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Keywords: Zeiss Canon Nikon Tele Prime Sonnar APO 35mm


Registered: January 2015
Posts: 13
Carl Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 review by Airy
Review Date: 4/8/2015 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $1,800.00| Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, contrast, flare control, APO, close focus (1:4)
Cons: price ; bulky when hood is mounted

The perfect lens, maybe. I could not find a circumstance where it would deliver disappointing pictures : day, night, against-the-light, etc.

Also very useful for stage shots, if you can live with manual focus. The cylindrical metal hood gives perfect protection against shocks and stray light. And since f/2 already delivers outstanding center sharpness and contrast, you may consider that aperture is only there for setting the depth-of-field, and auto ISO would take care of the light.

Bokeh, while not at the level of, say, the Nikon 85/1.4G, is 95% close to it, and not an issue.

Registered: April 2014
Posts: 1
Carl Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 review by RS
Review Date: 4/11/2014 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $96.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: Very nice rendition of the human face
Cons: No autofocus

I rented this lens and the Nikon 135DC f/2 at the same time and used them for a portrait gig on a D800E on a tripod with remote shutter release.

The two lenses performed almost identically, I can't really tell them apart from normal viewing distance. But the lens is fun to use—it's a joy to turn the focus ring and watch the subject snap into focus.

The main difference is that the Nikon lens had that Nikon purple and green fringing at the edges of everything and the rendering was not quite as crisp as the Zeiss. But crispness is not usually a good thing with portraits—it draws attention to every hair, zit, and mascara crumb. So beware if you're going to use this lens for portraits.
I would try a Softar or a one of the lighter grades of a Tiffen Black Pro-Mist on this lens next time I shot a woman with it. Or just get the 135DC, the photos it produces are very flattering.

The question that this lens answers is "Will zeiss lenses give me medium-format quality images from a D800?" And the answer, at least for me, is yes.

Registered: February 2011
Posts: 5
Carl Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 review by azoele
Review Date: 7/20/2013 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Total Spent: $1,900.00| Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness. Colour. Contrast. "Presence". Minimum focus distance
Cons: Out of focus rendition can be a tad harsh. Manual focus only. It forces you to downgrade your appraisal of all your other lenses...

I grew interested in this lens after reading raving reviews online.
But it was only when I held one in my hand, took a few shots and stared at the results that I was convinced: its qualities won me over, and made me forget all my fears (135mm is certainly my most used focal length, and manual focus only is a pain).
I simply tried it, and in a sort of trance bought it and left the shop!

How is it?
In a word: fantastic. Nothing I ever used, ever, can touch the results from this lens.
Wide open it is incredibly sharp and detailed, with mesmerizing colour and clarity. By f2.8 everything tops, and the image jumps at you, bold, crystal clear, saturated. The first shots you take with it are truly shocking, so much they are bold and crisp, with deep colours and razor sharp edges.

I tried a few times a 400 2.8, and it won't touch this Zeiss for rendition, sharpness and contrast.
I own since 3 years a 200/2 VR II, and while an incredible lens, it doesn't have the *bite* the Zeiss shows with ease already at f2, and even stopped down doesn't provide the same contrast, despite its nano-coating.
The 135 APO Sonnar simply has higher contrast and saturation than those 2 excellent primes, said to be the best in Nikon's lineup, and of everything else I've seen before.

Is it then the "be all" lens?
Not really, if one needs be sincere.
Bokeh is harsher than I expected: while still good in absolute terms, it is inferior to that of other famous lenses (105/2 Nikon, 85 1.4D/G, not to mention the 200/2), and one may want to be a little careful with that, especially with complex backgrounds very near your subject.
Also, focusing manually means is a bane for everything that moves. The plane of focus is just to thin, unless you start shooting f5.6 or f8.

But it is still the best lens I have ever used, bar none.
Also: it is so well corrected already wide open, that it is the very only manual focus lens I can focus trusting the "green" dot in my D3s and D4. If the dot lights up, the lens is in focus.
No other lens I own (17-35, 70-200/II, 105/2, 35 1.4, 24 1.4, 200/2) or have ever tried is so well corrected wide open and so reliable in manual focusing.

In summary: it is an astonishing – albeit quite specialized – piece of equipment. It is expensive, rather on the big side, difficult to operate due to manual focus... but make no mistake, its output is simply gorgeous, and one always feels like carrying it around to take another picture.


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