Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar lens rumored to be announced next

Zeiss is rumored to announce a new Milvus 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar lens. The older model is currently $400 off - another indication for a potential replacement. The 135mm version was not updated when the new Milvus series were introduced in September last year.

The official announcement of the Zeiss Milvus 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar lens is rumored for this year and can happen as early as May.

Here is an overview of the current Zeiss Milvus lens line-up:


This entry was posted in Zeiss and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • silmasan

    Wauw… Though I don’t think there’s much to change though, just the outer casing, new styling, and aperture declickability for the ZF.2 version.

    • Eddy Kamera

      declick.. what?

  • VanHoff

    Another modern Zeiss without AF capabilities.

    • Patrick McKay

      Exactly, and good on them too! Have you ever tried to perform critical, exacting manual focus, with modern AF lenses? Let me tell you, it just plain sucks, because they simply haven’t been designed with this in mind. I have a Nikkor D 85mm PC lens, which is manual focus, and even this doesn’t come close to Zeiss quality: if I have the 85mm pointed vertically, the focus slips. Never with a Zeiss. The focus throw is long, very smooth, and without any play from the helicoids/machining. Aside from the fact that they also make some stunning glass, this is also why they’re so popular with cinematographers.

    • fanboy fagz

      not modern imo without AF. try mf with a 135 f/2. its extremely hard. if the subject in the vf isnt face only youll have a very hard time to focus. with a face only you can see when the eye is in focus. but tape the subject down and tell them not to breathe because the dof is so short that youre more likely to get it oof than in focus. I had the 85 1.4 AIS and its EXTREMELY difficult to mf with it. youre so unsure of the exact focus that you adjust over and over and over, back and forth in millimeter movements trying to nail the shot. the type of lighting on the subject makes a huge difference for proper focus as well.

      I think theres no excuse not to make an AF lens. if they make it for sony, surely they can start incorporating AF in their lenses. they know how to do it. theyre just lazy ass fucks cause adding AF will cost them a lot of money and requires a lot of production cost

      • rudigar

        Firstly, comparing manually focusing an AF lens with a tiny focus throw to the beautifully crafted Zeiss MF lenses with a long focus throw and incredibly smooth motion is absurd. I’ve used the Zeiss range extensively and with a DSLR with a focus screen designed to MF or a mirrorless with EVF, it’s extremely easy to focus the Zeiss 135mm.

        Secondly, it’s not because they’re ‘lazy fucks’, it’s because Zeiss are perfectionists are aren’t interested in reverse engineering focus systems and getting sub optimal results. As Nikon and Canon refuse to work with them to offer AF in Zeiss lenses they will continue with the MF line.

      • Lee

        85/1.4 AI-s is extremely difficult to manual focus with because it wasn’t terribly sharp at larger apertures. This is not remotely an issue with the Zeiss 135/2.

        Second, chill. If you prefer autofocus lenses there is nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of options out there which you are welcome to avail yourself of. There’s nothing wrong with Zeiss offering a manual focus alternative for those of us who prefer it.

        Another thought to consider is that manual focus lenses are an investment. Your focus-by-wire, no-aperture-ring lens is bricked if you want to change camera systems or if the camera makers change the mount protocols. You’re going to have to replace them nearly as often as you replace your camera (which these days is too often). Meanwhile I can still use 30-year-old Leica R’s on my Nikons and even 50-year-old Leica M’s on my Sonys. Some people don’t mind, mostly people who have a lot of money to blow or stick to fairly affordable lenses. But if you ever find yourself needing a $8000 supertelephoto you’re going to wish it would hold its value.

      • sperdynamite

        Actually Nikon and Canon will not legally allow Zeiss or any non-Japanese company to produce AF lenses for their cameras. Zeiss would love to make AF lenses just like they do for E-Mount but they can’t. If you would like them to, I invite you to call your local Canikon representative.

