Review Nikon 135mm f/3.5 Q

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Mar 20, 2017
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Real Name
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Background
The deluge of manual focus lenses continues! This time with the Nikon 135mm f/3.5 Q. Another pickup of the older legacy lenses. It is generally well regarded in its capabilities. Perhaps not as legendary as the Nikon 105/2.5 AI lens, but let's see where it fits into the mix.

Images shot on the Nikon Df or Olympus PEN-F(Fotodiox adapter) were done in aperture priority.

Handling/Size/Weight
Slightly larger than the Nikon 105/2.5. It has similar styling to the Nikon 200mm f/4 QC lens. It is not a heavy lens, nothing like the 180mm f/2.8 ED, but very similar to the smaller metal primes of the era.

Image Quality
Right off the bat, I'm thinking that I am going to see how it fairs against my much loved 105/2.5. The 105mm does have a faster aperture, but not by much.

I really like the rendering of this lens. I did notice that it is possible to shift just past f/3.5. Below is an example of what the lens renders when you click just past the f/3.5 mark.

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1/4000, f/3.5, ISO 100
Nikon Df
Clicking the aperture ring to the right of f/3.5 causes some sharpness issues

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This one is right on the f/3.5 mark. You can see the haze is gone.
1/4000, f/3.5, ISO 100
Nikon Df

This causes a lot of haze in the image. Just something to keep in mind. Shooting at f/3.5 produces excellent IQ(as you can see from the sample image immediately above), so you are getting a good image to start. Stopping down a little bit enhances the sharpness, as you'll see in the following images.

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1/640, f/5.6, ISO 100
Nikon Df
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1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100
Nikon Df
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1/640, f/5.6, ISO 100
Nikon Df
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1/160, f/3.5, ISO 220
Nikon Df

Focusing
The focus confirmation dot on the Df was spot on from what I could tell. Hitting focus at f/3.5 seemed just as easy as shooting at f/8.

Very similar to the 200mm f/4 in feel just a little stiffer. On my copy, I noticed that the focus ring is smooth when going toward infinity, but when going to close focus the zoom ring has more resistance. Not sure if this is normal or there is an issue with the focus ring.

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1/500, f/3.5, ISO 100
Nikon Df
The Infamous "Umbrella Girl" of Schiller Park

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1/400, f/8, ISO 100
Nikon Df
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1/320, f/3.5, ISO 200
Olympus PEN-F / Fotodiox lens adapter

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1/100, f/3.5, ISO 1000
Olympus PEN-F / Fotodiox lens adapter

Bottom Line
One could make a case for the 135mm if you did not already have the 105mm, or you could reverse that last sentence. If I were buying these lenses to have a kit, then I doubt I would buy and have both. Since these cost very little now, getting, having and enjoying both is not a big deal.

I do believe I give the edge to sharpness and fun to use to the 105/2.5.

On the Df, the lens handled ever so slightly better, but that is to be expected as this is the kind of lens the Df was designed to work with.

If you can find a used copy of this lens for a good price and are looking for something in this focal length/field of view it is definitely worth your consideration.
 

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