Sony Carl Zeiss 135mm F1.8 ZA Sonnar T* A-mount lens review by Myst

reviewer#42978 date: Jan-12-2018
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 100mm f/2
Sony 135mm STF
price paid:675 Euro - Used
positive:- Sharpness
- Bokeh
- Color rendition
- Contrast
-manual focus ring has a bit of play
comment:Never really wanted to purchase this lens since I already owned the 135mm STF and bought a Minolta 100mm f/2 just 2 weeks prior, though the price was too good to pass up, planned to use it for a bit and resell it for a small profit.
The first thing you'll notice when using it is the weight, and the size with the hood attached, it's quite a big and heavy lens, this is a lens meant to be used with A-mount full frame cameras.
At f/1.8 the sharpness is really good, the micro-contrast is there, the bokeh is superb even in difficult situations, even if you pixel peep there shouldn't be any worries shooting wide open all the time.
Another big advantage is the MFD which leads to a magnification ration of 0.25X, which coupled with the focal length and F-stop can make for some really interesting close-up shots.

Compared to the 135mm STF:
The STF is a bit lighter and the bokeh is smoother, but there are times when that rendering is a bit bland, that being said, the STF doesn't have any other advantage over the 135mm ZA, unless you really love the way the STF renders bokeh there is absolutely no point to buy it instead of the ZA.

Compared to the 100mm F/2:
I like the rendering of the 100mm F/2 a bit more for portraits, it's warmer, the shorter focal length is a bit better, you can hand hold it for hours without getting tired, the sharpness wide open is almost as good as the 135mm.
The 135mm ZA has better bokeh, better chromatic aberrations control, better micro-contrast, since the focal length is longer and the F-stop is 1.8 you can throw background out of focus easier.

All in all this is a great lens to use on full frame cameras, if you have money to buy only one lens out of those 3, definitely buy this one, it has a wide range of applications.
After using it quite a bit, I decided to keep it, alongside the STF and the Minolta.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 118
  • sharpness: 4.99
  • color: 4.91
  • build: 4.76
  • distortion: 4.97
  • flare control: 4.94
  • overall: 4.91 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania