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Thread started 28 Feb 2016 (Sunday) 12:58
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Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135 F2, reviewed by Hatch1921

TOGGLE RATINGS BETWEEN ALL AND Hatch1921 (showing now: Hatch1921)
Overall Rating10
Overall Image Quality10
Value for Money10
Bokeh10
Sharpness10
Contrast10
Focusing9.5
Must Have10
Suitability to Intended Use10
Got What I Expected10
Ownership Status: "own"

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List all reviews of Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135 F2
 
Hatch1921
Cream of the Crop
Hatch1921's Avatar
Joined Mar 2006
Phoenix AZ
Feb 28, 2016 12:58 |  #1

Where to start? Take a look at my Canon 135mm review posted here and after reading it, you will know I love the lens and suggest if you want a killer 135mm with AF... this is the lens to grab for a Canon or Sony shooter.

Now... I have to say... as much as I love the Canon 135L, the Zeiss APO Sonnar T* F/2.0 has won me over. The build quality of the lens is stellar. You know as soon as you remove it from the box, Zeiss does quality work. The focusing ring is super smooth; the lens is solid, and it's a little hefty. Not heavy in a bad way, it balances nicely on the camera with a battery pack.

Macro photography is a passion of mine; I figured if I could nail shots with the Sigma 150mm OS in manual focus, the Zeiss should be no different when it comes to taking portraits or just general shooting. This holds true... to a degree. Shooting F/2.0 close with the limited DOF can be challenging, not impossible. One of the advantages with shooting the 5Ds is I can take a couple of steps back, shoot @ f2.0 for a portrait, expand my DOF a little and when the focus confirmation "beeps" the face 9 out of 10 times will be in focus. Shooting up close, I would suggest using live view for critical focus, when shooting wide open.

Lets us talk about sharpness, color, contrast, and bokeh. This lens is as sharp as my macro lenses through the corners and wide open. There is very minor vignetting.. minor. Colors and contrast... Zeiss produces some of the most "netural" tones or correct tones I've seen. Taking portraits, the skin tones look like they should without being warm or cold.

Bokeh... it's F/2.0... this lens crushes backgrounds... extremely smooth... very pleasing look.

One thing which jumped out at me the first time I shot the lens, no chromatic aberration (CA)... the evil purplish fringing. Shoot the Canon 135L or the Canon 85L and you get purple in your specular highlights. Not in the Zeiss... none... nix... nada!

The lens is not cheap... keep an eye out as they did go on sale several months back. This is something unusual for Zeiss from my understanding. The lens right now is $2200 in B&H. You can purchase one in the used markets for around $1600-$1700.

Is the difference in price worth it compared to buying the Canon 135L? I would say yes. The lens resolves images/details better than the Canon; colors are as they should be, it's sharper IMO, and no CA! Again, the Canon is a great lens... you won't regret the purchase. However, the Zeiss, if it fits your shooting style, is on another level. It's an Otus lens without the Otus price. Not joking... it's amazing!

Some shots below from the lens and the Canon 5Ds.

Garage head shot with my wife being kind enough to let me test the lens the first week I had it.

IMAGE: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/537/18999025041_d386fabbf5_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/uWSY​eg] (external link)Zeiss 135 (external link) by hatch1921 (external link), on Flickr

100% crop
IMAGE: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/383/18990618632_0a0792d6f0_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/uW8T​ib] (external link)Eye (external link) by hatch1921 (external link), on Flickr


Nice and sharp... great bokeh.

