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I'm quite interested in the Nikkor 135/2 as a low light and portrait lens.
It has been suggested to me that it is slow and noisy, but I don't really know if the person who said this was being ultra critical or if it is indeed so. I have seen customer feedback on WEX which suggests that a lot of people absolutely love this lens and don't seem to have the same criticism.
I have no knowledge of this lens and live in rural Cumbria many, many miles away from a decent camera store so can't go and try one out easily. What I'm asking is for is your opinion on this lens if you have one or have experience of using it.
Thanks in advance!
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It is a great lens, but is more aimed at film for a portrait lens. Bear in mind that on digital it will be the equivalent of just under 200mm, you are going to be quite a way from your subject - not the lens for more than head shots unless you can get a long way back.
If you want a low-light portrait lens, and want to be in the same postcode as your subject, I would suggest something more like an 85mm f/1.8 or f/1.4, (or even a 50mm)? That will be the equivalent of 125mm-ish.
If I could afford one, I'd look at the 85mm f/1.4D unless you have a camera without a focus linkage (D40, D60, D3xxx, D5xxx) in which case the G version is better.
I think I may be guilty of commenting adversely on the AF on the 135mm DC, so I'll give a fuller answer.
I'm a full-time portrait photogrpaher and tend to use MF rather than AF unless the subject needs to be "tracked". This means that I'm happy to put up with the AF performance because it's a fantastic lens.
With the DC control set to zero, it's a very fine 135mm lens - the best I've ever used. Nikon describe it as their best ever 135mm. At f2, it's one of the fastest 135mm lenses on the market and fully usable wide open. Wide open, central definition is excellent and the edges are likely to be out of focus anyway. Bokeh is very pleasing.
The DC introduces spherical aberration which can be used a very controllable image softener as well as defocussing behind (useful) or in front of (never used) the subject.
Would I replace the lens if it were lost or stolen? You bet!
Sooty-1: I should have mentioned that I shoot full frame, so the crop factor isn't an issue. On my current FF camera (different system) I use a 135/2 quite often for available light work and portraits. I know that 85mm is the conventional portrait lens, but I rebel from that and often use anything between 100 and 200mm for h/s portraits. How is it for focus speed and motor noise?
thewilliam: What a great answer! That certainly puts my mind at ease.
The AF is has noise similar to other lenses from last century, and AF is not lightning fast.
thewilliam well summarises it's main attractions.
If you buy mail order you can get a full refund if you return it after a week or so under the Distance Selling Regulations.
If you want a first class portrait lens I do not think you will return it
If you want a sports photography lens my advice is go for the 70-200 VR.
I suspected that the "noise" issue was as you describe. My current 135/2 lens (different manufacturer) is similar, so I expect I will be perfectly content. I plan to use it for portraiture and low light work (where noise probably won't be too much of an issue).
I visited Grays of Westminster this afternoon and the had a couple of very nice examples of the 135mm DC. When Grays say "mint" they mean that you'd be happy if they'd described it as "new". Anything graded exc++ won't show any significant signs of use.
I haven't been to Grays for years. sadly being in Cumbria and rarely visiting London; a trip to Grays is almost impossible for me!
You can see the new and second-hand stock on their website www.graysofwestminster.co.uk
I mentioned Grays as one of the few dealers that maintain the old-fashioned standards of integrity so there's no "risk" involved. You have 14 days in which to return the item for a refund if you're not fully happy.
I've seen their site and browsed through the second-hand gear and I'd agree with you (based on past experience) about their standards. There are a few dealers to avoid, some rating something as "mint" whereas it would have got a excellent at best from me - but those dealers now don't get my business. I tend to use Grays and Ffordes for Nikon stuff. I will get the 135/2, I'm just waiting until I've sold some of my previous system (cash flow!!!).
Just my 2 pennies worth: I have had this lens for many years in the MF version, that avoids all the noise and AF problems. I sold it only to finance my recently acquired Macro lens and Also because I found that the 85 1.4 does the trick for me. But yes, I might regret it one day. I have missed it already.
I purchased two new 135 f/2DC in 2010 from the same dealer based on the reviews I read on the Internet. Had to return one because of AF inaccuracy. Sold the other copy one year later because I feel 70-200VR2 gives me better results. I used 135 f2 DC on D3s and D700.
Quote: I read on the Internet. Had to return one because of AF inaccuracy.
On a point of detail screwdriver lenses play no part in the distance a lens focuses at (other than not closer than minimum focus) using AF - so either the AF drive is damaged or there is no reason for mis focus to be down to the lens.
On a point of detail DC when used is applied before focus. Applying it after focus results in an unsharp image.
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