src="http://www.mirrorlessons.com/wp-content/themes/mirrorlessons Zeiss Milvus on the Sony A7r II - Sample Image Gallery from Zeiss HQ
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Date: 11/09/2015 | By: Mathieu

Zeiss Milvus on the Sony A7r II – An image gallery through Zeiss history with some fun facts

ILCE-7RM2, 1/15, f/ 28/10, ISO 1250

Zeiss Milvus on the Sony A7r II – An image gallery through Zeiss history with some fun facts

I was invited, along with many other journalists and bloggers, to visit Zeiss’ headquarters in Oberkochen, Germany. The event was organised to launch a new series of products and to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Zeiss camera lenses. Before attending, I wasn’t exactly sure which products Zeiss would announce and it turned out they are not directly mirrorless related. Instead, the German brand presented a new series of DSLR lenses called Milvus.

Our Sony A7r II coverage:

  1. First Impressions (Sony’s press event)
  2. Lantern Parade (Low-light image gallery)
  3. Bird Photography (with the Sigma 150-600mm EF mount)
  4. Zeiss Milvus (Sample images)
  5. Voigtländer VM lenses (12mm f/5.6 & 21mm f/1.835mm f/1.7)
  6. Complete Autofocus Test (FE, A, EF lenses)
  7. Compressed vs uncompressed RAW
  8. A7r II vs A7s II comparison (with ergonomics/ease of use)
  9. Complete Image Quality test and final conclusion

Since I had the Sony A7r II with me and a Canon mount adapter (Fotodiox Pro), I thought that I might share a few pictures taken with the new lenses, some personal considerations and a handful of interesting facts about the history of the brand. So whether you are interested in the new Milvus family or simply in the Zeiss brand, this article should satisfy your curiosity.

Trivia #1

Milvus is yet another family of lenses named after a bird species. Curiously, in the Milvus family, you can also find the Red Kite, which I had the chance to photograph recently with the A7r II and Sigma 150-600mm. Coincidence? I think not! 😉


The Milvus lenses and an important statement

zeiss milvus

The Milvus family is composed of six lenses (more will be released in the future):

  • 2.8/21
  • 2/35
  • 1.4/50
  • 1.4/85
  • 2/50 Macro
  • 2/100 Macro

As I said at the beginning, the lenses are designed for Canon and Nikon DSLRs. They represent a new generation of high quality manual focus lenses. The previous ZE/ZF series is now called Classic, and it remains in the line-up. The new lenses received updates such as weather sealing and a new external design that is somehow a mix of the Loxia/Batis design (but no OLED screen). Out of the six, four of them (21, 35 and the two Macro lenses) also received improvements on the lens elements to reduce flare, CA and increase the performance, but the lens design remains the same. Zeiss calls them HDR ready, claiming that ghost and flares resistance has been taken to the next level. The other two lenses (50 and 85mm) are based on a new design.

zeiss milvus
A picture grabbed from the presentation that shows how the lenses are put through a rough “dust resistance” test.

The lenses are a joy to use, I won’t deny that. They are large and heavy and definitely fit a DSLR better than the smaller A7r body but the build quality is exceptional and the focus ring is a real pleasure to use: fully mechanical, very precise and very smooth. The advantage of the electronic viewfinder as well as the peaking and magnification options for manual focus definitely enhance the user experience. The prices vary from €1100 to €1700 depending on the focal length.

Zeiss also stated that the Milvus lenses work well on Sony’s E-mount and Micro Four Thirds cameras because they are also designed for video. They are colour matched which makes them ideal for colour grading in video production. They get the same de-click mechanism from the Loxia family (you loosen a screw on the rear) and they are 4K ready. Actually they also tested them on the Red Dragon 6k camera. Zeiss’ goal is to create lenses that are durable through time and can work well on future cameras with higher resolution and video standards that the ones currently on the market.

Below you can watch a quick video shot in 4K with the A7r II and the six Milvus lenses.

 

During his speech, general product manager Christophe Casenave clearly stated that DSLRs are not dead.

While it is true that most of the new exciting technology has been found in mirrorless cameras lately rather than DSLRs, the latter still have a very important place in the market and a vast number of users. What is also interesting is that Zeiss released 6 new DSLR lenses in a row. Granted, four of them are updated versions but so are the two Loxia E-mount lenses released last year. Zeiss seems to be willing to invest as much in the DSLR system as in the mirrorless system.

zeiss milvus

Another interesting point is that the Sony system could become more of a hybrid concept rather than a system that can survive on its own. Since the release of the first A7 cameras, there has been a lot of interest in using third party lenses (both old manual focus lenses and Canon/Nikon lenses). At the beginning it was also dictated by the lack of native lenses available but today that argument has started to lose its strength.

