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Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar: Might it be the Best Lens Yet for the Nikon D800E?

Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar

I expect to have the new Zeiss 135mm f/2 APO-Sonnar in my hands today, whenever FedEx shows up. The Nikon D800E awaits.

This is pretty exciting, because the MTF charts* suggest that it might offer the best full-frame sharpness of any lens yet seen for the 36-megapixel Nikon D800E.

Thanks to a generous reader, I have the Nikon 135mm f/2 DC due in a few days, and I already own the Canon 135mm f/2L. Both should prove interesting comparisons.

* Don’t waste your time comparing Zeiss measured MTF charts to fantasy charts from Canon or Nikon or Sony.

Florent C writes:

There will be many things to explore and enjoy with the lens alone, but I have a Canon 550D close-up lens ready for it. Mounted on a 135mm lens with 1:4 native magnification, it enables focusing to about 1:2.

I know it will alter the images to some extent, but at least it will make such a magnification possible without resorting to the 100MP, and with all the blur goodness and other qualities one can expect from the new 135mm (assuming they are not too undermined by the close-up lens).

I have seen people raising the possibility of using an extension tube, but a close-up lens does not seem to be as popular. They may have concerns a priori about adding glass to such a lens.

Aside from some to-be-determined optical shortcomings, I find the solution of a good quality close-up lens more convenient because it doesn't require the lens to be unmounted, and more viable because having something between the lens and the camera body is an aggravating factor of tilt or swing. And as far as performance goes, this is crucial.

DIGLLOYD: [Perhaps Florent means Canon 500D 2.0 diopter close-up lens (an achromatic doublet made in various filter sizes including 77mm].

a well corrected lens might work well with both extension tubes and close up lenses, or there might be disappointments. A close-up lens might or might not “agree” with the optical formula, so it is definitely a “try and evaluate” thing. For light duty, well why not? But the greater distortion of the 135/2 APO-Sonnar and a close-up lens... probably not a great idea for flat-field work, even if resolving power proves to be good.

Still, the 135/2 APO-Sonnar might be pleasing for “bokeh shots”, even if not fully sharp when pushed beyond its intended working magnification.

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