Nikon NIKKOR 135mm 1:2.8 Ai-S Lens (f/2.8)
The first version of the f=135mm/2.8 lens had four elements in four groups, debuted in 1965, and was a popular lens. This is the Nikkor-Q version with the black focus collar on silver body. It became the multicoated Nikkor-Q•C version in 1973 and then had its cosmetics updated to the "K" version in 1975. In 1976, the so called NEW "K" version was introduced with an improved optical formula having five elements in four groups. Nikon then updated it to the Ai mount in 1977 and the Ai-S mount in 1981. The Ai-S version was produced until 2005 for a total of 24 years. In total Nikon produced approximately 76,000 units of the Ai-S version. It was popular because of its compact size and relatively bright maximum aperture, which makes for easy manual-focusing. To recap, the optics of this lens are 47 years old! This lens was made when Nikon made all their equipment in Japan.
This lens has a 180° focus throw, which is an upgrade from the Ai version which has a 270° throw. 180° is plenty to precisely focus with. It features a 7 bladed diaphragm and 1.3 meter closest focusing. The all-metal design of this lens is a joy to use. It takes 52mm filters which do not rotate as the lens is focused. It features a built-in hood which is floppy when extended and, like all "K", Ai, Ai-S lenses, it is multicoated.
It does exhibit some color fringing as seen on this image of a transformer:
Diffraction has begun by f/11, but sharpness and contrast are pretty high by f/8. Had this lens been made with a 58mm or even 62mm filter diameter, then it could have been designed to be sharper at larger apertures. As it is, Nikon have designed this lens with a priority on size over performance. This is very common with Nikkor lenses of the film era. Nikon even make, or made, a f=50mm/1.2 lens with 52mm filter diameter. Today, an emphasis is made on performance. For example, the excellent Nikkor Z 50mm/1.2 lens takes an 82mm filter and has a large front element which greatly improves the corner sharpness.
This lens is good for infrared photography.
The bokeh has highlights that take on the shape of a heptagon because the diaphragm is not rounded. This is especially obvious at the optimum aperture of f/8. This certainly detracts from the bokeh score of the lens.
Distortion is well controlled. There is not much vignetting. Vignetting and the color fringing are two common flaws that are easily removed in post.
Flaring and ghosting are not well controlled. This is par-for-the-course for telephotos, though, some do not have problems particularly newer ones with more advanced coatings on the lens elements.
Because the rear element is recessed enough into the lens, it can take the Nikon TC-14 and TC-14B teleconverters and still focus to infinity (∞). In fact, it can take the TC-300 and TC-301 teleconverters if focusing on something somewhat nearer than infinity, because at infinity, this teleconverter definitely cannot be mounted to this lens. The Nikon TC-14A, TC-201 and TC-200 teleconverters may be mounted.
The first image below was taken with a TC-14 for a 0.189× magnification, which is not great because this lens does not focus as closely as it should. Here are some more samples taken with teleconverters:
- Focal length: 135mm
- Maximum aperture: f/2.8
- Minimum aperture: f/32
- ø52mm filter ring
- Lens construction: 5 lens elements in 4 groups
- Picture angle: 18° (Full Frame), 12° (DX)
- Focus: 1.3m/4.3ft. to infinity with infrared focus index
- 1:7.5 (0.13×) maximum reproduction ratio
- Price: $286 USD (1985), $410 USD (1988), $464 USD (1994), $520 USD (1997)