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View Full Version : Zeiss 135mm F2 Lens test/ Nikon 85mm 1.8 test



Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 08:47
Well i was after this lens when it was first announced and finally I was able to get one used from a forum member and I'm glad I did. So far I love it and I'll give you some reasons why.

One it is maybe the only lens yet to take full advantage of the 36mpx sensor I have and it does show.

Two I see no CA or any other lens issues with a fast lens that we usually see shooting wide open. My Sigma 35mm 1.4 is the only other lens close to this in this area but the Zeiss I am seeing nothing at all

Three its killer sharp wide open. Nuff said right there

Four the Bokeh is gorgeous

Five and not so sure this should be 5 but maybe number one. Its the only manual lens I have tried so far handheld or on a tripod that once I focus it than double check it in live view that I'm dead on the money manual focusing it even handheld. Let me repeat that given the shitty focusing screens for these AF cameras for manual focusing . I am nailing focus without being in live view to do it. Do I need to repeat that for the third time because this is unheard of. LOL

Okay lets get on with some images and let you folks decide. I just happen to have a very good Nikon 85mm 1.8 which BTW I think is sharper than the 1.4 version but thats a war for another day. My 85mm is very good and extremely good at 5.6 but at 1.8 like all fast glass the widest open aperture is never killer good and usually carries a lot of CA but the 85mm is good at F2 but as you will see the Zeiss 135mm F2 at wide open which folks this is unheard of is killer good wide open at F2 with no Ca , no purple fringing and is sharp as a laser. Frankly this is why buy this lens to be honest sharp results at F2 but it does have a small downside at F8 you can see diffraction start to creep in and the Nikon its at F11. I'm probably not going to show that against each other but you can see the Zeiss results.

One other caveat to this lens. Its big , its heavy , its manual focus and its butter smooth. Sounds perfect to me but for those sissy's that like AF well this lens ain't for you. ROTFLMAO

I'm joking of course but I started this journey 40 years ago and there was no such thing as AF so I'm entitled to give you a little rubbing. No question AF has its place and I use it as well, so please dont let me kid you too much I rely on it as well.

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:11
Lets start with a Full image with the 135mm at 5.6 with the Zeiss lens. I am tripod mounted,leveled, mirror up in live view focusing with a loop. I match the 85mm by moving closer to the scene to match the 135mm.

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/135ff_at_56.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/135f2.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/85mmf2.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:14
As you can see even wide open the Zeiss is the sharper lens and we need to remember the Nikon 85mm is stopped down to F2 . I did not bother even shooting it at 1.8 only because I know its just okay.

Lets move on

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/zeiss_13528.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/85mm28.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:17
The Zeiss still slightly better at 2.8 and its close but again the Zeiss at F2 is about as good as it gets at F2 other than the Nikon 200mm F2. We have to keep that in mind. Thats really the test to be made is the Nikon 200mm and the Zeiss 135mm both F2 glass both designed to be sharp wide open.

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/135mmf4.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/85mmf4.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:19
http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/135mmf56.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/85mmf56.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:21
Both lenses very very good here. Now at F8 I can see a slight decrease in the Zeiss due to diffraction. Its hard to see and you have to be pixel peeping.

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/135mmf8.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/85mm_f8.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:24
Okay Drake my English pointer always seems to be my first subject when I get a new lens. No different here but look at the bokeh and the crispness at F2.

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/drake_1.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/drake_1a.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:25
I was so impressed I did it again. LOL

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/drake2.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/drake2a.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:31
Drake was shot handheld as well as this image at F2

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1570.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_85727.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:38
This is a key shot as every lens i shot this with before wide open I always got purple fringing wide open around the white lettering. Not the case with the Zeiss 135mm wide open

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1565.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_672974.jpg


This one is just amazing. Sun directly reflecting into the window at F2

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1561_1.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:43
I shot both of these images handheld at F4

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_329437.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1575.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:45
I shot this at F4 but on the tripod. Its about all I had time for this morning but hope it helps someone.



http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_999050.jpg

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:46
Oh this is very early in the morning just after sunrise and they are not WB but warm from the early light.

Swissblad
12th August 2013, 09:52
Thanks for posting this Guy, very impressive - seems like a really lovely lens!

