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36-megapixel Nikon D800E
Carl Zeiss ZF.2 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar T*
Zeiss ZF.2 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar T*

Making Close-Range Portraits

Examples and discussion of the challenges of close-range portraiture with the Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar.


I was concerned that focus accuracy would be an issue, but right off the bat I was delighted with the 135/2 APO-Sonnar— while the 100/2 Makro-Planar has given me fits focusing manually on my Nikon bodies (and I am not alone in that regard), I found that the APO Sonnar presented no difficulty at all, leaving only the inherent challenges of shooting a slightly moving person handheld at close range (photographer and subject movement together where only a few millimeters of movement with either cause blur).

The 135/2 APO offers stunning contrast wide open, and this is plain to see when focusing both by eye and with Live View. Totally absent from the 135/2 APO is the veiling purplish ƒ/2 haze of the 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar, which for the 100/2 introduces an ambiguity in accuracy no matter how focus is done (by eye or with Live View). With the 135/2 APO-Sonnar, the image is crystal clear wide open at ƒ/2.

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Since 2007, Diglloyd Guide to Zeiss is the authoritative reference and review for all of the Zeiss ZF.2 (for Nikon) and Zeiss ZE (for Canon) DSLR lenses, including the Otus line.

It includes hundreds of pages of exclusive coverage and high resolution Retina-grade examples, in-depth analysis of sharpness and contrast, color, bokeh, vignetting, distortion, MTF, and flare, and recommendations and practical usage tips.

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1/160 handheld @ ƒ/4, ISO 800
Nikon D800E + 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar
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