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Zeiss135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount
 
4.9

(based on 34 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (32)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

90%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Nice bokeh (24)
  • Strong construction (24)
  • Consistent output (23)
  • Durable (19)
  • Rugged (16)

Cons

  • Heavy (10)

Best Uses

  • Landscape/scenery (22)
  • Night photography (11)
  • Low light (10)
  • Weddings (9)
  • Wildlife photos (8)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Photo enthusiast (15), Pro photographer (12), Semi-pro photographer (5)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (31)

Reviewed by 34 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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(4 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Manual but near perfection.

By Blaze0820

from PA

Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

It's hard to come close to this lens with any of my others as far as sharpness goes. It has the familiar zeiss contrast of their modern takes. It's tricky to use if you haven't manual focused in awhile. If you can get over the dosh you need to spend on this lens and the manual focusing then it'll be a great time. It barely has any optical flaws even with strong backlighting of subjects. But I'd only recommend it to someone who has some dosh to spare. Good build quality and it feels like a sturdy combo with a d810, though some may be turned off by the weight. But I'm not a big time weightlifter and eventually got used to the handling of the lens. Also, put a good friggin' protective filter on it even though it already will cost.

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(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Zeiss 135mm

By Jj

from Oregon

Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

This is the best midrange tele lense I ever had.

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(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Perfect lens under 2k dollars

By Bo

from San Jose, CA

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Durable
  • Nice Bokeh
  • Strong Construction

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Indoors/Low Light
    • Landscape/Scenery

    Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

    Best lens I ever used. Stunning sharpness and contrast, easily beat any Nikon lens with focal length < 200 mm.

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    (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    A Legend of its Own

    By Mario

    from Chicago, IL

    About Me Pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Consistent Output
    • Durable
    • Nice Bokeh
    • Rugged
    • Strong Construction

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Landscape/Scenery
      • Weddings/Events

      Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

      The is by far one of the sharpest lenses I have shot with. It rivals the Otus 85 and 55. I would highly recommend this lens to anyone. The manual focus isn't as hard it seems either.

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      • No

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      (10 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Simply Stunning

      By Kermitthehermit

      from Madison, WI

      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Consistent Output
      • Durable
      • Easily Interchangeable
      • Nice Bokeh
      • Rugged
      • Strong Construction

      Cons

      • Heavy

      Best Uses

      • Indoors/Low Light
      • Landscape/Scenery
      • Macro Photography
      • Night Photography

      Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

      Purchased for architectural photography for use with a Nikon D810 and a Canon 5Ds-r (with Fotodiox adapter from B&H).

      Imagine a lens so sharp that if test results for edge sharpness on a full frame camera were mistaken for center results, or only performance at f/2 were considered, resolving ability would still be rated outstanding; a lens with virtually no distortion, coma or chromatic aberrations. The Zeiss 135mm is such a lens. I have a lot of expensive glass and have to say that this is the best that I have ever used.

      While 135mm might seem too short for capturing architectural details, the extremely high resolving power of the Zeiss can compensate for limited reach. I just shot a painting at the top of my state capitol's dome that is exactly two hundred feet from the floor and still got razor sharp results. Also, the lens was pointed straight up and there was no creep.

      Here are a few (minor) reservations....

      The Zeiss is front-heavy even when mounted on a pro camera and does not have a tripod ring. To counter the potential blurring effect from the shutter tripping, I use long lens technique that includes placing a hand on top of the camera to absorb vibrations.

      Bright spectral highlights form cats-eyes at f/2 that extend well into mid-frame, and start to reveal the shape of the aperture blades when stopped down as little as f/2.8. These aspects create a distinct look to Zeiss 135mm images that some users might not care for, but I find the bokeh to be gorgeous.

      Vignetting is strong at f/2, mild at f/2.8, gone by f/4.

      There is no weather sealing, but the tolerances are so tight that the threat from dust and moisture under normal operating conditions is slight.

