Lumix S1 with Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Milvus

1080 1080 Tim Breaseale

As you can see from the title and photo above, I am here to share my experience about using the Lumix S1 + Sigma MC-21 + Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Milvus.  Over the past year, I have transitioned from using Canon gear to Lumix gear.  I am currently using the Sigma MC-21 adapter with my Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS for telephoto shots on the S1 body.  I have used many different Zeiss lenses throughout my photographic career and have loved the image quality.  Recently, I got to wondering how the Zeiss lenses would work with the Lumix S1 and Sigma MC-21 adapter, mainly the Milvus line.

I started my journey with the typical Google search.  I found a couple of Reddit threads that sounded like the Milvus would not work with the Lumix S1 and MC-21 adapter.  I read that the aperture didn’t work at all or the camera didn’t work correctly when attached with the MC-21 and Milvus.  The YouTube search didn’t have any direct videos on the matter of use, but a couple of videos did talk about using different adapters and old lenses for video.  I assumed that if others were having success using different adapters with old lenses for video, then possibly the Milvus would work for stills.  My only concern was that the Milvus in ZE mount (Canon mount) did not have a dedicated aperture ring and relied and on the internal electronics.  This brought my thoughts back around to the Reddit posts about having problems.  I reached out to Zeiss directly and asked them if the Milvus lenses (ZE mount) work with the Lumix S1 plus MC-21 adapter.  The reply I got back from Zeiss was that there were no known issues, but if I liked, they would send me out a test unit for 2 weeks.  I replied…..YES, please!

After giving Zeiss my info, I got a confirmation email from them that the lens would be sent out from Lensrentals.com.  I thought, WOW, I’ve always wanted to try them out, and here was the perfect opportunity to do so.

The Lens arrived overnight and was packaged in an outer carton. Inside the carton was this nice, hard, plastic case. Inside the case was plenty of padding with the lens itself in a padded case.  There were even cleverly designed instructions on how to repackage the box for returning the lens.  Plus, they included plenty of sticky tape for the outer carton.  The tape had some funny lines about getting it stuck to your fingers.  This was a nice touch.  I would recommend Lensrentals.com if you need any photographic equipment for your next shoot.

Here is the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Milvus in all its glory.  The 50mm corresponds to the human eye perspective and is ideal for real-world shooting and portraiture.  The Milvus line is designed for current and future high-performance digital cameras.  The lens’s mechanical design consists of 10 floating elements in 8 groups and is sealed for protection against dust and moisture.
Here are some quick tech specs of the Milvus lens.

  • Aperture f/1.4-f/16
  • Elements/groups 10/8
  • Focusing range .45m (17.7″) – ∞
  • E67 filter thread
  • Weather sealed
  • LxW 3.84″x3.13″  *without lens hood, ZE version
  • Weight 922 g
  • Full frame for Canon or Nikon

Here is the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 Milvus mounted to the Lumix S1 with the Sigma MC-21 adapter.  It’s not too big or too heavy, even though the lens does have some heft.  The combination does feel pretty balanced.  The last image is a comparison of the Milvus to the Classic lens line.  You can see the design differences.  The classic lens is a 50mm f/2 macro.  I didn’t have the f/1.4 version available.  This macro lens is what I use every day for my product photography.  Click any of the 3 images above to get a closer look.

Now, here is the answer to the question we have all been waiting for.  Does the Lumix S1 with the Sigma MC-21 work with the Zeiss Milvus lens?  YES!  I am pleased to share my results and show some images that were taken with the lens.  After reading the poor responses on Reddit, I can say those folks are wrong.  I tried all different types of settings to get any type of problem, and there were none.  I used M/A/S priority.  I used P, which I never use.  I used auto ISO.  I even used a Godox AD200pro with high speed sync in aperture priority, and no problems.  I did set the camera up so that focus peaking was turned on.  Focus peaking is soooo easy with the Milvus lens.  I also set a couple of my custom function buttons to use AF-pinpoint focus.  From the pinpoint focus, I had a choice of center magnification or full-frame magnification.  Again, soooo easy to use.  So, here are some of my photos with commentation.  Click any of the images to enlarge.

