Shortly after the launch of its Batis lenses for the Sony full-frame E-mount, Carl Zeiss is rolling out yet another lens line, this time a series of manual focus lenses for Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras, called Milvus.
The Milvus series will initially consist of the following focal lengths:
50mm f/2 Macro
100mm f/2 Macro
Prices range from a little over $1,100 for the 35mm to $1,843 for the 21mm and the 100mm. They're expected to ship mid-October.
With this move, Zeiss is retiring those lenses in its existing ZE/ZF lens lines that have focal lenghts similar to those in the new Milvus line, with the exception of the Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 and the Zeiss Planar T* 85mm f/1.4, since their technical design differs substantially from the new Milvus editions, according to Zeiss.
Asked whether the company is still planning to announce another Otus and one or more Loxia lenses this year, as expected, Zeiss merely said that "there will be another announcement this fall."
The technical details of the Milvus lenses, can be found via the link below.
Standouts are no doubt the generally excellent build and optical quality that we have come to identify with Zeiss lenses at a fraction of the price of the Otus 55mm and 85mm DSLR lenses.
At the same time, Zeiss is clearly adopting a new look, moving away from its classic lines to a smooth, minimalist design now found in the Touit, Otus, Batis and Milvus lines. Only the remaining ZE/ZF lenses and the Loxia lenses retain their classic heritage.
On the 'question mark' side is the lack of optical stabilization, even on the longer lenses, although these lenses are aimed both at still and video shooters.
Zeiss is also clearly betting on a future with a strong DSLR market, despite the rise of mirrorless cameras, and on offering high-quality manual focus lenses while Nikon, Canon and Sigma are offering new autofocus lenses catering to those seeking glass to match ever-rising sensor resolutions.
I hope to have loaner copies soon and will report back my findings. In the meantime, Zeiss posted samples of images taken with the Milvus lenses on its Flickr pages.
By John van Rosendaal