      If you are in the market for a state-of-the-art manual focus lens and want to be able to print poster-size images, I would strongly recommend picking up the Zeiss 135mm (especially now while the price has been reduced).

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      • No

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      (52 of 87 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Defraction Limited Lens

      By Hugh

      from Montana

      About Me Pro Photographer

      Verified Reviewer

      Pros

      • Consistent Output
      • Strong Construction

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

          25 Years as a pro. What I mean by "pro" is that I must make house payments, pay employees, make car payments, make medical insurance payments, pay income and property taxes, hire accountants - and much more. I must re-prove myself every week to demanding people. I must travel thousands of miles and come back with the good stuff, and I have done this with 8x10 film, 35mm film, Phase One digital, and everything in between.

          I state these things because there are billions of people who are "photographers" but only a small percentage of these make it to full time pro with a good income. To make it this far, one must understand much more than "bokeh." (By the way, bokeh is a BS word that was unused 10 years ago, it is a new word made possible only by those who really don't understand how lenses and the economics of photography work.) Bokeh is not a term used in optical physics.

          I have owned almost everything photographic, that is, everything that is the best. I have probably given away more lenses than you, the reader will ever own. I, at one time or the other, have owned several Hasselblad bodies, scores of Karl Zeiss lenses for these Blads, I started with Nikon 35 in the early 1970's, switched to Canon in the early 1990's, back to Nikon with the D3, and, I'm guessing here, have owned well over $200,000 in lenses, including Schnieder large format lenses (many) Sinar and Toyo view cameras. Moreover, I have spent 1000's of hours in the darkroom, oftentimes for 7 days per week for weeks at the time. (My enlargers were always equipped with Rodenstock APO lenses - during the time "APO" actually meat something)

          Now to this Zeiss lens. This is the best lens I have ever owned. The images from this lens when coupled to my Nikon 810 rival images from my $60K Phase One system of only 5 years ago. The sharpness is great, but much more important is the color. Art directors love this clean color.

          Manual focusing is easy for me since I learned to focus LF cameras in harsh conditions. If my 70 year-old eyes can do it, then get off your lazy butt and turn the focus ring. Buy the lens, enjoy...

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          • No

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          (0 of 42 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          zaiss 135mm for nikon

          By tedtedsen

          from norway

          About Me Photo Enthusiast

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Nice Bokeh
          • Rugged
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

          • Heavy

          Best Uses

          • Landscape/Scenery
          • Macro Photography
          • Night Photography
          • Video

          Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

          this lens is as Sharp on my d810 as the zaiss otus 85mm the 55mm otus is behind the 135mm in sharpnes ,if we can trust DXOMARCK tests the 85otus and my 135 zf2 can resolve 35meg pix out of 36.3 pixels thats alot the 55otus delivers 33pixels on my d810

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          • No

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          (18 of 41 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Compared to Nikon 70-200mm f/4.0

