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On the Way: Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO Sonnar

Zeiss ZF.2 135mm f/2 APO Sonnar T*

I expect to have the new Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar in my hands by Feb 26. It might well prove to be the highest performing lens in the lineup, hence it’s an exciting new offering.

I will be working with it extensively, though I am still a week or two away from being able to operate normally in the field (shoulder surgery). Still, I can get a lot of controlled tests done without needing to travel.

It is also my intent (over some months) to make a point of shooting the 100/2 Makro-Planar and 135/2 APO-Sonnar in a variety of situations to compare and contrast. Naturally, the Nikon D800E will be put to use for its high resolution.

See my general coverage of the 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar in Guide to Zeiss. Also, one can pre-order the 135/2 APO-Sonnar at B&H Photo.

135/2 APO-Sonnar vs 100/2 Makro-Planar

Of particular interest is just how the 135/2 APO-Sonnar compares with the Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar.

The Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar and the 135 f/2 APO-Sonnar are siblings and can be expected to exhibit similar general characteristics, but they might exhibit significant differences in a variety of ways including distortion, field curvature, longitudinal chromatic aberration, near/far performance, etcetera.

While the new 135m f/2 APO-Sonnar can be expected to be better corrected for axial (longitudinal) chromatic aberration, the 135/2 APO is not a macro lens (1:4 vs 1:2 for the 100/2 MP). And so the areas of close-range and distance performance as well as distortion and flatness of field should be an interesting area for exploration.

Furthermore, 135mm is not 100mm and the 100mm f/2 Makro Planar is actually close to 97.5mm in true focal length, so there is a ~38% difference in field of view. So I don’t see these two lenses as redundant.


The 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar is a very exciting lens which looks to match or exceed the performance of even the venerable 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar.

My commentary on the MTF charts as well as a discussion of how the 135/2 APO-Sonnar compares to the 100/2 Makro-Planar are in my Guide to Zeiss ZF.2 / ZE Lenses.

MTF for Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO Sonnar T*


No visible vignetting by f/4.

Vignetting can be used to good effect, so the significant falloff at f/2 is a useful feature, especially for wide-open portraits.

Vignetting at f/2, f/4, f/4.8 for Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO Sonnar T*


Mild pincushion distortion common among lenses of this focal length.

Distortion for Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO Sonnar T*
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