However, the new A7r mark II with its improved sensor and autofocus system can be used with native Sony FE, Sony A-mount and Canon EF lenses (as long as the adapter is compatible and delivers good results). You certainly sacrifice weight and size but that has already happened with some of the native E-mount lenses like the 35mm 1.4. The Milvus lenses almost look like they could have been built for any system and it seems that the family will grow faster than the Loxia/Batis family.

Now enough talk: here are the images taken with the new lenses mounted on the A7r mark II, as well as some of the most interesting facts I picked up during our visit to Oberkochen. The interiors were all taken at the Zeiss Headquarters during the first day while the exterior images were taken the following morning in a nearby town called Schwabisch Gmund. Click on each image to open the full resolution version.



A7r II and Milvus 2.8/21

zeiss milvus 21mm

zeiss milvius 21mm a7r ii
A7r II, 1/25, f/5.6, ISO 320
zeiss milvus image samples
A7r II, 1/25, f/5.6, ISO 125
zeiss milvus image samples
A7r II, 1/25, f/2.8, ISO 200
zeiss milvus image samples
A7r II, 1/25, f/2.8, ISO 100

Trivia #2

Zeiss’ research and knowledge about optics led them to dabble in many different fields. These include designing scopes for rifles and telescopes for submarines (that division has been then sold to another company), medical technology, spectroscopy and semi-conductors. The last on the list is actually one of the most important applications for Zeiss. Indeed, there could be some Zeiss tech in your USB card! This makes you realise that photography lenses are only one small part of Zeiss optics business. Zeiss also designed the first Planetarium projector in the world in 1923 (when the company was still named Zeiss Works of Jena). It was installed in the Detaches Museum in Munich.

zeiss milvus 21mm image samples
A7r II, 1/25, f/5.6, ISO 200

More Milvus 2.8/21 samples here.


A7r II and Milvus 2/35

zeiss milvus a7r ii sample images
A7r II, 1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100
zeiss milvus a7r ii sample images
A7r II, 1/640, f/2, ISO 100
zeiss milvus a7r ii
A7r II, 1/160, f/5.6, ISO 100

Trivia #3

The T* anti-reflective coating that reduces flare was invented by Alexander Smakula in 1935. It is still used today in most Zeiss lenses.

zeiss milvus a7r ii sample images
A7r II, 1/640, f/5.6, ISO 100
zeiss milvus a7r ii sample images
A7r II, 1/400, f/2.2, ISO 100

More Milvus 2/35 samples here.


A7r II and Milvus 1.4/50

zeiss milvus 50mm 1.4

zeiss milvus 50mm a7r ii
A7r II, 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 500

Trivia #4

Among the treasures found in the Zeiss museum, there are the binoculars that Napoleon used in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and a pair of glasses designed for the Austrian emperor.

zeiss milvus 50mm a7r ii
A7r II, 1/100, f/1.4, ISO 500
zeiss milvus a7r ii image samples
A7r II, 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 640
zeiss milvus a7r ii image samples
A7r II, 1/60, f/1.4, ISO 100
zeiss milvus a7r ii image samples
A7r II, 1/25, f/2.8, ISO 100

Trivia #5

12 medium format Hasselblad cameras equipped with Zeiss lenses were left on the moon after Apollo 11’s mission in 1969. Quoting a joke from our tour guide, “they chose to bring back stones instead”.

zeiss milvus a7r ii image samples
A7r II, 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 100

More Milvus 1.4/50 samples here.


A7r II and Milvus 1.4/85

zeiss milvus 85mm 1.4

The 85mm includes seven elements made of special glass with anomalous partial dispersion. The lens has a fully spherical design and Zeiss stated that it has the most beautiful bokeh and 3D pop an 85mm can achieve (excluding the 85mm Otus of course!).

zeiss milvus a7r ii image samples
A7r II, 1/160, f/1.4, ISO 320
zeiss milvus a7r ii image samples
A7r II, 1/160, f/4, ISO 200
zeiss milvus 85mm a7r ii
A7r II, 1/160, f/5.6, ISO 200

Trivia #6

Zeiss invented the measurement of the potential optical performance of a lens, also know as MTF (Modulation Transfer Function). You have certainly seen some of these charts in press releases and official pages about photography lenses.

zeiss milvus 85mm a7r ii
A7r II, 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 100
zeiss milvus 85mm a7r ii
A7r II, 1/500, f/2.8, ISO 100

More Milvus 1.4/85 here.


