle, and overall resolution and contrast is nearly unbeatable in the 35mm Full Frame world. The new Milvus version retains the same optical design but benefits from an updated AR coating which improves flare and ghosting control and weather sealing. It also features a focus rotation that is double that of the older Classic 15mm, making it much more useful for motion picture environments. One last minor difference between the two – the Classic 15mm had a fixed sun shade that couldn’t be removed. Zeiss began offering the lens sans-sunshade, but it was more expensive and either with or without and not swappable/removable. The new Milvus version has a simple bayonet style sunshade which can easily be removed and replaced anytime.
The same could be said for the 135mm f/2.0 Classic. It’s APO-chromatic design is near flawless in terms of image quality. (little secret here… I use the Zeiss 135mm f/2.0 to shoot all of the product photos for http://www.DuclosLenses.com). The new 135mm Milvus inherits the same optical design, but receives an update to it’s AR coatings to improve flare and ghosting control, similar to the 15mm. It too is weather sealed. Another welcome improvement is the focus movement… On the Classic 135mm, the focus ring would telescope with focus, requiring a very wide focus gear in order to accommodate the extended travel when using a follow focus or motor setup. The new Milvus design still telescopes, but only the front housing moves, not the focus ring. This means that a normal sized focus gear can be applied without worrying about “walk-off”.
Honestly, I believe that the 15mm and 135mm are in the ranks of the OTUS line which claims pole position at the moment. But Zeiss saw fit to promote them only as far as the rank of Milvus which they’re more than worthy of.
Then we come to the 18mm… In the old Classic line, the 18mm has always been the Jon Snow of the bunch. It was the slowest lens in the entire lineup at f/3.5. It’s image quality was effortlessly bested by it’s focal length neighbors, the 15mm and 21mm. Additionally, it’s small size made it difficult to work with in regards to standardized front rings and vignetting. The new Milvus 18mm f/2.8 is a vast improvement over the older model with a faster aperture that matches the rest of the wide angle Milvus line in every way. The new 18mm gets the same weather resistant build as the rest of the Milvus line and also gains greater focus rotation over it’s outgoing brother. A few low-dispersion and pair of aspherical elements ensure substantially improved image quality as well. This new 18mm should be no joke.
These new additions prove to us that Zeiss is dedicated to pursuing an ideal blend of quality and affordability. Could they have made these lenses sharper or faster or lighter or smaller or whatever you can find to complain about? Yes. Probably. As it always has been and always will be: designing and manufacturing lenses is all about compromise. The Milvus line is just that – An amalgamation of refined features that truly bring this growing family of prime lenses into a modern production market where previously established lines are blurred and the tools to make amazing imagery are more accessible than ever before. We can’t wait to see what Zeiss has in store for the Milvus line next.
You can shop the entire Milvus ZE (Canon EF) and Milvus ZF.2 (Nikon F w/ Canon EF conversion) lines at www.DuclosLenses.com. Deliveries of the three new Milvus lenses will begin at the end of October 2016. All three will be available with the Duclos Cine-Mod PRO at launch – list price for the lens itself as follows:
Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Milvus – $2,699
Zeiss 18mm f/2.8 Milvus – $2,299
Zeiss 135mm f/2.0 Milvus – $2,299
(multi-lens discounts available)
As usual, spec tables for your lens geekery pleasure:
|Weight (ZE)||2.0 lbs.||1.5 lbs.||2.4 lbs.|
|Weight (ZF.2)||1.9 lbs.||1.4 lbs||2.3 lbs.|