Check the price of the Carl ZEISS Milvus 50mm f/2 on Amazon, for both Canon & Nikon mounts.
I recently had the chance to photograph my first Wedding with the new Sony Alpha 9, thanks to the Sony Alpha team at Alpha Universe and also use a ZEISS Milvus (Manual focus lenses for the Canon and Nikon mounts) lens for the first time.
Many have asked, why use an adapted Manual lens on the Sony Alpha 9 instead of a native Sony E-mount lens? Keep reading to find out more about this lens, why I chose it and my experience with it for my first Wedding on the Sony Alpha 9.
ZEISS Milvus 2/50mm M Specs & Images
Canon EF-Mount (ZE) | Nikon F-Mount (ZF.2)
MAKRO-PLANAR Optical Lens Design
Aperture Range: f/2-f/22
ZEISS T* Anti-Reflective Coating
67mm Diameter Filter Thread
45 degrees - Angle of View
9.45′ inches (24cm) Minimum Focus Distance
1:2 - Max Reproduction Ratio
ZE: 730 grams | ZF.2: 660 grams
This lens is exclusively for Weddings, for my signature detail images I take during my Weddings. A macro lens is important to my shooting style and this one gives me such amazing quality with my Sony cameras.
I presently own the Classic version of this lens, which is nearly identical with a few minor differences and it’s the first lens that’s in my camera bag on a Wedding day.
Why would you use a Macro lens for Portraits?
You’ll be surprised how many comments I’ve read from people upset that a photographer would choose to use this lens for people images and not just detail/close-up images. Comments such as “You’re not a real photographer if you use a macro lens for portraits” or “You should use a non macro lens for people only” have been said.
First thing... macro lenses CAN be used for portrait images 100%. These lenses typically are PORTRAIT lenses that are designed for macro capabilities, which normal lenses don’t have the same reproduction capability in their design and a wider minimum focusing distance. The beauty of using a macro lens for portraits instead of an equivalent lens of the same focal length that isn’t a macro is the added benefit of being able to use one lens in more than one shooting situation. I don’t have to change lenses from my macro lens to one for portrait, as it is a portrait lens too. The difference only becomes apparent in the aperture. Non macro lenses will have a faster aperture available, such as an f/1.4. At f/2 however you aren’t losing that much in the aperture range to where it would really be a problem, unless you’re just ultra picky about that.
What I think about the ZEISS Milvus 2/50mm M
It was an extreme joy to use, especially with the new Sony Alpha 9. This was the first ZEISS Milvus I ever utilized and I can see why this is talked about as lenses that will be the closest to ZEISS Otus you can obtain. The quality from this lens was simply exceptional!
I especially loved the construction of this lens, which is all metal and the lens hood is also metal. Even though this was entirely manual focusing it was extremely fluid and smooth to adjust and easy to use with the Sony Alpha 9′s focus peaking.
This was my first macro lens from ZEISS I used as well, as we’ve never had a macro lens available from ZEISS on the Sony Alpha system and found it to be a perfect fit for my camera bag for my Weddings. Many know that I’m a lover of the ZEISS Sonnar lens design, but this Makro-Planar was the most impressive non-Sonnar lens I’ve come across from ZEISS and is hard to say considering I’ve used well over a dozen and love them all.
Looking at some of the images I took with this lens you’ll notice the bokeh has an effect that looks as smooth as something you’d get from an STF (Smooth Trans Focus) lens. I shot entirely wide open the entire time with this lens and still obtained incredibly sharp images from edge-to-edge.
You of course have that unique 3D like effect, which ZEISS is so commonly known for, with rich colors and great contrast. Even with being designed on the Planar design it certainly looked like what I absolutely love about the Sonnar’s.
What makes the ZEISS Milvus 2/50mm M great?
Macro Capability - Having a 50mm lens is always a plus for any photographer, but one that’s a macro like this, while still providing an f/2 aperture with great quality wide open makes this lens a very versatile choice.
No Distortion - When it comes to distortion and vignetting this lens does a great job at controlling both. I actually don’t mind vignetting from lenses, as I add this anyways in post but because it’s basically non-existent here I have to go into post to add it! =)
Image Quality - The Milvus line is designed to bring out the most in your high resolution cameras and this lens offers some incredible sharpness and color. It’s really as close to ZEISS Otus lenses as you can get.
Lens Construction - You're getting an all metal design lens that’s weather sealed, making this a great lens to have out in the elements. The focusing on this lens is buttery smooth, which is especially great for those using this lens for video filming.
Color - You’re always certain to obtain great colored images with any ZEISS lens and this is no exception to that. Many say ZEISS lenses have like a 3D looking effect to them and you certainly do feel that way with this lens and the poppy colors it offers.