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:53
Bottom line for me at least. Nothing can touch it wide open at F2 except maybe the 200mm F2 Nikkor and its a nice focal length for landscapes for me. Not to mention it focuses very nicely and would make a great portrait , fashion and whatever lens but you better like manual focus or this is not for you. I happen to be able to still have a good eye for focusing manual lenses and most times anyway I am in live view or manual focus myself on most gigs. Obviously this is going to be limiting to certain types of shooting . One because it is a long lens and critical focus is harder to achieve on longer glass versus wide angles. I really should say its just harder to get there with long lenses as its less forgiving with focusing errors.

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 09:54
Thanks for posting this Guy, very impressive - seems like a really lovely lens!

Oh your welcome and yes its very very good and it sucks up every MPX the D800E has to offer. So if you need to go big this is a good lens for it.

glenerrolrd
12th August 2013, 10:50
Wow that lens is impressive for sure . For much of my work I can still use MF and I know the high contrast fast lenses are not that hard to focus ..especially the longer lenses because of the shallow DOF .

Still looking for a better screen than the one that comes with the D800/E . I know they convert a Canon plain matte screen but none of the other reliable sources have produced a D800/E screen .

You should test the bokeh ....the zeiss 100 seems to have a edgy roll off from sharp to OOF . The Leica 100APO rolls off gradually . Creates quite different renderings .

I expect some great stuff to come from Zeiss over the next year as we get ready for the Pro versions of the high MP bodies from Canon,Nikon and Sony .

This looks like a great new lens .

Guy Mancuso
12th August 2013, 11:03
Thanks Roger . Now I need to go shoot the darn thing for real. I'm expecting good things from it. See if i can get a model over here at some point. Love my dog but it ain't cutting it . LOL

vjbelle
12th August 2013, 11:14
Guy,

Its really nice of you to take the time and effort to post these examples. I have put off purchasing the 135 because I don't use that focal length much. I have a 135 Canon that I have rarely used. But..... you have peaked my interest - especially in combination with my 800e. I also think that it would be very useful for landscapes and also for architectural detail which I enjoy.

Victor

AlexLF
12th August 2013, 11:22
The Zeiss still slightly better at 2.8 and its close but again the Zeiss at F2 is about as good as it gets at F2 other than the Nikon 200mm F2. We have to keep that in mind. Thats really the test to be made is the Nikon 200mm and the Zeiss 135mm both F2 glass both designed to be sharp wide open.


Oh, I'd love to see this comparison. I know it's two different focal length but still. And to see bokeh of those!

ddanois
12th August 2013, 17:36
Fantastic Guy!

Glad that you are putting this lens to better use. Keep the images coming.

Best,

Derek

Stan ROX
12th August 2013, 21:36
Guy, I'm absolutely with you. This Zeiss is a quality monster.


Bottom line for me at least. Nothing can touch it wide open at F2 except maybe the 200mm F2 Nikkor

I have both lenses. Love both lenses.
Will try to do a comparison the next possible opportunity. Which is today :D

S.

jagsiva
13th August 2013, 03:57
Thanks Guy, there goes another 2500 bucks!

I do miss my 135L from my Canon days and was eagerly awaiting this lens. I hope these guys make their focusing screens available for the D800 soon...

Nikon DSLRs - KatzEye Optics (http://www.katzeyeoptics.com/cat--Nikon-DSLRs--cat_nikon.html)

Landscapelover
13th August 2013, 04:58
Thanks very much Guy! The lens is fantastic.
Do you know whether it has the same design as Sony Zeiss 135mm f/1.8?
Pramote

D&A
13th August 2013, 05:58
I was so impressed I did it again. LOL

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/drake2.jpg

Yes, and you can see by his expression how impressed Drake is too... LOL! :)

On my travels I had a chance to take some quick test shots with this lens and was as suitably impressed as you were. I didn't have time for full blown testing on tripod, so I reserved final judgement for a later date. In my limited testing I too couldn't provoke CA from this lens (shot wide open) on a suitable subject this alone caught my eye. Your full blown testing is impressive and invaluable and very much appreciated.

As a side note, your testing always includes that building/restaurant with te potted hanging plants. Have they come to expect some sort of residual from you each time you shoot there? :)

My favorite building for test shots used to be a bank that had ornate 3D decorations along its front and side, but you can imagine the reaction and commotion that would cause a stir when I would set up and take endless test shots of this building with various lenses, never mind the tripod. I'm sure by now my mug shot is being prepared on a "ten most wanted" poster if ever that bank happens to be robbed....LOL!

