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For a bit over a year now I’m using ZEISS lenses for my photography as an ambassador for ZEISS Netherlands.
I was really lucky to be chosen as an ambassador. At that time it was only 2 years that I was working on fine art architecture photography. Spending a lot of free time in gaining knowledge of how and why to do certain things with an image and how to take the images that I wanted. Learning from the masters by studying their work and trying to replicate the process that was involved in their work.

In december 2015 I had the first contact with ZEISS Netherlands and in februari 2016 I took the Milvus 2.8/35 with me to Dubai while waiting for my prefered lens, the Milvus 2.8/21.
A lot has happened since then and I’d like to share my experiences so far as an ambassador for Zeiss.

Dubai skyline

As an ambassador for ZEISS Netherlands I share my images and my ambassadorship with the world. It isn’t only taking images with their amazing lenses, but more people start to see your work and start connecting that with the brand. A lot of questions about the lenses and my photography were asked and I was happy to help a lot of people.
I was able to help fellow photographers on what lens(es) to get for their photography. With my images (both edited and straight out of camera) I was able to share the quality of the Milvus line-up. I’ve got tons of great feedback and made new photography friends, both online and offline. It’s great to see that everyone approaches me with questions and I’m happy to help!
Thank you all for that!

For my own photography it ment that with the quality of the ZEISS lenses I was able to further enhance my fine art editing and it helped me landing commercial assignments apart from the random licensing.
An other fun thing to do was the take over of GUP magazine their instagram feed, although in hindsight it might was a bit too early to do so. My stack of images wasn’t big enough to really showcase my portfolio made with ZEISS lenses and on top of that they suffered a hack on which their complete Instagram page was deleted. I still can’t understand why someone would do that…

At Photokina (Köln 2016) I met the team of ZEISS and it was a great pleasure to talk to everyone over there. Seeing the complete product line and being able to see all the differences between the lenses. It was also the place where I finally met Swee C Oh, winner of the Hasselblad masters with her architecture photography. She is really inspiring and a great person. We went out shooting the sunset with a small group which was really a lot of fun. I really hope to meet up in New York, Swee!
It was also the place where we ran into the guys from the Red dot forum (Leica) and had a great time talking photography.
Photokina was a lot of fun and I invite you to join me next time.

Most of all I’d like to thank the team of Transcontinenta Benelux (ZEISS distributor) for their continued support and trust.

What do I think about the Milvus line-up after a year of using them?

My review of the Milvus 2.8/35 and 2.8/21 are being read quite a lot. Those reviews are written after a few weeks of intense usage.
Now after a year of using the lenses, do I still think the same about the Milvus line up?

Using the lenses in all kinds of different environments I can say I know how the lens will perform in any given situation. Using manual focus was something that I didn’t used a lot before I got the ZEISS lenses. How did that affect my photography? Lets go over all aspects of the lens.

Build quality

The lens is made up of an all aluminium body and lens hood. It’s weather sealed and has a firm rubber grip on the focusing ring.
The weather sealing helped me staying out a bit longer than I would normally do. I’m not afraid for a bit of rain and continue to shoot through the weather, which I didn’t do before.
The lens hood does a great job in minimising reflections. The inside of the lens hood is made of a soft black material which doesn’t reflect at all.

After a year of using the lens in all kinds of weather and being sand blasted (which ruined one of my dials of the camera) the lens continued to perform at a top level. The focus ring continues to turn super smooth, which I can’t say of my Nikon lens which was also sandblasted. So again the build quality of the lens lets you truly shoot in any kind of environment and weather.

Manual focus

I know this seems to be a big thing. To be honest I was a bit afraid to use it in all conditions.

For landscapes it’s easy, just switch to live view and focus on the point you want to be in focus and take the photo.
The first few times I tried to manual focus while taking pictures of my daughter playing with our cats, I noticed I was too slow. On a side note, I was using Nikon and thus I don’t have the luxury of focus peaking like Sony or Leica, I had to rely on the focus dot and my own eyes.
By practising, I got the hang of it pretty soon and was able to focus faster and judge the focus better.
The way you focus the Milvus helps a lot. The focus ring moves super smooth and the travel range is just right, helping you to quickly fine tune the focus.

The thing that I love the most of using manual focus is that you don’t rely on your focus points anymore, giving your more flexibility with the composition. Now your first and only concern is your composition, you just focus. This gives me a lot more freedom and makes changing compositions much faster.

If you shots lack interesting compositions or you would like to try anything else, just switch off auto focus of your current lens and enjoy the freedom!

21mm focal range

When I met the people of ZEISS Netherlands at Transcontinenta I didn’t have to think twice about what my favourite focal length was. By inspecting my Lightroom library, I found out that the majority of my shots were between 20 and 28mm. A lot of people like zooms over prime lenses because of the wide focal range of the zooms. But the optical quality of the prime lenses is  superior to the zoom lenses.
I have noticed that with 21mm you can do all kinds of photography. Cityscapes, Astro, Landscapes, Architecture even group shots or family events. This lens is attached almost all the time to my camera.

When photographing cityscapes I’d rather take a panorama with my 21mm than changing to the 16 mm range.
This has multiple advantages. First of all by stitching the panorama you get much more detail and a much larger file, which can be very useful. Second of all the Milvus 2.8/21 has almost 0 distortion, meaning more natural images.

Optical quality

To finish it off, lets talk about the optical quality of the Milvus.
It is just magnificent. It’s so sharp and has beautiful mid tone contrast which gives that extra punch ZEISS is know for.
Very little to no distortion and chromatic aberration, mean very clean images.

The way forward

I still want to progress with my photography.
About 6 months ago I had a portfolio review and they gave me tips to achieve my goals. My goal is to make fine art works that would be represented by galleries. I still have work to do but I know what to do, I continue to learn and strive to be a better photographer.

ZEISS Netherlands is helping me to achieve my goals, which is just fantastic!
As of now I also have the new Milvus 2/135 in my bag, to further mix up my portfolio.

For mobile photography with the iPhone and all it usability I’m also using the new ZEISS Exolens wide angle kit.
Perfect for shooting scenes with the iPhone and filming. You can read all about that in my review, here.

This all came at a perfect time, since I was suffering a bit from the photographers block.
I love to produce the fine art images but they are very time consuming. In the Instagram game I wanted to grow, but these images took too much time.
Now I can mix up my photography even more and in the end this will give me a clear mind and good focus to get back on track with my black and white fine art images.


To finalise this post I want to say thank you to all of you who are following along with my photographic journey.
Thank you for all your support and feedback.
And of course thank you to Eric and Rob for your continued support.

I can’t wait to see what the future will hold.
Follow along on Instagram and Facebook!


Author Martijn.Kort

Fine art photographer focusing on architecture and cityscapes as well as capturing unique moments from the cockpit. Writing about photography techniques and sharing reviews. Ambassador for both ZEISS Netherlands and Nisi Filters. If you like my work, consider following me on Instagram!

More posts by Martijn.Kort

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