Zeiss Launches Entirely New 'Milvus' Line of High-Performance Lenses for Nikon and Canon DSLRs

Zeiss Launches Entirely New 'Milvus' Line of High-Performance Lenses for Nikon and Canon DSLRs

Zeiss was long expected to announce at least one new Otus lens today (and I suppose they still might, although I wouldn't hold your breath). Instead, at least for now, Zeiss announced a new line of lenses for Nikon and Canon DSLRs under the moniker, "Milvus." Oddly enough, however, there are some interesting, stand-out differences between the Nikon and Canon versions.

One thing that is abundantly clear is that these lenses are beautiful. The unique design of these lenses (which draw heavily on the Otus design) enables a beautiful curve as the end of the lens barrel meets the new leaf petals -- the end result being a "unibody" look to the lens with the hood attached that adds some beautiful curves (considering and comparing traditional lens designs).

Additionally, these lenses all feature relatively wide apertures. The entire lineup includes a 21mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4, 50mm f/2M (Macro), 85mm f/1.4, and 100mm f/2M (Macro) each with Zeiss' reknowned T* coatings, manual focusing, all-metal barrel construction, rubberized focus rings, weather resistance against dust and "spray water," and floating lens elements. The lenses are also promised to support "resolutions of 6K and more" with photography in mind, as always, but also with an obvious attention to video production needs.

Sample shot with the Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/2M by Björn Pados via Flickr.

The Nikon variants, however, have something that the Canon-mount versions do not: an aperture ring that can be de-clicked. In fact, the Canon-mount lenses are missing an aperture ring altogether. This isn't anything new for modern lenses for DSLRs that can control apertures from within the body, but it's an interesting decision to have such a large feature with one mount while it is missing on the other within the same lens family (and it's something that is likely limited in part by this specific lens design and also by the design of each respective mount). But for what it's worth, yes, the Nikon aperture ring can be de-clicked, allowing for smooth changes in aperture for superb iris control during video production. The process of converting the lens between "clicked" and "de-clicked" aperture rings requires a tool to make the change, which means it is not a switch that can be done while the lens is mounted; but it doesn't necessarily need to be. In any case, it does at least seem like a relatively quick change between settings.

Releasing so many lenses at once is a clear sign that Zeiss is committed to this new lineup as they even promise more lenses to follow in years to come.

The entire new lineup is available for pre-order today through the links below at prices from $1,117.00 to $1,843.00, with all lenses to begin shipping to retailers this October.

Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 ZE for Canon EF Mount

Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 ZF.2 for Nikon F Mount

Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/2 ZE for Canon EF Mount

Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/2 ZF.2 for Nikon F Mount

Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE for Canon EF Mount

Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2 for Nikon F Mount

Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/2M (Macro) ZE for Canon EF Mount

Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/2M (Macro) ZF.2 for Nikon F Mount

Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 ZE for Canon EF Mount

Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 ZF.2 for Nikon F Mount

Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2M ZE for Canon EF Mount

Zeiss Milvus 100mm f/2M ZF.2 for Nikon F Mount

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User declickable aperture. this is exciting for us motion people !

I thought it might be. I've never heard of this myself (though maybe it's out there on some other lens in existence??? Do you know?). As far as I've known, lenses have always been either "clicked" or "declicked" with no option to change between the two.

not from a user side, most lenses can be declicked. Matthew Duclos is the goto master there as you need smooth aperture transitions and not hard stops for film work. But as far as stills lenses go where the user can do it himself without having to open the lens mount, this is a first to my knowledge, very nice idea indeed.

Just off the top of my head, I know that Voigtlander lenses for m4/3 have user de-clickable aperture controls, as do Zeiss's Batis lenses for Sony e-mount.

Awesome! Thanks for sharing that knowledge -- I didn't know that (no experience with Voigtlander or the Batis lenses....). Neat, though.

One correction, I wrote Batis, but I meant Loxia. Cheers!

great to hear, I hope more manufacturers catch on to this system, makes the life for us stills and motion shooters much easier. I'm in the process of having all my Leica lenses declicked at the moment and it not a cheap process.

Apparently some of these appear to be rehashes of the earlier ZF line, in new wrapping.

I know, based on the feedback of owners of Zeiss lenses, the optics are fantastic - crisp, sharp, amazing, you name it!

But here left me wondering, how much sharpness does a photographer need? Is it really that essential? Why would I have to spend that much where now (based on reviews) a SIGMA 50mm ART is par with a 55mm Otus. Won't a photographer accomplish a job if one opted for a SIGMA?

