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135/2 Af Dc

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Druid, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. Well, I stumbled over a surprising bargain on an older model (no 'D' feature) 135/2 DC. Checking the estimable Mr Vink's page it seems a bit heftier than the D version, but as far as I've been able to discover it has the same optics.

    The outfit I got it from (Ffordes in Scotland) offers 7 day no questions return and a six month parts and labour guarantee. My question therefore is what do I need to look out for in terms of potential flaws?

    I've heard that there can be issues with the DC feature calibration for example, and I'm keen to hear any advice on how to go about checking for any issues while I still have the opportunity to send it back if necessary.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Phil :

    Unlike many lenses where you can test-shoot with several sheets of printed material, the Defocus Control requires a substantial number of foreground and background items to check the effect(s) of DC. I've seen people use a number of figurines or dolls or soft animal figures to test the DC faeture (I used fossils on a dismounted shelf in my office, actually).

    If the lens is well calibrated/adjusted, the "0" setting should be absolutely crisp for the focal point, obviously. Occasionally, if the DC control has been graunched, you could find that there is an offset.

    In theory, one uses DC settings up to the f/stop set for a shot to progressively alter either foreground and background. In practice, I've "over defocused" with some fun effects, so that rule isn't hard and fast.

    I tested my 105mm f/2 DC with various f/stops up through f/8, and then worked through DC settings on either side of the foreground/background. Not precisely knowing what I was looking for, I tried to quickly jump through the photos to see the effects of the DC setting, while also looking to see that the subject remained in acceptable crisp focus. My example of the 105mm did the latter admirably, and I then set about the (very) long process of trying to learn and master the DC effect.

    I'm still working on mastering it, however... :wink:

    John P.
  3. Thanks :) 

    What I think I'm going to do is set DC to zero and then establish whether the lens is appreciably sharp (using my 180 as a baseline for 'sharp') from say f4-f8 which is where the sweet spot is supposed to be (e.g. according to the Photozone tests) Then I'm going to try tweaking the DC settings to see if it gets any sharper when they're either side of zero. Does that seem like a reasonable methodology for testing whether it's functional as a fast telephoto (irrespective of DC, which from my perspective is more of an interesting gimmick that I might get around to using) ?
  4. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Phil :

    That's a rational approach to test shooting, although I will note that many of us have found the 105mm to be extremely crisp at f/2. I had shot with the 135mm DC a couple of years back, but I didn't have the opportunity to run systematic tests with it, so I can't say that it's going to be as good wide-open as the 105mm, but then, one can hope... :wink:

    As for the use of the DC setting, I think that it's an extremely handy feature when used judiciously.

    John P.
  5. Well if the photozone tests (on a D200 which is what I have) are anything to go by, then it's pretty damn good at f2 in the centre, but a bit less so at the edges. I was thinking though, that testing the apparent peak against my wicked sharp 180 would give me a reasonable baseline for determining whether a malfunctioning DC system was compromising its performance. If it works as a regular fast tele, an effective 200/2 I can hand-hold, then it'll be doing what I bought it for. The DC feature is a bonus (I'm picturing flower portraits with the DC feature used to emphasise background blur)
  6. 332720

    332720 Guest

    I love my 135 DC. I thought mine was sharp at f/2 with the DC set to 0 until I ran a very simple test.
    I shot a piece of paper with the numbers of the DC ring on it.
    I found mine to be very sharp @ f/2 with the DC set to 2 front.
    Set this way it makes my 180 2.8 ED AI-S look bad at 2.8
    The one thing to remember about the DC is to refocus after you set it.

    Have fun with it

  7. Thanks. Now that I think about it, I'd guess that any difference might be most apparent at f2.

    Oh well, doesn't get here until Tuesday and I'm away working that day, so I won't get a chance to play with it properly until later in the week.
  8. 332720

    332720 Guest

    what I did take some paper and write 2f 2.8f 4f 5.6f Also 2R 2.8R you see what I mean. I then shot the paper with the lens DC ring set to the number on the paper. I shot them all at f/2.0. I then downloaded them and took a look. Like I said before when I set ti to 2f on the DC ring it is amazingly sharp.

  9. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    The effects of the DC ring may vary slightly with focus distance. For example the lens may be sharpest with the DC ring set to zero at far distances, but it may turn out sharper at close range with a slight offset - a kind of manual close range correction. I heard of a photographer who used his 105DC with a PN-11 for closeups. By adjusting the DC ring he was able to adjust field curvature until he got better corner to corner sharpness than a his macro lens.
  10. That's interesting rvink.