T Coating* - ZEISS lenses are popular for this coating, which reduces lens flare drastically and enhances overall performance of the lens. Whether it’s a filter or lens with this coating you’ll notice the difference from having it vs a lens or filter that doesn’t.
Aperture De-Click (Nikon mount only) - With the Nikon mount version of this lens you can the capability to de-click the aperture of this lens, to provide smooth aperture adjustments during video filming.
Why use the ZEISS Milvus 2/50mm M with an adapter instead of using a native Sony lens?
All of the lenses I presently own for my Sony full frame cameras are all ZEISS lenses, with this lens being my only non native ZEISS lens, as their’s not a macro E-mount available.
I prefer to use ZEISS lenses because they provide me with the colors and contrast that’s a signature of the work I share. I can obtain these kinds of images with the Sony lenses, but usually with a little extra work in post to get them to the same look. I share a lot of images straight from the camera and I am always as perfect as I can get with doing so when I use the ZEISS lenses. The Sony lenses are absolutely amazing, however but I simply favor ZEISS for my images. Many have to remember that I’ve ALWAYS been a Sony photographer and a decade ago there was no such thing as Sony G Master. The G lenses weren’t abundant at the time either and all there were were the Sony/ZEISS lenses. It’s one of the reason I bought Sony a decade ago as well.
Even though this is a manual lens the Sony cameras make using them very simple and easy with focus peaking. This is a lens that especially will be used for all of my Weddings and maybe a few things outside of that, but for my detail shots at Weddings I’m staging those and setting focus manually is usually the best for me in these situations. I have to be spot on to the area that I need to be in focus and that’s typically hard to do with auto focusing.
Some get the notion that I totally dislike Sony lenses, but don’t forget the Sony 4/10-18mm OSS lens is one of my favorite Sony lenses ever used! I just have my own personal preference, just like everyone else.
Canon/Nikon adapters for Sony Alpha Mirrorless
If you’re looking to use this lens or any of the ZEISS Milvus, Otus or Classic lenses check out the below adapters, which will work on Sony Full Frame and APS-C cameras.
Canon EF Lens K&F Concept Adapter (Amazon) - To connect your Canon DSLR MF lenses
Nikon F Lens Fotasy Adapter (Amazon) - To connect your Nikon DSLR MF lenses
Why the ZEISS Milvus 2/50mm M over the Sony 2.8/90mm G Macro?
These are two of the most amazing macro lenses on the market and below are some of the reasons why I choose to use the manual ZEISS Milvus 2/50mm M over the Sony 2.8/90mm G Macro lens:
Color/Richness - Optically these lenses are both great! The ZEISS wins for me, because of the overall richness in color and image contrast, providing that unique 3D pop ZEISS is known for. The Sony 90mm has some amazing color from it as well, but I prefer the colors and sharpness on the ZEISS.
Reliability - This is something I’ve had trouble with on other Sony lenses in my 9 years with Sony, unfortunately - where I’ve had several focus motor issues. They’ve vastly improved over the years, but ZEISS has greater experience in this (over 170 years experience) and I’ve never had a problem with a single ZEISS lens (be it ZEISS alone or a Sony/ZEISS partnered lens). I have to have reliable gear and ZEISS has always been my best choice. Seeing that AF isn’t really a need for me in the macro department it’s not something I need in the lens. I actually had recommended the 90mm G Macro to someone and their copy was a bad copy and had to obtain a replacement. These are things I just never had with the ZEISS lenses, so I simply stick to what works best for me. For Weddings I can’t have gear fail on me.
I don’t think you’ll make a bad choice either way you go and think both of these lenses are incredibly amazing. I would know, I’ve photographed with both of them! They’re not that different in price either so it will come down to which one suits you best for your needs.
Conclusion: Who is/isn’t this for?
If you’re someone who loves manual focus lenses then you’d love this lens! It’s one built to last and offers amazing quality for any type of shooting scenario.
If budget is a priority for you then I recommend checking out the ZEISS Classic version of this lens, ZEISS Classic 2/50mm Makro-Planar (Canon | Nikon). It’s a few hundred dollars cheaper than the Milvus and doesn’t offer the weather sealing that the Milvus line does but if you don’t expect to really be out in the elements anyways then it’s a very smart choice to take! That’s actually the one I bought for my actual camera kit.
If you want a lens more comparable to the Sony 2.8/90mm G Macro then be sure to check out the ZEISS Milvus 2/100mm Makro-Planar (Canon | Nikon) or ZEISS Classic 2/100mm Makro-Planar (Canon | Nikon).
All images featured in this review were photographed with the Sony a9. All images have also been post processed from their RAW files, using Adobe Lightroom.