What is 135mm good for?

Started 4 months ago | Questions
StefanMunich Forum Member • Posts: 81
What is 135mm good for?

What do you use your 135mm lenses for? Which specific lens and why this one?

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SQLGuy
SQLGuy Forum Pro • Posts: 10,151
Re: What is 135mm good for?
1

Mainly they're good as portrait lenses. That said, I don't use one much, but I don't take a lot of portraits, either.

The two good ones I have are a 1950s Zeiss Contax Sonnar 135/4, and a 1970s Canon FD 135/2.5.

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A7R2 with SEL2470Z and a number of adapted lenses (Canon FD, Minolta AF, Canon EF, Leica, Nikon...); A7R converted to IR.

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ChapelThrill23 Senior Member • Posts: 1,163
Re: What is 135mm good for?
1

I use my Batis 135 for portraits and for landscapes. It works really well for stitched panoramas. Since buying that lens I've almost never used my 85mm and 85 used to be my favorite focal length.

The Batis is wonderful and if you are careful you can get a good one for $700-$800. It is sharp, has great contrast, is well built, is light, focuses quickly, does well with out of cops areas, and with the built in OSS is really good on my A6400 (though normally is on my A73).  I find it more fun to shoot with than a 70-200 2.8 or 4 (have owned and sold multiple lenses of that type over the years).

Blind Bill
Blind Bill Contributing Member • Posts: 940
Re: What is 135mm good for?
5

StefanMunich wrote:

What do you use your 135mm lenses for? Which specific lens and why this one?

My Zeiss Milvus 135/2 is my second most often used lens. The IQ is special. Landscapes, portrait and isolating small stuff...it always impresses me. Here are some samples:

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theoverratedphotog
theoverratedphotog Senior Member • Posts: 1,074
Re: What is 135mm good for?
9

StefanMunich wrote:

What do you use your 135mm lenses for? Which specific lens and why this one?

Mainly portraits. Outdoors where you have space, it's amazing. Line is an old abandoned line not in service near our place before you ask.

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blue_skies
blue_skies Forum Pro • Posts: 12,016
Re: What is 135mm good for?

StefanMunich wrote:

What do you use your 135mm lenses for? Which specific lens and why this one?

Play with http://dofsimulator.net/en/

You can get similar DOF with 50/1.2, 85/1.4, and 135/1.8 (or 50/1.4, 85/1.8, and 135/2.8), but to frame the object similarly, you will have to increase your distance, and your background will narrow.

135 is most rewarding for outdoor model photography, using the space and backdrop.

50 is most rewarding if your working distance is limited.

I prefer 85 for portraits.

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Cheers,
Henry

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nbeiii Regular Member • Posts: 138
Re: What is 135mm good for?

When the pandemic hit, I was startintg to try using a Sony 135 f1. 8 (mounted on A9) for field sports (as a second rig, along with a Sony 400 f2. 8 + 1.4TC mounted on A9ii as primary and a third rig - Sony 35 f1. 8 mounted on A9).

I bought this 135 after seeing Patrick Murphy-Race shooting it for football. Upon researching, I really like the speed (aperture yes, but also AF). I didn't get to use it much, but found it to be faster than my Sony 70-200 f2. 8 (aperture obviously, but also AF). IQ is very good across the image.

It's not small or light, but it's replacing a 70-200, so it's not too bulky or heavy.

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alma175w Forum Member • Posts: 95
Re: What is 135mm good for?
1

Landscapes, cityscapes, astrophotography, the occasional outdoor engagement set.

The Sony 135GM has opened up a whole new world of shooting to me. I'm primarily a wide-angle photographer, but 135mm is actually very versatile length.

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PWPhotography Forum Pro • Posts: 10,813
Re: What is 135mm good for?

Mainly portrait, especially outdoor as likely too long indoor.  Some landscapes, some sports and events.

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AlephNull Senior Member • Posts: 2,273
Re: What is 135mm good for?
3

StefanMunich wrote:

What do you use your 135mm lenses for? Which specific lens and why this one?

