Nikkor 135/2.8 Ai, "compact" design

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
The Nikkor 135/2.8 5 element in 4 group lens was introduced in 1976, a more compact design that replaced the larger 4/4 135/2.8. SN of the new lens starts at 730001. The lens was soon updated to Ai, later to Ais. The optical formula remained the same. The Nikkor 85/2, 105/2.5 (1973 and later), 135/2.8 and 200/4.0 (1976 and later) all share the basic optical formula- a double-gauss design. I now have all 4 of these lenses, plan on doing some comparisons. All have similar rendering, and are fairly compact designs.

Some quick tests with this lens- wide-open,

Nikkor 135/2.8 Ai Test by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

Nikkor 135/2.8 Ai Test by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

Close focus is 4feet.

Nikkor 135/2.8 Ai Test by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

Nikkor 135/2.8 Ai Test by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

The Nikkor-Q 135/2.8 - optical formula is "just hard to describe", has some very strong groups in it. Not a Sonnar, Not a Planar- but is an asymmetric design. This newer lens is much more symmetric. The 135/3.5 Ais that I have is about the same size, I'll get some comparisons up. The 135/3.5 is a Sonnar formula lens, as is the early 105/2.5. The RF mount 8.5cm F2 is a Sonnar.

And- the fencepost test, focus with the Df is very easy with the brought F2.8 aperture.

Nikkor 135/2.8 Ai Test by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

Many (really, like 40) years ago I had the Nikkor 135/2.0- traded it off. I picked up the Vivitar series 1 135/2.3 which serves my need for a super-speed 135. The Vivitar has floating optics.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Jan 19, 2015
I have the AI-S 135mm F2.8 which is a fine lens if a little stiff focusing. I understand that issue isn't there with the earlier versions.
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
The AIs lenses used a different lubricant than the AI series. The AIs lubricant tended to separate and flow- Nikon stopped using it. The mechanics are the same between the two lenses. Mine is smooth enough, had a "flat spot" that evened out with use. CLA instructions for the lens:

Repair: Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 (K/Ai)

Richard Haw is my "Go To" site for Nikon Lenses.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Jan 19, 2015
Well I was so impressed with this lens today, having not used it for ages, that I've decided not to lust after those 105mm/135mm DCs anymore, someone of my abilities is not going to get a better image out of those lenses than this one which is a tenth of the price. The rendering can be sublime.
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Apr 2, 2018
Finland
Using these lenses on a Nikon natively without an adapter and through an OVF (ie, not a tv screen EVF) is a wonderful thing.
"Ai" means that Nikon Df can automatically close down the aperture for picture taking?

There's one for 45 GBP that's not Ai. I'm thinking I might want to experiment and maybe start to collect some SLR lenses but adapt to M first.

And if I collect Nikon F lenses, then it will be more reasonable for me to get the Df in the future... this is not necessarily a good thing, money wise. ;)
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Jan 19, 2015
"Ai" means that Nikon Df can automatically close down the aperture for picture taking?
I believe so, but if you're used to a rangefinder, then adjusting manually is the more enjoyable experience with these lenses.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Apr 2, 2018
Finland
I believe so, but if you're used to a rangefinder, then adjusting manually is the more enjoyable experience with these lenses.
I am very used to rangefinders and fully manual aperture rings; yet I recognize it's not all roses and rainbows when your SLR viewfinder dims into blackness if there's no automatic aperture opening.
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
"Ai" means that Nikon Df can automatically close down the aperture for picture taking?

There's one for 45 GBP that's not Ai. I'm thinking I might want to experiment and maybe start to collect some SLR lenses but adapt to M first.

And if I collect Nikon F lenses, then it will be more reasonable for me to get the Df in the future... this is not necessarily a good thing, money wise. ;)
The Df couples with the Aperture ring and can stop down the lens. Wide-open metering is available, leave the Ai lever of the camera in place. Yoy can use the Df on aperture-preferred automatic mode, or on manual exposure mode. In either case- wide-open metering is possible. Use the menu to enter in the lens type and the Df will store the selected aperture into the NEF and JPEG files stored by the camera.
 

rayvonn

Hall of Famer
Jan 19, 2015
I've heard about quite a few Nikkor AI-S lenses being pretty good at light bursts (and particularly the 200mm F4), so thought logically, this one should be up there in that regard too. And it was. Taken last night whilst my girls were learning to skateboard on 20 perfectly smooth adjacent empty netball courts.

Untitled by Otim, on Flickr
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
Put a Circular Polarizer on the 135/2.8 Ai today, took a walk in the neighborhood.
Not the tidal basin of DC, but with a Telephoto Lens- you just need a couple of trees.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
I took the 135/2.8 Ai out again on the Df. This time without the polarizer, was late in the day. The second 1.5mile walk of the day, to get some exercise and fresh air. All shot wide-open.


DSC_2748.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
DSC_2752.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
DSC_2753.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
DSC_2757.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
DSC_2763.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
DSC_2762.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
DSC_2764.jpg
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


I wanted to see the "Bokeh" produced by this inexpensive lens. The 135/2.8 lens was almost a commodity item in SLR line-ups. The 135 was so plentiful that "in-the-day" it went from being the "pride" of a photographer's arsenal of lenses to "too long for portraits and too short for sports". I've always liked this focal length. This lens is one of the best of the 135's that I own. Reminds me to do a test between this and the Leica 135/2.8 Tele-Elmarit. The latter- one of the few Leica lenses that will not set you back a small fortune.

Also what prompted this- a review on the Sony/Minolta STF "Smooth Trans Focus" 135/2.8 that is actually a T4.5. This must have been Minolta's response to the Nikon AF-D 135/2 Defocus Control lens. The Nikon lens allows control over spherical aberration to control Bokeh. The Minolta lens has a "graduated neutral density" element incorporated into the lens to give a smooth Gaussian Bokeh. The Nikon- set the DC to neutral, get a fairly sharp F2 lens. The Minolta- you give up 2/3rds of the transmission to get a fixed Gaussian. Both lenses are still available new for just under $1400.

"I have Bokeh in my Blood"- just look at my red blood cells under a microscope. I've put the elements of 7 different Parts Jupiter-3's on my workbench and swapped out elements and fixtures to make a 50/1.5 with smooth Bokeh. Shooting different combinations of glass and housing until I got one that was really smooth. But paying $1400 for a 135/2.8 that kills 2/3rds of the transmission for a Gaussian- just rubbed me the wrong way.

So this Nikon featured here was ~$100. Wide-Open, I can see some footballs at the edges, but overall seems to be smooth Bokeh indicating some under-correction of spherical aberration. About 7% the cost of the Sony if bought new. Good enough for me, I'm not even going to take it apart and respace the elements.
 

mike3996

Hall of Famer
Apr 2, 2018
Finland
I like the extra loss of transmission in a fast portrait lens because in hard sunlight one might otherwise be forced to use ND filters. Otherwise agreed, the loss of transmission is more of a hindrance than benefit.
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
With the range of ISO available on newer Digital cameras, and native ISO being 100 on the Df- I've not had a problem shooting F2.8 even with bright sunlight. 1/4000th of a second top shutter speed on the Df, M9, and M Monochrom. With the M8- 1/8000th, I can shoot at F1.5 without problems. Great reason to keep the M8. With the M Monochrom- I normally keep a Y2 and deeper filter, cuts out 1 stop. For really bright days, an Orange filter cuts out 2 stops.
 

Latest posts

Latest threads

Top Bottom