Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE review

Beautifully crafted and with wonderful quality – who even needs autofocus anyway?

(Image: © Future)

Digital Camera World Verdict

A gorgeous lens inside and out, the stylish Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE is an optical wonder, bursting with features that make it a pleasure to use and shoot with. Manual focusing with this lens – your only option, mind – is a genuine pleasure, and built-in electronics work with the focusing lamp to ensure you aren’t completely on your own. This lens justifies its premium price tag – a real slice of photographic excellence.


  • +

    Gorgeous optical quality

  • +

    Smooth focusing action


  • -

    Manual focus only

  • -


Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

Autofocus cameras have been around since 1977, so why would a manufacturer still be making manual-focus lenses? Indeed, without the split-screen and microprism aids of yesteryear’s viewfinders, it can be tricky to nail manual focusing in modern DSLRs. But when it comes down to it, the Zeiss Milvus range of prime lenses does give a hands-on, feel-good-factor to photography, and the Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4 ZE is no exception.

There are 11 lenses in the Milvus line-up, from an ultra-wide-angle 15mm f/2.8 to a 100mm f/2 macro lens. The 50mm f/1.4 lies at the centre of the range and is typical in that it has a well engineered metal barrel and a full set of weather-seals. It’s a fabulously crafted lens that should last a lifetime. The real delight is in the optical quality, based on Zeiss’s legendary Distagon design principles, premium glass and T* anti-reflective coatings.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.