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Zeiss135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar T* ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F Mount
 
5.0

(based on 20 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (19)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

89%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Nice bokeh (15)
  • Strong construction (14)
  • Consistent output (13)
  • Durable (11)
  • Rugged (9)

Cons

  • Heavy (7)

Best Uses

  • Landscape/scenery (13)
  • Night photography (8)
  • Low light (6)
  • Weddings (5)
  • Wildlife photos (5)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Photo enthusiast (10), Pro photographer (8)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (20)

Reviewed by 20 customers

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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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      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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        (1 of 1 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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          (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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          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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            (5 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Another great Zeiss lens

            By Craig

            from Sonoma, CA

            About Me Photo Enthusiast

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  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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                  (1 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Beautiful bokeh

                  By Jones Advertising

                  from Seattle

                  About Me Pro Photographer

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Nice Bokeh

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Night Photography
                    • Video

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

                    I used this (and other Zeiss lenses) for low light, super slow motion video and the footage looks beautiful, very sharp subject and nice round bokeh in the background.

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                    (9 of 54 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    4.0

                    Great Lens but not for Everyone

                    By ibspics

                    from Matawan, NJ

                    About Me Photo Enthusiast

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Silky Action
                    • Strong Construction
                    • Top Image Quality

                    Cons

                    • Difficult To Hand-hold
                    • Heavy

                    Best Uses

                    • Landscape/Scenery
                    • Macro Photography
                    • Night Photography

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

                    Some background first - I currently use a D7000 body and had consistently attached the (original) 18-200 DX VR for everyday use. I had issues with indoor shots and so jumped to the 17-55 f/2.8, with which I am very happy (but that's another review) so that became my everyday lens. While over 75% of my photos are in that range, I found myself looking to supplement the longer range without going back to the 18-200.

                    A friend of mine recently purchased the Zeiss for his Sony camera and I was blown away when I tried it out. I decided that it would be a good fit to fill the long range (including substituting for a macro). The major difference is the fact that, unlike Nikon, Sony VR is in the body. Manual focus would be no problem for me as I'm old enough to grow up with exclusively manual focus cameras (Yashica rangefinder and the original OM-1). However, that could be problematic for moving subjects. I realized that the heavy lens might emphasis shaking when hand-held with the D7000 so I ordered a monopod and ball head with the lens (another review coming).

                    After receipt, I spent a couple of hours trying out the lens with and without tripod and monopod support. In summary, I found that almost none of my hand-held shots, regardless of shutter speed, met my requirements for sharpness. The success rate went up when using the monopod but I found that, for me, a tripod was necessary to obtain the consistently sharp results for which I laid out the big bucks for the Zeiss. But - I prefer not to walk around with a tripod if I can help it.

                    I reluctantly returned it (Kudos to B&H for fantastic customer service) because, to my mind, a lens that does not meet your needs will rarely be used, unthinkable for one so costly. I subsequently ordered and now use the FX format 70-200 f/4 and found that it fits by needs perfectly (a review is also forthcoming).

                    In summary, top of the line image quality and smooth as silk action but the lack of on-lens vibration reduction and autofocus limits its use for Nikon owners. You have to be prepared for slower work, with a tripod, and limited use with moving subjects. If these are not issues for you, go for it. I gave it 4 stars only because of its real-world usage limitations.

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                    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    A beautiful lens.

                    By Djipie

                    from Quebec City

                    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Consistent Output

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

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

                        As soon as i received it, I tried it in different contexts. Smooth, precise, optically gorgeous.

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                        (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        Fantastic Lens

                        By JimBPhoto

                        from Anchorage, AK

                        About Me Pro Photographer

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

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

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Landscape/Scenery

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

                          Used for landscape, still life, environmental portraiture, and even some wildlife (moose cow with newborn calves). Used on my D800E's. After using this for most of a shooting season here in Alaska, I can say this is the best quality lens I have, including lenses for my Leaf medium format back. Focus is clean and crisp, it is a true APO lens, detail is fantastic, bokeh is very pleasant (at f2 and smaller apertures as well). Shows almost no sign of either over or under correction of spherical aberrations. Renders images that are clean without being harsh. For some shoots I still need auto focus, and reluctantly use a Nikon lens then.

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                          • No

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                          (10 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          5.0

                          silky smooth

                          By Riggraam

                          from Virginia Beach

                          About Me Pro Photographer

                          Pros

                          • Consistent Output
                          • Durable
                          • Nice Bokeh
                          • Rugged
                          • Smooth focus ring
                          • Strong Construction

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                            • Landscape/Scenery
                            • Portraits

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

                            If you shoot on a high-res DSLR, consider this lens in your lineup. I justify the cost because it realizes my camera's ability (D800E), and greatly enhances my creative options. There are amazing Nikon lenses for this length to consider, but if you're in a D800/D3/D4 this lens is for you. The speed & bokeh here are absolutely superior (considering the cost). Smoothest focus ring I've ever had. I also prefer the weight (which conjures some criticism) because it helps balances the body and feels rugged on the tripod (you may need to step-up the gauge of your tripod legs to accommodate the lens). Manual focus but that's another preference for a pro prime lens (with no zoom to worry about, manual focus may be an easy transition for autofocus users). Truly the best optics you could hope for, and when it comes down to it, that's what it's all about.

