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Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 Lens Review

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The Opening…

Over the years, I have found that Zeiss is a lot like Apple in the sense of giving the consumer a very luxurious experience from the unboxing all the way to the look and feel of the product.

After all of the fluff and the dopamine hit of marketing psychology wears off, is this lens really work the $1843 USD price tag? Let’s find out!

The Full Review…


Build Quality & Ergonomics

The metal construction on the Zeiss Milvus 21mm lens is absolutely brilliant. The focus ring, aperture ring, and lens mount are all built just as well as the main chassy of the lens. From the second you pick it up, you know that you should be more worried about WHAT you drop the lens on instead of the lens itself. In short, it’s built like a tank!

The handling and ergonomics of this lens is also quite pleasing. I have pretty big hands and really enjoy the way the manual focus ring is positioned in the right place to fit into that perfect “pocket” between the thumb and index finder for easy focusing.

The only small complaint I had within this category was with the felt material inside of the lens hood. It is literally a dust and fuzz magnet! It attracts everything! Luckily, I leave it off most of the time since I use filters.

Distortion

This will be a very short category because there’s only so much you can say about distortion. All wide angle lenses have it, and I can say with complete confidence that this lens handles it much better than my Nikkor 16-35 that I used to shoot landscapes with all the time.

Keep in mind that most distortion can be easily fixed inside of photoshop, but it has definitely been nice to see that this lens almost no distortion issue at all.

Optical Image Quality And Performance

This is definitely the most important category of the review because optical quality is the reason we purchase expensive lenses.

After using this lens exclusively for the one month I have owned it, I can say that the pure quality that it can squeeze out of my 36 megapixel Nikon D810 is just outstanding! I would almost say that this lens is too sharp! Did you hear that, pixel peepers?? TOO SHARP! Wait, who am I talking to? The second the pixel peepers read that it was too sharp, they stopped reading and immediately left to purchase the lens…

I expect my D810 RAW files to come into Capture One looking flat as always, but when I imported my first set of images from the Zeiss 21mm Milvus, I couldn’t believe the natural contrast and color rendition. I honestly had to make sure I didn’t have a preset turned on in Capture One because I was so skeptical of what I was looking at.

I tested this lens on a tripod at my native 64 ISO going through the entire aperture range, and I can confirm that you get all of the Zeiss goodness that I talked about above from about f/4 to f/16. Shooting this lens wide open at f/2.8, you will see a little bit of light fall off and slight vignetting in the corners. Luckily, those minor setbacks can be easily fixed with modern software.

Keep in mind that I am only shedding light on those minor complaints so that you have all of the information I have discovered about this lens. If you and I were casually discussing this lens over a cup of coffee, I would probably never shut up about how awesome it is.

Feel free to download a few of my RAW files from shooting the my D810 and Zeiss 21mm Milvus.

Value

So, it’s time for the million dollar question….or should I say the $1843 question? Is this lens worth the hefty price? It all depends on what kind of photography you do and how you will use this lens

If you are an avid printer who sells to galleries or consistently prints large and participates in print exhibitions, then It is worth every penny! You will love it and actually be able to see the difference it makes when you start printing large or licensing work to companies who need massive banners, etc.

If you are like the other 70% of photographers who post to Facebook, Instagram, and your blog, then I would take the $1843 and spend it on marketing your business. Launch some Facebook ads, spruce up your website, pay a videographer to create a compelling story about your business. as a business owner,  your money can be much better spent if you aren’t going to regularly let the Zeiss 21mm Milvus shine in it’s full glory. 


 

Photokina 2016 New Cameras

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It’s Been Interesting So Far…

Ok, so this year’s Photokina has been great for Fuji with the new Medium format Mirrorless GFX, great for Panasonic with the new GH5, great for GoPro with their Hero 5 and Karma drone, decent for olympus with their new mirrorless “Pen” cameras, terrible for Sigma with their overpriced 500mm prime, terrible for Sony with their A99 II that 5 people will buy, and a little weird for Nikon with their Keymission action cameras…

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My Two Favorites In More Detail

Fuji GFX Mirrorless Medium Format Camera:

I think that Fuji’s medium format camera will probably sell like hot cakes if the price is actually around the $6,000 USD mark. That price range will steal all of the potential Hasselblad X1D buyers who would be paying thousands more. I obviously can’t say how amazing the image quality will be until I have shot with it, but I will say Fuji has a pretty darn good track record 🙂

GoPro Hero 5 and Karma Drone:

I also think GoPro’s new Hero 5 looks pretty sweet, but the big attention stealer is their new Karma drone. I really think DJI might finally have a real competitor on the market now. The Karma looks very portable, easy to travel with, and I also love how the remote folds up like a laptop for even more portability. Again, I can’t speak on how stable or amazing this drone is until I test it, but it looks very promising compared to DJI’s biggest competitors like the 3DR Solo and the drones from Typhoon. Definitely looking forward to see how this plays out on the market.

nikon-keymission

Nikon, Why Did You Do This?

The only announcement that Nikon has brought the the table at Photokina so far are these new Keymission action cameras. While I’m sure they will operate fine, and some people will buy them, I think it was a mistake to launch these cameras at Photokina. This event only happens once every two years, and most camera companies bring their beast-mode cameras to the table at this event…but Nikon brought action cameras that are somewhat cool but will never compete with the sheer popularity and marketing genius of GoPro.

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There’s Always Hope For PhotoPlus

I personally don’t think that Nikon will release anything else at Photokina this year, but I sure do hope I am wrong. However, they still have a chance to redeem themselves at PhotoPlus in October by finally giving us the D810 successor we have all been waiting for! In all honesty, Nikon has actually had a pretty great year with the release of the D5 and D500. In fact, I think the D500 is the best APS-C DSLR camera you can get! I’m just being a little tough on Nikon since I have been waiting quite a while for an upgrade to my beloved D810.

In conclusion, now that Nikon has taken care of people who want a fast camera like the D500, I hope they start taking care of people like me who want the unparalleled dynamic range, resolution, and image quality that I know Nikon can give us!

Let’s all stay positive and keep out hopes high!

-Eric