Carl Zeiss Classic Apo-Sonnar T* 135mm F/2 ZE / ZF.2

Medium telephoto prime lens • Digital era • Discontinued


APO Apochromatic optical design.
T* Multi-layer anti-reflection coating is applied to the surfaces of lens elements. This anti-reflection coating increases light transmission, eliminates flare and ghosting, and maintains color consistence among all lens models.
ZE The lens is designed for Canon EOS 35mm SLR cameras but can be also used on APS-C SLR cameras.
ZF.2 The lens is designed for Nikon 35mm SLR cameras but can be also used on APS-C SLR cameras. The lens features a built-in CPU which is used to transfer metering data from the lens to the camera.

Sample photos


Model history (2)

Features highlight

CFD 0.8m
9 blades


Production details:
Announced:September 2012
Production status: Discontinued
Original name:Carl Zeiss Apo-Sonnar 2/135 ZE T*
Carl Zeiss Apo-Sonnar 2/135 ZF.2 T*
Optical design:
Focal length:135mm
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Canon EF [44mm]
Nikon F [46.5mm]
Diagonal angle of view:18.2°
Lens construction:11 elements in 8 groups
4 AD
Floating element system
On Canon EOS APS-C [1.59x] cameras:
35mm equivalent focal length:214.7mm (in terms of field of view)
35mm equivalent speed:F/3.2 (in terms of depth of field)
Diagonal angle of view:11.5°
On Nikon D APS-C [1.53x] cameras:
35mm equivalent focal length:206.6mm (in terms of field of view)
35mm equivalent speed:F/3.1 (in terms of depth of field)
Diagonal angle of view:12°
Diaphragm mechanism:
Diaphragm type:Automatic
Aperture control:None; the aperture is controlled from the camera (Canon EF)
Aperture ring (Manual settings + Auto Exposure setting) (Nikon F)
Number of blades:9 (nine)
Closest focusing distance:0.8m
Magnification ratio:1:4
Focusing modes:Manual focus only
Manual focus control:Focusing ring
Physical characteristics:
Weight:930g (Canon EF)
920g (Nikon F)
Maximum diameter x Length:⌀84×108mm (Canon EF)
⌀84×105mm (Nikon F)
Weather sealing:-
Fluorine coating:-
Filters:Screw-type 77mm
Lens hood:2028-702 - Bayonet-type round
Teleconverters:Not available
Sources of data:
1. Manufacturer's technical data.
2. SLR lenses: Perfection from Carl Zeiss booklet (PUB. EN_10_025_148III).

Manufacturer description #1

Carl Zeiss Presents Two New Lenses

Industry customers benefit from exceptional image quality with the Distagon T* 2.8/15 and the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135

OBERKOCHEN, 2012-11-06.

Carl Zeiss has two new lenses in its line: the new Distagon T* 2,8/15 super-wide angle lens is already on the market, and the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 will be delivered from December onwards. Both lenses are available with F mount (ZF.2), EF mount (ZE) and M42 mount (Z-M42-I) and are designed for use in creative photography as well as industrial applications.

With its 135 millimeter focal length, the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 is the longest tele lens in the SLR lens range. Anyone who wishes to capture detailed images from long distances is on the right track with the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135. At any aperture, it delivers impressive results – brilliant detail, high contrast and maximum definition. A special, variable arrangement of the lens elements ensures excellent image quality across the entire focusing range from 0.8 m to infinity. As it is an apochromatic lens, chromatic aberrations are corrected by lens elements made of special types of glass with exceptional partial dispersion. Therefore, the chromatic aberrations are far below the limits otherwise defined.

Applications in Photogrammetry

The robust all-metal body of both the Distagon T* 2,8/15 and the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 is designed for extra-long service life. Thus, both are optimally suitable for industry customers. The German Aerospace Center (DLR), among others, uses an SLR lens from Carl Zeiss in an airborne system for the monitoring of traffic and potential hazards. This allows razor sharp images to be conveyed almost in real-time – in the case of a major event, for example – which benefits security forces and other groups. Due to its resistance and perfor- mance, the ZEISS lens also withstands adverse weather conditions. "Carl Zeiss enjoys a very good reputation in the area of photogrammetry. We were well-advised. If we set the lenses to infinity, they focus on infinity. This is exactly what we wanted," says Project Manager Dr. Frank Kurz from the Remote Sensing Technology Institute at the DLR.

