Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR

Started Jun 3, 2013 | Discussions
WernerInMunich
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Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
Jun 3, 2013

Since one month I have the Zeiss 135 APO Sonnar and am very satisfied with the IQ of this lens. To show you the class of this lens I made a comparison with two Nikon Zoons. All Pics shot with D800E, Mirror prerelease and tripod. For AF I used Live View. Picture Control Standard, no sharpening applied. Here is the scene first:

I focused on the vase. The following shots are crops from the 100% view. First all shots wide open:

Now a comparison with the Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII at 2.8 and 4.0

For me, the 70-200 is a very good piece of glass, but the zeiss at 2.0 already outperforms the Nikkor at 2.8. Closed down, the differences diminish. The 70-300 plays in an other league (it is much cheaper). If you also want to see pics of this lens closed down, please  let me know.

Yours Werner

Nikon D800E
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RBFresno
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to WernerInMunich, Jun 4, 2013

WernerInMunich wrote:

Since one month I have the Zeiss 135 APO Sonnar and am very satisfied with the IQ of this lens. To show you the class of this lens I made a comparison with two Nikon Zoons. All Pics shot with D800E, Mirror prerelease and tripod. For AF I used Live View. Picture Control Standard, no sharpening applied. Here is the scene first:

I focused on the vase. The following shots are crops from the 100% view. First all shots wide open:

Now a comparison with the Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII at 2.8 and 4.0

For me, the 70-200 is a very good piece of glass, but the zeiss at 2.0 already outperforms the Nikkor at 2.8. Closed down, the differences diminish. The 70-300 plays in an other league (it is much cheaper). If you also want to see pics of this lens closed down, please  let me know.

Yours Werner

Hi!

Thanks for the comparision.

I've had the Zeiss 135 for about a month. Still getting to know it, but the more I know, the better I like it.

Many seem preoccupied with how "sharp" it is.

As your examples show, it's plenty sharp, even at f/2. Interestingly, my images don't tend to shout "sharpness", but when viewed under magnification, the differences between the Zeiss and my 70-200VR become even more apparent. And when more sharpening is applied in post processing, the difference seems even greater.

I just took this hand held in my garden. No tripod, no mirror lockup, just a simple shot. It's at f/5, so no big deal I guess....:

Nikon D4 , Zeiss ZF.2 Apo Sonnar T* 2/135
1/200s f/5.0 at 135.0mm iso200

Crop:

Best Regards,

RB

 RBFresno's gear list:RBFresno's gear list
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bakhtyar kurdi
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to RBFresno, Jun 4, 2013

To my eyes the Nikon at 2.8 is sharper than Zeiss At 2.0

Also Nikon looks sharper at f4

And I see no point to carry the Zeiss prime  when you have the Nikon zoom.

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HSway
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to bakhtyar kurdi, Jun 4, 2013

bakhtyar kurdi wrote:

To my eyes the Nikon at 2.8 is sharper than Zeiss At 2.0

Also Nikon looks sharper at f4

And I see no point to carry the Zeiss prime  when you have the Nikon zoom.

I don’t think so. But Nikon should make something similar, with AF. The Zeiss looks like a benchmark for speed/sharpness ratio and across the frame quality/speed. Use the loupe tool to compare 2.8/2.8 for this part of the frame. At f4 the difference is academic. how relevant in practice is a question. Otherwise apples and oranges. The prime is 600g lighter and much shorter. The zoom is several primes in one, AF and VR.

Hynek

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Zlik
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to WernerInMunich, Jun 4, 2013

Thank you for this comparison. How does it look in the corners? I find that the biggest difference between a good prime and a good zoom is that the prime is sharper in the corners especially at wide apertures.

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WernerInMunich
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to Zlik, Jun 4, 2013

Zlik wrote:

Thank you for this comparison. How does it look in the corners? I find that the biggest difference between a good prime and a good zoom is that the prime is sharper in the corners especially at wide apertures.

Dear Zlik,

attached a comparison from the edge. First row left is Zeiss @2.0, right @2.8, down left the 70-200 @ 2.8 und down right the 70-300 @4.8. You are right; here you can find the biggest differences.