          By Ron in NYC

          from NYC

          About Me Photo Enthusiast

          Verified Reviewer

          Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

          The Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 is supposed to be the best FX
          lens that money can buy. According to DxO Mark and others it is as good
          as either of the two Zeiss Otus lenses. In an interview, a Zeiss lens
          designer said the same. To shoot at 135mm I have been using a Nikon
          AF-S 70-200mm F/4.0G ED VR lens. Shooting a test chart at ten feet using
          a Nikon D810, I cannot detect any difference in sharpness between the
          Nikon and the Zeiss lenses. The resolution and accutance of both lenses
          look to be the same at f/5.6, the corners hardly differ from the center. When
          shot wide open, resolution and accutance hardly changes from f/5.6 at both
          the center and corners for either lens. Differences are detectable at
          apertures of f/5.6 and wider when shooting text at a 45 degree angle at
          five feet. Here Zeiss has the better resolution and accutance. Tripod,
          electronic front curtain shutter, etc. were used for all shots. As to
          color rendition and saturation, I cannot detect any difference between
          the the two lenses. See the attached shots of Kodak color control
          patches. For these, white balance was equated using the eyedropper in
          Lightroom. In the field, both of these lenses appear to be excellent
          and of equal quality. So what are the pros and cons? I do not use
          vibration reduction very much, preferring to use a shutter speed of at
          least twice the focal length with ISOs up to 1600 before resorting to
          VR. The Zeiss is two stops faster than the Nikon which washes out the
          VR issue. The Zeiss focuses accurately enough for my needs using the
          D810's viewfinder focus indicator so that other than speed and
          convenience, manual focus vs. auto focus is not an issue. The main
          difference, then, is that the Nikon offers all focal lengths from 70mm
          to 200mm. I'd say that unless one has some specialized use such as
          taking shallow depth of field commercial product shots in a studio,
          there is no reason to buy the Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 instead
          of the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F/4.0G ED VR. Nonetheless, the Zeiss is a
          pleasure to use and I'm keeping it.

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          • No

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          (8 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Perfect Color

          By mllarson

          from Minneapolis, MN

          About Me Photo Enthusiast

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Color
          • Consistent Output
          • Durable
          • Nice Bokeh
          • Sharpness

          Cons

          • NONE

          Best Uses

          • Landscape/Scenery

          Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

          Beautiful easy to use manual lens. I use this mainly for outdoor landscape, handheld shots. I was worried at first about the lack of autofocus - but quickly got used to it. I will be slowly replacing my Nikon primes with Zeiss. No comparison, in my opinion, in terms of color, sharpness, and build. A lens that will easily last a lifetime!

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          • No

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          (11 of 13 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Perfection

          By Mr. Dweble

          from NE Ohio

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Durable
          • Nice Bokeh
          • Rugged
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

          • No autofocus

          Best Uses

          • Landscape/Scenery
          • Macro Photography
          • Weddings/Events

          Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

          I love everything about this lens. I had tried the Nikon 135 f/2 with defocus after hearing so much raving about it. It really did not impress me, nor did the 105 f/2 DC. I also tried the Zeiss 100mm f/2, and again I was not blown away by the bokeh or sharpness. Frankly, I felt my Nikon 105 f/2.8G was just as good and had better bokeh.

          I've alwayws liked the 85/135 combo, but Nikon gave us few choices with the 135. This lens fills the void, although sadly, not with VR or autofocus. But the build is impectable, the optics perfection and the images so lovely. It and the 35 f/2 Zeiss are my favorite lenses. I bought this as an early retirement gift to myself and plan to use it for many landscape images. If you can afford it, buy this lens. It beats anything Nikon has, possible exception 200 f/2 which I can't afford and is too heavy to be practical.

          I bought my lens used from B&H and it was $300 less than the new price but looked new and had all papers and box. Thank you!

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          • No

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          (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          quickly became my favorite lens

          By gastwa

          from rockville, md

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Durable
          • Nice Bokeh
          • Rugged
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

          • Heavy

          Best Uses

          • Indoors/Low Light
          • Landscape/Scenery
          • Portrait
          • Weddings/Events
          • Wildlife Photos

          Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

          this lens is just unbelievable. from the build quality to the image quality and rendering on my Nikon Df and D800e. It oozes quality and is very durable. This lens is a mandatory item in my back when on travel. I love the 135mm focal length. It lets you get great scenery photos where you want to get something in the distance or want to isolate a subject. For portraits, it is hard to beat. Beautiful color, amazing detail and excellent bokeh. It is manual focus, but who cares... it is worth the work. Cannot recommend highly enough.

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          • No

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          (2 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Top of the line

          By Bobsguns

          from Nashville, TN

          About Me Photo Enthusiast

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent Output
          • Durable
          • Rugged
          • Strong Construction

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Landscape/Scenery
            • Sports/Action
            • Wildlife Photos

            Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

            I use this for sports & landscapes mostly. I do wish for auto focus & VR, but it is what it is. I also wish Zeiss would add a white dot to line up the lens when one tries to swap lenses. It's a PITA to not have an alignment point to the camera body.

