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Zeiss gives its Milvus 35mm lens a dose of extra speed

Create: 06/24/2017 - 20:08
Zeiss Milvus f/1.4 35mm


  • Second Milvus 35mm for full-frame cameras
  • Available in Canon EOS and Nikon F mounts
  • Manual focus only

Even as many lens makers are shifting their efforts to more exotic lenses, along comes Zeiss with a 35mm lens.

In this day, a 35mm wide-angle lens is often met with a collective ho-hum. Does photography need another 35mm lens? Does Zeiss need another 35mm lens when it already has a Milvus f/2.0 in that focal length?

Zeiss is hoping that there is enough demand among those who want a premium lens with an extra stop that the Milvus f/1.4 35mm that this lenses rises to the top of the list.

The Milvus f/1.4 35mm will be available in Canon EOS (ZE) and Nikon F (ZF.2) mounts. Zeiss’ Milvus line sits just below its premium Otus line.

Zeiss promises that chromatic aberration is almost fully suppressed while offering superior edge-to-edge sharpness.

The Milvus 35mm is a Distagon design and uses 14 elements in 11 groups. This Milvus makes use of one apherical element plus five elements made from special glass with anomalous partial dispersion. The Distagon was first introduced to consumers in 1952 for the Hasselblad 1000F medium format camera. It appeared not long for 35mm cameras for the Zeiss Ikon Contarex.

This is a manual focus lens that focuses internally and uses floating elements. It is not image stablized.

The focusing and aperture ring (on the Nikon version) use the smooth rubber material. It’s the same material that Zeiss uses on its binoculars.

Nine blades form the rounded aperture. The notable difference between the two lenses is that the Canon version lacks an aperture ring, while the Nikon lens has one.


It is intended for full-frame digital cameras, although it can also be used with those bodies fitted with APS-C sensors. Both lenses also can be used with film camera bodies.

The close focus distance is 11.8 inches (0.3 meters), and the lens accepts 72mm filters.

Dimensions are 4.9 x 3.3 inches (126mm x 85mm), and the weight is 41 ounces (1,174 grams) for the Canon version and 39 ounces (1,131 grams) for the Nikon version.

The Milvus f/1.4 35mm comes with a petal-shaped lens shade.

The lens is expected to begin shipping in August 2017 for US$1,999.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.