Nikon Ai Nikkor 135mm F2.8S first impressions

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Richard Murdey
Richard Murdey Senior Member • Posts: 2,584
Nikon Ai Nikkor 135mm F2.8S first impressions
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I got this lens even though I have no need of it. It was $150, someone on Youtube was saying it was good, I figured I'd give it a shot. I have two 105/2.5 (Sonar/Gauss) and one 100/2.8 for Nikon, and a 105/2.8 and a 135/2.5 in K-mount so things are already way too crowded in that focal length.

It's a standard AiS manual focus lens, about the size of two AiS 50mm primes stacked lengthwise, with a built in lens hood and 52mm filter thread. Nice big focus ring. It's a bit bulky, but no bigger than a 135mm has to be.

Mine was made min-1990's. No hint of haze or cloudiness, so I think the results can be taken as representative of the lens in top condition.

The dominant impression is that this is a lens without strong characteristics. It performs as you'd expect a good 135mm to perform, better even, but without anything extraordinarily good or bad to remark upon.

The sharpness is excellent, contrast generally fine, saturation reasonable, bokeh smooth, vignetting and distortion near zero. Saturation, contrast, sharpness are lowered wide open at 2.8, and there is a small amount of vignetting, but it's a relatively subtle loss.

One thing that did impress me, however, is how well coma is controlled. This is a pleasant lens to use in low light, it holds together very well.

My gut feeling is contrast is a little lower than the 105/2.5. The images don't quite have the same wow factor. Also, the bokeh is less defined. This cuts both ways of course, but in general I find the 135/2.8 AiS good - but a bit bland.

In low light with point light sources the results are exceptionally clean.

Wide open the bokeh behind the focal plane is very smooth, but the off-center highlights are occluded.

The lens has 7 aperture blades, which gives you some sharper edges to the bokeh highlights when stopped down.

 Richard Murdey's gear list:Richard Murdey's gear list
Nikon D750 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/21 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2,8/25 Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2/35 Carl Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/50 +9 more
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