CUSTOMER CASE STUDY / REVIEW: Long Exposure Landscapes in the Lake District, with the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 & LEE Filters
4 May 2018
Richard Harnett recently shared one of his dramatic images from his trip to The Lakes with us on Instagram, having hired the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8, so of course, we asked if he would like to be featured as a case study! Richard chose to hire the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f/2.8 to use with his full-frame Nikon D810, and by combining this combo with his own LEE Filters achieved these incredibly atmospheric images. Read on for how he got on, and for his comprehensive review of the lens…
I’ve walked in the English Lake District for decades but only in recent years have I taken photographing its beauty more seriously. An Easter break in Keswick with my wife Barbara seemed a perfect opportunity to add my own versions of the popular views to my portfolio as well as some of my own compositions. I’d been thinking of trying out a quality prime landscape lens and Hireacamera’s extra free days promotion made a very affordable option of trying the Zeiss Milvus 18mm f2.8 ZF2. The lens arrived on time in a usefully small Peli case and was in ‘as new’ condition. It was reassuring to see the accompanying paperwork and thumb-drive photos; showing the lens had been through a thorough inspection and function check before dispatch.
Looking across the Lake to Catbells. This was taken from the east side of Derwentwater in a small bay south of Friar's Crag just outside Keswick. I was stood in the shallows in my wellies. I used a polariser to cut through the lake surface reflections and a 0.6ND Hard Grad to reduce dynamic range.
The weather was typical Lakes with plenty of rain and overcast, moody dawns, providing ideal testing conditions for the Milvus’ weatherproofing and ability to pull out micro-contrast in dull lighting. It did not disappoint. The 18mm Milvus uses a useful 77mm filter size and it complemented my Nikon D810 perfectly for size and weight. It handles beautifully; silky smooth manual focus action and works well with the viewfinder focus guide. For critical focus I would recommend zooming into the Live View image on the back screen. The engraved focus and depth of field scales also prove useful though a little more interpolation on the scales would be helpful. I would not say it is any sharper than its nearest competitors but the elegant fall-off of the focus plane is pleasing, its ability to pull out micro-contrast and resist flare is, in my opinion, outstanding and distortion and chromatic aberration is under good control and easily corrected in post-processing. It does vignette quite heavily at large apertures but again not in an unpleasant way and is effectively removed in post. I found no vignetting problems with a Lee wide-angle adaptor ring, two stacked filters and an end-mounting Lee Landscape Polariser.
Looking across Derwent Isle northwest with a 'fortunate' clutch of stones in the foreground. I was again stood in the shallows in wellies. I used a 0.9ND filter to smooth the water, a polariser to reduce glare from the water and a 0.6ND hard Grad fro the sky and a stacked 0.6ND soft Grad for the water.
Patience is rewarded, and a sunny day saw the Milvus deliver bright, accurate colours; not overly saturated but with plenty of detail. A bit of evening pink and purple had me standing in Derwentwater in the blue hour with a Big Stopper, before we headed back for a well-earned few drinks.
We had a fantastic Easter break and it wasn’t all photography (that wouldn’t be allowed!!). I got good use out of my wellies, and boots, and even deployed the umbrella and sunglasses at times!! Hopefully my images reflect the changeable nature of Lakeland weather and the beauty that persists regardless.
Looking west across to Derwent Isle from an old jetty next to the Keswick launch jetty on the edge of the town. I took this from the shore edge and wanted to silhouette the old wooden posts. I used a Lee Little Stopper to smooth the water and stacked 0.6 ND hard and soft grads filters to reduce the dynamic range. I adjusted the polariser to enhance the water reflection rather than cut through it.
I was reluctant to do so but returning the lens was made easy as all had been provided on receipt. A delay with the courier was soon remedied by Hireacamera staff, one of whom kept in touch after-hours to ensure all went well.
Thank you Hireacamera for a great service!!
An extra special thanks to Richard, not only for sharing his inspirational images with us, but for also taking the time to write such a detailed review. I'm now dying to get home and grab my camera!
You can follow Richard's work via the links below: