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Zeiss’ Milvus Line Gets 15mm, 18mm, and 135mm Prime Lenses

By Justin Heyes on September 14th 2016

Taking design elements for the Otus, the Milvus line of full frame lenses from Zeiss were meant to be a refresh of the excellent ZE/ZF all-manual lenses. Originally offering traditional focal lengths such as 21mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4 and a 85mm f/1.4, Zeiss recently extended its Milvus family of lenses on both ends.


Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2

Starting with the new telephoto option, the Milvus 135mm f/2 is the longest lens in the line up. The lens formula contains 11 elements in eights groups, paired with a wide aperture of f/2 and a 0.8m minimum focus, Zeiss created another option for the portrait photographers.

The Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 will be available for $2,199.


Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8

Switching the the opposite spectrum, the second widest lens in the line up is the Milvus 18mm f/2.8. Featuring a standard 77mm filter thread, the optical formula contestants 14 elements in 12 groups (including two aspheric elements). To add some versatility, it can also focus down to .25 meters (9 inches).

The Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 will be available for $2,299


Zeiss Milvus 15mm f/2.8

The Milvus 15mm f/2.8this is a true super-wide lens with a 110-degree field of view and the Distagon lens design keeps distortion to a minimum. The lens formula contains 15 elements in 12 groups, with two aspheric elements; as well as some floating elements.

The Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 will be available for $2,199.

These lenses are all manual focus just like the predecessors. Like with other Milvus lenses, they have a long focus throw and a de-click feature on the Nikon F-Mount that lets you make the iris smooth by just using a small tool. All three lenses will come in both Canon and Nikon mounts.

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Stephen Jennings

    These lenses are not for everyone, and not for every scenario. The Zeiss 135 f/2 is my favorite lens, it’s about as perfect a lens that you can find For portraits, there’s nothing better. It took some time to figure it out, especially wide open, but eventually you learn how to use it. I got good enough that I regularly use it at weddings or photographing my kid (who’s two, and certainly doesn’t sit still). Is it difficult? Hell yeah. I find the challenge fun, makes taking photos a bit more interesting. That being said, I don’t think there’s much to improve upon the old 135mm.. the only thing that annoyed me about the old APO was it’s extending focus (which is apparently needed for it’s close focusing or some such nonsense). This new one didn’t even improve upon that. Other than looks? This is just going to make the old version cheaper and a better buy imo. I’ve used the 85mm Otus on a few jobs and firmly believe the 135mm f/2 apo was better and easier to use all around.

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  2. Ben Perrin

    Like adam I just can’t understand this. Modern cameras aren’t mf friendly. I’d look at seriously buying one of these lenses if they included autofocus but without it I feel I’d just miss more shots and work harder to get shots in focus. Then there’s the price. I’d only buy a mf only lens for landscape work but a 135mm would primarily be a portrait lens for me. Autofocus is crucial for that sort of work.

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    • Justin Heyes

      Some Nikons have a built -in Rangefinder to help with manual focus. Canon’s autofocus point will light up and chirp when you have focus as well.

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    • Ben Perrin

      There’s ways to do it for sure. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it’s likely though that when faffing about with mf that I’ll either miss the moment or miss the focus. Both ruin the shot for me. I don’t see the point in buying an mf telephoto lens. I’m sure others are fine with it but surely the majority would prefer af.

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    • Ralph Hightower

      Yea, I don’t think that my 5D III has interchangeable focus screens. Still, I was in a situation where I had to switch my 24-105 to MF because it was focusing on the backs of people’s heads instead of the stage where I wanted the focus.
      At least my A-1 and New F-1 have a split image/microprism that I continue to use.

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    • adam sanford

      I’ll confirm that for you. 5D3 screens are not interchangeable by users.

      Some third parties offer an MF screen, but they have to tear the camera down to pull this off. No way I’m signing up for that.

      Honestly, if you are manually focusing, consider an old 5D2 — it has interchangeable screens, the sensor is nearly as good as the 5D3 and you won’t use it’s terrible AF system if you only use MF lenses on it. Might save you a buck.

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  3. adam sanford

    135mm f/2 *without AF* is a death sentence for those forms of photography that you have to get right on the first try. I would hate to cover an event with such a lens — I’d be so fearful of missing a shot, I’d stop down to f/4 and wonder why I plunked $2,299 down for the f/2. But for dedicated portraiture sessions in which you can chimp your brains out, I bet it could be a great tool for you.

    …but so might an EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II for about the same money. 200mm @ f/2.8 vs. 135mm at f/2 is a bit of a wash for isolation/bokeh and the Canon has spectacular AF, IS, and a much much much larger resale market (you can shoot anything with it). Something to consider.

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