The Zeiss Milvus 21mm is an extremely well built, all metal full frame wide angle lens with superb image quality. The Milvus range from Zeiss is offered as having a high level of corrections and performance, but not the size, weight or cost of their Otus line. The image quality that can be achieved with this lens is well worth the cost, the images just pop and the clarity, beautiful contrast and colour rendition make this line of Zeiss prime lenses hard to beat for the price. The Nikon version has a small screw on the back of the lens that can be turned to de-click the ring for video applications and this is one of the best features of this line of lenses, allowing a smooth aperture transition when shooting video. When set to an aperture of F/22 this control feature is transferred to the camera body. Zeiss also offers a very well made range of lens gears specifically made for the Milvus line of primes. These extremely well made metal lens gears fit perfectly to allow the use of a follow focus.
The Milvus 21mm f/2.8 is a Distagon-based design. It has 16 elements in 13 groups, four of which are Anomalous Partial Dispersion glass. The elements are a floating design, meaning that they move relative to each other as you focus, maintaining performance at all focal distances. Zeiss promotes the 21mm as the “Master of Horizons”, which suggests this ultra-wide angle is aimed at landscape photographers but this lens is a fantastic wide prime for close up street photography and aerials.
KHUKH SERKH SPECIAL PROTECTED AREA, ALTAI MOUNTAINS, WESTERN MONGOLIA: Local Khazakh Department of Protected Area Management rangers play a critical role in monitoring wildlife activity and conflict mitigation within the protected areas.
Here below I have the Milvus 21mm 2.8 on my D850 with the lens gear fitted and a wooden camera rig for shooting video. Without the battery grip this makes a good sized video rig that can be added to easily. Handles, lights and external monitors can be easily added with all the mounting options on these DSLR rigs. The lens gears are actually really good for shooting stills also as the standard rubber grip on the lens barrel I find a bit too smooth. The lens gears provide an easy way to find precise focus on these very smooth and accurate manual focus lenses.
In the below image of the Mongolian team testing snow leopard traps, the high contrast natural lighting situation is handled very well by the Milvus lens. The sharpness is superb and the colour contrast is very natural.
KHUKH SERKH SPECIAL PROTECTED AREA, ALTAI MOUNTAINS, MONGOLIA: Testing snow leopard traps for deployment in the Khukh Serkh special protected area. GPS collaring provides valuable data as to snow leopard ecology and behaviour and with each collaring expedition often requiring months in remote locations, it is critical all equipment is accounted for and operating correctly. The snow leopard (Pantera uncia) is a keystone species of the mountain ecosystems of Central Asia. As the top predator in the high mountains of Central Asia, the snow leopard plays an important ecological role in controlling the populations and health of the wild species it preys on.