Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 ZE Canon mount lens review: Ultra-high performer

By Kevin Carter - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lens Review
Introduction | Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 ZE Canon lens performance | Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 ZE Canon versus competition | Conclusion
Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 ZE Canon mount lens review: Ultra-high performer

After reviewing the Nikon mount ZF.2 version of the Zeiss Sonnar T* 2/135 we’ve now analyzed the Canon ZE mount model. Read on to find out how well it performs.

Following the withdrawal of Contax reflex cameras from the market, Zeiss, as lens developer to the system, re-established production in Japan by modifying some of the previous optical designs to fit Pentax, Nikon and Canon models. Today the line consists of 13 models with the Sonnar T* 2/135  (135mm f2.0) being the latest addition (not counting the new Otus range) though the firm now only supplies models in Canon or Nikon mount. 

This newly designed high speed ‘Apo’ model has 11-elements arranged in 8-groups and features a ‘floating elements’ design for improved sharpness at close range. The Zeiss can focus down to 0.8m (2.62 ft), closer than most rivals of the same focal length. Designed specifically for the Canon EF mount, the ZE model features data contacts for electronic aperture control but, like others in the range, this lens has no autofocus capability – it’s manual focus only.

Lacking the aperture collar of the Nikon mount version, the ZE model looks very different externally and is marginally heavier at 2.05 lbs. (930g) and slightly longer overall at 5.12” (130mm).  As a full frame model the $1,600 Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 ZE is also a good choice for APS-C format DSLRs, where it’s the equivalent of a 216mm f2.

 
Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 ZE Canon16003822
Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Canon9693520
Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM4403316
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 100mm f/2 ZE Canon18403220
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM10703220
Canon EF 85mm F1.2L USM15993220
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM18693118
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherique IF Canon2853015
Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM3792818
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM9692818
Carl Zeiss Planar T 85mm f/1.4 ZE Canon12802817
Sigma 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro Canon4992817
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG Macro Canon6402718
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Canon9692717
Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO Canon4602716
Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD Canon7182516
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM5362417
Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus8702413
Best performing moderate telephoto primes on the 22-Mpix Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 ZE Canon lens performance

Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 ZE Canon versus competition

Conclusion