Zeiss Milvus 2.8/15, 2.8/18 and 2/135 lenses for Nikon F mount announced

Today Zeiss announced the previously rumored Milvus 135mm f/2 lens and two other manual focus lenses (15mm f/2.8 and 18mm f/2.8) designed for Nikon F-mount DSLR cameras (full press release). The 2.8/18 is a newly calculated Distagon optical design. In total, there are now nine Zeiss Milvus focal lengths (see the picture at the bottom of this post). Shipping of the new lenses is expected to begin at the end of October 2016.

Technical data on the new Milvus lenses:

Pre-order / price info:

Few full resolution images can be found on flickr:

Additional information:

ZEISS Milvus 2.8/15:

This super wide-angle lens with a field of view of 110 degrees allows every photographer to consciously compose using extreme perspectives. The lens has excellent imaging performance – even with an open aperture – thanks to the correction of color errors. Color fringing and distortion are minimal. This is all thanks to a ZEISS Distagon® lens design with 15 lens elements in 12 groups, including two aspheric lenses, special glass with anomalous partial dispersion, and the floating elements design. A removable lens shade and the 95-millimeter filter thread also make this lens the ideal companion for special applications with additional slide-in filter holders.

ZEISS Milvus 2.8/18:

This compact super-wide angle lens with a newly calculated ZEISS Distagon optical design has 14 lens elements in 12 groups, including two aspheric elements. The ZEISS Milvus 2.8/18 has a short close-up distance of 0.25 meters and internal focusing. With an angular field of 99.9 degrees, this lens is the ideal companion for landscape and architectural photography, as it allows creative shots to be taken using unusual perspectives. The filter thread has a diameter of 77 millimeters. The ZEISS Milvus 2.8/18 delivers outstanding imaging performance and very good distortion correction.

ZEISS Milvus 2/135:

This fast telephoto lens delivers excellent correction of all color errors. Thanks to a large aperture and pleasing bokeh, it is the perfect lens for portrait photography from a medium distance. The angular field is 18.7 degrees. The short minimum object distance of 0.80 meters makes this lens even more versatile. It has an optical design with 11 lens elements in eight groups and, like the ZEISS Milvus 2.8/18, a filter diameter of 77 millimeters.


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  • maxx

    Beautiful… but if I don’t have a marvelous new Nikon D820… what can I do with them? (AKA: Nikoooon? Are you ok?)

    • TwoStrayCats

      You can buy an Otus set to get enough resolution to match the new sensor. Maybe.

    • j j

      Ummm, maybe you can put them on your perfectly functional and still top-of-the-line D810…???

      Just a thought.

      • Michiel953

        Nahh. That D810 turned into a useless piece of junk the minute the rumours of a successor started floating around.

        • Syncope14

          Defining the D810 an “useless piece of junk” is pretty harsh, other than clearly exaggerated. But I guess it’s part of the “consume and throw away as soon as the new model comes out” philosophy.

          • Michiel953

            Irony appears to be lost on you. What nationality are you?

          • TwoStrayCats

            I-phone 7.

        • Umano Teodori

          that’s true, it affects a bit us all, at the beginning I was thinking, oh shit probably new d820 won’t have a sony sensor so it won’t have great dr and editing capabilities and low noise but just maybe better color, improved af and more mpix. Shit nikon won’t give me what I want….. wait the d810 gives me exactly what I want and it is going to be cheaper 🙂

          Btw I still hope the d820-50 will have an improved 42mpix sony sensor, d5 af and expeed and a better shutter mechanism

  • Good to see lensmakers giving some consideration to people who want to use filters on superwides. Of course good unless that jeopardizes corner IQ.

  • RkzzzzZ

    Can Lee push-on filter holder be used on Milvus 15? It can be used on modified distagon one.

    • Chris Hood

      Yes and the screw in adapter works. Been shooting with it for a month.
      Check @hood.photo on Instagram for images shot with the 15mm

      • RkzzzzZ

        Sounds great! Does 100mm filters work perfectly?

        • Chris Hood

          Same as the other 15mm with lens hood removed.

          • RkzzzzZ

            Thank you Chris. Amazing lens and amazing photos!

        • Kien Pham

          Laser100SE is the best filters’s holder for Milvus 15mm f/2.8, this holder is the most slim & wide that do not have vignetting

  • HD10

    New Milvus versions are slightly heavier. The 15mm and the 135mm have the same optical formula so the performance will likely be the same. The 18mm has a new optical design.

  • Carleton Foxx

    Bottom line: Are these Zeiss lenses sharper or better behaved than their Nikkor counterparts?
    Obviously no autofocus, but would clients notice a difference between pix shot with these versus the new generation of Nikon’s lenses?

    • El Aura

      Compared to the closest Nikon primes, yes, they are mostly better but then the Nikon f/2.8 WA primes aren’t the best Nikon lenses, nor is Nikon’s 50 mm f/1.4. Nikon’s 85 mm lenses can compete, as can their macro lenses but the Zeiss 135 mm is almost in a class of its own, in particular with its wide-open performance.