Like with all other SLR lenses of the ZE and ZF.2 series, the Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating and the advanced treatment of the lens edges with special dark black lacquers ensure resistance to reflections and stray light.

Manufacturer description #2

The Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 is Carl Zeiss' longest medium telephoto lens in the range of high-quality SLR lenses. With the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135, the company is substantially extending the creative possibilities available in the medium tele range. Photographers and HD video cinematographers now have a total of thirteen SLR lenses to choose, with focal lengths of 15 to 135 millimeters.

The Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 is the ideal lens for capturing detailed images from long distances, such as the skyline at sunset, a leopard in the zoo, or a pop star on a faraway stage. The new lens offers outstanding clarity of detail, high contrast and high resolution at any aperture. This mix of attributes makes it the perfect choice for portraits in advertising, fashion and lifestyle, as well as for landscape and reportage photography.

After putting the lens through its paces in New York, Magnum photographer Christopher Anderson was clearly impressed: “I am delighted with the performance of this new lens. It is relatively compact for a telephoto lens. Its image resolution and quality are outstanding, and there is a touch of magic in the way the light is refracted by the lens elements. I took some amazing photos, including some in poor light conditions.”

The Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 can capture subjects up to a scale of 1:4. It has been built based on Carl Zeiss's proven “floating elements” design. A special variable arrangement of the lens elements delivers excellent images over the entire focusing range, from 0.8 meters to infinity. The compact telephoto lens features eleven elements in eight groups. Because this lens is an apochromat, chromatic abberations (axial chromatic abberations) are corrected with elements of special glass materials with anomalous partial dispersion. The chromatic aberrations are therefore significantly below the defined limits. Bright-dark transitions in the image, and especially highlights, are reproduced almost completely free of color artifacts.

As with all other SLR lenses in the ZE and ZF.2 series, the Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating as well as the sophisticated treatment of the elements’ edges with a deep-black special lacquer make the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 resistant to reflections and stray light. Another advantage for the user is the large rotation angle of 268°, which enables ultra-precise focusing.

The Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 is equipped with an all-metal barrel, which enables long-lasting use with high-quality results.

Manufacturer description #3

Enjoying the evocative atmosphere of dusk against a dreamlike backdrop - as an inconspicuous observer, the tele lens lets you experience this unique moment from the distance. Detached from the background, the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 enables an incomparable interplay of soft evening light and radiant colors. Offering the utmost flexibility in a wide diversity of situations, this tele lens can also capture the actor's emotions on the stage from the third row and take breathtaking portrait photos.

ZEISS Classic series

Full-frame manual focus lenses developed for ambitious photographers and their wide diversity of applications: macro, landscape, architecture, portrait, journalism, fashion and beauty. Enjoyed an outstanding reputation with photographers all over the world for many years. Characterized by classic appearance and high optical performance. Offer an excellent entry into premium class photography.

  • Fast apertures and legendary bokeh;
  • Robust, all-metal design;
  • 1/2 f-stop intervals with easy-to-feel lock-in positions and exact photometric graduation in ZF.2 lenses;
  • Extremely accurate manual focusing.

From the editor

Optically the lens is a totally new design, not based on previous ZEISS designs for the Contax RTS series of 35mm film SLR cameras. In 2016 it was replaced by ZEISS Milvus Apo-Sonnar T* 135mm F/2 ZE / ZF.2 with its modern sleek look, massive weather-sealed construction and essentially the same optical formula optimized for high-resolution digital SLR cameras. A similar lens - Carl Zeiss Planar T* 135mm F/2 for the Contax RTS – also existed, however it had much more simpler optical design.