The Sony 135 GM is very good for relieving the stress of having too much money in your bank account 

I use mine with the A7R4 for candid shots - it gives you distance, and you can crop further, without using an obviously long lens.

Also very good for outdoor portraits - it’s a bit long for studio work, but you can use it for headshots. It’s a flattering perspective.

I find it useful for taking photos at the zoo - it’s a lot lighter than the 200-600, but I can crop in a long way, because it is very sharp.

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caplanner Senior Member • Posts: 1,342
Re: What is 135mm good for?

with my Batis 135 the primary use is for headshots and outdoor portraits.  I've started shooting gymnastics in poorly lit facilities with fast primes so I'm thinking about the 135 GM to go along with my 50 1.4 and 35 1.4.   It was a eye opening experience for me the first time I used the Distagon 35 1.4 to shoot gymnastics.

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AlephNull Senior Member • Posts: 2,273
Re: What is 135mm good for?

caplanner wrote:

with my Batis 135 the primary use is for headshots and outdoor portraits. I've started shooting gymnastics in poorly lit facilities with fast primes so I'm thinking about the 135 GM to go along with my 50 1.4 and 35 1.4. It was a eye opening experience for me the first time I used the Distagon 35 1.4 to shoot gymnastics.

The 135 GM has 4 focus motors moving 2 focus groups - it is extremely fast, and is one of the few lenses which comes close to keeping up with the A9’s AF instruction rates. It is also sharp starting at f/1.8 (but the DoF is rather shallow...).

You can use it with manual focus, but I believe it focus by wire.

It is heavier than the Batis 135, but it’s quite a bit lighter than the Sigma Art 135mm.

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Nebell Regular Member • Posts: 315
Re: What is 135mm good for?
13

I use my 135mm GM for motorsport:

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ZilverHaylide Contributing Member • Posts: 863
Re: What is 135mm good for?

StefanMunich wrote:

What do you use your 135mm lenses for? Which specific lens and why this one?

In manual-focus film days, a 135mm made a lot of sense. Back then, 135mm f/2.8 or f/3.5 lenses were relatively cheap, small, and light (and zooms weren't as good as they are now), so with a high benefits-to-costs ratio, it made sense to have a 135mm prime in the bag.

The case isn't nearly as certain now, unless you now need the highest optical quality and/or a large aperture, and are willing to lose zoomability for it.

Somnambulist Squirrel Regular Member • Posts: 120
Re: What is 135mm good for?
5

I love mine for landscapes - stand alone or stitched into a pano. The compression really suits the images I like to make. Mine isn't the fancy Sony GM... I use a manual $10 vintage Tamron CT 135mm f2.8 (M42 mount) on a dumb adapter.

Stitched pano (shots were portait orientation, click for full size):

Single exposure landscape (building is about 1/2 mile away):

And, of course, still life:

...and portrait:

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burning1rr Contributing Member • Posts: 658
Re: What is 135mm good for?

StefanMunich wrote:

What do you use your 135mm lenses for? Which specific lens and why this one?

It replaces the 70-200 in low-light conditions. It's mostly for when I can't get close to the action at events.

It's also a fairly popular focal length for astrophotography.

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Editorrr
Editorrr Regular Member • Posts: 162
Re: What is 135mm good for?
7

Sony 135 GM is ideal for volleyball shooting and city shots.

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AsKim Junior Member • Posts: 49
Re: What is 135mm good for?
6

I use my 135/1.8 GM for equine photography because of:

  1. perspective and proportions look just right
  2. focus speed
  3. subject isolation
  4. fast short tele for low light and/or faster shutter speeds

135mm F1.6 1/3200s ISO100

135mm F1.8 1/5000s ISO100

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OP StefanMunich Forum Member • Posts: 81
Re: What is 135mm good for?
1

Thanks for all that worthy input an examples. Interesting viewpoints.

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dpeete Contributing Member • Posts: 744
Re: What is 135mm good for?
1

Agreed, great for indoor volleyball.

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