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| Re: Zeiss 135mm f/2 Apo Sonnar vs Canon EF 135mm f/2L |
I would buy the slightly inferior (optically) 135L for the AF or the slightly inferior (optically) ZE 100 F/2 for the more useful focal lenght and macro capabilities.
I predict 75% of the people who buy the new ZE 135mm will sell it within a year.
I can't speak for these lenses, but a friend who is among a group who used to use LF film for their landscape work for a few decades and who are more and more now switching to MF digital or even full-frame DSLRs had believed that manual focusing would be more accurate than AF systems. Another acquaintance with a long history in a major computer company and subsequently as a photographer with a particular expertise in digital printing challenged him and a few others to a little test. My friend and a few other old-school MF shooters would do their best possible job of manually focusing (typically using magnified view screens on MF or possibly on LF) and he would use a MF digital system and simply let it AF, and then they would compare the results.
It turned out, to everyone's surprise except the fellow who proposed the tests, that the AF system was more accurate, not to mention faster.
MFing a SLR/DSLR while looking at the ground glass worked OK back in the day when we had split prisms and other focus aids. It works less well today. Even with those aids it was generally slower than AF systems today. So for most types of DSLR shooting, at least where you must work quickly, a well-used AF system is going to be faster and more accurate.
That said, there are exceptions. For example, one thing you may be able to do more accurately when using MF (preferably in live view mode and with 10x magnification) is carefully select the exact spot that you want in optimum focus no matter where it appears in the frame. In addition, again when working relatively slowly and carefully, you can (again when using live view) more accurately preview the DOF effect of your focusing/aperture decisions in the exposure simulation view and by moving the 10x magnification area around the screen with the DOF preview button pushed in.
And there are some situations in which old-school MF works best. For example, I also shoot a Fujifilm X-E1 for certain subjects including some street photography. When I want to work very quickly in street situations, sometimes the best option is to turn AF off, use my 14mm prime (equivalent to about 23mm on FF), and prefocus to a hyperfocal point and shoot without focusing - but remaining ready to make quick, gross focus changes by way of the distance scale when necessary. (As some of you no doubt know, that's how a lot of old-school rangefinder shooting was done when the photographer needed to work fast.)
Manually focusing a 135mm prime, especially at large apertures, while shooting on the move? I can only ask "why?" Been there. Done that. Not the best option today. ;-)
Oh, and I'm inconsistent with my own observations and knowledge - though see exceptions above. On rare occasions when I use the 135mm f/2 for landscape/nature work from the tripod, I virtually always do us MF and live view. I have my reasons...