Zeiss APO Sonnar T* 135mm f/2.0 ZF.2 (DX) - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Nikon / Nikkor (APS-C)
Article Index

Review by Markus Stamm, published November 2017


The name "Sonnar" is derived from the German word "Sonne" (sun) and is used by Zeiss for very fast lenses, where the association with sunlight (read: lots of light) makes sense. The APO Sonnar with its large maximum aperture of f/2 at a focal length of 135mm certainly qualifies for this name.

It is the latest design that Zeiss added to the range of ZF (and ZE) manual focus lenses before they partly reinvented that product range under the Milvus brand name. The APO Sonnar was re-released under that name, too, with an updated lens body and weather sealing. The optical construction however hasn't changed, so our findings on optical performance in this review, which is based on the classic ZF.2 variant of the lens, also apply to the newer Milvus lens.

In this review we will have a look at how the lens performs on our current DX test camera. If you're also interested in the performance on a FX body, please have a look here.

As it is the case for any ZF lens, the build quality of the APO Sonnar is outstanding. The whole lens, from mount to the supplied hood, is made from solid and high quality metal.

As already mentioned, the lens is manual focus only. However, due to its very large and superbly damped focus ring, that is partly ribbed, and a very long focus throw it is a joy to handle the lens. Hitting the right focus spot is a challenge though, due to the very thin depth of field at large aperture values. However, the focus indicator in the viewfinder of most Nikon DSLRs offers welcome assistance.

As can be seen in the product shots above, the length extends considerably with closer focus settings. As you can expect from a modern lens design, the front element does not rotate, so using a polarizer is possible without any issues (besides accessing it if the fairly long metal hood is mounted).

Thanks to a built-in CPU, the Zeiss is technically the equivalent of a Nikon Ai-P lens, so it offers electronic coupling, camera controlled aperture, EXIF data in the images, etc. In other words: it works with any current Nikon DSLR, entry-level DX cameras included.

Equiv. focal length202.5 mm (full format equivalent)
Equiv. aperturef/3 (full format equivalent, in terms of depth-of-field)
Optical construction11 elements in 8 groups
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.80 m (max. magnification ratio 1:4)
Dimensions84 x 105 mm
Weight920 g
Filter size77 mm (non-rotating)
Hoodbarrel shaped, metal, bayonet mount (supplied)
Other featuresCPU and camera controlled aperture