Zeiss Announces New Milvus Lenses

This week Zeiss announced a new line of lenses aimed primarily at the DSLR cinema market they are calling Milvus.  The lenses are said to serve cameras with high resolutions such as the recently available Canon 5DS and 5DS R.  What's even more fascinating is the crossover into the world of cinematic filmmaking.  The Nikon versions can be manually de-clicked, which is great news for cinematography and ENG users.  Zeiss has also confirmed quality of construction, performance and image rendition across all Milvus lenses, making their use in cinema even more appealing to directors and cinematographers requiring consistency between focal lengths.


The Zeiss Milvus reveal video featuring Camera Lens Product Manager, Christophe Casenave.


In their press release, Zeiss affirms 6K as a target cinematic resolution for the Milvus lenses, while their CP.2 and CZ.2 lines are directed at the RED WEAPON with 8K resolution coverage.  The Milvus 50mm f/1.4 can be seen attached to the Super 35mm Sony PXW-FS7 via Metabones adapter.


In all, Zeiss will release 6 lenses with Nikon and Canon mounts to start, with plans to release more in the future.  B&H have posted a data sheet for each lens which you can see below.


Some of this news may seem puzzling.  While the aperture ring can be manually de-clicked on Nikon versions, Nikon bodies have yet to gain significant ground in filmmaking communities.  Many filmmakers use Canon glass simply due to the many adapter choices that offer powered iris and stabilization controls directly from the camera body.  Can we expect an announcement from Nikon in the near future?

Upon further reflection, Zeiss' Nikon-only de-click decision seems to be in line with Zeiss' strategy to pair their cinema lenses with RED cameras—which offer Nikon mounts that do support powered iris and stabilization control from the camera body—thus meeting high end cinematic market adoption in the ever-evolving digital cinema landscape.  But what about RED owners who have Canon mounts?  Will a de-clicked aperture ring be released for them?  As trivial as it sounds, having precise exposure control at the iris can give cinematographers an incredible amount of flexibility, especially when aperture adjustments need to be made while rolling to avoid abrupt exposure bumps.  Curious.

Additionally, the Milvus line has been priced quite affordably with their least expensive option coming in at $1,117.00 USD via B&H online store, making an entire set within reach of many independent filmmakers and rental houses serving both photography and cinematography clients.  What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

The Milvus lenses have also been weather sealed for protection against light elements such as rain and dust exposure, however my experience as a Zeiss/Sony owner suggests that you'll still absolutely want to take every precaution before heading out into that rainstorm.  Just saying.


4K test video using Nikon version Zeiss Milvus lenses in combination with the Sony A7Rii, courtesy Jared Abrams with Wide Open Camera and Carl Zeiss Lenses.  Embedded video is 720p from 4K capture.


Time will tell how well the Milvus line holds up to torture testing, but its clear that the main advantage of these lenses is their optical quality.  Maybe not quite on par with the Zeiss Otus line of magical lenses, but exceedingly good for every other application.  I look very forward to testing them at their lease in late October.

Sources:  YouTube  |  Zeiss International  |  B&H  |  Vimeo

Anthony J