A superlative ultra wide angle lens! – Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 Milvus Lens


JAsuperlative2This lens from Zeiss, is the widest in their current range. While a lens with the same focal length was offered by Zeiss earlier, this is a new iteration introduced as a part of the new Milvus range. As with all Zeiss D-SLR, this is a manual focus only lens but with electronic contacts. This particular model is available in Canon and Nikon mounts. Zeiss is one of the few manufacturers who deliver their lenses with a signed inspection card, indicating that the lenses have been inspected individually.

Design and Build
The Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 lens is built like a main battle tank. The Milvus series of lenses take their external design cues from the famed Otus range. The construction is all metal but the machined focussing and aperture rings of the earlier design have been replaced by rubber covered ones. The exterior is finished beautifully in satin black. The supplied metal lens hood is petal shaped and is excellent – strong, with good flocking. The shape of hood has been designed to blend nicely with the lens body contours making the lens plus hood combination look like a single piece. It is perhaps even a bit sexy to look at with curvy lines! While it is a MF lens, the electronic contacts make it behave in all other respects like an AF lens with focus confirmation. It retains full compatibility with all exposure modes and meter patterns. The lens is large and flares out enormously in the front resulting in a huge filter size – 95mm! While not mentioned anywhere, the previous 15mm lens from Zeiss was based on the legendary Distagon design and we have reason to believe that this lens too is of the same lineage.

The lens is packaged in a beautiful white coloured box with a custom cut foam insert to hold the lens snugly and safely.

Key Features
The Milvus 15mm lens is based on a sophisticated design using no less than five Anomalous Partial Dispersion glass elements and two aspherical elements. It also uses the Zeiss’ highly regarded T* multi-coating to reduce reflections. All numbers and markings are engraved (not screen printed) in white color which standout against the black overall finish. However, both meters and feet on the distance scale are marked in the same white color and this may lead to confusion. There is a blue colored rubber gasket around the lens mount to prevent dust and moisture from seeping in.

Ergonomics
The lens supplied to us came with a Nikon mount and we tested it on a Nikon D750 body. The lens/body combination was a tad front heavy but not unbearably so. Due to its internal focussing system the length of the lens does not change when you focus and so the balance does not shift either. The front element does not rotate, thus making it easy to use graduated and polarizing filters. Both the focussing and aperture rings are covered by very  grippy soft rubber. The focussing ring damping was just right. It is also so smooth that it simply glides making manual focussing a delight. The aperture ring (only present for the Nikon mount) engages at half stop intervals with positive clicks and is marked from f/2.8 to f/22. If you are using this lens for cine work, the click stop feature can also be disengaged by a simple turn of a screw and re-engaged just as easily.