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Which 135mm lens to get?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Topcor 135/3.5. Insanely sharp and decent prices online.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Compared to some of our members I've only played with a few 135mm's, maybe 6 or 7. The two that stood out are the Zeiss Sonnar 135/3.5, great performance for very little money, and the wonderful Vivitar Series 1 135/2.3, fantastic performance for a lot more money. The Zeiss is very common, the Series 1 is harder to find.

As has been mentioned, knowing the camera it will be attached to would help.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gardener wrote:
..."multicoated"...

Great advice!


PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

frenched wrote:
Topcor 135/3.5. Insanely sharp and decent prices online.


+1

I directly compared it to a J11A M42 and a Hexanon 3.2/135 on a 14mp NEX-3. All three lenses are very sharp indeed, but the Topcor was the sharpest being a tiny touch ahead of the Hexanon and also with very slightly higher microcontrast - a truly superb lens.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well if you want the cheapest 135mm at a throw away price and very good results then I would suggest the Prinz Galaxy 135mm f3.5 preset...I bought a Zenit camera with 44-2 and the galaxy for £1 at a boot sale, well I was surprised how good the Galaxy was even wide open. So if you see one at a flea market for a silly price at a few £sss it's worth trying it out.
Note: results were on a film camera


PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iangreenhalgh1 wrote:
frenched wrote:
Topcor 135/3.5. Insanely sharp and decent prices online.


+1

I directly compared it to a J11A M42 and a Hexanon 3.2/135 on a 14mp NEX-3. All three lenses are very sharp indeed, but the Topcor was the sharpest being a tiny touch ahead of the Hexanon and also with very slightly higher microcontrast - a truly superb lens.


Out of curiosity I just compared the RE.Topcor 135/3.5 with the Minolta MD 135/2.8 (4/4 version) on my APS-C Ricoh GXR-M.
To be honest, despite that the Minolta lens is marginal faster, I couldn't differentiate the pictures at several different aperture settings, not even at 100% pixel peeping view. In other words: I couldn't find out which one is really better or sharper. Given the fact that the Minolta lens is usually much cheaper and also a little bit faster I would therefore rather recommend the Minolta lens, though the Topcor is indeed also a very good choice.
BTW, the size of both lenses is almost identical and in terms of weight the Topcor is almost 100 g lighter than the Minolta lens (net 409 g vs. 504 g). Both have built in lens hoods.
Filter thread diameter is 49 mm for the Topcor and 55 mm for the Minolta lens.
Maybe this is of interest for somebody.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I could only discern differences between the Hexanon and Topcor when looking closely at 100% crops.

Truth is, when dealing with lenses of this level of ability, they are all more than good enough and choice becomes more about personal preferences.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cannot fault the Topcor, and generally I am a big Topcor fan. You might notice that some of the earlier Topcor posts here are from me. When it comes to 135mm lenses, of which there are so many, I end up using the ones that are as good and faster.

Topcor, inexpensive to moderate cost:


Rokkor, inexpensive:


Tair, more costly, but that bokeh!:


Vivitar Series 1, so sharp and close focusing, but more costly:


PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Soooo many good 135s out there, even in the cheap-as-chips-corner.

I paid almost nothing for this Auto Edixa 135mm f/3.5:



Crop:
[/img]


And its a wonderful lens.


PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Tair isn't expensive in Europe, albeit costs a bit more than a J11. It is another Sonnar copy and doesn't offer much if anything over the J11 so the cheaper, more common J11 is usually a better option.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any experience with Auto Chinon 135mm f/2.8? I have only 55/1.4 but know nothing about the 135s


PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

iangreenhalgh1 wrote:
The Tair isn't expensive in Europe, albeit costs a bit more than a J11. It is another Sonnar copy and doesn't offer much if anything over the J11 so the cheaper, more common J11 is usually a better option.


The Jupiter 11 is indeed a very good option as well. Here are some example pictures from an old M39/Zenit version shot WO (F4) on Ricoh GXR-M:

#1 Full picture down-sized to 1500px:


#2 100% view crop of above:


Such Jupiter-11 lenses may be available really cheap in M39/Zenit (45.2 mm register distance), M39/LTM (28.8 mm register distance) or M42 (11A with 45.46 mm register distance).
All of them are "Sonnar" copies.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Firehand wrote:
Any experience with Auto Chinon 135mm f/2.8? I have only 55/1.4 but know nothing about the 135s


The 55-f/1.4 is made by Tomioka. A few could be sourced from Cosina.
But the 135-f/2.8 isn't Tomioka. And there are two versions. One made in Japan, and the other is made in Korea.
The Japanese manufactured one will have Japan on the front ring. And seems to be the more desired one. Been looking for one myself.


PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2016 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Firehand wrote:
Any experience with Auto Chinon 135mm f/2.8? I have only 55/1.4 but know nothing about the 135s


Chinon 2.8/135 Japan, wide open:

Bubbles by René Maly, on Flickr

Jupiter 11, old chrome M39 version, also wide open:

Taking pictures by René Maly, on Flickr

Cheers, René!


PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 2:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In North America, we have department store branded lenses from the 70-80s that are mostly pretty good, and were rebadged Japanese made marques.
It was posted earlier, with the names like Focal, Sears, JC Penney, Montgomery Ward. Usually found for under $10. Or even free, like my JC Penney Multi-Coated Optics 135mm f/2.8. Surprisingly good performance. Unknown source...maybe Toyo, Ozone or Sigma.

cLOSE eNCOUNTERS oF tHE bIRD kIND 13 by wNG 555, on Flickr

cLOSE eNCOUNTERS oF tHE bIRD kIND by wNG 555, on Flickr


PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually there is a 135mm that I'm not super excited about.

It's not "bad" I just wish it was better? Odd. I confess. I try and try and often I'm left feeling gah should have taken the Takumar. I'm of course talking about the Pentax M 135mm f3.5

I mean, if it ended up in my bag I wouldn't throw it out, I just wish.. I just wish it was as good as the Tak wide open?

Shot below taken wide open to show it's not bad..

Click for bird


PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe it was here at this forum that I read the claim that there are no bad 135s -- some years back. So if this is true, then you can pretty much take your pick. My own experiences with the few 135s I've owned is that this truism seems to have some truth value to it.

One of the sharpest 135s I've ever used is the Nikkor AI 135mm f/3.5. I've used it as a portrait lens and I can count the pores in the subject's face. It's very compact. Another excellent 135/3.5 is the Canon nFD model -- it's also very compact, and if memory serves, it is also internal focusing. But the nFD only, not the FD breechlock.

Another lens that was mentioned a couple of times is the Vivitar close-focus 135mm . It's an f/2.8 aperture lens, and you know it's the CF one if it has a 62mm front filter size. This is an incredible lens, may as well be a macro, since it focuses down to 1:2. But it has largely been discovered now and often commands high prices on eBay and such. Still it's worth a mention just because of what it is.


PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
I believe it was here at this forum that I read the claim that there are no bad 135s -- some years back. So if this is true, then you can pretty much take your pick. My own experiences with the few 135s I've owned is that this truism seems to have some truth value to it.


I would like to go on record as having a bad 135mm. Maybe the only one... collector item.


PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodrim wrote:
cooltouch wrote:
I believe it was here at this forum that I read the claim that there are no bad 135s -- some years back. So if this is true, then you can pretty much take your pick. My own experiences with the few 135s I've owned is that this truism seems to have some truth value to it.


I would like to go on record as having a bad 135mm. Maybe the only one... collector item.

How about a copy of Vivitar 135/1.5? Wink


PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

calvin83 wrote:
woodrim wrote:
cooltouch wrote:
I believe it was here at this forum that I read the claim that there are no bad 135s -- some years back. So if this is true, then you can pretty much take your pick. My own experiences with the few 135s I've owned is that this truism seems to have some truth value to it.


I would like to go on record as having a bad 135mm. Maybe the only one... collector item.

How about a copy of Vivitar 135/1.5? Wink


Is there such a thing?


PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodrim wrote:
calvin83 wrote:
woodrim wrote:
cooltouch wrote:
I believe it was here at this forum that I read the claim that there are no bad 135s -- some years back. So if this is true, then you can pretty much take your pick. My own experiences with the few 135s I've owned is that this truism seems to have some truth value to it.


I would like to go on record as having a bad 135mm. Maybe the only one... collector item.

How about a copy of Vivitar 135/1.5? Wink


Is there such a thing?

Sure.
http://forum.mflenses.com/vivitar-135mm-f-1-5-t-mount-converted-to-nikon-ai-s-t27558.html

Sample:
http://forum.mflenses.com/vivitar-professional-135-1-5-t69370.html


PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is one of my favorites.



PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2016 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

^ Quite a bit of girth on that one. Reminds me of a fat-bottomed girl.
Laugh 1


PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2016 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Side by side pic from 3 very common 135mm : Jupiter 37A, Takumar and Super Dynarex (Zeiss sonnar if i remember) : http://www.musashichan.com/objectifs/jupiter/jupiter-37-135mm-f-3-5
Click on the full Flickr pic...


PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gardener wrote:
Buy any no-name multicoated 135/2.8 in good condition. Focal, Sears, Promaster, Albinar and so on. You'll be pleasantly surprised.


There's actually quite a bit of sense in this comment! Wink
I rate the Soligor lenses highly, and used many of them in Miranda-bayonet guise, and a few in various other mounts. The sharpest 135mm I've used was the late Soligor Miranda-bayonet 135mm f2.8 with the built-in lens hood which always made me go wow!

But I feel that Japanese lens design and manufacturing from the mid 1960s to the late 1970s was of such a high general standard that almost any Japanese lens of the period is likely to be very good. You could probably say much the same of the German lenses (East and West) over roughly the same period, though they did tend to make also some cheaper lenses which weren't quite as good. Soligor were IMHO among the best in that period, though obviously the Zeiss lenses were very good too - some of them exceptional.

There were in general only a few actual makers of lenses, who knew very well what they were doing, but they sold to lots of brand names. So a name you've never heard of might actually be made by a top maker! In general, the lenses with the widest apertures for a given focal length are more likely to be premium lenses, and the smaller apertures more likely to be at the cheap end. Probably still good, though.

Most of the lenses in this period were designed for high resolution and not necessarily highest contrast, which is fine for digital use, but lens coatings weren't up to modern standards and you *always* had to shade any bright light away form the lens. Most of us got used to keeping the sun over our shoulder most of the time!