IMAGE: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/302/19162423276_26fc3867f3_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/vcjq​Qd] (external link)Butterfly Wonderland (external link) by hatch1921 (external link), on Flickr


Another example

IMAGE: https://farm1.staticflickr.com/548/19002419319_5600bc2497_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/uXbn​ei] (external link)Butterfly Wonderland (external link) by hatch1921 (external link), on Flickr

Morning light on a rose

IMAGE: https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3814/18983846172_73ae939b34_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/uVxb​5C] (external link)Morning Light (external link) by hatch1921 (external link), on Flickr

No CA

IMAGE: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5448/18251742074_a1a358871b_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/tNQX​3b] (external link)5Ds and Zeiss 135mm Testing (external link) by hatch1921 (external link), on Flickr

100% crop
IMAGE: https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5471/18877173491_d491410983_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/uL7s​1t] (external link)100 at f_56 (external link) by hatch1921 (external link), on Flickr

And one from yesterday... not a macro lens... but it's as sharp and does a great job!

IMAGE: https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1582/25023991160_d5a94f9d2f_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/E8hu​Ks] (external link)Emerald Beauty (external link) by hatch1921 (external link), on Flickr

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Kristy
Cream of the Crop
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10,565 posts
Gallery: 25 photos
Joined Sep 2005
A dream world where nothing is what it seems.
Oct 04, 2016 16:25 |  #2

Looks awesome! Your skill is impeccable as always! This lens is going to be dangerous in your hands! lol! Have you used it much since this posting?


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,but by the moments that take our breath away.
~George Carlin
Kristy :D 5D MkIII, 24-70 / f2.8 L, 2 AB800's, and some modifiers.
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Hatch1921
THREAD ­ STARTER
Cream of the Crop
Hatch1921's Avatar
Joined Mar 2006
Phoenix AZ
Oct 06, 2016 08:02 |  #3

Kristy wrote in post #18148410 (external link)
Looks awesome! Your skill is impeccable as always! This lens is going to be dangerous in your hands! lol! Have you used it much since this posting?


Hey there :) Many thanks, it's an incredible lens. Sadly no.. I haven't shot with it in a long time..... school/work.... wash,rinse, repeat. :)

The only issue I can see people having with this lens is the lack of AF.... other than that... it's the best 135mm I've ever shot.

Have a fun day:-)


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Silver-Halide
Senior Member
Joined Jan 2015
Oct 06, 2016 14:18 |  #4

What is your technique for portraiture? if the focus is even a little off I'll delete a photo, so whenever I have to manually focus I like to focus peek, zoomed in.


Echoes in Eternity LLC | Tucson and Southern Arizona Wedding Photographer (external link)

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Hatch1921
THREAD ­ STARTER
Cream of the Crop
Hatch1921's Avatar
Joined Mar 2006
Phoenix AZ
Oct 09, 2016 11:18 |  #5

Silver-Halide wrote in post #18150055 (external link)
What is your technique for portraiture? if the focus is even a little off I'll delete a photo, so whenever I have to manually focus I like to focus peek, zoomed in.


I tend to shoot without a tripod... while trying to hand-hold as steady as possible. I'm the same in the sense I will delete anything remotely close to being out of focus. The lens at F/2.0 is a challenge to nail focus while hand-holding. A monopod can be helpful in this case. I would suggest you rent the lens and see if you enjoy shooting it before making the investment. It's amazing glass....

Hatch


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Silver-Halide
Senior Member
Joined Jan 2015
Oct 10, 2016 05:53 |  #6

Do you use live view? Or a manual focus screen?


Echoes in Eternity LLC | Tucson and Southern Arizona Wedding Photographer (external link)

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Hatch1921
THREAD ­ STARTER
Cream of the Crop
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Joined Mar 2006
Phoenix AZ
Oct 10, 2016 18:02 |  #7

Silver-Halide wrote in post #18152974 (external link)
Do you use live view? Or a manual focus screen?


None of the above. :) Once you get comfortable with the working distances and trust you are hitting the focus... it's like working with any other lens. At F/2.0 it's a challenge... depending on the working distance. But... with the help of a monopod/tripod... you can nail the shots.

Hope this helps.
Hatch


FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS---Lighting Guides and More! (external link)
MAIN SITE (external link)
Great site to buy gear through and save some money. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Greentoe.com (external link)

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Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135 F2, reviewed by Hatch1921
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