Werner

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WernerInMunich
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to RBFresno, Jun 4, 2013

Dear RB,

you are right; sharpness is not equal to IQ. Zeiss lenses (I also have the 35mm 1.4) do render the image in a different way than Nikon lenses do. Colors are not the same and the transition from the focused area to the blurred background is very beautiful. Said this, also the 70-200 is a very good lens; the differences are small. You can see the quality better when compared to consumer lenses like the 70-300.

And Zeiss lenses have top build quality, not comparable with the best Nikon or Canon lenses. I am sure, you know that.

Yours Werner

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RBFresno
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to WernerInMunich, Jun 4, 2013

WernerInMunich wrote:

Dear RB,

you are right; sharpness is not equal to IQ. Zeiss lenses (I also have the 35mm 1.4) do render the image in a different way than Nikon lenses do. Colors are not the same and the transition from the focused area to the blurred background is very beautiful. Said this, also the 70-200 is a very good lens; the differences are small. You can see the quality better when compared to consumer lenses like the 70-300.

And Zeiss lenses have top build quality, not comparable with the best Nikon or Canon lenses. I am sure, you know that.

Yours Werner

HI!

Yes. My experience (with the Zeiss 100/2 and 135/2) parallels yours.

Of course not all Zeiss lenses are equal. But the 135/2 belongs in the Zeiss upper Echelon.

I find that those who tend to dismiss Zeiss lenses, are often the ones who have not used them.

On a trip last year to Tanzania I took the 70-200VR and Zeiss 100/2 along with me (along with  some other lenses)

I had intended to keep my tele (a 500VR) on one body, and the 70-200VR as my second most used lens on another, and initially did so.

However, as I began to use the Zeiss 100 more, it was evident, that even stopped down, I was much more pleased with the Zeiss, and soon was pretty much giving up the flexibility of the zoom for the rendition of the 100/2 Zeiss macro.:

D3   ISO 200   Zeiss ZF2 / ZE / Zx Makro-Planar T*
f2.0 100mm
@ f/8

D3   ISO 1600   Zeiss ZF2 / ZE / Zx Makro-Planar T*
f2.0 100mm
@ f/5.6

However, the Nikon lens caps are superior to those from Zeiss

RB

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Zlik
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to WernerInMunich, Jun 5, 2013

WernerInMunich wrote:

Zlik wrote:

Thank you for this comparison. How does it look in the corners? I find that the biggest difference between a good prime and a good zoom is that the prime is sharper in the corners especially at wide apertures.

Dear Zlik,

attached a comparison from the edge. First row left is Zeiss @2.0, right @2.8, down left the 70-200 @ 2.8 und down right the 70-300 @4.8. You are right; here you can find the biggest differences.

Werner

Thank you very much. The difference is much bigger in the corners !

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Jose Rocha
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to WernerInMunich, Jun 5, 2013

Nice test. Although for me it's more of a confirmation of how good the 70-200 is, compared to a f/2.0 prime (especially being Zeiss)...

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jhinkey
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to Zlik, Jun 5, 2013

Zlik wrote:

Thank you for this comparison. How does it look in the corners? I find that the biggest difference between a good prime and a good zoom is that the prime is sharper in the corners especially at wide apertures.

Yep - pretty much my experience too.  My 100/2 MP experience is that it's extremely uniform in sharpness across the frame - even wide open.  Hence there is no real hesitation to shoot it at f/2 even if your subject is off-center.

Looking forward to someday getting the 135/2 Zeiss to replace my very good 135/2 AIS Nikkor . . . .

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Dan_168
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to RBFresno, Jun 7, 2013

Of course not all Zeiss lenses are equal. But the 135/2 belongs in the Zeiss upper Echelon.

I find that those who tend to dismiss Zeiss lenses, are often the ones who have not used them.

Or those only take the sharpness as their only criteria when judging a lens. I also prefer my Zeiss 21 over any of my Nikon Canon in/near that FL and Zeiss 100 over any Canon Nikon 100/105 FL lenses. but then I really don't care much for the Zeiss 18, 25 F2.8,  & 85 1.4 when compare to my similar FL Canon Nikon primes such as TSE 17, TSE 24 II, Nikon 24G & Canon 85L II or even the 85G.