With COVID running rampid here is South Florida, I just went around the house taking some photos.  I was looking around the yard to see what caught my eye, and all the sudden I heard, Oh, gnome you didn’t….  My joke of the day..lol. I shot the gnome at f/1.4.  You can see the prominent vignette and a very nice film look, but the eye is super tack sharp.  I used auto white-balance for all these images so that I could see how accurate the lens/camera balances the light.  I think it did a pretty good job, but maybe just a little on the cool side.

The palm was shot at ISO 100 @ f/5.6.  I think the exposure rendered pretty well.  I did notice a very faint chromatic aberration showing on the bottom portion of the palm stem near the edge, which would be easily corrected in Lightroom.

On the shells photo, I converted to B&W to show the sharpness of the lens without distracting colors.  This was shot with ISO 100 @ f/5.6.  Very clean and sharp.

The next series of images are showing center sharpness.  Click on the images to enlarge and see the detail.  On the sunflower, the first image is full frame, and the second image is 100% cropped.  Check out the detail in the flower and the tiny individual hairs coming off the leaves.  This was shot at f/1.4.  Amazing!

The water droplets in the spider web are pretty cool.  I shot this at f/2.8 because the wind was blowing, and I was hand-holding the camera.  I wanted to make sure the water drop was in focus.  Check out the 100% crop in the last photo.

In this series of photos, I shot some vehicles, one tiny and one large.  Click on the images to enlarge and see the detail.  Shooting the Lego Mercedes up close didn’t work well at f/1.4, so I stopped down to f3/5.  I wanted to show a little more depth of field between the car and driver.  For the second shot I stopped down even further to f/5.6.  Check out the bokeh in the background.  Not 100% round and loses roundness closer to the edges.  Varying apertures will affect the bokeh a little.  The bokeh this lens produces does not bother me.  How about you?

The Jeep, on the other hand, was in a different direction.  I wanted to get a smaller aperture and a slower shutter speed to see how well the in-camera stabilization worked using this lens.  The first Jeep image was at shutter speed 1/50th of a second hand-held.  I think it came out pretty darn sharp.  The second image of the Jeep was from the opposite direction to show a more urban/industrial feel.  I just wanted to take a shot of the Jeep without thinking about camera settings.

This last set of images are of a friend that works in the same building where I work.  Click on the images to enlarge and see the detail.  Tiff was kind enough to help out (while keeping good social distancing) with my lens test.  The first shot was indoors.  I was shooting A/aperture priority at f/2.8 with a Godox AD200Pro set to TTL.  I wanted to shoot as many auto settings as possible to see if I could replicate any problems that I read about from the Reddit post.  This was a good chance to use flash with the ambient light of fluorescents. Terrible lighting conditions, but the camera and flash worked perfectly together with no problems with the lens.  I would say the exposure was pretty good.

The next images were shot outside.  I used manual settings on the camera this time.  I was set at ISO 100 f/2.8 with 1/3200 of a second shutter speed using high-speed sync with the Godox flash.  Again, not a single problem using the Lumix S1 with the Sigma MC-21 mounted to the Milvus lens.  Check out the very last image.  See how sharp the lens rendered Tiff’s eye.

Here to the left is an animation of the vignetting of the lens.  I think it’s pretty heavy at f/1.4 and is gone by f/4.  But this wouldn’t deter me from using the lens, since most of my work is portrait work, and I use a vignette anyway.  If the vignette is to much for you, it’s easy to remove in Lightroom.

Here’s a quick pros and cons for this lens.

PROS

  • Excellent image quality
  • Weather sealing
  • Metal build lens barrel
  • Made to future-proof high megapixel digital cameras

CONS

  • No native L-mount lenses
  • Have to use lens adapter
  • Heavy vignetting from f/1.4 to about f/3.5-4

Overall, I really liked using this lens.  I had no problems with the communications from lens to adapter to camera.  I do wish the Milvus series would come out in L-mount, but for now, at least I can use one with an adapter.  I would even go as far as trusting this set-up for a job.  I highly recommend the Milvus line for anyone shooting a Lumix S series camera with the Sigma MC-21 adapter.  Now the hard question is, which lens do I want to purchase first?

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on using the Lumix S1 with the Zeiss Milvus lens.  If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me.  If you enjoyed what you read, please subscribe to my newsletter.  For more information about the products in this review follow the links below.

Panasonic Lumix S1
Zeiss Milvus 50mm f/1.4
Sigma MC-21
Les Rental  lensrentals.com

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