Dave (D&A)

Guy Mancuso
13th August 2013, 06:07
It's funny I went from the big yellow building to this English tea house with these plants . The last several lens test I used this scene as it gives me several things that are better. Strong whites the curtains , strong blacks the heavy shadows. The other thing on wides is I can get three plants from left , right and center on same plane so its nice for field curvature and DOF into the corners. Obviously there fake plants which means they don't move either. Lol

But after testing several lenses with that center pot I get a good feel of all my lenses on how the reproduce it. Okay than truth be told I went to the big yellow building and ran out of battery. I ran out the door with 2 lenses and tripod and left my arsenal behind.

Guy Mancuso
13th August 2013, 06:09
Thanks very much Guy! The lens is fantastic.
Do you know whether it has the same design as Sony Zeiss 135mm f/1.8?
Pramote

I am pretty sure its a different design but not certain.

Guy Mancuso
13th August 2013, 06:10
BTW i rarely test in nice lovely light, it really provides limited data. I like to test the extremes and really that is what we need to know is how far you can bend the gear.

D&A
13th August 2013, 06:31
It's funny I went from the big yellow building to this English tea house with these plants . The last several lens test I used this scene as it gives me several things that are better. Strong whites the curtains , strong blacks the heavy shadows. The other thing on wides is I can get three plants from left , right and center on same plane so its nice for field curvature and DOF into the corners. Obviously there fake plants which means they don't move either. Lol

But after testing several lenses with that center pot I get a good feel of all my lenses on how the reproduce it. Okay than truth be told I went to the big yellow building and ran out of battery. I ran out the door with 2 lenses and tripod and left my arsenal behind.

Interesting, our test parameters in terms of what we look for in setting up a lens test, is very much the same and although no single test subject can cover all the bases, at least a good building/location as the one you described (or the ones I often use), do provide a very good initial impression of the strengths and weakness of a given lens. Then (subsequently) in real world shooting with that lens, additional assessments can be made.

As for not forgetting batteries, wouldn't a doggie backpack on Drake do the trick? I mean he does have to earn his keep, doesn't he?...LOL!

Dave (D&A)

mountainjoe
13th August 2013, 10:53
Guy, thanks for the test shots and analysis - looks like a real winner though my wallet didn't need this! :facesmack:

I wonder if you can confirm if the Nikon TC's will work with this lens (and some test shots would be even better :D)?

190mm @ f2.8 (1.4X) or 270mm @ f4 (2X) wouldn't be too bad given the quality you'd be starting from - at least it would make justifying this lens a bit easier :ROTFL:

Cheers,

Guy Mancuso
13th August 2013, 11:17
Guy, thanks for the test shots and analysis - looks like a real winner though my wallet didn't need this! :facesmack:

I wonder if you can confirm if the Nikon TC's will work with this lens (and some test shots would be even better :D)?

190mm @ f2.8 (1.4X) or 270mm @ f4 (2X) wouldn't be too bad given the quality you'd be starting from - at least it would make justifying this lens a bit easier :ROTFL:

Cheers,

Joe i have been thinking the same thoughts on a TC lens. I may borrow Jacks Sigma 1.4 and try it. The only issue I see is the rear element if it sticks out to far for a TC. At infinity its about a 1/2 away from the mount so there is room. Just a matter of what fits on it. Anyone have a TC they want to send to try it , I'm all in.

D&A
14th August 2013, 04:53
Aside from any mounting issues, I would suspect if if a good optical match could be achieved with a 1.4x and this Zeiss lens, it would be with the Nikon TC 14E-II as opposed to the Sigma. Generally what I have found is the Sigma converters in testing appear to only do well, especially towards the sides and corners with Sigma brand lenses they're designed for.

Of course the tab on the rear of the Nikon 1.4x would have to be shaved off...something I believe Jack had previously done. It wouldn't though hurt to try the Sigma 1.4x on the Zeiss, just to see the results.

Dave (D&A)

Swissblad
14th August 2013, 05:36
On the note of the TC 14, it seems it is due for replacement :
Nikon TC-14E II teleconverter listed as discontinued | Nikon Rumors (http://nikonrumors.com/2013/08/13/nikon-tc-14e-ii-teleconverter-listed-as-discontinued.aspx/)
Perhaps we'll see an aspheric element version like the new TC 20EIII.

