The ZA135 is a high end lens with Sony A-mount: it is big, it is expensive and it is one of the best lenses I ever used.
I used it on my Sony a7 with a Sony LA-EA4 adapter for this review, both the lens and the adapter were loaned to me from Sony.
Size: (diameter x length): 88mm x 114,5mm
Filter Thread: 77mm
Close Focusing Distance / max. Reproduction Ratio: 0.72 m / 1:4
Number of Aperture Blades: 9
Price: $ 1798 at B&H photo | 1699€ at Amazon.de
Initially I was worried about using this big lens on my rather small a7 but I found handling to be fine. Sure it is a big and heavy lens but the small size of my camera was not an issue.
I support the LA-EA4 with the ball of my hand which carries all the weight so the fingers of my left hand are free to focus the lens which works well.
The lens hood is enormous and almost doubles the volume of the lens so I left it at home most of the time because the lens is quite flare resistant.
The lens is made mostly of metal and feels really solid, I have never used a AF lens which felt more reliable.
The lens hood is heavy and locks reliably.
The focusing ring has some play, see manual focusing.
This lens isn’t sealed against dust or moisture.
There are several reports of the filter ring coming loose, this is usually repaired by Sony at no charge, because it is a known issue but I would watch out for it if you want to buy a used copy.
My experience is based on the use of the Sony a7 and LA-EA4 adapter, the lens might behave differently on other cameras.
I found the AF to be quite fast and reliable. The Sony 4-5.6/70-400 is even faster but this lens is far from slow.
The AF is screw driven, and quite audible.
Because the AF-Module of the LA-EA4 covers less than 10% of the image, I focused the lens manually most of the time but I don’t need speedy focus for most of my images.
One of the few issues with the lens is, that the focusing ring has some play.
The focusing ring is quite wide and offers the right amount of resistance, despite the play I found it really easy to focus this lens manually because of the great contrast from f/1.8 it is really easy to see were the point of focus.
AF has to be decoupled, to use the focusing ring, which can be done with the push of one button on the camera or by using DMF mode.
Distortion isn’t noticeable.
Noticeable at f/1.8, gone at f/2.8.
The bokeh of this lens is fabulous, I couldn’t get bad bokeh with this lens, no matter how hard I tried.
This is, besides the play in the focusing rin the only weaknesses of this lens, spherochromatism is quite noticeable, even stopped down.
This is Sony’s official MTF-Graph which can’t be compared to real MTF graphs from Zeiss which are measure, but at least it gives us an idea that this isn’t a bad lens and it can help to compare this lens to other Sony lenses.
This lens is sharp from corner to corner.
Very little corner fall of can be seen, this is an exceptional performance. My Minolta MD 2.8/135 isn’t that good at f/8.
No lateral CA can be seen.
I think I made a mistake at this aperture and the point of focus has changed at little.
I think I see a small improvement for the whole image.
I can’t detect any difference to f/4
I see a small drop in sharpness because of diffraction.
Diffraction is quite noticeable now and this aperture should be avoided if maximal sharpness is desired.
This is an extraordinary lens which comes quite close to optical perfection.
Handling on the a7 is fine, only the a little play in the focusing ring is objectionable.
The price you have to pay for this lens is quite high, but if you are looking for the best 135mm lens with AF support it is worth it.
The main rival for this lens in my eyes is the Zeiss APO 2/135, which overcomes the LoCA issue and offers a nicer focusing experience, but it doesn’t offer AF which will be a deal stopper for many portrait photographers and some have reported worse bokeh.
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