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Lens review

Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135 mm f/2.0 ZE/ZF.2

Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135 mm f/2.0 ZE/ZF.2
3 November 2013
Arkadiusz Olech

1. Introduction

It is not difficult to make a 135 mm lens. Its dimension roughly corresponds with the focal length itself so its optical construction doesn’t make it necessary to add a multi-element diverging system before the sensor which would move the principal plane significantly before the front set of elements. Contrary to wide angle constructions, you don’t have to position the principal plane near the sensor either. Such lenses can focus without any problems by moving the whole element system. That’s why the first well done 135 mm f/2.8-4.0 constructions were very simple, consisting of just 4-5 elements.

Increasing the aperture fastness to f/2.0 made the optical construction much more complex – with such parameters you need to have a lot of degrees of freedom to correct well the aberrations on the surface of full frame. Still the number of elements was low – at first the old Carl Zeiss Planar 135 mm f/2.0 had just 5 elements and the Nikkor 135 mm f/2.0 – only 6. Still that class of focal lengths haven’t been developed in recent years.

In the Canon and Nikon line-ups, most popular in the market nowadays, the 2/135 lenses were launched in 1995-1996 so they are quite elderly now. Only the Zeiss company decided to make more decisive moves in that segment; several years ago they offered the unique Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135 mm f/1.8 in the Sony A system and in 2012 they launched the Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135 mm f/2.0 ZE/ZF.2 designed for Canon and Nikon reflex cameras.


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In that last case the construction can’t be called simple any more as you deal with 11 elements, part of them made of special kind of glass; still they seem to promise a great performance. Of course we decided to check it and the results you can find in the following chapters – enjoy your lecture!

We would like to thank the Foto-Technika company for lending us the lens for testing purposes.

You are also invited to get acquainted with our test procedure, described in the article "How do we test lenses?" If you feel it’s still not enough, please go to our FAQ section where you can find some further explanation.

Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135 mm f/2.0 ZE/ZF.2 - Introduction



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