Lenses and Optics

First Look: Zeiss CP.2 135mm T2.1

Published April 22, 2013

Of course, being a photo guy who loves shooting at 135mm, I can’t wait to get my hands on the photo version of the new Zeiss 135mm lens. I don’t have that yet, but we did get the CP.2 Cine version of the lens, the Zeiss CP.2 135mm T2.1  in today. In addition to making our video shooters all drool, the CP.2 gave us a nice preview of the coming photo lenses.

It looks nice and hefty sitting next to a Canon 135mm f/2.

The Zeiss 135mm T2.1 CP.2 (right) next to the Canon 135mm f/2


It looks much better mounted to a Canon 5D Mk III in my hands, don’t you think?


Imatest Results

We tested on the Canon 5D Mk II so we could directly compare it to one of my favorite lenses, the Canon 135mm f/2.0. The Canon is one of the sharpest lenses at f/2.0 we’ve tested. Below are the Imatest MTF50 results at the center, averaged at 13 points over the front surface of the lens, and the average of the 4 corners.

  Center MTF50 Avg. MTF50 Avg. Corner MTF50
Zeiss 135mm T2.1925865770
Canon 135mm f/2.0800710640

Long live the new King! The new Zeiss 135mm T2.1 CP.2 (and the hopefully soon to be available ZE and ZF f/2.0) have some pretty amazing numbers. Particularly in the corners. We’ve never had anything do better at this aperture.

I don’t have any nice pictures for you, but there are several people who have gotten copies already and have posted some impressive images. Here are a few links but there are lots more:




Pretty impressive stuff. It’s priced at $2,200. That’s going to make for a tough decision for Canon shooters with the excellent Canon 135mm f/2.0 lens available at less than half that price. I don’t think anyone will ever complain about the Zeiss image quality, though. It’s spectacular.

Roger Cicala
April, 2013

Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Lensrentals.com. Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

Posted in Lenses and Optics
  • Roger Cicala

    No built-in hood, although the glass is recessed a bit.

  • That looks huge. Is the part after the focus distances (huge black part where the lens name is located) just the built in lens hood or are there glass inside it?

  • Archbrook

    Hello Roger, will you test new Nikon 18-35 AF-S? sorry for irrelevant post.

  • Lee Saxon

    Cate, that’s specific to this cine rehousing (focus ring is designed for follow focus gears, not your hand). The stills (ZF.2/ZE) version has a regular focus ring just like all the other ZF.2/ZE’s.

  • Daniel

    Roger, I see that you are (were) backer of the Radian on kickstarter (if the t-shirt was not a gift by some unsatisfied backer …). I have backed Genie and Astro (it was a tough choice between Astro and Radian, but I decided that the chance to set all important factors manualy is good addition over Radian). Any chance to read something about the Radian from you? I believe they already shipped it. Thanks in advance.

  • Cate

    Is it usable for handheld photography? The focus ring seems very tiny.

  • Comparison data was cropped from JPG images converted from RAW files.
    White balance was daylight.Thus,the condition was same.

  • David

    I’d be interested to see a back-to-back comparison with the Canon. The first reviewer goes on about color and contrast relative to lesser lenses. Is the difference as stark as he describes? If you posted the raw files for us to play with, that would be very helpful. My take has been that post-processing tricks can obscure the differences in similar lenses, but it’s rare to have files from the same scene.

  • I have tested APO Sonnar 135mm f2 and the result was amazing.

  • Tippler

    Why not compare the Zeiss CP.2 135mm T2.1 to the Canon equivalent,the CP.2 135mm/T2.1 EF? Isn’t the Zeiss prices at $5,700 (!) while the Canon cine costs $4,950? The plain old EF 135mm f/1.2L is in a different league.

  • Roger Cicala

    Tobi, I was one of the early Kickstart supporters for them. Got a T-shirt that works great, and a Radian that needs work 🙂

  • Tobi

    Screw the Zeiss. I want that radian-T-Shirt! That is so cool. Where did you get it?


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