Some might say these set of lenses are specially made to accomodate the needs of "high end" photographers. Or maybe photography is now just a market to be fiddled with by huge companies where their historical fame and an impressive marketing makes us think we need one.

The price range is not for me. Even if I can buy it, i won't. I personally think that Zeiss is becoming a luxury now.

Sharpness never hurts, you can always make the image softer later on.
Its not just about sharpness or the name of a brand, different lens manufacturers have different aesthetics...A sigma lens might be as sharp as a Zeiss now, but a Zeiss lens has its own unique look and so does the Sigma and some people prefer one over the other. Matter of personal taste. Zeiss is not becoming a luxury in my opinion, they always have been at the top of the market. A Master or UltraPrime will set you back 30K plus per lens....and they are worth every cent.
The difference between a Zeiss and say a Sigma is simple...in 5 years time the Sigma will be worthless or sell for next to nothing on ebay...a high end lens from a manufacturer like Zeiss, Leica, Cooke, Angenieux will hold its value much longer and over decades. That doesn't mean the Sigma isn't a good lens. Its just a different tool for the job and these tools have always been there.
Even though you're only allowed to drive 50kmh in the city there will always be someone who prefers the ferrari over the little ford and that's ok. Whether its essential comes down to everyone individual assessment of their work and client situation. Not everyone is the same in this industry and strives for the same outcome...a local wedding photographer surely has different needs and requirements than someone who shoots high end macro advertising shots for Apple that end up on billboards 30 feet across.

I see. Good point.

Well I am not aware of the unique look from Zeiss or such. Regarding the resell value, that wasn't my focus anyway (I am expecting the Sigma of course to have a lower resale value anyway).

Not just Zeiss, every lens pretty much, its just often hard to notice because footage gets heavily graded these days but every manufacturer has a unique look and aesthetic and most lenses differ from each other in terms of contrast rendition, sharpness, bokeh, focus throw, edge sharpness, the way they flare and several other factors. What also differentiates the higher end lenses to the other manufacturers is that the high end prime lenses are usually all very well matched with each other in terms of contrast, glass coating and many other things that are important when you are shooting stuff where image quality and consistency is critical.

So there is no "merit" in the fact that a close to 30 year old set of Zeiss super speed MkII lenses still sells for well over $20.000,- at a serious equipment re seller ? This might not hold true for the industry you work in but doesn't change facts about high quality lenses from big name manufacturers holding up value much better over a long period of time, a little research by visiting any big camera equipment re seller page confirms that, so please hold back with your childish insults.

language my man language, how old are you ? and why so aggressive ? we're all here to have fun and bounce off each others knowledge or experience. Of course its a more consumer friendly line compared to their other products but it still holds true as with any other big brand name out there, not just in photography. I'm not saying Sigma are bad lenses but its pretty certain that a Zeiss will always have a better resale value than a lesser established brand. For many professionals this is a good point to consider when acquiring gear they are planing to sell of at a later stage.

No autofocus on Nikon I bet?

zeiss lenses generally don't have autofocus apart from very few. I'm surprises these do.

Yup. These are all manual focus lenses on both the Nikon and Canon mounts.

the entire distagon series is manual focus, so are the high end master/ ultra primes as well as the planar stills lenses.

the only ones that actually come in autofocus up until now are for sony E mounts and fuji x (to my knowledge) which only represent a much smaller market segment than nikon/canon mount lenses.
so whats stumping you so immaturely about my opinion please ?

Oh, I have a feeling that Zeiss would love to penetrate the AF lens market for Nikon & Canon.
Unfortunately, they're not allowed to by law. Japanese law prohibits non-Japanese companies (Zeiss is German) from manufacturing products that utilize Japanese-patented technologies (Nikon and Canon have their AF patents). That's why only Sigma, Tamron, etc. - other Japanese lens manufacturers are able to offer AF lenses for Nikon and Canon.

Those patents must expire soon, though... I mean, when did they first get them? There's just no way that's the only thing keeping them back at this point, is there?

Can't say. I'm not an expert on Japanese laws :-/ I just remember reading about it somewhere.

How then is Zeiss able to offer autofocus lenses for the Sony e-mount in their Batis line? Is Sony not using Japanese patents for autofocus? And does it matter that all but the very top of the line Zeiss lenses are made in Japan?

I believe Batis lenses are made in Japan, and Sony has an exclusive contract with Zeiss that allows them to manufacture AF lenses for Sony cameras. In fact, I don't believe Sony makes any optics on their own, and contracts Zeiss solely for that purpose. Nikon and Canon make their own optics.

Mind you, this is just hearsay.