Lenses with similar focal length

Sorted by manufacturer name

Nikon F mount (32)
Chinar 135mm F/2.8 [M.C]
aka Auto Exaktar 135mm F/2.8 [HC]
A4 - 41.40m⌀58
Nikon AI-S Nikkor 135mm F/2A6 - 41.30m⌀72 1981 
Nikon AI-S Nikkor 135mm F/2.8A5 - 41.30m⌀52 1981 
Nikon Series E 135mm F/2.8A4 - 41.50m⌀52 1981 
Nikon Nikkor-Q[·C] Auto 135mm F/2.8A4 - 41.50m⌀52 1965 
Nikon Nikkor 135mm F/2.8A4 - 41.50m⌀52 1975 
Nikon Nikkor 135mm F/2.8A5 - 41.30m⌀52 1976 
Nikon AI Nikkor 135mm F/2.8A5 - 41.30m⌀52 1977 
Nikon Nikkor 135mm F/2A6 - 41.30m⌀72 1975 
Nikon AI Nikkor 135mm F/2A6 - 41.30m⌀72 1977 
Panagor 135mm F/2.8 Auto Type 1A4 - 41.30m⌀55
Panagor 135mm F/2.8 Auto PMC Type 2A4 - 41.50m⌀55
Sankyo Kohki Komura 135mm F/2.3P5 - 41.50m⌀62
Sankyo Kohki Komura 135mm F/2P5 - 41.50m⌀72
Sankyo Kohki Komura 135mm F/2.8P5 - 41.50m⌀55
Sigma[-Z] MF Pantel 135mm F/2.8A4 - 41.50m⌀55 1975 
Soligor C/D 135mm F/2 P (s/n 1xxxxxxx)A6 - 51.80m⌀77 1974 
Soligor G/S 135mm F/2.5 Auto MC (s/n 3xxxxxx)A5 - 51.90m⌀58
Soligor C/D 135mm F/2.8 MCA4 - 41.50m⌀55
Soligor C/D 135mm F/2.8 (s/n 1xxxxxxx)A5 - 41.50m⌀52
Soligor 135mm F/2.8 Auto MCA4 - 41.20m⌀55
[Auto] Tamron-F 135mm F/2.8
aka Auto-Alpa 135mm F/2.8 MC
aka Chinon 135mm F/2.8 MC
A4 - 41.47m⌀55
RMC Tokina 135mm F/2.8
aka Tokina SL 135mm F/2.8
A5 - 41.50m⌀52
RMC Tokina 135mm F/2A6 - 51.80m⌀77
Vivitar Series 1 135mm F/2.3 [VMC] Auto (s/n 28xxxxxx)A6 - 60.89m⌀72 1973 
Vivitar 135mm F/2.8 Auto Close Focusing (s/n 28xxxxxx)A4 - 40.60m⌀62 1977 
Vivitar 135mm F/2.8 Auto Type 1 (s/n 22xxxxxx, 28xxxxxx)A5 - 51.40m⌀55 1969 
Vivitar 135mm F/2.8 Auto Type 2 (s/n 28xxxxxx)A4 - 41.50m⌀55
Vivitar 135mm F/2.8 Auto "Bright Band"A4 - 31.40m⌀55 1968 
Vivitar 135mm F/2.8 Auto "Chrome Nose"A4 - 31.50m⌀55 1967 
Vivitar 135mm F/2.8 Compact Auto "Bright Band"A4 - 41.40m⌀55 1968 
ZEISS Milvus Apo Sonnar T* 135mm F/2 ZE / ZF.2A11 - 80.80mE77 2016 
Interchangeable mount (26)
Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Orestor 135mm F/2.8P5 - 41.50m⌀55 1966 
Norita Kogaku Noritar 135mm F/1.4 [T]P8 - 61.70m 1971 
Pentacon 135mm F/2.8 "Zebra"P5 - 41.50m⌀55 1971 
Pentacon 135mm F/2.8P5 - 41.50m⌀55
Sankyo Kohki Komura 135mm F/2 [Unidapter]P5 - 41.50m⌀72 1965 
Sankyo Kohki Komura 135mm F/2.3 [Unidapter]P5 - 41.50m⌀62 1965 
Sankyo Kohki Komura 135mm F/2.8 [Unidapter]P5 - 41.50m⌀55
Sankyo Kohki Super-Komura 135mm F/2.8 [Unidapter Auto]A5 - ?1.50m⌀55
Komuranon 135mm F/2.5 K·M·CM5 - 31.70m⌀58
Sigmatel / Sigma-XQ MF 135mm F/1.8 [YS]A6 - 51.80m⌀77 1972 
Sigma[-XQ] MF [Telemax] 135mm F/2.8 [YS]A4 - 41.80m⌀52 1971 
Soligor Tele-Auto 135mm F/2.8 (s/n 1xxxxxx) [T-4]A4 - 41.80m⌀55
Soligor 135mm F/1.8 (s/n 3xxxxxx) [T]P5 - 32.00m⌀82
Soligor 135mm F/1.5 (s/n 3xxxxxx) [T]P6 - 41.20m⌀98 1969 
Tair-11A 135mm F/2.8 [T]P4 - 31.20m⌀55
Spiratone 135mm F/1.8 [YS]
aka Auto Admiral 135mm F/1.8
aka Auto Beroflex 135mm F/1.8
aka Auto Rokunar 135mm F/1.8
aka Auto [Raynox] Polaris 135mm F/1.8
aka Javelin 135mm F/1.8
aka Petri C.C Auto 135mm F/1.8
aka Samigon 135mm F/1.8
aka Soligor Tele-Auto 135mm F/1.8
A6 - 41.80m⌀82
Tamron 135mm F/2.5 03B [Adaptall-2]A4 - 41.20m⌀58 1979 
Tamron 135mm F/2.8 CT-135 [Adaptall]A4 - 41.50m⌀55 1976 
Auto Tamron 135mm F/2.8 [Adapt-A-Matic]A4 - 41.50m⌀58 1972 
Tamron Twin-Tele 135mm F/2.8 [T]
aka Soligor 135mm F/2.8
P4 - 41.50mS.VIII 1962 
Vivitar 135mm F/2.8 Type 1 [T]P5 - 51.80m⌀55
Vivitar 135mm F/1.5 [T]P7 - 61.80m--
Vivitar 135mm F/2.8 Type 2 [T]P5 - 51.50m⌀55
Vivitar 135mm F/1.8 [T]P6 - 4 1967 
Vivitar 135mm F/2.8 Auto (s/n 37xxxxx) [T-4]A4 - 41.80m⌀55 1968 
Porstcolor super 135mm F/1.5 [T]P7 - 61.80m--
Canon EF mount (2)
Samyang 135mm F/2 ED UMC
aka Bower 135mm F/2 ED UMC
aka Rokinon 135mm F/2 ED UMC
aka Walimex Pro 135mm F/2 ED UMC
M11 - 70.80m⌀77 2015 
ZEISS Milvus Apo Sonnar T* 135mm F/2 ZE / ZF.2A11 - 80.80mE77 2016 
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Chromatic aberration

