34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2011
This is an amazing lens - if you have read any of my other reviews, you will see I only speak about lenses I own or have owned.
This is perfect on a full frame body (no crop factor) as you wil get the full use out of it's DOF control (larger sensor allows for shallower DOF - this is why compacts have difficulty isolating subjects - tiny sensors). I use this on my D700, it is probably my favourite tool in the bag save for the 85mm f/1.4D. If you want a lens to take some snapshots of your son or daughter, walk away and spend your money on a £300 50mm f/1.4G or an 85mm f/1.8D - both these lenses will get you amazing pictures if you know what you are doing. However, if you want to take portraits to the next level and give them a look that really few lenses on the planet can match - buy this. This, along with the monster 200mm f/2 (too heavy and too long IMO), are the go to portrait lenses.
This lens has DC - basically bokeh control or out of focus control - for the foreground or rear of the photo. These effects are subtle and you will only see them later on on the pc, not via the viewfinder. The lens also functions as a soft focus lens if you put the DC ring number higher than the aperture, perfect for female portraits in some circumstances. If you want sharpness, you need to put the DC ring to the same as you aperture, e.g. if I was shooting at f/2 I would put the DC ring to f/2 REAR. But it doesn't stop there, there are lots of configurations. When you buy it you may find alot of f2 pictures are out of focus, especially for tight headshots. You have very limited DOF at these distances (a good thing generally but AF is hard to master). I sometimes manual focus if I am really close, rest of the time I leave it on autofocus mostly. This lenses long focal length of 135 and fast aperture means most of the time if your subject is near-ish to you, you will be able to totally blow out that background and isolate them. It's fantastic for set up or candid portraits.
The lens has quick AF - but needs mastering and in some types of lighting you will need to switch to manual. I do not have a problem with this. It is built like a tank, from a by-gone era that we may never see again. When the world used metal instead of plastic and built stuff to last a lifetime. It's not water sealed so don't go swimming with it and be careful. The lens hood is awesome - Nikon should bring this stuff back, I hate these plastic reverse hoods we get nowadays. This extends out for shooting and folds back up!
It's expensive - of course it is. But it's going to last you a lifetime. Also another point worth mentioning - do you really think this lens will be about new forever? I doubt it. Nikon will discontinue this just like they did the awesome 28mm f/1.4 and the price will skyrocket. Even so, I doubt I'll sell it. Beware when you buy this, don't expect to shoot like a pro right away with it. Patience young jedi...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2013
I purchased this lens after careful consideration of the available alternatives, mainly its smaller sister, the Nikkor 105mm DC, and the 85mm 1.4, all usable both in APS-C and FF cameras. I have been using it with a D7000 body in general purpose photography, mainly portraits, nature and urban details. After a couple of weeks of use my opinion is consolidated enough to feel I can share it with other potential buyers.
The first aspect I must focus on is the excellent external build quality of this lens. The weight and size make you feel this is a serious photographic object that from a mechanical standing point will probably last a lifetime. This is not a modern plastic/rubber lens, it is perhaps one of the last survivors of an old species that seems to be disappearing. Coupled with the Nikon FM2 body it makes a beautiful piece of technical design, a look unfortunately not as well achieved with the modern Nikon bodies.
Central sharpness with the D7000 is very good, even at f/2. Peripheral sharpness requires one extra stop to become very good, but in most cases this lens is used with central sharpness in mind and blurred background, so this should seldom be a problem. Undoubtedly this is one of the sharpest Nikon lens I ever used. Contrast is very good too, but not as good as with the 85mm. Flare is not an issue.
The minus points are for focus and chromatic aberration. Focus works fine in most situations, but sometimes it becomes hard or impossible to achieve. I am still trying to understand what are the specific situations that make focusing an occasional problem and to what extent this problem belongs to the lens or to the camera, but probably it depends more on the lens since I don't have it with any other lens except the 60mm micro Nikkor.
Chromatic aberration may be a serious issue in some situations and unless you feel comfortable dealing with this specific problem maybe you should think twice before buying this lens. It may very well ruin some of your best portraits if you keep using wide apertures (f/2.8 or f/2) in high contrast situations.
Finally a word for the DC mechanism. This unique feature really adds some creative control over back or foreground defocussing and if well used it may allow better, sweeter bokeh effect, after all one of the main reasons to want this specific expensive lens. The learning curve is fast and the results are visible, not just imaginary.