        • Nicholas Olsen

          It’s not that they’re not allowed to make AF lenses; they simply don’t know how. Plenty of Japanese knock-off lenses have reverse-engineered AF.

          Zeiss ZF/ZE/Otus/Milvus… lenses are actually made by Cosina which is not a large, multi-billion dollar company with lots of employees to work out the AF mechanisms… their expertise is purely in optics, not electronics or software.

          Only Sony-Zeiss lenses have AF, and that is because Sony actually makes those lenses themselves and merely puts Zeiss stickers on them. Only the VERY expensive Zeiss cine lenses are still made by Zeiss itself, in Germany.

          • sperdynamite

            Uh, nah dude. Cosina also makes Zeiss Batis lenses and is an OEM maker for a variety of lower-end “on brand” lenses for major companies. They absolutely know how to make auto focus lenses. Because Zeiss is a German company they simply can’t make AF lenses for Canon and Nikon because Canikon know’s that would offer something higher end than their own lenses. Sony doesn’t do this which is why Zeiss makes Batis AF lenses for the FE system. I’m sure there is some communication between Sony and Zeiss as to which focal lengths and speeds they can make (so that a Batis 85/1.8 doesn’t compete with the GM 85/1.4 for example), but the Sony-Zeiss and Zeiss Batis are different lens line ups with different goals. Cosina is actually a very technically advanced optical manufacturer.

      • teila

        No. Not hard to manually focus.

        • fanboy fagz

          Of course not. But to be accurate is VERY HARD. Again, i had the 85 1.4 ais. Very difficult to do half body shots or even full body. The eyes are small to get accuracy and u could see many images were off. In weddings at the reception, shooting candids? HELL NO!

          • teila

            I’ve used/owned 85 1.2, 100 f2, 135 f2 and 200 f2, etc.. I basically focus with them all the same way for wedding/event work. Autofocus gets me most of the way there then I manually focus the rest of the way (fine tune focus). The 100 and 135 (Zeiss) are manual focus lenses. AF will often waste time instead of saving you time when your DOF is mere inches.

            The problem is people often aren’t reasonable when trying to use a DOF only inches deep. Of course you can’t be accurate with a 4in. DOF when a couple is dancing and expect to get eyes in focus… that’s just ridiculous. What *is* reasonable is to wait for those moments when using such a lens makes good sense. When the couple pauses for a kiss (your lens should be manually focused already most of the way anyway) you manually fine focus the rest of the way and get the shot. Takes but a second.

            The 1st or 2nd shooter at a wedding should *easily* be able to get great shots using a manual focus lens, let alone one that has AF. If you’re finding it *that* hard to focus headshots, 2/3 or full body, then you’re probably using the wrong lens or DOF for the job.

            Heck, if you’re using a FF camera, then 10ft. way at f/2 will give you around half a foot of depth! Increase the distance to 20 ft. (the size of a living room) then you’re talking about a depth of around 2ft…. you can’t focus on the eyes with a depth of 2ft (.5ft. if opening a stop or so)?

            Candids are a cinch with reasonable DOF management! The lens isn’t the issue. 😉

          • fanboy fagz

            Mf lenses.. No way. Not for me.

          • teila

            They aren’t for everyone, and just like not every red and gold ring lens (Canon/Nikon) is awesome, the same holds true for Zeiss lenses. Manufacturers make great and also bum lenses.

            However if you compare the long throw Zeiss design (focus ring turns buttery smooth about 270º+ of throw) to the best Canon/Nikon lenses (I shoot both) you might have an appreciation for why people spend as much as they do for the better MF lenses. I encourage you to rent one sometime if you haven’t already shot with the better MF lenses. That said, I concede, they aren’t for everyone 🙂

            Best in photography to you!

  • At least someone is “refreshing” their new/old 135mm. I hope Sigma or Tamron are next in line with a modern day 135mm.

    • johnny

      I would love to see a 135 Art from Siggy. Fast 135mm without AF is very limited as its usage is mainly on indoor sport or stage photography.