There are two kinds of chromatic aberration: longitudinal and lateral. Longitudinal chromatic aberration is a variation in location of the image plane with changes in wave lengths. It produces the image point surrounded by different colors which result in a blurred image in black-and-white pictures. Lateral chromatic aberration is a variation in image size or magnification with wave length. This aberration does not appear at axial image points but toward the surrounding area, proportional to the distance from the center of the image field. Stopping down the lens has only a limited effect on these aberrations.

Spherical aberration

Spherical aberration is caused because the lens is round and the film or image sensor is flat. Light entering the edge of the lens is more severely refracted than light entering the center of the lens. This results in a blurred image, and also causes flare (non-image forming internal reflections). Stopping down the lens minimizes spherical aberration and flare, but introduces diffraction.


Astigmatism in a lens causes a point in the subject to be reproduced as a line in the image. The effect becomes worse towards the corner of the image. Stopping down the lens has very little effect.


Coma in a lens causes a circular shape in the subject to be reproduced as an oval shape in the image. Stopping down the lens has almost no effect.

Curvature of field

Curvature of field is the inability of a lens to produce a flat image of a flat subject. The image is formed instead on a curved surface. If the center of the image is in focus, the edges are out of focus and vice versa. Stopping down the lens has a limited effect.


Distortion is the inability of a lens to capture lines as straight across the entire image area. Barrel distortion causes straight lines at the edges of the frame to bow toward the center of the image, producing a barrel shape. Pincushion distortion causes straight lines at the edges of the frame to curve in toward the lens axis. Distortion, whether barrel or pincushion type, is caused by differences in magnification; stopping down the lens has no effect at all.

The term "distortion" is also sometimes used instead of the term "aberration". In this case, other types of optical aberrations may also be meant, not necessarily geometric distortion.


Classically, light is thought of as always traveling in straight lines, but in reality, light waves tend to bend around nearby barriers, spreading out in the process. This phenomenon is known as diffraction and occurs when a light wave passes by a corner or through an opening. Diffraction plays a paramount role in limiting the resolving power of any lens.


Doublet is a lens design comprised of two elements grouped together. Sometimes the two elements are cemented together, and other times they are separated by an air gap. Examples of this type of lens include achromatic close-up lenses.

Dynamic range

Dynamic range is the maximum range of tones, from darkest shadows to brightest highlights, that can be produced by a device or perceived in an image. Also called tonal range.

Resolving power

Resolving power is the ability of a lens, photographic emulsion or imaging sensor to distinguish fine detail. Resolving power is expressed in terms of lines per millimeter that are distinctly recorded in the final image.


Vignetting is the darkening of the corners of an image relative to the center of the image. There are three types of vignetting: optical, mechanical, and natural vignetting.

Optical vignetting is caused by the physical dimensions of a multi-element lens. Rear elements are shaded by elements in front of them, which reduces the effective lens opening for off-axis incident light. The result is a gradual decrease of the light intensity towards the image periphery. Optical vignetting is sensitive to the aperture and can be completely cured by stopping down the lens. Two or three stops are usually sufficient.

Mechanical vignetting occurs when light beams are partially blocked by external objects such as thick or stacked filters, secondary lenses, and improper lens hoods.

Natural vignetting (also known as natural illumination falloff) is not due to the blocking of light rays. The falloff is approximated by the "cosine fourth" law of illumination falloff. Wide-angle rangefinder designs are particularly prone to natural vignetting. Stopping down the lens cannot cure it.


Bright shapes or lack of contrast caused when light is scattered by the surface of the lens or reflected off the interior surfaces of the lens barrel. This is most often seen when the lens is pointed toward the sun or another bright light source. Flare can be minimized by using anti-reflection coatings, light baffles, or a lens hood.


Glowing patches of light that appear in a photograph due to lens flare.

Retrofocus design

Design with negative lens group(s) positioned in front of the diaphragm and positive lens group(s) positioned at the rear of the diaphragm. This provides a short focal length with a long back focus or lens-to-film distance, allowing for movement of the reflex mirror in SLR cameras. Sometimes called an inverted telephoto lens.


A photographic lens completely corrected for the three main optical aberrations: spherical aberration, coma, and astigmatism.

By the mid-20th century, the vast majority of lenses were close to being anastigmatic, so most manufacturers stopped including this characteristic in lens names and/or descriptions and focused on advertising other features (anti-reflection coating, for example).

Rectilinear design

Design that does not introduce significant distortion, especially ultra-wide angle lenses that preserve straight lines and do not curve them (unlike a fisheye lens, for instance).

Focus shift

A change in the position of the plane of optimal focus, generally due to a change in focal length when using a zoom lens, and in some lenses, with a change in aperture.


The amount of light that passes through a lens without being either absorbed by the glass or being reflected by glass/air surfaces.

Modulation Transfer Function (MTF)

When optical designers attempt to compare the performance of optical systems, a commonly used measure is the modulation transfer function (MTF).

The components of MTF are:

The MTF of a lens is a measurement of its ability to transfer contrast at a particular resolution from the object to the image. In other words, MTF is a way to incorporate resolution and contrast into a single specification.

Knowing the MTF curves of each photographic lens and camera sensor within a system allows a designer to make the appropriate selection when optimizing for a particular resolution.

Veiling glare

Lens flare that causes loss of contrast over part or all of the image.