A7r II and Milvus 2/50M

zeiss milvus a7r ii sample images
A7r II, 1/80, f/8, ISO 100
zeiss milvus a7r ii
A7r II, 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 100
zeiss milvus a7r ii
A7r II, 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 100

A7r II and Milvus 2/100M

zeiss milvus a7r ii
A7r II, 1/400, f/2, ISO 100
zeiss milvus a7r ii
A7r II, 1/500, f/2, ISO 100
zeiss milvus a7r ii
A7r II, 1/500, f/2, ISO 100
zeiss milvus a7r ii
A7r II, 1/1250, f/2, ISO 100

More Milvus 2/100M here.

Trivia #7

Zeiss is also know for its cinema lenses which are far more expensive. The Master primes have been used for movies such as The Lord of the Rings. Part of the reason they are so expensive is that they are the only lenses that are completely manually assembled by specialised technicians here in Oberkochen. That very specific “smoothness” focus pullers require in the focus and aperture rings can only be made by human hands. The only two digital cameras made by Zeiss are the one found on Nokia Lumia smartphones where Zeiss took care of both the optics and the sensor.

Note: the two pictures below were taken with the FE 55mm 1.8.

The Zeiss Master Prime Cinema lens

 

Zeiss technology on the Nokia Lumia 1020

 

Our Sony A7r II coverage:

  1. First Impressions (Sony’s press event)
  2. Lantern Parade (Low-light image gallery)
  3. Bird Photography (with the Sigma 150-600mm EF mount)
  4. Zeiss Milvus (Sample images)
  5. Voigtländer VM lenses (12mm f/5.6 & 21mm f/1.835mm f/1.7)
  6. Complete Autofocus Test (FE, A, EF lenses)
  7. Compressed vs uncompressed RAW
  8. A7r II vs A7s II comparison (with ergonomics/ease of use)
  9. Complete Image Quality test and final conclusion

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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    I am not sure why honestly. It is probably because Canon EF lenses don’t have an aperture ring so Zeiss made the EF version of its lenses without it as well. Nikon kept the aperture ring on its autofocus lenses at the beginning so that is probably why the ZF still have the aperture ring.

  • Pierre Jaffeux

    Thx. Do you know why the ZE don’t have a “de click” aperture. I think it’s good for a total manual control.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Hi Pierre, my Fotodiox game some issues when using the focus magnifier or taking a shot wile focusing (the shutter would close but not open again). I would definitely recommend the Metabones IV.
    With Nikon it depends if you want the exif data transmitted, otherwise you can get a less expensive adaptor without electronic contacts.

  • Pierre Jaffeux

    Hi, thxs for your review, it’s clear and many details.
    I just want to complete my equipment with this lens, for my A7S. I look to the Loxia & Batis but Milvus seems better for me (I love the bokeh) and there is a complete line. I work in photo and vidéo so i think that Milvus are the best compromise. I have two question: Your adaptator Fotodiox is enough ? The difference with the Metabones IV? Have you use the Milvus Nikon with the manual aperture? So what choice for sony user, Nikon or canon mount? Thanks for all ! Pierre

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Yes I enjoyed it a lot even If I didn’t have the time to visit the surrounding area really.
    As for the lenses, I would definitely not buy any of them for myself. I would rather go with the Loxia too :)

  • Henrik Fessler

    Thanks for the writeup and hope you enjoyed this part of Germany :-) ! I had some personal relationship to this great company in the past and I am still full of respect how these people are approaching their work …
    The new line is not that interesting to me: They might have a superior image quality but the form factor is not usable for longer hiking trips …
    Call the Mini Milvus a Loxia, and you’re set to go :-)

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Actually the are not too expensive, I mean of course they don’t come cheap but it could have been worst. Now I want mini Milvus for mirrorless cameras 😀

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Yet it is impressive to see how many tiny little lenses they put inside that thing 😀

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com Mathieu

    Thank you Ron, we aren’t planning any change :)

  • Ron Paris

    Thank you for this. I always enjoy your reviews, they, like not too many others, ‘tell it like it is’. Please don’t change.
    Ron

  • soundimageplus

    Interesting about the Nokia connection. Wasn’t aware I was using Zeiss in my 1020, soft corners and all!!!

  • Michael

    Fantastic colour rendition which really shows what Zeiss fans I’ve met go on about , for the rest who are budget conscious I assume may still wanna look elsewhere

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