Lens review

Carl Zeiss Milvus 85 mm f/1.4

30 December 2015
Arkadiusz Olech

4. Image resolution

The resolution test (meaning here the MTF50 function values) of the Zeiss Milvus 85 mm f/1.4 was based on RAW files from the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. In the case of that reflex camera the decency level is situated near 30-32 lpmm and the best fixed focal length lenses can reach as high as 44-47 lpmm. The resolution record on that sensor belongs to the Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 and amounts to 47.7 lpmm.

Let’s check how the tested lens compares here – its results in the frame centre, on the edge of the APS-C/DX sensor and on the edge of full frame presents a graph below.

Carl Zeiss Milvus 85 mm f/1.4 - Image resolution

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First the most interesting piece of news. The resolution record on the full frame sensor of the Canon doesn’t belong to the Otus any longer. The Milvus 1.4/85 by f/4.0 was able to get to 48.8 lpmm. It is true that, taking into account the margin of measurement error of about 0.5–1 lpmm, the results of the Otus and the Milvus officially interlock for the 1-sigma value so there is no statistically viable difference between those two lenses. Still it doesn’t change the fact that from now on the Milvus is a new record holder.

What might the selling point of the Otus then? The performance near the maximum relative aperture, where it was able to reach almost 40 lpmm, is the answer. The result of the Milvus is less than 35 lpmm so noticeably lower. However, it is still a completely useful level and our assessment of the performance of the Milvus in the frame centre must remain very positive indeed.

When you check the performance on the edge of the frame you are practically sure the Milvus 1.4/85 is one of the best lenses we’ve had the pleasure of testing so far. You can write a lot of eulogies about its results on the edge of the frame but, in our opinion, one comparison is enough. The resolution of the Milvus on the edge of full frame is able to get as high as 44.3 lpmm. The best result of the Canon EF 135 mm f/2.0L USM in the frame centre, a lens considered by many to be legendary, amounts to 43.2 lpmm. I think no other comment is necessary here.

At the end of this chapter, traditionally, we present crops taken from our resolution testing chart photos which were saved as JPEG files along RAW files we used for the analysis above.

Canon 5D Mk III, JPEG, f/1.4
Carl Zeiss Milvus 85 mm f/1.4 - Image resolution
Canon 5D Mk III, JPEG, f/4.0
Carl Zeiss Milvus 85 mm f/1.4 - Image resolution