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RBFresno
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to Dan_168, Jun 7, 2013

Dan_168 wrote:


Of course not all Zeiss lenses are equal. But the 135/2 belongs in the Zeiss upper Echelon.

I find that those who tend to dismiss Zeiss lenses, are often the ones who have not used them.

Or those only take the sharpness as their only criteria when judging a lens. I also prefer my Zeiss 21 over any of my Nikon Canon in/near that FL and Zeiss 100 over any Canon Nikon 100/105 FL lenses. but then I really don't care much for the Zeiss 18, 25 F2.8,  & 85 1.4 when compare to my similar FL Canon Nikon primes such as TSE 17, TSE 24 II, Nikon 24G & Canon 85L II or even the 85G.

HI!

I don't have personal experience with the Canon lenses, but agree with your Zeiss comments.

Also, looks like we agree, that not all Zeiss lenses are created equal and some Zeiss lenses clearly out distance their Canon and Nikon counterparts while others do not.

The Zeiss 15, 21, 100/2 and 135/2 are among the best of the Zeiss offerings in the F-mount from what I've seen. The 50/2 Makroplanar might also make the cut....

I did test the relatively new Zeiss 25/2.

While it is an excellent lens, for me, I didn't feel that it distinguished itself enough from the 14-24 and 24-70 Nikon lenses that I already have, to justify my keeping it.

There are some  Zeiss lenses on the horizon that may well set the bar much higher, not only in performance, but also price!:

Zeiss 55 1.4

Best Regards,

RB

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WernerInMunich
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to RBFresno, Jun 7, 2013

Dear RB,

I was already able to take two pics with the 55mm/1.4 during a Zeiss promotion show here in Munich. Contrast and sharpness are breathtaking at f1.4 (I used my D800E). But on the other side: This lens is really BIG and heavy. And the haptic of the lens is not as good as for exemple the 135 APO or the 35mm 1.4.

I took the pics without prior permission of the Zeiss representative, so I promised him to not publish the pics in the internet.

Yours Werner

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coudet
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to RBFresno, Jun 8, 2013

RBFresno wrote:

There are some  Zeiss lenses on the horizon that may well set the bar much higher, not only in performance, but also price!:

Price of 55/1.4 is fine, as long as it's good as Zeiss claim. And they make some very serious claims about it's optical performance.

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Dodi73
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Re: Zeiss 135/2.0 vs Nikkor 70-200 2.8 VRII vs Nikkor 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR
In reply to WernerInMunich, Jun 8, 2013

@ Werner

your 135 eats the 70-200 for breakfast in the shots you posted, that's for sure. I won't go for it because I already have the 100 and would prefer a longer lens (180/200mm) rather than (the otherwise stellar) 135mm. Also a 75/2 MP would be a great addition and perfect for a 35-75 combo.

@ RBFresno

Agree with you with the 100. I used in Medjugorje past month and was my most used lens.

You can see some shots here: (sorry, don't want to hijack the thread, just contribute with other Zeiss samples) > http://italy74.smugmug.com/ALLTHEREST/Medjugorje-2013/Medjugorje-e-Loreto-le-mie/29256460_PPkjq2

In the Zeiss line, I'd say three levels exist:

1st and top: 15, 21, 25/2, 50/2, 100/2, 135/2: on a sheer detail and image rendition they are truly stellar performers. The good news is that all the latest Zeiss lenses have been a hit.

2nd 35mm - maybe just a "tad" less sharp than the above yet excellent for close up and do-it-all lens (also stopped down in diffraction zone)

3rd 18, 50/1.4 and 25/2.8 - for some reason, Zeiss missed the "star" with the 18. I don't question the 50 and the 25 which were among the very first lenses released and were not probably expected to work at such high resolutions. A revised 18mm (even f/4 I don't mind the relative slower aperture) with less field curvature and higher border performance would be great.

About the 55 f/1.4 I wish I could afford it as one-for-all lens (something I didn't get so far is if its large hood is built-in and sliding on the lens or screw mounted), yet I need else at the moment and I'm very very happy with the 50/2, so far the best 50mm I ever had.

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All the best from northern Italy, Dino.
I'm on the NIK side of photography.

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