After 2 months of ownership and some 900 images, these are my thoughts on the Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50.
Here is a link to the original article #614. I used an Otus but purchased a Milvus
Firstly, yes it’s a keeper why, I will go into that a little later, the 50 has since been joined by the 2.8/21 Milvus, but that’s a story for another time. They both will be joined by the new 1.4/35 when it becomes available “downunder”, in about a months time I’m told.
A manual focus lens, to some, may seem like old school and out of date. These were my thoughts prior to experiencing the Zeiss Otus in April this year. I quickly adapted to the concept; being a Nikon shooter I don’t have EVF and am limited to using the “Nikon focus assist DOT” in the view finder while shooting hand-held. Of course, manual focus on a tripod is close to a no brainer with live view.
The Otus has a long throw about 3/4 of turn from memory and makes locating optimum focus relatively easy. The Milvus does not have the same length of throw so focusing can take a little longer and at times does get frustrating when hand-held on close-ups wide open.
Philippe gave me a tip early on, to open the lens to widest aperture focus and then stop down to the desired aperture.
The famous Zeiss micro contrasts is something I quickly fell in love with and it continues still. It’s something that I find very hard to put into words it has to be seen to be totally appreciated.
Bokeh, well that’s what top shelf glass is renowned for and the 50 does not disappoint as I have said in the previous post I am a confirmed “Bokeh Slut” to quote Philippe. Is this regard the 50 performs well against the Otus, which do you think?
It’s so soft and creamy.
My original plan was to compare images taken by Nikon 1.8/50 & 28/24-70 (at 50mm) and the Zeiss 1.4/50 at various apertures.
Unfortunately, the web is not a good place to compare images taken by quality glass (yes the 1.8/50 is far from being quality) due to resolution limitations. In my last article the nifty 50 was mistaken for an Otus, but on a good quality screen or print they can easily be identified by their look. That’s only one of the many reasons why we should all print more of our images than we do, me included so we can better appreciate our work as it was originally intended to be viewed.
The bottom line is the Zeiss 50 out performed the other lens in my opinion at all aperture. Sharpness, micro contrast and the overall look which I know is very subjective.
In summary of course its a keeper due to what I’ve said above about its image quality. Yes it does have drawbacks to name 3, manual focus, weight and size, not to mention the price. These are out weighed in my opinion by the image quality, bokeh, build quality and the overall feel of the Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50.
I’m not qualified to say how the Milvus line stacks up against the Otus, some YouTubers say they perform to about 95% of the Otus you be the judge.
Given the price differential and that the Milvus line are fully weather sealed I think they are a winner and the way to go, if you want that little extra and the absolute best then the Otus is for you.
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