Guy Mancuso
14th August 2013, 05:45
I think its certainly worth a try a 190 2.8 sounds awful sweet to me.

Jan Brittenson
14th August 2013, 14:55
If only it were an AF lens. As it is, I suspect that f/2 performance is only ever useful for static subjects...

Guy Mancuso
16th August 2013, 05:38
Moved thread to lens review section of forum

Chuck Jones
17th August 2013, 06:27
Great idea moving this thread over here Guy, it is a fantastic real world review of what appears to be a pretty amazing piece of glass. It should be preserved.

I still have not settled on a lens in the 135mm focal length, a bit strange as I used to shoot that length quite a bit. You may remember my having the Canon 135 f/2. Seems everyone has a reasonably good 135mm, so must not be as difficult a design as some others. Not as expensive as many of the better lenses either, so must be reasonably easy focal length to build for Canon and Nikon.

You've shot the best glass in the world Guy. I know, I've bought some of it from you, as have legions of others around here :) I'm still shooting mostly my old Contax Zeiss on my Canon, and still feel it ranks right up there with the best made. Where would you say this Zeiss f/2 ranks on the scale with the others? Call the Canon 135mm f/2 an eight on a scale from one to ten. From looking at your samples, this lens looks to be close to a nine, or nine plus? Does it get any better at any focal length?

This Zeiss is more than double the cost of the Canon or the Nikon, both of which also give you autofocus. As we've both seen times before, double the price with butter smooth manual focus sometimes pays huge dividends in final image quality. With the Canon being so good, do you think the Zeiss is worth twice the cash?

Guy Mancuso
17th August 2013, 10:17
The real secret of this lens in my mind is at F2 and even 2.8. I shot the Canon/Nikon glass in these ranges and as good as they are since a 135 is pretty easy to design optically wise this thing just kills them. Outside of being really sharp there simply is no purple blooming and CA wide open. I have yet to see it, sure it vignettes some but that is common with every fast lens,this one just kills any thing I have seen wide open. One thing more usually wide open lenses tend to lose there contrast and is more flat, not so here. It may lose very very little but better than anything I have seen and it seems to squeeze every drop of Mpx that you can throw at it. The only lens really close is the Sigma 35mm 1.4 but even wide open its not as good as this and that's rated very high on the reviews. Question is it worth it yes if you plan on being a wide open freak no question but if your at F8 its probably really close to Nikon/Canon at those apertures so maybe the camera brands are good enough. Hard to say if its better as the old Contax Zeiss glass of yesteryear since they where very good but we never taxed them with a 36 mpx sensor either. I hope to get some more samples up soon as this lens has got me pretty excited.

Guy Mancuso
17th August 2013, 10:21
One other thing to notice is in the examples I never seen a lens at F2 look extremely close to its optimized aperture at 5.6. You can barely tell them apart outside of DOF. That says a lot

Chuck Jones
18th August 2013, 15:20
Thanks Guy. As you know, I am one of those wide open freaks, so guess this needs to go on the "to buy" list.

Great job with the review, I look forward to reading more of them!

Your right too, the old Contax Zeiss hold up quite well with my 24MP 5D Mark III, but I have no idea what they would do with the D800 or anything higher Megapixel wise. I would suspect judging from the 24MP results they should do pretty well though.

Guy Mancuso
21st August 2013, 14:32
Well I went for a ride yesterday but I was not very photographically in the mood. Seems like I wanted to just drive so I did about 200 miles with windows down and sunroof open in about 78 degrees. I need to cool down from the barrage of over 105 temps for the last month. I just needed fresh air but I did take 3 lenses and shot each one maybe once. LOL

Yea i was being lazy but this is pretty cool. Some cliff dwellings shot at 5.6. This lens is just a freaking laser I did not use live view just my eye on a tripod to focus. Da i think I nailed it.

