Kai and friends at DigitalRev TV have got their hands on the very new and very exceptional Milvus lenses from Zeiss. Their test includes the 21mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4, and 85mm f/1.4 models that make up the core of this new lens system. These new lenses were designed from the ground up to keep pace with the insane resolving power that modern digital camera sensors are capable of.
All of these sexy new glass wonders feature a host of industry-leading features such as anti-reflective coating, standardized color characteristics, virtually zero distortion, 9-blade circular apertures, extremely smooth and accurate manual focusing, an all-metal barrel, and full weatherproofing. Additionally, Nikon versions have a de-click function that provides smooth and continuous aperture changes for video.
Of course this all comes at a price — actually a pair of prices. They are all only available as manual focus machines, and they start at $1,117 while topping out near $2,000. While still not residing in the rarified air of Leica territory, that's still an awful lot of cash money for manual focus DSLR lenses. For a little more background on these lenses, you can also check out Zeiss' own introductory video here:
The problem with manual focus lenses for DSLRs is that modern DSLR viewfinders are not designed for manual focusing. They prioritize brightness over focus accuracy. Manual focusing on film cameras and rangefinders is a totally different sport, and is ultimately an accurate and satisfying experience. With lenses like these, you are going to be relegated to using live view if you want critical focusing while shooting wide open. I see studio shooters and videographers being the primary buyers for these, because what is the point of buying such expensive and nice lenses if you're just going to stop them down to smaller apertures?