Lens review

Carl Zeiss Milvus 50 mm f/1.4

Carl Zeiss Milvus 50 mm f/1.4
18 November 2015
Arkadiusz Olech

1. Introduction

The history of standard f/1.4 Zeiss lenses started at the end of 50s and the beginning of the 60s of the 20th century when first prototypes of Planars (double gauss) were designed. Officially the first lens of that type produced on a larger scale was the Contarex Planar 1.4/55, launched in 1961 and manufactured till 1970. It consisted of 7 elements set in five groups. In the same period of time they showed also an 8-element Planar 1.4/50 but that prototype was never mass-produced.

In 1972, due to the joined effort of Karl-Heinz Behrens and Erhard Glatzel, a completely new 1.4/50 construction was created. It was also a double gauss and it featured 7 elements positioned in 6 groups. Although at the beginning that lens was used in Rolleiflex and Contax cameras later on, after slight modifications, it became the classic Planar 1.4/50, sold in three different mount versions for Canon (ZE), Nikon (ZF) and Pentax (ZK) cameras. It managed to survive on the market until 2015 so for a very long time and then officially it was discontinued.

Meanwhile Zeiss concluded it would be very difficult to compete on the market with just a classic lens designed and presented 40 years ago and the era of the standard Planar ended; they launched the complex Distagon design instead. The first lens of that group was the Otus 1.4/55 which appeared in 2013 and consisted of as many as 12 elements positioned in 10 groups, imagine that! The Otus is undeniably an outstanding lens but its price, reaching 15 k PLN, makes it unavailable for many amateur photographers. In 2015 the next Distagon, the Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50, was launched. Its construction is simpler than that of the Otus, with just 10 elements inside, but it is also almost three times cheaper and noticeably smaller.

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We would like to thank the Fototechnika company for lending us the lens for testing purposes.

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Carl Zeiss Milvus 50 mm f/1.4 - Introduction

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