Thread: Zeiss Otus or Zeiss Milvus

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  1. #1 Zeiss Otus or Zeiss Milvus 
    Senior Member Jacques Mersereau's Avatar
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    If you were about to purchase your first set of primes - and plan on using these for everything from landscapes to talking head interviews -
    which would you purchase?

    The Otus are more money and only have three flavors, but are faster and overall sharper?
    whereas the Milvus are less expensive and offer more choices,
    but I am _most_ interested in the quality, sharpness (corner to corner) and also things like bokeh, flaring, chromatic aberration and fringing. etc.

    TIA
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  2. #2  
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    I think you'll find that there's a fair amount of discussion of each of these Zeiss lines on the forum, and that there are a lot of Otus fans here. Quite a few people have made mixed sets, employing Milvus lenses for missing spots in the Otus line.

    I personally own the 50 1.4 and 85 1.4 from the Milvus line. I auditioned the 85 Otus before deciding on the Milvus. The Otus is gorgeous, and indeed sharper wide open, and I believe that holds for the other Otus focal lengths as well. The Otus also has a slightly nicer mechanical feel, in my opinion. However, I really like the rendering of the Milvus line, and they perform extremely well by just about any traditional optical measure-- I've never wished they were sharper. So I couldn't justify the added expense.

    More importantly for me, for Otus money, I'd rather own less optically impressive lenses with proper cinema housing, such as Zeiss CP3 or Sigma Cine or maybe Schneider FF/Xenar. It would kill me to see my $4500/lens set sitting unused while I rent a set of something else to work with an AC.
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member Jacques Mersereau's Avatar
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    IF I go with the Otus, I was thinking about having them cinevised, but I think I read that only the Nikon (mount) has a manual iris? I also wonder if in the process of being cinevised if the focus be reversed to 'normal'?

    The only truly compelling reason for the Otus is they are super sharp and have little CA, so that might be worth it when doing landscapes and background 'plate' footage.

    Sending either variety to Dulcos does add even more money to the total cost of course. Anyone want to chime in on this?
    Also from what I have 'read' it appears the CP line has issues with fringing and CA. Have have some CP2 primes at work but almost all our shoot really need zooms.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacques Mersereau View Post
    I think I read that only the Nikon (mount) has a manual iris? I also wonder if in the process of being cinevised if the focus be reversed to 'normal'?
    -Correct, only the Nikon-mount Otus/Milvus have manual iris. (The Nikon-mount Milvus also allow a user to "de-click" the aperture ring simply by twisting a captive screw with an included tool. I don't believe Otus has this capability.)
    -Nope, you can't reverse focus direction with a simple cinemod. I think you'd need to have the optics rehoused with a new focus mechanism for that. I generally use a follow focus that allows you to reverse direction (such as Arri MFF-2 or one of many programmable remote follow-focuses).
    -If you want to spend less than the Duclos cinemod, the rubber gear rings from Cool-Lux are ok. But I find they sometimes slip if you're applying a lot of force or trying to follow action (especially on the 85mm, for some reason-- maybe focus is more damped?), so I think the Duclos cinemod is probably worth it if you're going to be doing lots of active focus pulling.
    -If your primary use is landscape/background plate, or even shooting interviews where you rarely touch the lens, then you may well be very happy with these lenses.
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Blair S. Paulsen's Avatar
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    In most situations, I doubt you'll see a meaningful difference between the Milvus and Otus. As M Harvey notes, the Sigma CINEs/CP3s/etc are designed for motion/narrative applications. Even a great stills lens like the Otus will not have the functionality many productions require.

    IAC, I do have an idea that might suit your situation and budget. Get one Otus, in the focal length you are most likely to use for landscape/plates/etc and Milvus for all the others. If it were me, I'd probably get the 55mm Otus (it's $1,000 less than the other Oti), but the 28mm is probably the focal length where the optical benefits vs the Milvus would be most meaningful. I haven't tested the 28mm Otus and the 25mm Milvus side by side, but I'd expect the corner to corner sharpness of the Otus to be noticeably superior.

    Bottom line - Milvus offers a fine price/performance option for owner/ops willing to forego cinema mechanics/functionality for financial reasons.

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  6. #6  
    Senior Member Tommaso Alvisi's Avatar
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    Hey Jacques,

    if you have a locking EF Mount (RED/CANON/ARRI/METABONES) go OTUS, Milvus are nice but no match for OTUS imho.

    To have the same optical performance of OTUSes with cine housings you have to spend much much much more.

    Sigma CINEs are nice too and quite sharp but again, no match for OTUS and same price...

    If you have a wireless follow focus already you can mark dedicated swappable focus rings on the hand unit one for each lens
    or even use pre-marked rings and program the curve on the system for each lens so you would have nicely spaced marks, quite set friendly...

    Other focal lengths are coming too apparently (hoping for a 21mm, 40mm and 65mm here!).

    And If you guys often need zooms get the Zeiss CZ.2 28-80, it's THAT good.
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Jacques Mersereau's Avatar
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    I saw the Zeiss compact zooms at NAB 2019. Yes, they are really nice - and priced accordingly. I was thinking about trying to afford one of them, though I don't really like the look of the 15-30mm when at 15, but it is hard for that focal length not to look a bit strange anyway. From 20mm up it looks good. I think you are spot on about the 28-80 - really nice. BUT, you can only put it on one camera at a time,
    whereas with three OTUS, it might be possible (not always) to get two or even three camera angles (Multicam) so when you get a good take they all cut together without a hitch and massive amounts of time are saved. Much better coverage when you get that one really good performance.

    I saw the Sigma Cines also at NAB. Honestly, I don't know why, but I didn't like them all that much.

    I read elsewhere that Zeiss might not ever make other Otus focal lengths. They have had enough time by now, so . . . who knows? I would love to see a 18 or 19mm Otus.

    Being super fast, the Otus also makes for having to light with a lot less foot candles.
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  8. #8  
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    Milvus are identical glass to the supreme primes which I really wasn’t very impressed with. At the milvus price point, they become much more interesting. The Otus are a much more impressive lens but a limited lens set.
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member Brody_B's Avatar
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    Owned a Milvus for a short time, had to return it cause the CA was a bit too much for my tastes also thought they were a to soft for my needs. Have the Otus set now and have nothing but good things to say about them. Plus don’t forget the large focus degree amount and the rings are very very smooth similar to nicely machined cinema glass. The Otus’s are quite heavy compared to milvus if that’s a consideration for you.
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