Zeiss 35mm f/2 Milvus ZF.2


There are not enough superlatives to properly describe how nice the modern line of Zeiss Milvus lenses are today. We are lucky to have them around, each is its own work of art and each produces optical renderings that become art.


This lens is setup with 9 elements in 7 groups.

Maximum aperture: f/2

Minimum aperture: f/22

9 rounded aperture blades do a nice job of making a smooth and creamy bokeh.

The front filter ring is 58mm. That isn't the 72mm that i would prefer to see on a high-end professional lens and it isn't the common 58mm size seen on vintage Nikkors, but if Zeiss is able to keep things a little smaller and a little lighter by keeping things 14mm smaller, then fine with me.


Made out of metal this lens has a professional, solid feel to it.

The focus ring is covered in a rubber grip that is smooth and sometimes hard to tell if you are touching it or the lens body itself. The ring does not protrude from the lens body. After a few moments with the rubbery ring you will grow to like it, but I can't say I love it: it seems built for looks over performance.

The metal lens hood is a pedal style. The hood does not stick out too far making it easy to access the lens cap. I leave my lens hood on the lens all of the time, pointed out. The hood is lined with black felt to cut down on light bouncing around that much more.

There is a lock on the aperture ring to ensure there is no slip from maximum f-stop. The lens comes with a little tool to "de-click" the aperture ring for smooth transition for filmmakers.

The grand number of elements and groups is responsible for all of the corrections. Lens makers don't put glass into a lens for no reason. Each element and group is there to serve a purpose: making a better image. in this case, they work in concert to render super sharp images.

The lens is ultra sealed to keep out dust and moisture. There is a blue rubber gasket around the lens mount to keep junk out of the camera body, too.


At every f-stop this lens is a dream, even wide open. It handles perfectly with easy-to-use focus rendering crisply sharp images from corner to corner at every f-stop. As you stop it down there is no distortion, no aberration, it is just lovely from top to bottom of the focus and aperture range.

All of those elements and all of the solid metal comes at a premium MSRP and used lenses command a high price as well. I bought mine used to save some coin but it is truly worth every dollar.

When i am going to shoot some portraits or some model trains and I am thinking I will need something wider than 50mm, this is the first lens I put onto a body. If i want to do a full-length shot of a model or (as seen in the examples) a car, then this lens does the duty. I don't have to worry that it is going to underperform, I know it will always deliver crisp, clean images time after time.

The coatings do a good job of making nice contrast with those crisp images but the colors are not to the outstanding level of say a Voigtlander: those are in a class of their own.

I'm not the only one who thinks this is a fantastic 35mm f/2 lens. The folks at DxO rated this the best 35mm lens at f/2. (source)


Zeiss makes a 35mm f/1.4 lens which is just like this one only faster and even better optical performance, if that can be imagined. But that lens is beyond expensive, it is insanely expensive.

If you are more budget concious, there is a Nikkor-O 35mm f/2 and mine comes from the pre-AI days, being converted to AI it works fine for an order of magnitude less of cost.

The Nikkor 35mm f/1.6G AFS is not a viable option to many here as that lens is strictly a dx lens. If you are looking at something full-frame like this f/2 lens, then you want full frame.


Following are some sample photos to demonstrate the power of this type of lens and some general uses which will likely yield good results. If you shoot things like these, then this lens may be a good one to think about adding to your camera bag.

Check out more photos I have shot with this lens in my Flickr Album.