Getting the Feel For It-- Zeiss Milvus 15mm

November 30, 2016  •  Leave a Comment


Low Tide at Tunnels

Tunnels Beach, Haena State Park, Kauai

I've been photographing with a new lens these past couple of days-- a Zeiss Milvus 15 mm. It is a wide angle, manual focus, prime lens (a prime lens has a fixed focal length, i.e.-- no zoom capabilities). 

I like it.

I've thought about purchasing a Zeiss Classic 15mm for several years, but the lack of weather protection and permanent lens hood made me hesitant. So when I heard that the 15 would become updated for the Milvus Line-- complete with weather sealing and removable lens hood I was stoked. I was so committed that I paid for the lens "Pre-order" so that it would ship as soon as it came to market. Unfortunately, it didn't arrive in time for my late October trip to Glacier National Park, Montana, but that's probably for the best. This lens is wider than anything I have every used before and it has taken me a while to get used to it's ultra wide view. 

Tunnels Beach, Haena State Park, Kauai

Tunnels Beach, Haena State Park, Kauai

Another issue that took some time getting used to relates to the wide view and that is the vignetting caused by the Zeiss circular polarizer that I purchased with the lens. The polarizing elements of the filter were great, but the corner vignetting was terrible when used with my full frame Canon 5DSR. I actually had to crop the above photo to remove the unsightly corners. The vignetting that I experienced was a combination of dark corners and white/bluish corners. It was awful. Oh, and one more issue-- the 95mm filter ring adapter that I purchased with the lens so I could use my LEE ND filters-- causes even worse vignetting. Completely unusable. I reckon you loose about 1/8 of the image trying to trim around the black in all four corners. This was very disappointing. So much so that I contemplated returning the lens. And by contemplate, I mean like a full day of strife and Hamlet-like angst about what I should do. You see, I really like how the Zeiss 15mm Milvus renders the scene, especially oceans and moving water. Like the waves in this pic.

Polihale Beach, Polihale State Park, Kauai 

or this one

Polihale Beach, Polihale State Park, Kauai 

Pretty cool, right. So I've decided to keep the lens and return the Zeiss Filter and exchange it for a Heliopan Polarizer that (hopefully) will not cause vignetting. (The two photographs from Polihale Beach were taken last night with no filter, straight glass). As for the LEE adapter, I don't know what I am going to do about that.... Any ideas out there? Kinda an expensive lens to not be able to use ND filters and what not. Even makes the removable lens hood unimportant. 

Anyway, likes and dislikes of the Zeiss 15mm Milvus lens are:

  • "Painterly" rendition of the scene. I love how the water looks as if it were created with a brush.
  • Fantastic rendition of color, beautiful saturation
  • Extremely wide view
  • Outstanding build quality with weather sealing/dust protection (very important for what I mostly photograph-- Kauai seascapes).
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Can accept filters
  • I find the focus to be much more accurate than the similarly manual focus only Zeiss 21mm Milvus that I once owned
  • Sharp

And for the dislikes:

  • Finding the appropriate filter has been problematic and is not yet fully resolved
  • Price

More pics from this awesome lens will be popping up in the online gallery and hopefully in the Hanapepe gallery real soon. 

Have a fantastic day. 





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