+1 for 85 or 105. I have a bunch of 135, but I almost never use them.
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Which 135mm non-AI?
There is always some joke about the 85/2. I have the 85/2 AI and I find it quite good. Much has been written about the 135mm focal length. It was the longest lens generally available for regular focusing with RF cameras. For outdoor use where I have some room to work I prefer a 135 to a 100 or 105. I find that the 135better isolates the subject. There are too many photos talen with 100/105 lenses at distances of 20 or more feet where the subject is not well isolared from the background. Over the years I have used many 135s for portraits. The biggest problem with using most 135s for portraits is that they don't focus close enough. This is especially true when you try to shoot a tight portrait of a small child. My favorite 135s with close focusing include the 135/3.2 Konica Hexanon, 135/2.3 Vivitar Series 1, 135/2.8 Vivitar Close Focusing and Promaster 135/2.8 (1:5). If you are not making a very tight portrait then a 135/2.8 Nikkor Q/QC/K or a 135/2.5 Canon FD are both nice. They have very pleasant out of focus rendition. The 135/2.5 Canon FL also fits in to that category. Some people think a 135 flattens out a face to much. I don't agree.
If I have enough light I prefer a 105 lens to an 85 for portraits. Sometimes a fast 85 is easier to focus than slower 105. The 105/2.5 Nikkors all have good out of focus rendition. At or near wide open I find the 100/2.8 Canon New FD and FD SSC sharper than the 105/2.5 Nikkors. It is easier to find 135s at a reasonable prices than lenses in the 85-105 range because more of them were sold. A person who bought an SLR in the 1960s or early 1970s would typically get a standard lens in the 50-58 range with it. For an amateur the extra reach of a 135 made it more appealing than a 100. This was a person who was going to buy only so many lenses. The same is true at the short end. There are more used 28s floating around than 35s. I find the 35mm focal length very useful but an amateur looking for more of a wide angle effect, a 28 was more popular.
If I can remember all of them I have two 135/3.5 AI Nikkors, a 13.5CM/3.5 Nikkor and three 135/3.5 pre-AI Nikkors. All of these are very decent performers. I had the CM lens overhauled. It's not as good against the light as the other 135s but it still a good performer in all other circumstances. I recently added another 135/2.8 Nikkor so I now have two Qs, a QC and a K (1st version). The Qs both have factory AI conversion rings so I use them with pre-AI and AI bodies. If you want a Nikkor specifically for portraits get any 105/2.5 in good condition which works with the bodies you have. You can always add a 135 later.
A 105 it is. Thanks guys.
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With respect to the 135's, the Nikkor-Q and QC 3.5 version is better than the 2.8, IMO. Has very similar bokeh to the 105/2.5. Alas, nowadays, my tele range is 85/1.8, 105/2.8 Micro, and 180/2.8.
To answer the question about the 300, it's a decent lens. I'd hold out for an EDIF AIS version, though. Focuses closer and is a bit lighter than the Nikkor-H version.
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My sentiments exactly, Erik. I didn't buy them recently, but I have kept all my old Nikkors while thinking the same thing as you.
Originally Posted by Erik Prestmo
One can buy a bucket load of classic manual-focusing Nikkor primes for less than the price of one gee-whiz upscale zoom.
Even so, and like others here, I generally gravitate towards the Nikkor 105 f2.5 for portraits, even with a 135 close at hand.
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