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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 7:02 pm 
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While everybody is salivating about the new (2nd) Otus family member, the Zeiss 85/1.4 Otus (see thread here) a different Zeiss lens arrived at my doorsteps: The Zeiss 135mm f2.0 Apo-Sonnar.
This lens is famous for making it the sharpest in DxOmark tests resolving the full 36Mp on a D800E at f2.0. It ranks even higher in this respect than both Otus lenses.
And at 1900 EUR (incl. VAT) it's less than half the price of the new 85/1.4 Otus. Plus it's smaller and lighter too.
Some first batches of test-shots confirm the superior sharpness even wide open and I'm excited about taking this lens trough its test-paces.
I'll be looking out especially for longitudinal (or Bokeh-)CA which causes nasty green coloration on contrasty objects behind the plane of sharpest focus and magenta coloration for subject in front of the focus-plane. And then there's purple fringing around bright, specular highlights another form of CA that can become outright nasty in large aperture primes even from respected amnufacturers.
But let me get one thing out of the way immediately: This lens (as well as both Otus lenses) still have some degree of loCA. The question is just how much loCA still remains.
Here's an image of the lens:

Image

It's a little unfortunate that the 135/2.0 does not have the same sleek exterior design as the Otus lenses with their bright yellow distance markers and the rubberized focus ring. With the 135/2.0 the whole body is the focus ring so if you hold the lens anywhere other than the lens-hood you're bound to move the focus. But other than that, the construction is a very solid full metal one with focus action that is almost as smooth as with the Otuses.
It also has the same 270 degree focus throw as the Otuses that makes it very easy to focus correctly - remember no AF here only manual focus. The one difference in focusing between the 135/2.0 and the Otuses is that the lens extends in lenght when you focus closer: about 33mm when you focus down to the minimum focus distance of 80cm. This in turn is pretty close and gives you a very usable 1:4 magnification. With the "floating lens" design it'll be interesting to see what kind of resolving power the lens has when used close-up.

Here's a sneak preview of the performance at 40x focal length (5.4m) and fully open at f2.0:

Image

Image

Image

All 100% crops from the same flat image, so no discernible field curvature: extraordinary!

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Thomas (beware: Nikon-fanboy and moderator!) My Lens Reviews, My Pictures, My Photography Blog
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:19 pm 
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Was just looking the technical data of the Nikon AF DC-Nikkor 135 mm 1:2D, the closest competitor of the Zeiss: Both has the same focal length and maximum aperture.
If you look at size and weight, both lenses are similar:
Zeiss: 84 x 105 mm / 3.3 x 4.13 in. at 920 g / 32.5 oz.
Nikon: 79 x 120 mm / 3.1 x 4.7 in. at 815 g / 28.7 oz.
The lens construction of the Nikon is minimalistic with 7 lenses in 6 groups, while the Zeiss has 11 lenses in 8 groups
The most important advantages of the Nikon are a lower price (1300 EUR vs. 1800 EUR), auto-focus and defocus-control (hence the "DC" in the lens' moniker). What's the latter? It allows you to optimize Bokeh where you need it: in front of the focus-plane or behind - or equally distributed. This is a unique feature that some people could put to good use e.g. in product photography.
The one big advantage of the Zeiss is its maximum magnification that goes down to 1:4 while the Nikon only allows for 1:7.1. Big deal? Well, yes: I personally often use magnifications larger than 1:7 to capture details in nature and give small subjects the right size on my full-frame sensor. So 1:4 is almost ideal for my type of shooting. And Zeiss is said to have corrected the lens pretty good not only for larger distances but for close-up shots too.
SO this will be an interesting shootout, once I have both lenses for comparison.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 12:02 pm 
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If you have the chance, could you put the Zeiss to a different type of star test: ones in the sky? Of course it is punishing for all lenses, trying to resolve point sources across the whole frame. Would be interesting to see how it does wide open in this scenario.

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 3:11 pm 
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How about these night-shots?

at f2.0:
Image
Zeiss_135f2-0_f2_70411 by Thomas, on Flickr

Click through the image to access the full 36MP resolution version at flickr.
And there at f2.8, f4.0, f5.6

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:23 am 
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While I'd prefer to see smaller point sources, the corner detail even wide open is impressive. And to my eyes there's no obvious astigmatism or coma, which is good :)

And this doesn't help with my impatience for Canon to come up with an affordable equivalent to the D800 series...

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 4:42 pm 
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You're right, popo. The street lights are not really point-lights compared to stars. I never dipped into star photography so I didn't try to get that type of image.
But I know from many many tests, that these night-shots pretty consistently reveal coma.
As to astigmatism, I'm not so sure. But sharpness in the far FX-corners of this lens is pretty impressive indeed.

Here's a daylight shot at f2.0 in all its 36MP glory from the same position:

Image
Zeiss_135f2_f2_71143 by Thomas, on Flickr

Btw.: Canon announced that they are working on higher mega-pixel bodies on Photokina.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:05 am 
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I do wish there were more spot diagrams/tests for lenses in general. To me it gives a more tangible feel for how the lens behaves than an MTF chart would for example. Stars in the sky work well as a source of point sources. If you want to try later, just put the camera on a tripod, and use as long an exposure as you dare. For something this long, you might only be looking at seconds before you get visible star trails.

Astigmatism would also render point sources to be not a point, so I tend to lump coma and astigmatism together.

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Canon DSLRs: 7D, 5D2, 1D, 600D, 450D full spectrum, 300D IR mod
Lenses: EF 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 135/2+SF, 28-80 V, 70-300L, 100-400L, TS-E 24/3.5L, MP-E 65, EF-S 15-85 IS
3rd party: Zeiss 2/50 makro, Samyang 8mm fisheye, Sigma 150 macro, 120-300 f/2.8 OS, Celestron 1325/13
Tinies: Sony HX9V.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 9:24 pm 
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Thomas, I am grateful for the lens testing that you do. Thanks! :)

This Zeiss 135mm lens may well become one of my long-term goals.

popo, I understand your frustation, regarding Canon's slowness to introduce a higher-resolution camera, but I remember when the situation was reversed, with Nikon having nothing better than 12MP, while Canon had higher-MP options. Indeed, one of several reasons I bought a 7D in 2010, instead of a D300s, was because 18MP seemed "better" than 12MP.

Now, four years later, I am strongly considering a D810, or perhaps a pre-owned D800e, though it is not a matter of "jumping ship" or switching, as I have gradually acquired Nikon lenses, flashguns, and cameras. Of course, my wife, being a dedicated Nikonian, means we are a two-brand household, anyway, so it was not an economic mistake for me to buy into Nikon; I am trending toward cropped-frame Canons, and FX Nikons, and saving substantial costs by mostly buying pre-owned camera bodies.

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Canon 7D/5D/40D/1D2N; Nikon F6, D700, FM3A, & Coolpix A; Canon 40mm 2.8 STM, 135L, 50L, 35L, 50mm 1.8 I, 100mm 2.8L Macro, 10-22mm EF-S, 28-135 EF, 400mm 5.6L; Nikkor 50mm 1.2 AI-S, 50mm 1.4G, 50mm 1.8D, 16mm 2.8D Fisheye, 180mm 2.8D, 100-300mm 5.6 AI-S, 18mm 2.8D, Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 SL II


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