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The Best Zeiss Lenses for Film Photography


If there is any brand that inspires awe into film photographers, it’s Zeiss. Sure, there’s also Mamiya, Pentax, and Leica; but Zeiss lenses are the highest fruit you can get your hands on. And if you’re a Nikon or Canon film SLR photographer, then you can get your hands on some of the best Zeiss lenses for film photography. Luckily for you, we’ve tested them all; and we’ve even used them on film cameras. So we dove into our Reviews Index to find the best ones just for you. Take a look!

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How We Tested the Best Zeiss Lenses for Film Photography

Here’s some insight into how to use this guide to the best Zeiss lenses for film photography:

  • We’ve tested every single product that we’re recommending here. In fact, all the product photos and sample images were shot by our staff. Our Editorial Guidelines don’t allow us to talk about products that we have tested in these feature round-ups. And to read more about those Editorial Guidelines as well as our accredited reputation, please visit our link here to see that and much more.
  • Quite literally, we actually tested these Zeiss lenses with film cameras. You can check in each section to see our hyperlinked reviews. From there, you can check to see what cameras we used in the “Gear Used” sections. With that said, all the sample images in this review were shot on film. 
  • For even more, we’ve got a dedicated Zeiss Milvus lens guide that you can peruse.
  • Zeiss lenses for film photography are all manual focus. And thankfully, Zeiss came out with new lenses for DSLRs in the past decade. Even better, they’re all compatible with DSLRs and film SLRs of the same camera mount.
  • We tested the best Zeiss lenses for film photography on both Canon and Nikon cameras. We think you’ll like these and the focus confirmation features that each lens offers the cameras. 

Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Milvus

Pros

  • Fantastic image quality
  • Such low distortion that it surely can be used for portraits
  • Great skin tone rendition helps this lens work for loads of different skin types and tones
  • Sharp
  • Zeiss micro-contrast will have everyone in shock at how beautiful the images are
  • Precise focusing
  • Weather sealing
  • Solid build quality
  • My personal favorite focal length and aperture

Cons

  • I really wish they made this lens for Sony FE cameras or Fujifilm GF format cameras
  • Heavy and big

How’s The Image Quality?

In our review, we state:

“The Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Milvus is without a doubt the absolute best 35mm f1.4 lens that I’ve ever used. And in many ways that makes me both excited and sad. Excited because the image and build quality are fantastic. But I’m also a bit sad because I really wish that Zeiss made this lens for the Fujifilm GF format and the Sony FE camera system. With that said, the lens would probably be a bit smaller in the case of the latter argument. But that’s all just me making some personal wishes.”

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Zeiss 15mm f2.8 Milvus

Pros

  • Super sharp
  • It’s almost impossible to take a bad photo with this lens
  • Well built
  • Not incredibly heavy
  • Gorgeous image quality
  • Every time you look through the viewfinder, you’re bound to see something awesome because of just how vast the viewing angle is
  • Weather sealing

Cons

How’s The Image Quality?

In our review, we state:

“The colors that the 15mm f2.8 Milvus lens can deliver are gorgeous overall. The saturation is quite strong–even more so than anything I’ve seen from Sigma. If you’re a landscape shooter, you’ll truly appreciate this.”

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Zeiss 18mm f2.8 Milvus

Pros

  • Sharp; though I’ve seen sharper lenses in the Milvus lineup
  • Not too terrible when it comes to distortion
  • Zeiss seems to be keeping the contrast down with this lens which ends up giving us the potential to make more use of the camera sensor’s dynamic range
  • Weather sealing
  • Great feeling in the hand
  • Not too large

Cons

How’s The Image Quality?

In our review, we state:

“Zeiss has always been well know for the quality of their wide angle lenses and the 18mm f2.8 Milvus is no exception at all here. What’s very surprising is the bokeh and just how nice it can be when focusing very close up on a subject. Then at the other end of the focusing area you can get something that’s very colorful and overall tack sharp. This lens though isn’t one that delivers images as saturated as some of the other Milvus glass that Zeiss has. Instead, it’s somewhere in-between–and it’s also advantageous when it comes to utilizing the dynamic range of your camera.”

Buy Now

The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links,







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