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ZEISS Milvus 85mm 1.4

Atonishing Portrait Abilities

The ZEISS Milvus 85mm 1.4 lens is incredible. Our studio already owns Canon’s 85mm 1.2 offering and we hadn’t considered upgrading or changing anything in the 85mm department… until now. The excellence of the bokeh and beautiful image quality are literally mind bogglingly. First impressions of the lens itself are quite favorable. Like other lenses in the ZEISS Milvus line-up, its build quality is solid.

It’s also worth mentioning that this lens is huge! Photogs will often refer to Canon’s 85mm 1.2 as a fatboy lens due to its girth. However, this new ZEISS lens seems to dwarf Canon’s offering physically. Once mounted to a Canon 6d camera, its true gargantuan nature is very apparent, as the camera will no longer lay flat on any table. This is not the case for the 5dIII and I’m assuming the larger 1D series.

This large spherical design allows the bokeh to render in a more circular and pleasing manner. Boasting an all metal design is comforting in ensuring that this major investment will hold up to the test of time. The addition of weather sealing also adds peace of mind when weather conditions are adverse. It includes a detachable all metal lens hood that is reversible for easy travel and storage.

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True Portrait Lens

Make no mistake this is a speciality lens, while 85mm is a quite a useful focal distance, this particular lens is designed to create ah-inspiring portraits. To this end it most certainly delivers in spades!! Its rendition of color, contrast and bokeh is phenomenal. The images we’ve created during the short amount of time we’ve had it has us craving more!

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Friend or Foe

This is where the dichotomy of manual and auto-focus lenses really come into play. While we feel that the image quality of the ZEISS 85mm is superior. Its lack of auto-focus makes it over-all usefulness less appealing for a fast paced photographer’s needs. So to this end we see this lens as friend to our Canon 85mm offering and plan to continue owning both.

This obviously is not the game plan for every studio; as cost, lens weight, usefulness and workflow will heavily weigh into the decision. However, for our high end look this lens achieves something special and it’s certainly worth investigating for your own needs.

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Final Thoughts

ZEISS has done it again, completely blown us away with a lens that wasn’t even on our radar! If you are a portrait photographer or a videographer this lens could be just what the doctor ordered. We were fortunate to test drive the new Milvus line and when it was time to return the set, it was this 85mm lens that we knew we would miss the most. We pre-ordered ours today and can’t wait for its return!

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*Past Love: We no longer carry this lens in our bag. While the sharpness and colors on this lens are sublime the manual focus nature made us think twice about using it on wedding day. We still own it, but no longer use it on wedding days.

More Resources

Are you interested in learning more about this lens? There are lots of great useful resources all of the web to help us photographers achieve our photographic dreams! We have included some of the articles and resources that were helpful for us when researching our own gear purchase.

ZEISS –  ZEISS Tech Specs