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            • No

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            (2 of 15 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Exceptional

            By Fashion Shooter

            from Los Angeles, CA

            About Me Pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Consistent Output
            • Nice Bokeh
            • Rugged
            • Strong Construction

            Cons

              Best Uses

                Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

                As a professional photographer, I separate myself from the average by investing in the exceptional. Zeiss primes are exactly that, exceptional. The quality and consistency make them a premier lens, minimizing artifacts and distortion. I would recommend anyone to see the comparative differences by physically comparing them to any other. It subtle differences may not be worth it to everyone.

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                • No

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                (2 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                A Must For Nikon D800E or D810 Users

                By Massimo

                from Laguna Niguel

                About Me Pro Photographer

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Consistent Output
                • Durable
                • Nice Bokeh
                • Strong Construction

                Cons

                • Slow Focus

                Best Uses

                • Indoors/Low Light
                • Landscape/Scenery
                • Macro Photography
                • Night Photography
                • Sports/Action
                • Video
                • Weddings/Events
                • Wildlife Photos

                Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

                This lens provides you full 36 Megapixel Sharpness on a Nikon D800E or D810.
                The built quality feels wonderfully-amazing on this lens!

                The only downside is that the lens lacks autofocus, but the perfect sharpness makes up for it. Besides, manual focus will engage you more with your subject.

                PS: I personally like the fact that it's heavy, because it makes me pay more attention to how I hold my camera. If my camera and lens were light, I'd probably drop it more likely

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                • No

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                (10 of 14 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                For people who create photographs

                By highresaudiophoto

                from Redmond, WA

                About Me Photo Enthusiast

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Fine-art Photography
                    • Indoors/Low Light
                    • Landscape/Scenery

                    Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

                    This is a phenomenal lens for those who are serious about creating photographs as opposed to casually taking pictures. I had read several technical reviews about its superb optical qualities but was somewhat apprehensive of "going back" to manual focusing using the small viewfinder of a 35mm camera (Nikon D800).

                    My worries quickly dissipated after unpacking the lens: its focusing ring is so smooth with just the right amount of resistance, and it takes what must be close to 360 degrees to go from infinity to its minimum focusing distance, which is like having a "fine-tuner" for the full focusing range. It makes the focusing rings on most of the other lenses I own look like they were an afterthought.

                    The attached sample illustrates my first impression: the shallow depth-of-field encourages creative focusing, with incredible detail in the focal plane transitioning to creamy out-of-focus softness. I am not entirely sure whether the three-dimensionality reported by other reviewers isn't in fact a case of chromostereopsis. What I'm sure is that there was a brick wall in the background, about 1 meter behind the rose...

                    The second sample is a 100% crop from the first sample, pixel-for-pixel straight out of the camera, and like the first sample merely a basic jpeg (out of sheer convenience), with no post-processing other than cropping--not even any sharpening. The level of detail is sublime, while the shallow depth-of-field encourages confusion with lens softness.

                    If you are used to the deliberate view camera approach to photography, using a tripod, cable release, mirror lockup, etc., then I can't think of a better lens in this range, especially with the creative possibilities contributed by its maximum aperture. Use the in-focus confirmation dot in your view finder or live view to aid critical focusing.

                    Nit-picker's suggestion: replace the lens cap by a Nikon Snap-On Lens Cap--it snaps on in a much more confidence inspiring manner and it will let you set the lens down on a flat surface without the slightly daunting wobble caused by Zeiss' slightly convex lens cap.

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                    • No

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                    (6 of 16 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    Not a big fan of 135mm until....