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                            • No

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                            (18 of 18 customers found this review helpful)

                             
                            5.0

                            The Best of the Best

                            By Michael Erlewine

                            from Michgian

                            About Me Pro Photographer

                            Verified Buyer

                            Pros

                            • Nice Bokeh

                            Cons

                            • Heavy

                            Best Uses

                            • Landscape/Scenery
                            • Macro Photography
                            • Wildlife Photos

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

                            I have some 80 or so fine lenses, mostly close-up and macro. Also I am the mentor for close-up and macro forums on NikonGear (dot) com.

                            Real APO lenses are the way to go, and this is in my opinion one of the best, if not "the" best lens I have every used, sharp beyond my experienced, and highly corrected (APO). Just incredible!

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                            (12 of 12 customers found this review helpful)

                             
                            5.0

                            It is a Zeiss

                            By UdoinDesert

                            from KSA

                            About Me Photo Enthusiast

                            Verified Buyer

                            Pros

                            • Durable
                            • Easily Interchangeable
                            • Nice Bokeh
                            • Perfect Optic
                            • Rugged
                            • Strong Construction

                            Cons

                              Best Uses

                              • Landscape/Scenery
                              • Macro Photography
                              • Night Photography
                              • Wildlife Photos

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

                              This lens is being used on D4 and D800 camera bodies for landscape, cityscape and quasi macro shots. Having used the Nikon 135 f2 DC I have always disliked its color rendering and its huge amount of chromatic aberration from f2 until f5.6. This effect is almost completely absent with this new Zeiss lens, i.e. there is very little CA with extreme front lighting at f2 only. The color rendering right 'out of the box', which is clearly subjective and certainly could be handled in post processing, is absolutely beautiful. And the micro contrast make those captures really pop. Sharpness already wide open is superior to what I have ever seen from other lenses. Even stopped down to f5.6 - f8 some of those lenses never reach the Zeiss' amazing quality and sharpness wide open. Like all other Zeiss ZF(.2) lenses it is built according to the highest standards with superb craftsmanship. Focusing is quite smooth with a long throw. The lens fits perfectly into my camera's bayonets without the grinding feeling which other lenses create.These are just my personal impressions in brief. For more decidedly information I'd recommend reading diglloyd's reviews.

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                              (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                               
                              5.0

                              A Very Special Lens

                              By cranepix

                              from Longboat Key, Florida

                              About Me Pro Photographer

                              Verified Buyer

                              Pros

                              • Consistent Output
                              • Durable
                              • Easily Interchangeable
                              • Fast / accurate auto-focus
                              • Nice Bokeh
                              • Rugged
                              • Strong Construction

                              Cons

                                Best Uses

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

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

                                The lens is superb. I use it both for color and black and white, with my film Nikons, and my Nikon Digital cameras. I generally shoots portraits, and this lens gives me beautiful contrast (when the light is there) and gorgeous color and a Bokeh, unmatched by any other reflex lens that I have used. (and I have used many).
                                The lens if beautifully built, which might cause one to think it might be a bit heavy. However it is built to last; has no focus creep, and is the lens to have if one uses a 135mm focal length on one's Nikon.
                                Magnificent color, beautiful contrast, great Bokeh.
                                I highly recommend this Zeiss lens.

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                                (5 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                5.0

                                Phenom in Zeiss ZF.2 lineup

                                By GadgetGuru

                                from Frisco, TX

                                About Me Photo Enthusiast

                                Verified Buyer

                                Pros

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

                                Cons

                                • Heavy

                                Best Uses

                                • Indoors/Low Light
                                • Landscape/Scenery
                                • Night Photography
                                • Weddings/Events
                                • Wildlife Photos

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

                                The Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO Sonnar is likely the best, sharpest, and most "fulfilling" lens I own - and I own quite a few (most purchased here at B&H). In this focal "range" I also own the Zeiss Makro Planar 100mm, the Nikon 105mm F/2 DC, and the Nikon 135mm F/2 DC. While each of those lenses have their specific uses and lot in life, the Zeiss 135mm is something else entirely. I find a singular pleasure in looking at pictures taken with this lens and can't seem to wipe the smile off my face.

                                I whole-heartedly agree what some of the reviewers (Lloyd Chambers, etc.) that this is likely the absolute best lens in the Zeiss ZF.2 lineup (I also own the Zeiss 15mm 2.8 ZF.2 Distagon).

                                In my opinion, bokeh with this lens is every bit as pleasing (if not better) as the Nikon 85mm 1.4G, either of the Nikon F/2 DCs, or even the old Nikon 180mm 2.8 ED (manual focus) - all of which I own. Focusing with the D800E is relatively easy and, to date, I have yet to find a weakness with this lens.

