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.
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Apr 2, 2018
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.
 
Apr 2, 2018
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.

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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.

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