Review

In this highly detailed review of the Sony A-Mount 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* telephoto lens (SAL135f18z), I will go over everything you need to know using real world photography and of course Lab testing 😉 I took hundreds of sample photos in all sorts of situations, so I really think all your answers will be covered in this Sony lens review.

For the camera body I used my beloved full frame 36mp Sony A7r which is a native E-Mount lens camera, so I also needed the LA-EA4 electronic lens adapter. See below for what the set-up looks like all mounted up and ready to fire!

Sony A7r w/ LAEA4 and 135mm f/1.8 CA Lens

Sony A7r w/ LAEA4 and 135mm f/1.8 CA Lens

 

Sony 135mm f/1.8 CZ Lens – Video Review

The video review below is really thorough, but I also wanted to have the high res sample photos available for viewing more closely. I like to watch Youtube reviews on my HD TV in the living room when possible these days 🙂


 SAL135F18Z – Key Features

  • Aperture Range: f/1.8-22
  • 2x Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Elements
  • 11 Elements in 8 Groups
  • ~202.5mm on APS-C Sensor Cameras
  • A-Mount Lens
  • Carl Zeiss T* (T-Star) Coatings
  • 9x Circular Aperture Blades
  • Focus Hold Button & Auto Clutch
  • 77mm Filter Diameter
  • ~ 2.17 lb (985 g)
  • Lens Hood & Bag Included
 

SAL135F18Z Lens Elements

SAL135f18zLens Elements

SAL135f18zLens Elements

SAL135F18Z Lens MDF Charts

sal135f18z Lens MDF

sal135f18z Lens MDF

 

Sample Photos

I took a ton of sample photos but first how about some Lab Testing…

Lab Testing Sample Photos – Click Images!

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, via A7r - No Lens Correction

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, via A7r – No Lens Correction

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, via A7r - Lens Profile Lightroom 5

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, via A7r – Lens Profile Lightroom 5

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, via A7r - Lens Profile Lightroom 5

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, 100% Crop Top Left

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, via A7r - Lens Profile Lightroom 5

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, 100% Crop

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, via A7r - Lens Profile Lightroom 5

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, 100% Crop

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, via A7r - Lens Profile Lightroom 5

SAL135f18z @ f/1.8, 100% Crop

SAL135f18z @ f/2.2, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/2.2, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/2.8, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/2.8, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/4, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/4, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/5.6, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/5.6, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/8, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/8, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/11, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/11, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/16, via A7r

SAL135f18z @ f/16, via A7r

 

Real World Sample Photos – Around the House

All shot using Raw Quality and very minor adjustments unless otherwise stated.. Most are straight off the camera as you will see some flat looking colors and contrast respectively. Be sure to Click the Photos!!

Sony A-Mount 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* telephoto lens (SAL135f18z)

 
Sony A7r w/ LAEA4 and 135mm f/1.8 CA Lens

Sony A7r w/ LAEA4 and 135mm f/1.8 CA Lens

 

Real World Sample Photos – Fire Trucks

I came across these really old sort of abandoned fire trucks a few months back and just got permission to fire 😉 I ran into the owner a few weeks ago and he was a super nice dude and said have fun, so I did! Please click on the photos to view large in a sideshow format.

Sony A-Mount 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* telephoto lens (SAL135f18z)

 

Sample Photos – Soccer

The Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Lens is not the best lens for sports due to the older slower focus motor, but it still can get the job done and creates killer separation 😉 Raw Quality so they may look a bit flat don’t forget and Please Click Photos!

 

Sample Photos – Random Photos – Please Click!!

Sony A-Mount 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* telephoto lens (SAL135f18z)

 

Sample Photos – Enhanced Images – Click Photos

Sony A-Mount 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* telephoto lens (SAL135f18z)

 

Background Separation Example with “Human Like” Sculpture

Thanks to this cool sculpture courtesy of ZacMax, I was able to simulate the separation you can get with a human in the full body, 3/4, and then head shot poses… I also added a little contrast, vibrancy, clarity, and vignette to these three photos.

Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/1.8, 1/250sec, ISO 100

Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/1.8, 1/250sec, ISO 100

Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/1.8, 1/250sec, ISO 100

Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/1.8, 1/250sec, ISO 100

Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/1.8, 1/640sec, ISO 100

Sony 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Lens @ f/1.8, 1/640sec, ISO 100

 

Sample Photos – Studio Photography

Using a large soft box as a single light source, I took a few snapshots in the studio downstairs which is just to the left of the “lab scene” btw 😉 Using manual mode on the Sony A7r I had it set to f/6.3 and 5.6, 1/160sec, ISO 100 and 200 respectively was used.

 

SAL135F18z lens Review Conclusions

The Sony A-Mount 135mm f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* telephoto lens (SAL135f18z), is one of the best optical performers I have ever tested. It’s not exactly cheap at ~$1798 US, especially when considering it’s older technology in the auto focus motor department. The only downside is this lens is not good for high speed sports. Portraits and all other types of photography are just jaw dropping awesome though. You see where the money is going every time you take a photo, and this lens pumps out a particular look that can’t be duplicated.  The super fast f/1.8 aperture allows for some extremely shallow depth of fields if desired, even when using a full body in portraiture. One of the number one reasons to have a lens like this in my opinion, but as you saw in this review it is capable of much more 😉

I love this lens, but it’s so much money and is lacking the newer SSM focus motor. On top of that it’s an A-Mount lens, so it requires the LA-EA4 lens adapter to use on the newer full frame e-mount mirrorless cameras like my A7r for example.

Therefore, 4.5 out of 5 is what I gave this killer 135mm monster!

I hope you all got what you were looking for in this review, and please feel free to ask questions or comment below as always….

Jay

Support Links:

  1. SAL135F18Z Lens for ~$1798 US @ BHPhoto (Click Here)
  2. Sony Alpha A7r for ~$2098 US @ BHPhoto (Click Here)
  3. Sony LA-EA4 Electronic Lens Adapter (a-Mount to E-Mount) ~$398 US @ BHPhoto (Click Here)


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Thanks,
Jay

 


About the Author

Jay
Hello, I'm the owner and operator of SonyAlphaLab.com. Please check out the About page for a full background on myself and the Lab ;) Google+ | Twitter | RSS-feed | Email Updates!!