                                Pictures definitely have a 3D quality to them and I find myself using this lens more and more often, even if that means that I have to take a few steps back to capture a wider-angle shot.

                                While I have yet to experience a lens that can out-resolve the D800 or D800E, I would say that this lens, along with the Sigma 35mm F1.4 HSM are probably the two best resolution lenses in my stable.

                                P.S. Don't skimp on the filters - Zeiss makes a UV filter (as well as a polarizer) that fit this lens perfectly. Additionally, given the heft of this lens and the fact that the outer finish of the barrel is very slick and could easily be dropped, I would strongly urge everyone to get the SquareTrade warranty for as long as possible to protect your investment.

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                                (4 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                5.0

                                Fantastic Lens !!!

                                By Fruchstuck

                                from New York, NY

                                About Me Photo Enthusiast

                                Pros

                                • Consistent Output
                                • Nice Bokeh
                                • Strong Construction

                                Cons

                                • Heavy

                                Best Uses

                                • Landscape/Scenery
                                • Portrait

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

                                Portrait at close distances, fully open, and Landscape at long distances, shut down to 5.6 or 8, this is the territory of these lenses.
                                Amazingly outresolves the sensor of my D800E across the board, has no CA, and the Zeiss "pop" and micro contrast are all there.
                                Best 135mm i ever used, highly recommended if you can afford the steep price tag and the heavy, bulky lens.

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                                (8 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                5.0

                                Wow.

                                By Jonathan

                                from Los Angeles, CA

                                About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                                Pros

                                • Consistent Output
                                • Durable
                                • Micro-contrast
                                • Nice Bokeh
                                • Rugged
                                • Sharpness Wide Open
                                • Strong Construction

                                Cons

                                • Heavy

                                Best Uses

                                • Landscape/Scenery
                                • Night Photography
                                • Portraits
                                • Video
                                • Weddings/Events

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

                                This being my first Zeiss lens ever, I had very high expectations. It's a lot of money to drop on a manual-focus, fixed lens, but with high praise from a few people I trust I decided to invest. I'm happy to report it exceeded those expectations in every way: incredible sharpness wide open, beautiful precision focus, excellent build quality, stunning bokeh. Perhaps the highest praise I could give the lens is that I'm finding excuses to leave the house to go make photographs. Expensive? Yes. The best lens I've ever invested in? No question. (I'm using a D800E)

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                                • No

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                                (3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                                 
                                5.0

                                Razor Sharp & Insane IQ!!!!

                                By Shtarka1

                                from Boston

                                About Me Pro Photographer

                                See all my reviews

                                Verified Buyer

                                Pros

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

                                Cons

                                  Best Uses

                                  • Indoors/Low Light
                                  • Night Photography
                                  • Weddings/Events

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

                                  Street & Portraits are 3 Dimensional!
                                  Focus ring is a tad tight but i honestly can't find a negative thing to say about this lens!

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                                  • No

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                                  (14 of 17 customers found this review helpful)

                                   
                                  5.0

                                  Better than even the Zeiss 100mm f/2.0

                                  By LeGO

                                  from San Francisco, CA

                                  About Me Photo Enthusiast

                                  Pros

                                  • Consistent Output
                                  • Durable
                                  • Nice Bokeh
                                  • Rugged
                                  • Strong Construction
                                  • Very High Level Of Acuity

                                  Cons

                                    Best Uses

                                    • Indoors/Low Light
                                    • Landscape/Scenery
                                    • Night Photography
                                    • Portrait
                                    • Video

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

                                    I mainly use this lens wide-open for close to medium distance portrait and mid to long distance landscape. Incredibly, this lens manages to perform even better than the excellent Zeiss 100mm f/2.0. The improvement lies not just in acuity (mostly due to its near-absence of CA) but also in its bokeh.

                                    Shooting landscape at f/8.0 with this lens produces exceptional results. Shooting against very harsh lighting condition can induce some CA but degree to which this happens thereof is minimal and entirely acceptable when compared against other lenses including the Zeiss 135mm f/2.0.

                                    The one lens I have that is slightly better than this is the Nikkor 200mm f/2.0G VR but the Nikkor is not as easily transported and used which is why I mostly bring the Zeiss 100mm f/2.0, now replaced by the Zeiss 135mm f/2.0.

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                                    (11 of 19 customers found this review helpful)

                                     
                                    5.0

                                    At last, too sharp

                                    By Robert

                                    from South Florida

                                    About Me Pro Photographer

                                    Verified Buyer

                                    Pros

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

                                    Cons

                                    • Takes Forever To Auto Foc

                                    Best Uses

                                    • City Landscapes

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

                                    I use this lens mainly for city landscapes on a D800E. Superb! It is heavy, and costly, and manual focus. It has no vibration reduction. I love it!
                                    I would not recommend this lens to my competion.

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                                    • No

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