Thursday, December 07, 2017

Lens Stories ~ Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/3.5 AiS

Lens Stories ~ Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/3.5 Ai

Scrolling through videos on YouTube can pose a danger to the wallet.  Though, in this case, it's only mildly dangerous.  It's more of a mosquito bite on the wallet, not a full-blown black-adder poisoned-fang lethal bite, if you know what I mean.

Here's the video I watched that caused the mosquito bitten wallet.

Scanning the eBay point fr uncovered quite a few of the f/2.8 Nikkor 135mm lenses.  Indeed, they cost about what the Angry Photographer said they do.  For an old retired living off a fixed income kind of guy such things are way too much money.

The Angry Photographer has a different video where he talks about the Asahi/Pentax Super-Takumar 135mm f/3.5.  Those remain cheap, but that's not what caught my attention.  The thing that I paid particular attention to was that the Super-Takumar 135mm f/3.5 are four element in four group lenses and they are very small and light.  The only problem for me is that I have a Lens Turbo II focal reducer in Nikon F mount, and not in Pentax m42.  So I couldn't use a Super-Tak as anything but a 200mm full frame equivalent lens on my Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras.

I've had very good experiences with four element four group lenses.  For years I used a couple Kodak 203mm Ektars on 4x5 inch film.  They were incredibly sharp and very very contrasty, even though they are simple single coated lenses.  I also had and enjoyed several early Red Dot Artar lenses.  Same optical configuration, very similar results, that is to say they were very sharp and very contrasty.

When I found out that the Ai and AiS versions of the Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/3.5 lens implemented a four element four group design, I felt I had to give it a try.  But only if I could find one in my price range.  So the hunt began.

These days I've set my ceiling for lenses at 50Euro.  I feel I can live with the mosquito bite sized prices.  Anything more expensive than that bites into the Beer Budget.

Continuing my scan of eBay point fr I found one f/3.5 AiS Nikkor that looked to be in pretty good shape.  People weren't bidding it up, either.  It had a small dent on the side of the retractable lens shade and I wondered if that was scaring people off.  Normally a thrashed/well-used early pre-Ai version can sell for as little as 75Euro.  This multi-coated lens wasn't any where near those kinds of prices, so I bid late and bid low.

Et voila!  Scored for around 40Euro and another lens was added to the Toy Box.

I compared it against some of my other lenses and found that from wide open on down through the f-stops that this little, somewhat light-weight, multi-coated AiS 135mm f/3.5 lens is really the Cat's Meow.  It is amongst the sharpest lenses I own.
[example1, example2, example3, example4]

A bonus is that the out of focus rendition is really quite satisfactory, too.  It gives me nice flat out of focus highlights with none of that ugly, busy, nasty "bubble bokeh" that lesser lenses are prone to. 

This is quite an amazing lens.

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