Zeiss Milvus 1.4/85 ZF.2 lens (Nikon F-mount) reviewed at DxOMark

Zeiss Milvus 85mm f:1.4 ZF.2
DxOMark published their test results for the Zeiss Milvus 1.4/85 ZF.2 lens for Nikon F-mount ($1,559.59):

zeiss-milvus-1-4-85-zf-2-lens-nikon-f-mount-review-test1 zeiss-milvus-1-4-85-zf-2-lens-nikon-f-mount-review-test2 zeiss-milvus-1-4-85-zf-2-lens-nikon-f-mount-review-test3 zeiss-milvus-1-4-85-zf-2-lens-nikon-f-mount-review-test4
zeiss-milvus-1-4-85-zf-2-lens-nikon-f-mount-review-test5
DxOMark's conclusion:

Possessing a certain character wide-open but with rather low sharpness, the predecessor to this new lens was beginning to look a little dated, so it is perhaps unsurprising to see a completely redesigned model. What is surprising, however, is just how well the Milvus 1.4/85 performs. At around half the price of the Otus, the optical performance of the new model isn’t far behind. Indeed, at most apertures, the new lens is slightly sharper and even has slightly lower levels of lateral chromatic aberration (though bear in mind that we don’t test for other types of fringing). Wide-open, the Otus is a better performer: it is sharper and it has lower vignetting, but unless that’s crucial, the new Milvus 85mm f1.4 is likely the better choice — especially for portraits, where photographers value control of sharpness in a lens rather than outright acuity.

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  • Eric Calabros

    Only if Nikon make a better manual focus system for next Df

    • Neopulse

      Same here (makes*)

  • Karl Rottmann

    85mm being mostly a portrait lens you ought to wonder what is the market for a manual focus expensive lens. Isn’t the 851.4G sharp enough? I figure the new 85 Sigma Art will most likely be above the Nikon at 2/3 of the price and with AF.

    • akkual

      Sigma ART and AF in the same sentence is a joke .. unfortunately. But 85mm is relatively easy to focus manually to same level you get hits with AF.. as you tend to get a lot of slight misses with AF due to slight movements between focusing and shutter releasing.

      • KnightPhoto

        Sounds like an AF-C use case or does this not improve the situation?

    • Tadao_Isogai

      I have both lenses and like both quite a bit. When I shoot fast-paced portraits, the Nikon G is the way to go. No doubt, it’s a great lens. But, in a slower-paced shoot, or outdoors, I really like the Milvus. For me, the colors and tonal gradations produced by the Zeiss Milvus 1.4/85 are outstanding; the colors, in particular, are noticeably different than those produced by the Nikon 1.4/85G.

  • George Kalogeris

    I am a VR addict.
    Tamron is my ONLY choice…

  • Bob Thane

    Zeiss just made an Otus killer I think. Sharper than the Otus (even wide open), better transmission, less distortion, the Otus only wins on vignetting. Crazy.

    • El Aura

      “Wide-open, the Otus is a better performer: it is sharper” (as also evidenced by the higher DxOmark score wide-open).

      • Bob Thane

        I based it on the measurements section, not the aggregate. Looked at both lenses on the D800e, they’re both 85mm, checked the profiles at f1.4 – the Milvus is sharper throughout the frame.

        Maybe there’s some copy variation and they got a really good Milvus and a not so good Otus, but this is Zeiss we’re talking about. Until we get reviews that say otherwise, it looks like the Milvus is indeed the sharper lens.

  • HD10

    I am glad to see Zeiss finally redesigned and release a much improved 85mm that is not Otus-large, Otus-heavy, and Otus-priced. The earlier 85mm f/1.4 ZF was quite good but not exceptional so I sold my copy. This Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 is a much better lens.

  • Cesar Sales

    Love that the nikon 85 1.8g is comparable quality at what, a quarter of the price?

    • TheInconvenientRuth

      Yup. We’ve used it for magazine covers, double page spreads at 150lpi, no one ever came back to us saying it wasn’t sharp enough (on a D800/d810). If you mostly shoot around 5.6/8.0, in studio like we do, there’s no need for any of the more expensive ones.It’s a beautiful little lens.

    • El Aura

      The Nikon 85 mm f/1.8 has a noticeably lower ‘Sharpness’ score (ie, stopped-down performance) than the Milvus. Wide-open it is closer, and the DxOmark score is grading-on-a-scale. The same optical performance at f/1.4 gets a higher score compared to the same performance achieved at f/1.8. Thus the 85 mm f/1.8 could even have the same performance at f/1.8 as the Milvus gets at f/1.4 (though when both are used at f/1.8, the Milvus will be better at all likelihood).

      • lazlo toth

        For the money I should hope the Zeiss is better, but hardly 4 times better it seems. And those two tests couldn’t be more different at those links: one’s on a new canon and the other on an old Nikon.

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