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1584_1.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_763575.jpg

Guy Mancuso
21st August 2013, 14:37
Just in case I was not clear enough on it being a laser than let me repeat myself:grin:

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1589_1.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_227385.jpg

Guy Mancuso
22nd August 2013, 10:46
Well being the guinea pig that I am i had to find out if a 1.4 converter would work. So I went to my local drug dealing gear filled Tempe Camera store this morning and see if they could fill my prescription of more craziness. I went in looking for the Sigma 1.4 and not in stock nor was the Nikon 1.4 but they did have a Kenko 1.4 model MC4 DGX.
Kenko TelePlus MC4 AF 1.4X DGX TeleconverterMC4AF1.4DGXN B&H (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=674591&is=REG&Q=&A=details)

So I carefully looked at the rear element of the Zeiss and the element of the tele and decided I think it would fit, so very carefully I tried it and bam it fit even at infinity. Last thing I wanted to do was screw up my Zeiss rear element but it all clears and tried a few shots in the store looked pretty good but crap light so I bought it. First thing is it does correctly give me a 190mm 2.8 lens so it jives with the D800E on those fronts. And it does focus to infinity and beyond, all good. Now I'm about ready to process a couple shots but even wide open figuring the Zeiss is such a damn laser beam that this may do okay and looks like it does. Now I dont have false hope of shooting this wide open much and more stopping down a stop or more but even wide open its pretty good. Okay I need to process before I stick my foot in my own mouth here. LOL

I figured its cheap and for occasional work its worth having around. Check back later with samples

Guy Mancuso
22nd August 2013, 11:30
So we have a full image here shot with live view and bolted down very well but want to be clear with this lens which is heavy puts some good stress on the 1.4 converter, so I recommend tripod ONLY as you dont want this bouncing around too much.

Okay full image at the new wide open . BTW my EXIF data says 190mm at 2.8 pretty cool

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1655.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/28crop.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/f4crop.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/56_crop.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/f8crop.jpg

Guy Mancuso
22nd August 2013, 11:32
As you can see even at F4 its not too shabby but 5.6 picks it up a notch and at F8 looks very good. For me and its intended use and reach on occasion worth having in the bag. Now a better 1.4 might be more impressive but not sure Nikons would work. BTW this is at about 75-100 yards away

Guy Mancuso
22nd August 2013, 11:43
At 5.6 this looks rather good.

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1649.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_264893.jpg

Guy Mancuso
22nd August 2013, 18:22
Just checking on what folks think here.

Jorgen Udvang
23rd August 2013, 01:11
That last f/5.6 shot looks very good and makes it a two-in-one lens (I have the Tamron 1.4x TC which I believe is optically identical to the Kenko). It seems to me that it's sharper at the closer distance, which I assume the latter photo is.

mountainjoe
23rd August 2013, 06:58
Last one at f5.6 does look good - thanks Guy!

Would like to see more shots at medium distance if possible:thumbs:

Cheers,

Guy Mancuso
23rd August 2013, 07:12
About 30 ft away at 5.6 which looks like the best starting point if you want sharp, which in reality is without TC F4. I have shot this lounge chair many times with all my glass for AF adjust mostly and this is damn good

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1650.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_127954.jpg

Guy Mancuso
23rd August 2013, 07:16
At about 100 yards or so at F4. Its not bad but I think 5.6 starts it for me at least

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1634.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/wall_crop.jpg

Guy Mancuso
23rd August 2013, 07:20
This one has me excited given I would say about 1/2 mile away or further shot at F7.1 and has no direct sun on it this is pretty dang good.

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/_gmp1630.jpg

http://www.getdpi.com/gallery/files/1/1/building_crop.jpg

Guy Mancuso
23rd August 2013, 07:24
I would like to try the Sigma 1.4 at some point as well. The Kenko was cheap and given it looks pretty dang good at 5.6 which I think the Zeiss lens makes it better anyway. Its worth keeping unless the Sigma blows its doors off. I would not mind trying the Nikon 1.4 as well but I might have to take the tab off it. Anyone got these converters and want me to try it let me know. Be happy too test them

Guy Mancuso
25th August 2013, 05:02
So anyone buy this lens since this review. I highly recommend it, best lens yet on the Nikon IMHO.

aztwang
24th December 2013, 19:20
Guy,
The IQ without question seems to be spot on. Guy, you have had this Zeiss for some time now, so I must ask how efficient have you gotten with the manual focus? Are you able to shoot a model thru a series of pose changes, say every second ? ..or do you have to slow down a bit. Do you find yourself using a tripod/camera stand for optimum sharpness when in the studio?
I so want to buy one of these for christmas and but not sure how the manual focus will work in studio conditions as state above.
Guy have a Marry Christmas and a prosperous & Happy New year!

Don McPhee