Get the new Milvus 18mm f/2.8 at B&H Photo.
See also last year’s Understanding the new Zeiss Milvus Lineup.
The new-new kid on the Milvus block is the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8, a long overdue all-new optical design that replaces the weakling in the ZF.2 lineup, the Zeiss ZF.2 18mm f/3.5 Distagon. In my view, its size and weight and angle of view are just about perfect for landscape use: not so wide as 15mm, but very wide and thus more applicable more of the time.
I hope to have the Milvus 18mm f/2.8 for evaluation next month or so.
Very high performance, the Milvus 18mm f/2.8 promises via its measured (not just theoretically computed) MTF numbers to match or outperform the Leica 18mm f/3.8 Super-Elmar-M ASPH. Now that is a proposition I like, since the Leica 18/3.8 SEM has been one of my favorites on Leica M.
The Milvus 18mm f/2.8 looks to match and maybe even beat (very slightly) its superb Batis 18/2.8 sibling (the MTF is close enough that this is a sketchy proposition, but on the whole the Milvus looks to have a slight edge). But a bonus is that the Milvus 18/2.8 has substantially less distortion than the distortion of the Batis 18/2.8. That matters, because if distortion must be corrected, it drops the MTF (because of pixel stretching).
The Milvus 18/2.8 is a substantial 2/3 of a stop faster (brighter) than its f/3.5 predecessor. Shooting at dusk, f/2.8 is a big improvement over f/3.5, whether using the optical viewfinder or Live View.
The improvements over the ZF.2 18/3.5 are substantial::
- Vastly higher performance (see MTF chart for Milvus 18/2.8 and MTF for ZF.2 18/3.5).
- Greatly improved distortion, reduced in amount and of much more visually manageable barrel type instead of the wave-type of the ZF.2 18/3.5 predecessor.
- Vignetting at f/2.8 that is of the same character as its f/3.5 predecessor, but at f/3.5 it has significantly more even illumination.
- Weather sealing.
|Focal length||18mm (nominal)|
|Aperture range||f/2.8 - f/22|
|Number of lens elements/groups||14 elements in 12 groups|
|Entrance pupil position ( in front of image plane):||107.1 mm / 4.22 in|
|Rotation angle, focusing (inf - MOD):||145.5°|
|Focusing range:||25 cm / 9.84 in|
|Image ratio at close range||1:7.4|
|Free working distance at MOD:||12 cm / 4.73 in|
|Coverage at MOD:||274 x 180 mm / 10.79 x 7.09 in|
|Angular field (diag./horiz./vert.)||99.9° / 89.4° / 66.5°|
|Diameter of image field||43 mm / 1.69 in|
|Flange focal offset||ZF.2: 46.50 mm / 1.83 in
ZE: 44.00 mm / 1.73 in
|Length without caps||ZF.2: 92.0 mm / 3.62 in
ZE: 93.0 mm / 3.66 in
|Length with caps||ZF.2: 107.0 mm / 4.21 in
ZE: 10.,4 mm / 4.31 in
|Diameter max||ZF.2: 90.0 mm / 3.54 in
ZE: 90.0 mm / 3.54 in
|Weight (nominal), ZF.2:||ZF.2: 675 g / 23.8 oz
ZE: 721 g / 25.4 oz
|Street price:||about $2299|
Toggle to compare MTF at f/2.8 to f/5.6. MTF is world class.
Plain barrel distortion (excellent, easy to correct) and of a relatively minor amount for an 18mm—superb in total.
Vignetting is 2+ stops at f/2.8, and about one stop by f/5.6. This is about what one expects for a DSLR or rangefinder lens.