After originally reading this post I began asking myself,
"Just what didn't I personally not like about the 135mm? Or do I even really remember?" (hadn't owned one in SLR for more than 2 decades).
I do like this distance in RF (which I'm told is the absolute exteme for accurate parallax focusing), so why didn't I like the one I had in the 80's on my XG-1? These were the musings I was mulling over when a friend stated he had a Rokkor-X 135mm for sale for about 1/50th of what it sold for new - so I bought a lens that prior to this thread, I wouldn't have taken as a gift.
I have really enjoyed using it. No images back yet, so I can't comment on the quality of the glass - but for walking around in an amusement park with the kids - it's better than a 90mm. Don't have to be as close to get the same shot - much easier to get that "look" without telling them to slow down or come back to you.
I'm guessing the issue with the older 135mm had to to do with its pedigree ("Albinar" which I think was BEST's house brand) and its performance or lack thereof - or something that one of my two mentors at time said about it combined with a comment that 90-100mm was preferable (I worked in a studio doing studio work) probably had something to do with it as well.
OK, I'm not sure I'm an acolyte, but I definately see it's place in my arsenal. Thanks for the thread!
M3, M5, CLE, Minolta XE7, Minolta Maxxum 9, Minolta Maxxum 9000, Nikon F3HP, etc., etc.
You shall see. A convert and prosletyzer you will soon be, my friend. 135 rocks.
Originally Posted by Chaplain Jeff
To create one's own world in any of the arts takes courage.
I think much of the prejudice against 135 was faddish - everyone had a 135 in the 60's so it was 'cool' to disparage it for an 85 or 105. After that everyone had a wretched 80-200 f4.0-5.6 zoom.
I owned a Soligor/Miranda 135/2.8 in the late 60's and sold it. I never had another one until I saw a used 135/3.5 Ai Nikkor going for $40 at the local camera shop a few years ago (when there was a local camera shop) and bought it for no particular reason. I now find it to be a very nice focal length and use it more than the 85mm.
135mm lenses are nice on rangefinders - I think the reason being it is easier to compose with them because the view isn't so restricted.
Why are they so cheap? Well, they aren't, really - not new. And they weren't: a decent 135 cost the same as a good 85 or 105 in the 60's. But used ones sell for very little as there are an awful lot of used one's left over from the lens' popular years and the focal length has acquired a declasse status. 135mm f2.0's are expensive as ever.
135's were also produced in wretchedly performing cheap versions for the likes of Cambridge camera and this may further taint the focal length.
The lens that sets the standard for cost-effectiveness is the 50mm f2.0 "standard" lens. Some of the best performance at some of the lowest prices.
I don't think I've ever seen a wretched-performing 135mm lens. It's such a simple design that even the house-brand lenses I see are not bad. And step up to something like a Vivitar which currently sell for $10-20 on the used market, and they are quite good. Even the worst 135mm lenses I come across are quite decent if stopped down to f5.6 - which, nowadays is what the current plastic fantastic kit zooms are shooting at wide open at that focal length.
I thought that I needed a 135mm when building my Konica system back in the 1980's. I ended up with a Sigma Pantel and then, also a Hexanon 2.5. The Sigma was surprisingly capable for an off-brand and the Konica was exceptional. It still looks new, as in reality, I didn't need it as much as I thought. There were a few specific uses that it was ideal for over the years. It was a handy focal length for theater use when I was creating lobby-print shots. The Hexanon was very, very sharp at ƒ4 and was useful when needing to blur out background clutter. It also was handy at certain locations when I was doing downhill ski races when my son was competing and I had a rather close vantage point.
Until forced to digital at work last year, I used an old Quantaray 135 for employee file photos. I had the perfect corner in a conference room where the light would bounce just right and the 135 focal length was the perfect one for the framing and perspective I needed. The fact that I had some 135's floating around had me finding some duties for them but I certainly could have functioned just fine without them. The old Pantel went to a friend many years back but these other 2 are likely staying with me as they have very little monetary value and I'll likely keep stumbling into occasional applications for them.
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I must disagree with what appears to be a lot of "group think" about the 135mm lens. I use them frequently for close-in portraits, still lifes, even landscapes. Try cropping a landscape down to 1:2 proportions. The 135mm renders a beautiful wide yet flat perspective. To me they are without a doubt the most under-rated lenses available. Canon (both LTM and FL/FD), Minolta Tele Rokkor, Leitz Hektor and f/2.8 Tele Elmar, and Pentax Super-Takumar lenses are absolutely superb. But as with any tool, the results produced depend much more on the user than the tool. Try thinking outside of that group think box folks. You may just like what you discover.
I've shot quite a bit with 135mm lenses. It's a great lens for shooting basketball and for many other situations. Odd that some folks think that it's too long for portraits when fashion photographers often go *much* longer.
My thoughts exactly.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
But fashion =\= portrait, portrait =\= fashion.
Originally Posted by Robert Budding