    I've been on the lookout for a PN-11 since an earlier conversation we had on the subject of extension. Mainly with the idea of using it with my 180. It did occur to me though that the DC feature would potentially be good for 'flower portrait' type shots, which I'm very fond of, so maybe I'll try that with the PN-11 too.

    The 135/2 arrived today, but alas I didn't get home until a few minutes before sunset to I haven't had a proper chance to play with it yet.

    One thing I did notice though was that when it hunts for focus it sometimes emits a noticable 'thwack' of metal hitting metal at either end of the range of movement. I found this slightly alarming. Is that normal? It's a fairly old non-D model, probably from the early 90's (I haven't checked it against your s/n page yet, but it was advertised as a non-D model)
  11. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Phil :

    Hurm. I've not encountered that kind of noise. The 105mm DC that I own and the 135mm DC that I shot with are audibly louder than the AFS type lenses, but I don't ever recall hearing that sound. OTOH, I think that both lenses were of the "D" type.

    Study that a bit more - if it's repeatable at that "Thwack" kind of level, it could possibly be a reason for reconsidering this specific lens.

    John P.
  12. Well, I have the Easter bank holiday to play with it over (ie the UK is closed from Friday to Monday), so I'll have a pretty good idea by next Tuesday.

    I've a non-D 180 from the same era, but it doesn't go 'thwack' when it hits the limits of the focal mechanism's travel. The noise is a metal on metal sound, about as loud as the D200 shutter but with more weight behind it if you see what I mean. Like a light tap on solid metal from a small hammer. It's eminently repeatable either by trying to focus without enough light, causing the lens to hunt, or by trying to focus on something inside the focussing distance.
  13. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    I expect the 135DC will work well with the PN-11 for flower shots. The magnification will be 52.5mm / 135 mm = 0.39, or 1:2.6x magnification with the lens at infinity. You'll get around 1:2 with the lens focused close.
    Set the DC ring to "rear" and you'll get lovely soft background blur. If you set the DC ring beyond the aperture setting you'll get soft-focus effects.

    As for the focusing noise at the end of the range, I'm not sure. If the lens is focusing accurately and focuses correctly to infinity (DC lens at zero) I wouldn't worry about it. Does it make the same sound when you focus manually?
  14. InitialD


    Mar 12, 2007
    Phil, mine (non D) does the same thing when the end focus limit is reached during AF. :smile:
  15. Ah. I had hoped someone would be along to say that.

    I didn't expect it to be someone whose photographs (especially the Bali ones) encouraged me to get the lens in the first place!

    Thanks Jason :) 
  16. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Interesting. This is something that I'd not been aware of prior to this thread.

    John P.
  17. I have been testing my 105mm F2 DC. I also own the 180mm F2.8 AFD. Both are truely; "pro glass".
    Just leave the Defocus control in the neutral positoion as you work thru the various apertures. Analyze the results.
    When you test again, start moving the Defocus contol. It softens the main subject.
  18. 332720

    332720 Guest

    Mine is also the older non D model. WHen it hits the stops you know it.Mine is more of a clunk then a thwak...

    How do you like it

  19. It's interesting. I've only really had a proper chance to play with it today and I've just spent the last few hours doing the traditional brick wall and cat shots, and doing comparison photos with it in the garden, along with the 105 VR.

    It's roughly comparable in terms of sharpness to the 105 VR from say f4-8 but with a different character that I find quite appealing. Less 'forensic' if you see what I mean. The wife won't let me take photos of her with the 105 VR any more, but seemed a lot happier with the way that the 135 DC rendered her complexion.

    At f2 it's noticably softer than it is at say f4, but it doesn't seem to get any sharper when I try R=2 or F=2, so I'm guessing that the DC calibration is OK. The softness resembles the 'DC effect' to some degree, so I was rather expecting to find that the DC settings would mitigate it, but they don't. It's just a bit soft wide open, but in a very pleasing sort of way.

    I've had some dream-like results fiddling at random with the DC feature, but I still have no real idea what I'm doing with it yet or how to get those effects intentionally. It seems to produce especially nice effects when you point it at something like a daffodil or tulip with the sun shining through the petals.

    I'm off out to play with it again in a bit, this time trying to take some attractive photos rather than convince myself that the lens isn't malfunctioning :) 
  20. Some samples. These aren't terribly artistic, but give an idea of what it does with a bright sunny day.

    f2, DC=Neutral.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    f2, DC=R2

    View attachment 87674

    f4, DC=R2

    View attachment 87675
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