                    By Anton

                    from Frisco TX

                    About Me Pro Photographer

                    Verified Reviewer

                    Pros

                    • Consistent Output
                    • Nice Bokeh

                    Cons

                    • Heavy

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

                      Not a big fan of 135mm until I met this lens. I keep the 21mm and 55mm Distagons and the 135mm Otus in my carry bag and more often than not I find myself swapping the Otus out and putting the Apo-Sonnar back on. There's just something about this lens that delivers the best photos and never gets in the way of what I am trying to accomplish artistically. I can have and do have many of the best lenses in the world but this is now my preferred lens. It's ability to separate subjects from the background and deliver CA free images against any lighting condition is unmatched. Bokeh is flawless and smooth.

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                      • No

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                      (4 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      I don't own it -- yet

                      By TX-shooter

                      from Houston, TX

                      About Me Photo Enthusiast

                      Pros

                      • Consistent Output
                      • Nice Bokeh
                      • Strong Construction

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Weddings/Events

                        Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

                        I have the Nikon 70-200 VRII and have been wondering if I really had a need for this lens which obviously falls within that focal length range. So I rented it for a week. Now I'm saving up to buy it (from B&H of course). I wanted to try out the MF on this lens and to see what the color rendering and microcontrast were like. I shot several hundred images at a relatives's wedding and was blown away by the sharpness and beautiful color this lens produced. I missed focus on some shots, maybe 10-20%, but mostly due to rushed shots. The MF at this focal length is NOT hard to nail. The lens was bulkier than I expected but certainly no problem for hand-held work. Again, I was very quickly convinced that I'd like to add it to my bag.

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                        • No

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                        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        Amazing lens

                        By TIE

                        from Florida

                        About Me Photo Enthusiast

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Durable
                        • Strong Construction

                        Cons

                        • Heavy

                        Best Uses

                        • Landscape/Scenery
                        • Weddings/Events
                        • Wildlife Photos

                        Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

                        I am amazed by the color contrast produced by this lens. I love to shoot landscapes/sunsets and flaring during the latter is well controlled. I also find that I don't need to use a filter to get the same effect with my Nikon 80-200mm f2.8D.The focus ring takes a bit getting used to since it appears to be stiff but it has no play and allows one to slow down and appreciate the image coming nto focus and also allows for more creativity.

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                        • No

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                        (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        Exceptional IQ -- Center to Corner!

                        By Tom

                        from New York

                        About Me Photo Enthusiast

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Consistent Output
                        • Durable
                        • Fast And Precise Mf
                        • Nice Bokeh
                        • Rugged
                        • Strong Construction
                        • Wll-balanced On Camera

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Indoors/Low Light
                          • Landscape/Scenery
                          • Wildlife Photos

                          Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

                          Used on the D800E, in my non-scientific but careful observation and study, I find this lens to have exceptional IQ, more so than any other tele I've used -- from center to corner and at every f-stop. Relative to itself, the sweet stops are from f2.8 to f5.6. Relative to other teles, even the remaining stops out perform. The Zeiss lens manages very fine micro-contrast without excessive macro-contrast. Its bokeh is reminiscent of the old Leica look: distinctly 3-D molded but never jittery or broken. Flare, CA and tendency to vignette are very well controlled. Manual focus is smooth and precise -- this is the first manual lens I've put on a Nikon DSLR that evokes spot-on green light confirmation of focus. (Another reviewer makes the same claim, hence, I think this attribute transcends sample variation.)
                          Used with the old Nikon Tele-Extender TC201, and stopped down to lens-ring f4, its performance equals that of a 270 or 300mm prime! In addition, it is very stable -- hand-held easily at 1/focal-length, with or without a tele-extender. It was more than worth my trade away from the Nikon 135mm f2 DC lens.

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                          • No

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                          (5 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          5.0

                          Another great Zeiss lens

                          By Craig

                          from Sonoma, CA

                          About Me Photo Enthusiast

                          Verified Buyer

                          Comments about Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount:

                          I read several reviews of this Zeiss lens before I laid out the big bucks. All the reviews I read praised this lens. They are correct!

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                          • No

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