Anti-reflection coating

When light enters or exits an uncoated lens approximately 5% of the light is reflected back at each lens-air boundary due to the difference in refractive index. This reflected light causes flare and ghosting, which results in deterioration of image quality. To counter this, a vapor-deposited coating that reduces light reflection is applied to the lens surface. Early coatings consisted of a single thin film with the correct refractive index differences to cancel out reflections. Multi-layer coatings, introduced in the early 1970s, are made up of several such films.

Benefits of anti-reflection coating:

Circular fisheye

Produces a 180° angle of view in all directions (horizontal, vertical and diagonal).

The image circle of the lens is inscribed in the image frame.

Diagonal (full-frame) fisheye

Covers the entire image frame. For this reason diagonal fisheye lenses are often called full-frame fisheyes.

Extension ring

Extension rings can be used singly or in combination to vary the reproduction ratio of lenses. They are mounted between the camera body and the lens. As a rule, the effect becomes stronger the shorter the focal length of the lens in use, and the longer the focal length of the extension ring.

View camera

A large-format camera with a ground-glass viewfinder at the image plane for viewing and focusing. The photographer must stick his head under a cloth hood in order to see the image projected on the ground glass. Because of their 4x5-inch (or larger) negatives, these cameras can produce extremely high-quality results. View cameras also usually support movements.

135 cartridge-loaded film

43.27 24 36
  • Introduced: 1934
  • Frame size: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2
  • Double perforated
  • 8 perforations per frame

120 roll film

71.22 44 56
  • Introduced: 1901
  • Frame size: 56 × 44mm
  • Aspect ratio: 11:14
  • Diagonal: 71.22mm
  • Area: 2464mm2
  • Unperforated

120 roll film

79.2 56 56
  • Introduced: 1901
  • Frame size: 56 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1
  • Diagonal: 79.2mm
  • Area: 3136mm2
  • Unperforated

120 roll film

89.64 56 70
  • Introduced: 1901
  • Frame size: 70 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 5:4
  • Diagonal: 89.64mm
  • Area: 3920mm2
  • Unperforated

220 roll film

71.22 44 56
  • Introduced: 1965
  • Frame size: 56 × 44mm
  • Aspect ratio: 11:14
  • Diagonal: 71.22mm
  • Area: 2464mm2
  • Unperforated
  • Double the length of 120 roll film

220 roll film

79.2 56 56
  • Introduced: 1965
  • Frame size: 56 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 1:1
  • Diagonal: 79.2mm
  • Area: 3136mm2
  • Unperforated
  • Double the length of 120 roll film

220 roll film

89.64 56 70
  • Introduced: 1965
  • Frame size: 70 × 56mm
  • Aspect ratio: 5:4
  • Diagonal: 89.64mm
  • Area: 3920mm2
  • Unperforated
  • Double the length of 120 roll film

Shutter speed ring with "F" setting

The "F" setting disengages the leaf shutter and is set when using only the focal plane shutter in the camera body.

Catch for disengaging cross-coupling

The shutter and diaphragm settings are cross-coupled so that the diaphragm opens to a corresponding degree when faster shutter speeds are selected. The cross-coupling can be disengaged at the press of a catch.

Cross-coupling button

With the cross-coupling button depressed speed/aperture combinations can be altered without changing the Exposure Value setting.

M & X sync

The shutter is fully synchronized for M- and X-settings so that you can work with flash at all shutter speeds.

In M-sync, the shutter closes the flash-firing circuit slightly before it is fully open to catch the flash at maximum intensity. The M-setting is used for Class M flash bulbs.

In X-sync, the flash takes place when the shutter is fully opened. The X-setting is used for electronic flash.

X sync

The shutter is fully synchronized for X-setting so that you can work with flash at all shutter speeds.

In X-sync, the flash takes place when the shutter is fully opened. The X-setting is used for electronic flash.


Sorry, no additional information is available.


Sorry, no additional information is available.

Aspherical elements

Aspherical elements (ASPH, XA, XGM) are used in wide-angle lenses for correction of distortion and in large-aperture lenses for correction of spherical aberration, astigmatism and coma, thus ensuring excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture. The effect of the aspherical element is determined by its position within the optical formula: the more the aspherical element moves away from the aperture stop, the more it influences distortion; close to the aperture stop it can be particularly used to correct spherical aberration. Aspherical element can substitute one or several regular spherical elements to achieve similar or better optical results, which allows to develop more compact and lightweight lenses.