      • Carleton Foxx

        Wide angle primes are where I’m most lacking… This sounds like a good thing then.

      • preston

        The Zeiss 135mm is superb, but I think if Nikon updated its 135mm it could easily be up there. After all, the Samyang 135mm is almost as good as the Zeiss at 1/4 the cost.

        • El Aura

          Yes, it’ll be interesting how the new 105 mm f/1.4 will compare against its closest Zeiss competitor lenses (from the Otus 85 mm f/1.4 through the 100 mm f/2 to the 135 mm f/2).

    • Jeffnky

      I have had the Zeiss 135 for about a year and every time I use it I wonder why I ever take it off the camera, the reasons are no autofocus, vr for video etc. but every time I do use it I still go wow.

      • Carleton Foxx

        “Wow” is what we’re all after, right?

        • Fifi


      • Paco Ignacio

        I’m thinking about selling my Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR II and buying the Zeiss 135.

        • Neopulse

          Hmmm…. dunno. I wouldn’t. Although I thought the new 70-200mm for Nikon and Canon were going to be announced this year. Guess not.

          They’re both great lenses. I own the 135mm f/2 on my Sony mirrorless, but also own the 70-200mm f/2.8. One is for fast working I’d say, and the other is for taking your time a bit more. With your 70-200mm you won’t be disappointed with the IQ. Although it has other quirks according to people online like it being a 65-135mm lens and focu breathing. But chances are that when the new one comes out, it’ll be amazing.

        • HD10

          Different tools for different jobs designed for very different shooting parameters.

      • HD10

        I got the Zeiss 135mm f/2,0 lens shortly after this was released. Indeed “Wow!” is the operative word when viewing the photos taken with it.
        The things I wish for most for this lens is not AF or VR, but a new Nikon camera to use it with … F-Mount mirrorless high-resolution FX with electronic first curtain, articulating touchscreen and EVF, image magnify and focus peaking.

    • Captain Megaton

      Personally, owning several ZF lenses (25,35,50,85) myself, I feel you are asking the wrong question. The ZF lenses must be enjoyed and endorsed for what they are. To insist they be better in some quantifiable way than some other lens is to misread their value entirely.

      • Carleton Foxx

        Excellent point. Maybe a better question is do they create a different look from Nikkors? In my part of the world it’s all about creating photos with a distinctive look. I personally love to create crisp photos with lots of beautifully defined edges and clear colors. What “look” do your ZFs produce?

        • Captain Megaton

          Oh wow. Where to even start…

          So yeah, the T* coating or whatever gives uncommonly deep blacks and rich, saturated colors.

          The quality (manufacturing tolerances in absolute terms) means stopped down these lenses are fantastically sharp.

          There’s not a lot of optical trickery though. Wide open they behave much like any other older lens design … the f/1.4s especially get all gauzy and flared. I think of it as a bonus feature, there’s some fun to be had there.

          The bokeh is distinctive. Varies from lens to lens of course. I love the Planar 50/1.4 and it’s crisp, etched bokeh rings. Not everyone’s cup of tea mind you.

          There’s a flickr group if you are interested,


    • Neopulse

      Normally they are better than Nikon’s offerings optically, build quality and resale pricing. But Nikon has AF in their lenses nowadays and better af fine tuning with AF lenses. But they usually lack focusing screens to even use manual focus lenses with.

    • NicP

      Search flickr for 14-24 shots, I dont think the price and lack of AF justifies choosing it over the Nikon even though I think are great performers, aslo you can get multiple focal lengths with the Nikkor zoom with less money AF and the small issues in performance can easily be fixed in post. If budget allows then Zeiss lenses are great.

  • El Aura

    Comparing the Batis 18 mm f/2.8 to the Milvus 18 mm f/2.8 shows an area where mirrorless can be noticeably smaller and lighter:
    330 vs 720 g
    80 vs 93 mm (length and if we adapted the Milvus to E-mount, that difference would increase by over 20 mm)
    78 vs 90 mm (diameter)

  • Kelly Ling

    Can someone educate me why lens makers like Zeiss and Voiglander don’t make AF lenses for Nikons (or Canons) ?

    • Neopulse

      Nikon and Canon don’t give Zeiss licensing to make AF motors. But, Canon does give the aperture adjustment license to them, and chips. But that’s about it.

      • jstevez

        Sigma? Tamron? Tokina? and many others make AF lenses for Canikon.

        • El Aura

          Sigma, being the largest third-party lens manufacturer, does reverse-engineer the camera-lens communication protocols. This however, occasionally requires firmware update for the AF to work properly on newer bodies. Tokina and Tamron might do similarly but there have been a number of cases where they cooperated with the camera makers on lenses. Pentax in particular has been rebadging Tamron and Tokina lenses for a while but Nikon I think also had outsourced a lens design or two to Tokina or Tamron. Tokina was founded in part by ex-Nikon optical designers. In general, being Japanese companies enables them to strike deals with camera makers that are not available to non-Japanese companies.

