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

reviewer#44048 date: Apr-23-2018
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
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:A bunch of Minolta zooms
Contax Zeiss 135/2.8
price paid:$1200 (used)
positive:Sharpness and contrast
Auto focus
Lateral CA
negative:Longitudinal CA
comment:This lens has only one flaw, and when it shows it ugly face it can ruin your shot, and that is too much longitudinal CA. In the wrong situation (imagine a barren winter tree silhuetted against a gray sky wide open) and the amount of green and magenta just out of focus fringes is not a pretty sight.
Apart from that the rest is just superlatives. It's a dream lens for portraits. You can use any aperture you like and even corners at 1.8 are sharp and contrasty, not mentioning the center. And the bokeh is the best I ever seen. It has no problem with the 42mp sensor of the A99II.
This lens is the main reason I got the A99II since I already own the A7R3. Don't know if you can do that and still be considered sane, but this is how good this lens is in most situations.
Also works great for landscape stopped down.

A few notes on auto-focus. You need it, and you need to micro-adjust it since the DOF is as thick as cardboard (no joke). It's actually hard shoot close-up portraits with manual focus since moving the camera just a few millimeters will make you miss critical focus.
But micro adjusted the A99II is really doing a good job, especially the "eye focus". You still going to miss a few but when you nail it it's worth everything. You can count the eye-lashes from 10 meters.
And this is the reason this lens works poorly on the A7 series. The LA-EA4 has too low AF precision.

I hesitated a long time buying it, but now my kids will inherit it.

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