Use of aspherical elements has its downsides: it leads to non-uniform rendering of out-of-focus highlights. This effect usually appears as "onion-like" texture of concentric rings or "wooly-like" texture and is caused by very slight defects in the surface of aspherical element. It is difficult to predict such effect, but usually it occurs when the highlights are small enough and far enough out of focus.

Low dispersion elements

Low dispersion elements (ED, LD, SD, UD etc) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture. This type of glass exhibits low refractive index, low dispersion, and exceptional partial dispersion characteristics compared to standard optical glass. Two lenses made of low dispersion glass offer almost the same performance as one fluorite lens.

Low dispersion elements

Low dispersion elements (ED, LD, SD, UD etc) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture. This type of glass exhibits low refractive index, low dispersion, and exceptional partial dispersion characteristics compared to standard optical glass. Two lenses made of low dispersion glass offer almost the same performance as one fluorite lens.

Canon's Super UD, Nikon's Super ED, Pentax' Super ED, Sigma's FLD ("F" Low Dispersion), Sony' Super ED and Tamron's XLD glasses are the highest level low dispersion glasses available with extremely high light transmission. These optical glasses have a performance equal to fluorite glass.

High-refraction low-dispersion elements

High-refraction low-dispersion elements (HLD) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture.

High Index, High Dispersion elements

High Index, High Dispersion elements (HID) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture.

Anomalous partial dispersion elements

Anomalous partial dispersion elements (AD) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture.

Fluorite elements

Synthetic fluorite elements (FL) minimize chromatic aberrations and ensure excellent sharpness and contrast even at fully open aperture. Compared with optical glass, fluorite lenses have a considerably lower refraction index, low dispersion and extraordinary partial dispersion, and high transmission of infrared and ultraviolet light. They are also significantly lighter than optical glass.

According to Nikon, fluorite easily cracks and is sensitive to temperature changes that can adversely affect focusing by altering the lens' refractive index. To avoid this, Canon, as the manufacturer most widely using fluorite in its telephoto lenses, never uses fluorite in the front and rear lens elements, and the white coating is applied to the lens barrels to reflect light and prevent the lens from overheating.

Short-wavelength refractive elements

High and specialized-dispersion elements (SR) refract light with wavelengths shorter than that of blue to achieve highly precise chromatic aberration compensation. This technology also results in smaller and lighter lenses.

Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics

Organic Blue Spectrum Refractive Optics material (BR Optics) placed between convex and concave elements made from conventional optical glass provides more efficient correction of longitudinal chromatic aberrations in comparison with conventional technology.

Diffraction elements

Diffraction elements (DO, PF) cancel chromatic aberrations at various wavelengths. This technology results in smaller and lighter lenses in comparison with traditional designs with no compromise in image quality.

High refractive index elements

High refractive index elements (HR, HRI, XR etc) minimize field curvature and spherical aberration. High refractive index element can substitute one or several regular elements to achieve similar or better optical results, which allows to develop more compact and lightweight lenses.

Apodization element

Apodization element (APD) is in fact a radial gradient filter. It practically does not change the characteristics of light beam passing through its central part but absorbs the light at the periphery. It sort of softens the edges of the aperture making the transition from foreground to background zone very smooth and results in very attractive, natural looking and silky smooth bokeh.

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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Leica, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance (distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane) is also different.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Floating element system

Provides correction of aberrations and ensures constantly high image quality at the entire range of focusing distances from infinity down to the closest focusing distance. It is particularly effective for the correction of field curvature that tends to occur with large-aperture, wide-angle lenses when shooting at close ranges.

The basic mechanism of the floating element system is also incorporated into the internal and rear focusing methods.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. Magnification is expressed as a ratio. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/2 on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Automatic aperture control

For Programmed Auto or Shutter-priority Auto shooting, lock the lens aperture at its minimum value.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front lens element over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.