To conclude, this is a very good lens that I strongly recommend if you are a serious photographer looking for a well built lens offering excellent sharpness and pleasing bokeh effect as long as you have in consideration the potential limitations of chromatic aberration and the sometimes hesitant focus.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2013
I bought one of these lenses for photographing astronomical objects and shots across a room of people working, or whatever. It allows me to stand far enough back to capture shots without the subject realising that they are the primary object in the frame, hence I get more relaxed, natural poses. The wide aperture ensures that the subject isolates from the background although I'm not yet convinced that the defocusing ring adds much more to the effect.
For astronomy, this lens enables me to photograph objects past magnitude 10 (that's pretty faint) in 30s at ISO2000. Also, the f2 aperture enables me to accurately focus on the stars through the viewfinder (the focusing ring on the 135mm F2 DC goes past infinity so this is necessary). If you open the diagphragm manually and remove the rear cap you can see the sheer size of the hole that collects the light, quite impressive. Because stars are small dots on an image they enable lenses to be ferociously tested for spherical abberation. Wide open, my Nikon 50mm f1.8 turns stars into smears at the edges of the frame, other lenses do the same but the 135mm F2 DC leaves them as true circular dots...amazing.
I am currently compiling a photo-archive for my school's 400th anniversary and the shots of staff and pupils are razor sharp. One has to get used to the shallow depth of field and the fact that, being a fixed focal length lens, one may have to move backwards to get the subject in. Also, I found myself turning the camera ISO right down to prevent over-exposed shots.
The build quality of the lens is excellent. Crinkle finished in black paint, the body is metal and the slide out lens hood far preferable to the cheap nasty detachable lens hoods on modern lenses. Altogether, it feels solid and weighty. The appearance is of a lens made some time ago and before mass production. In fact, I took the plunge to buy one because it looks like stocks are dwindling and I don't know if Nikon are still making them.
This lens is hideously expensive but simply stunning. My bank account looks sick but I now know what I paid for!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
This is a famous long portrait lens, best suited perhaps to Nikon's full frame bodies like the D3 and D700.
It has a Defocus Control ring, a unique function which allows the user to vary the foreground or background blur. Quite an easy thing to use but I don't employ it so much. The autofocus is screw-drive, quite quick but a tad too noisy for shooting, say, during a wedding ceremony. The more versatile 70-200 VR has near silent and almost immediate autofocus.
The build is above average, crinkle effect metal barrel but still quite light. The general feeling is of quality from a previous era.
There is a built-in hood which is a good idea, but it doesn't slide too smoothly (unlike the one on my Leica 75mm Summicron-M, which is as smooth as silk) - in fact some user have found it temporarily jamming when pushing back if it is not done smoothly. Some copies like mine seem to have a small hole drilled in the hood, maybe to secure the lenscap with a cord.
Optically this is very fine, giving outstanding colour rendition and skin tones. The speed is useful, with a typically large front element.
It's a toss-up which is better between this and the 105mm DC, but the latter is preferred by some and is perhaps better for closer work or a crop sensor camera like the D300.
on 11 January 2014
This has to be my favourite lens and without doubt the best I have ever purchased.
Of all my Nikon glass, this one is the sharpest wide open - so much so that I only use it wide open. The bokeh is beautiful and the defocus ring adds a subtle softness to the bokeh. Colours and textures are soft and light which is what I was looking for from this lens. The DOF is incredible and make this lens super at isolating subjects.
The only downside is it's not waterproof and sometimes (but quite rarely) the focus can hesitate. However the IQ more than makes up for these little niggles.
Expect beautiful images and don't be put off by people saying it's challenging or difficult to master as it's no more difficult to capture wonderful images than any other lens I've used. If you're looking for a superb portrait lens you'll find it hard to beat this.
It's so good that my Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 is now redundant and stays at home.
on 20 August 2014
I have to agree with Luís this is an excellent lens and you can get some super sharp photos - however when wide open and especially when strong contrast of colours are involved the chromatic aberration is the worse I have ever seen - I use a 28-300 f3.5 jack of all trades walkabout lens most of the time and a 18-35mm ed f4 lens as well as f1.8 50mm prime - none of these other lenses has anything like the CA problem that this has - don't let this put you off buying it but do be prepared this is not some pedantic rant from a purist - I dismissed believing same when I saw reviews but now realize that the reviewer was bang on.
The positives have been covered by other reviewers well and I totally agree on the sharpness and functionality @king of boken' etc
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2009
for portrait photos the best you can buy.
not easy to handle - but using the lens and viewing the results you will quickly learn how to use and love this lens.
according to some gossips in the market nikon will stop producing this lens in the next future: google it and you will find more details.
on 21 September 2013
This is a wonderful pro lens but it does needs practice(and some trial and error) to utilise its adjustable bokeh feature to good effect.