I've been wondering about this lens for awhile. Is it pretty sharp wide open? What size filters does it use? Is there an AI version with the same optics? Is it flare prone? I'm getting tired of hauling around the big Sigma 70-200 2.8 HSM. And it's not too good wide open, so consider it an F/4 lens.
I have this lens in AI mount. The optics of the AI and AIS lens are the same, however the AIS lens does have a longer pull-out hood, which rectified the slight flaw of the AI lens which was a very short hood. With that said, I have never experienced flare with my lens.
The filter size is 72mm.
You ask about the performance at f/2.0, and for me this is the aperture that makes dragging this lens around worth the effort. If you are going to shoot at f/2.8 or smaller, then you would be better served with the 135mm f/2.8 Nikkor, or better yet the 75-150mm f/3.5 series E zoom. At f/2.0, this lens can allow you to explore DOF in a way that no slow zoom can. In the area of portraits, this lens at f/2.0 is just right. The sharpness is there, but not so biting that every flaw in the face is revealed. Add to that the ability to extract the subject from even a busy environment, and this is a nice lens.
Of course, in the middle apertures the lens is just as sharp as any top quality lens. The finder brightness and reduced DOF will help in manual focusing regardless of the aperture used.
My reason for seeking out this lens was that I had been burned many times by the f/4.0 aperture of my standard telephoto the 200mm Nikkor. I wanted and could justify the 135mm f/2.0, but the price (in the '80s) was too high. I found one in Louisiana in a camera store on the used gear shelf. It was a perfect lens, and the price was 185 Dollars. I couldn't believe my luck. That low price was part of my positive experience with this fine lens.
Photo made at f/2.0. The palms behind the subject were just a couple of feet away from her. Also posted is the central detail at f/2.0, which is not too bad.
Hi John and Al. Thanks. Nice portraits. Yes I have the 135 2.8 AI, but would love the extra stop. B&H has two for $489.00 each in 8+ condition. Is that a good price, or should I shop around? I didn't see any on ebay lately. After reading about it and what Al had to say, I want one.
...for $489.00 each in 8+ condition. Is that a good price, or should I shop around?
That would be personal. One man's 489 Dollars is another man's impossible-to-pay cost. Add to that the fact that you already have f/2.8 and smaller covered by the more nimble, lower weight, and more petite f/2.8 Nikkor. In other words, you would be paying almost 500 Dollars to get one-stop. Only you can say if that is worth it.
Like I said in my first post, I found my AI lens (in 9+ condition) for less than 200 Dollars, and that cost is factored into my satisfaction. Truth be told, I would usually have my 105mm f/2.5 or 85mm f/2.0 lens with me in the field, but it is nice to "play" with that 135mm f/2.0 from time to time.
I'm glad I found mine, but if lost, it would not be high on my must-replace list.
I have the 135 F2.8 Nikon E. It's the only lens I use for shooting stuff on the street. It seems sharp from F2.8 and up. I paid about $110 US, from what I can recall. It stops down all the way to F32, and it has a built in hood which slides out. I like this lens. The Nikkor version is probably built a bit better. I don't know anything about the F2 version. Have you checked here: http://www.naturfotograf.com ?
I have found one 135 f/2 for a good price, but there's an issue. The seller says there is a 3mm light scratch on the rear element. Will that cause flare as bad as the front element scratched? Can a repair shop still get the glass needed to fix it? I thought about spending the big bucks and going for the AF DC version so I can use it with the N80. But I'm better off with the manual and the money saved can be put with the cash generated selling the N80 and that will come close to buying a good used F100. Then I will no longer be CPU lens dependant(I don't need AF or matrix metering,just CW).
If it's scratched, don't but it. A scratch on the rear element is worse than if it were on the front. I always use a 10X loop to check out the glass. And, what else may be wrong with this lens that the seller isn't telling you? Fungus? A loose lens element? Walk away.
The rear element on the 135mm f/2.0 lens is very exposed when the lens is focused to infinity. With little care, it is easy to see how the rear element could be scratched.
Every flaw in any lens is unique to itself. I have some lenses with marks that don't seem to reduce the actual on-film perfomance, but there is not a standard answer to what could be tolerated in the way of lens damage before it adversly effects the image.
If you can't actually test the lens, it might be worth passing until a better sample could be located.
Thanks for all of the help, Nikonians, but I will stick with my 135 2.8 for now. I couldn't find one on ebay or anywhere else with clean glass for what I was willing to pay. But I did find an SB-80DX here on Nikonians that will make a great flash to the SB-28DX. I guess I had to spend it on SOMETHING that said "Nikon" on it