Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/2
by Guy Geva
Photography became a very significant part of me at the beginning of the 90s, when I was an Art freshman. Naturally, back then I had to use manual lenses. I did use autofocus lenses every now and again, but even then it was always my preference to focus manually. I like to focus manually; it allows me to “feel” the photograph I shoot, the lens, and the work I put into capturing the right frame. As a beginner photographer, it took me some time to find the path I like – landscape photography and art photography – and I shot various animals and birds, among other things. I used manual focus even when taking these pictures, including mirror lenses with a focal length of 500mm! If you know this lens you certainly know how difficult it is to focus it manually, and yet I always managed to do it, and to do it quickly.
This is why when I first began using the Zeiss lenses, the manual focus not only did not interrupt me, on the contrary, it became easier to use than ever before. The focus ring has a wide range of movement in the Zeiss lenses. Unlike lenses by other manufacturers which lose focus with every millimeter movement, it is easy to focus accurately and quickly with the Zeiss lenses.
One other feature that makes it easier to focus is the sharpness of the lens – the relation between resolution and contrast. The lens is so clear and sharp, the image is flawless, and the whole focusing process is easy and quick. Thanks to this, even the focus verification mechanism of the body works better, and it seems that the lens facilitates that to a great extent.
Prime lenses have a different focal length each and it feels natural for me to use them, since it is similar to our everyday vision. Wide angle lenses, such as 18 mm or 21 mm, are equivalent to our vision when looking at the open scenery. Our eyes quickly scamper to both sides so that we can see and appreciate the whole scenery. The 50mm lens is equivalent to the vision angle of anyone with a pair of eyes in his head, The 85mm lens is equivalent to our focused gaze when looking at a face. The 13 mm would also serve the same purpose while it is also equivalent to the width of the angle and to how we “zoom” when observing a distant object in the scenery.
What would the 28mm lenses and the 35mm lenses be good for? They are best for urban photography or indoor photography. When we walk about in the city our gaze is blocked by buildings on both sides of the street. This narrows our angle of vision, and this is the exact angle of vision in these focal lengths. The same happens within a church or inside any building. If we don’t turn our heads to the right and to the left we “see” with a 35mm lens, which is why it makes it logical and natural for me to use the 35mm lens. This way I can shoot what I perceive in reality.
Lately, I’ve been getting headaches from too much color being everywhere; it disrupts my sight and creates a visual mess in the picture. I cannot say it is like that in all cases, however, in most cases, I prefer to use monochrome. When shooting inside churches, which usually have a limited spectrum of colors, I don’t see a good reason to use color. Especially when it comes to very old churches, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Church covers the area where, according to Christian tradition, Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected. Much of the Church remained the way it was when it was first built, during the 4th century AD, especially the walls in the bedrock.
Hundreds of visitors enter the Church every day – tourists, worshipers and archeology lovers arrive from all over the world. So, while shooting there, it must be taken into account that the place is crowded. When shooting in a place with so many people, it is important to include them in the picture. It conveys the uniqueness of the site, especially when people are constantly moving about. What is also unique to this Church is that it is poorly lit. It actually enhances its beauty, which is why it was my choice to let the dimness be in the pictures.
Not only is it naturally dim inside the Church, it is not possible to use flash there. Therefore it is essential to use high ISO and low aperture speed, and no tripod of course. When shooting without a tripod, a lens that is a little heavier that the plastic lenses on the market is only an advantage. It helps keep the balance between the weight of the body of the camera and the weight of the lens, while allowing me to remain stable even at low speed, as can be seen in the pictures taken there.