    • Les

      I think Canon will be next to update their 2/135.

  • Brett Monroe

    It won’t really be a refresh, just a re-skin of the body.

  • Originaru

    Spec geeks fapping!

  • they dont want there customers to be happy or what? fix that af problem and not make us pay a dime for there mistake. instead they leave it. wow. money maker right there.

    • Deryk

      Zeiss is a German company and they cannot produce AF lenses with Nikon and Canon. Sigma, Tamron, and such are Japanese companies, based in Japan, so they can. I am not a 100% sure why they can do it for Fuji and Sony, but possibly because those companies allow it. There is a good article about it if you look it up under photography life.

      • El Aura

        Sony is pretty open about the E-mount, which makes it much easier for third-parties to produce AF lenses for it. I would assume this is similar with Fuji as they probably gain more by attracting third-party lenses than Nikon or Canon which have many more of their own lenses to sell.

        Sigma is essentially reverse-engineering the AF protocols for Nikon and Canon which means their lenses can need firmware updates to work with newer bodies. Tamron has made deals about sharing lens designs with camera makers (currently most visible with Pentax lenses) that probably gives them some access to AF protocols. I think Tokina has also done deals with camera makers. And as Deryk said, they are Japanese companies, they get deals and access that foreign companies just cannot achieve outside of formal co-branding things (the Sony Zeiss and Panasonic Leica lenses).

        • Francisco Santos

          Zeiss and Fuji had an agreement. Fuji actually wouldnt want third party manufactorers to make AF lenses for their system. They want to garantee good quality with their x-mount. Zeiss was an exception for their 3 touit lenses, because zeiss actually produce quality lenses. Sigma and Tomron would put to much trash lenses out of plastic available.

          • TinusVerdino

            which would sell a lot more of those overpriced Fuji bodies.

    • TheInconvenientRuth

      Nikon is mostly worried that if 3rd party makers make AF lenses with permission/technology from Nikon, then the consumers will blame Nikon if the AF doesn’t work properly, even if the lens maker did a shabby job at implementing the AF.

  • Lee

    I’d bet anything thing is going to be a rehouse like the 35/2, 21/2.8, and Macros rather than an actually replacement like the 50/1.4 & 85/1.4. This lens absolutely does not need a redesign any time soon. I actually thought they’d rehouse it as an Otus instead of a Milvus.

    • photographer-at-large

      It would be nice if Milvus version is internal focusing, instead of extending 28mm (1.1 inches).

  • I’m using macro Milvus 50/2 with Nikon D810 and it’s really the best macro short lens I ever used. Even old Zeiss 100/2 was not so good. I want 135/2, so it will be cool to buy newer version – somehow Zeiss make very very good lenses and in my experience nothing was close.

    • vriesk

      How do you rate the sharpness of this lens wide open?

      • Almost perfect) But I work mostly at f8-16 photographing underwater creatures, so I have less experience with wide open zeiss.

      • gene henry

        been shooting with the 2/50 Milvus while on vacation here in Hawaii. Check out my IG for examples. it’s pretty sharp. I have to take a couple snaps just to nail it, sharp. @wardstr

    • gene henry

      Are you on instagram I would like to see the results of the 2/50 on Nikon. I am currently shooting with it on a Canon 6D.

  • Arnklars

    I use The Apo Sonnar T* 2/135mm on my Nikon D750 and get very good results, even vide open. I spend a few months learning to manual focus properly with perfection.

  • gene henry

    I agree that MF with the 135mm will be difficult. I am on vacation with the 2/50 Milvus on a 6D in Hawaii right now and I find that I am taking multiple snaps to nail the photo. I will end up buying the 135mm anyway I think. The 2/50 is nice. Check out my current snaps @wardstr

  • Crista Alegre

    What about the new Zeiss Batis-line for Leica SL, 😀
    could be nice !!!

  • Back to top