This morning, Carl Zeiss have announced the tenth lens in the Milvus series for full-frame Canon and ZEISS DSLRs, boasting a new optical design that offers "practically no chromatic aberations". Previous Milvus lenses have been impressive, but often specialized, whereas this new addition is more of an all-rounder.
Let's not beat around the bush with colorful rhetoric and instead offer the spec sheet and the price straight off the bat.
The Milvus 35mm f/1.4 will be available from the ZEISS online store from July 2017 and will have the recommended retail prices of £1,699 (roughly $2,143 at the time of writing this) including VAT. Given the build quality and optical quality of ZEISS lenses, that is a very reasonable price to my mind. Although manual only, as is the case with all of the Milvus range, the lens has a metal barrel that is protected against dust, water spray and according to the ZEISS Product Manager Christophe Casenave, can be used in poor weather conditions. The next question is regarding this new optical design and what worth it had. The press released reads:
With aspherical lens elements, special glass materials and advanced correction, ZEISS has given the lens a completely new optical design. "This means the photos are practically free from chromatic aberrations," says Casenave. Thanks to their excellent edge-to-edge imagery the ZEISS Milvus lenses are designed for high performance digital cameras. "The resolutions of camera sensors are constantly improving, and this also increases the demands made on the lenses. For ZEISS Milvus lenses this is not a problem. They are a solid investment in the future."
A little on the vague side, but having tested previous Milvus lenses upon release, I am inclined to agree with the notion of future-proofing. The press release is not aimed entirely as stills photographers either, with the Milvus series being earmarked as all suitable for film productions, citing:
...the manual focus with a large rotation angle can be operated with the aid of a ZEISS Lens Gear with a follow-focus system... Filmmakers can switch between the focal lengths [of the different Milvus lenses] and still have a uniform colour look, "reducing the amount of time spent in post-production" says Casenave."
Without a hands-on test, I can't speak to the veracity of any of the claims made in this press release, but I have tested several ZEISS lenses, both Milvus and Otus, as well as visiting their office in Cambridge, and have always been left with a lasting sense of quality. My one criticism would be that the lenses are heavier than most, but that is part and parcel of increased build quality and durability.