          Sony has made the E-mount a fairly open specification (likely to attract third-party lens makers to more quickly build up a lens portfolio). Fuji has done so similarly. This has enabled Zeiss to offer AF lenses for both mounts.

  • Mark

    Are these people on drugs ? $2199 for a 135?!

    • It looks like a tasty lens, but honestly, I have a 135/2.8 Nikkor Q I bought on eBay for $90 that looks about as sharp as what we see on these flickr examples. No, I don’t have f/2, but how much do you REALLY shoot at that aperture with a 135?

      • Lukasz

        CA is huge on that lens and it is so low contrast, thus everything looks so washed out…

        • The CA is easily corrected in LR, just like you have to do with a lot of lenses (old and new). As for contrast, I’m not sure where your experiences come from, but my 135mm is as snappy as my 50 f/1.8 G.

          • Lukasz

            Perhaps you got future-type prototype of this lens some decades before since you compare its contrast to g nikkors…

      • Captain Megaton

        “that looks about as sharp”

        [laughing so hard tears streaming down my face right now]

        • Well, don’t fall down while you’re at it. I just don’t see anything that remarkable about the Zeiss from the examples on flickr. They’re fine, just not amazing. Certainly not $2,200 worth.

          • Captain Megaton

            The irony here being that the 135/3.5 Nikkor Q Auto is a sharp lens and a good budget pick that does not embarrass. The old 135/2.8 on the other hand is a dog. Woof.

            • I’ve had both lenses and the IQ is indistinguishable. I liked the little extra heft and better balance so I kept the f/2.8. But have it your way, I’ve made a fair amount of money with it and continue to. So, I guess I’m the one that should be laughing…or at least smiling.

            • Captain Megaton

              It’s a beautifully made, and great /looking/ lens, I’ll grant you that much. 60’s Nikkor design at its finest. I remember wanting to like it… but it wasn’t half a brick to lug around.

      • kurogoma

        This zeiss apo has incredible contrast and saturaded colors at F2, even compared to 70-200VRII at F4.
        I took full body portraiture 99% at F2, and minimal to none post processing with this lens without adding contras and saturation.
        “CA is easily corrected in LR” … hmmm.

    • Neopulse

      The same optical formula, just a new casing

    • HD10

      “Are these people on drugs ? $2199 for a 135?!”
      I think its fairly priced and worth it. I have the same lens in non-Milvus Zeiss 135mm f/2.0 ZF.2 version. This Zeiss lens comes closest to the Nikkor 200mm f/2.0. In itself, it is of considerable size and weight but is still a lot more portable and lighter than the Nikkor 200mm f/2.0.

    • Do people using ferrari or porche take drugs?

      • ZoetMB

        Yes. But I think he was referring to the manufacturer, not the purchasers.

        • Doesn’t seem to be so. But if we consider that it is manufacturers, then was it a positive remark or negative remark?

  • Mike Halliwell

    I think I’ll stick with my Samyang 135mm f2, and use the ‘spare’ cash to buy a new Nikon D820 body.

    • Lukasz

      got samyang 85mm f1.4 and love it 🙂 is its younger brother still that impressive?

      • Mike Halliwell

        Sure is! Zoomed LV focusing on my D810 is pretty easy. Shots wide open are a tad vignetted but real sharp. @f4, it’s just pure crazy. No CA, long or lat. No coma. Zero distortion…Just brilliant. Have played at astro work on DX, pretty nice pinpoints.

      • Fifi

        Samyang should rename it to f2.8. Beyond that quality degrades significantly, wide open it’s pretty much useless. Plus that, quality varies from lens to lens. I have used two with sequential serial numbers and they are completely different.

    • reporteratlarge

      That’s the central question here: Is this Zeiss lens $1,600 better than the Samyang.

  • vriesk

    The price pretty much solves any dilemmas between the 15mm Milvus and 15mm Irix. What drugs are they taking?

  • Aeroengineer

    Nikon does not make it easy to achieve critical focus with a MF lens, as I can attest to when using the 200 micro lens with my 800E. I hear the improved LV on the 810 improves the situation somewhat, assuming that the screen isn’t washed out by daylight. The super resolution MF lens will be more appealing if Nikon gives us a high precision focus indicator in the viewfinder. Alas I am not holding my breadth.

  • DSP~

    Manual focus? Nah, sorry.
    I don’t care about pixel peeping as much as I care about practicality.

    • Dirk

      I tend to agree. I have the Nikkor 135mm f/2 DC and while it has its flaws (compared to the CZ for example), it produces more keepers because of AF, especially for moving subjects. For WA, focusing a Zeiss (CZ 28mm f/2) is easy, fun and frequently spot on (DOF effect).

  • Mike Halliwell

    Nuff said. Lenstip pretty much conclude the same.
    Certainly not worth it to me. I’ve never bought anything on label alone..IQ:££ ratio is how I opt to spend my cash and the Zeiss isn’t even in sight. I have a very mixed stable of Nikon, Sigma, Tamron and Samyang.

  • Nikita

    assume full-frame, but I got read way too far in to confirm.
    Please specifically mention sensor format in the headline…
    (and price in lead)

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