Also Known As: Nikon 135mm f/2D DC
Lens Type: Prime Lens
Format: Full Frame / FX
Lens Mount: Nikon F
Release Date: 1995-09-01
MSRP Price: $1389.95
Made in: Japan
Infrared Rating: Good
Production Status: In Production
Lens Description: This high-performance, medium telephoto features Defocus Image Control allowing for control of the degree of focus in the foreground or background.
Nikon AF DC NIKKOR 135mm f/2D Specifications
|* Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area|
|Lens Type||Prime Lens|
|Mount Type||Nikon F|
|Format||Full Frame / FX|
|Compatible Format(s)||FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode, 35mm Film|
|Compatible with Teleconverters||No|
|Maximum Reproduction Ratio||0.48x|
|Vibration Reduction (Image Stabilization)||No|
|Maximum Angle of View (APS-C or smaller format)||12°|
|Maximum Angle of View (Full frame or larger format)||18°|
|Super Integrated Coat (SIC)||Yes|
|Built-in Focus Motor||No|
|Minimum Focus Distance||4.0 ft. (1.1m)|
|Accepts Filter Type||Screw-on|
|Weather / Dust Sealing||Yes|
|Dimensions||(Approx.) 3.1x4.7 in. (Diameter x Length) 79x120mm (Diameter x Length)|
|Weight||(Approx.) 28.7 oz. (815g)|
|Available in Colors||Black|
|Supplied Accessories||72mm lens cap Rear lens cap|
I acquired this lens a while ago, but recently got the chance to experiment with it – and I think it’s a beautiful piece of equipment. I just want to point out a few important caveats to potential buyers. It’s quite heavy – an almost all metal construction – and there’s no VR. It has an older screw-driven autofocus. If you pixel peep, it can have noticeable optical ‘flaws’ – especially chroma aberration along high contrast boundaries, some vignette, and it’s not utterly sharp wide open if you are forensic in examination. I’m not a full time pro – I’m a fine art painter and art teacher who varies between serious enthusiast and occasionally providing high quality photography for a range of requirements.
Busy professional photographers have told me that if they are working in high pressure environments like several large weddings and corporate events close together, last minute fashion shoots etc. and where they need a very fast turnaround post-production workflow, they prefer shooting at this focal length with something with more modern optics, with VR and in-body autofocus and a lighter construction. This lens isn’t something they’d use. That’s the opinion of the particular ones I’ve spoken to anyway – others here might have a different perspective..
However, my experience is that if you are working in a more relaxed setting like environmental portraiture, fine art portraiture, street/landscape etc. where you have greater control and can take your time composing things and aren’t under an immediate high pressure, this lens is definitely worth checking out. IMO it has a beautiful ‘character’, and can do a remarkable contrast between razor-sharp subject matter and gorgeous soft bokeh. My copy renders lovely colors and effects. A pro told me his copy hunted way too much in low light. My personal experience to report is that my copy focuses surprisingly quickly and accurately – I usually shoot it on a D800. I haven’t tried to track fast moving subjects in variable light though. As for the optical ‘imperfections’ – a bit of post-production with NX Studio irons them out for me, and in the last few photos I took with it, that’s all I had to do. Otherwise the quality was already excellent. Portraits are definitely it’s thing, and you can tell why so much engineering went into it for that purpose.
135mm isn’t a focal length you’d normally take into different environments, it’s usually used for head portraits, but lately I take the lens with me and use it for all sorts of things, sometimes just using it for pleasure. Check out some sample shots if you find any online – although standard warning everyone knows: good equipment will not automatically make you a good photographer.
Nice to find some interesting reviews here.
I bought this lens to replace my AiS MF 135mm/2 which was a nice lens with wonderful bokkeh. I used it on the Df, on that the AF was a bit slow. On my D810 it’s nice.
The defocus effect is difficult to look up in the viewfinder bit is clearly visible on a monitor with 1920px. If you change the defocus control you have always to refocus again ! You can choose to get the blurry zone more in the front or more in the back of the focus plane and that is what Nikon wanted to offer. It’s a oity that Nikon wouldn’t bring out an AF-S or Z version so omn my Z6 I can only use it in manual mode.
Great comments here. I’m a DX shooter. For me, wouldn’t the 105 make more sense? It’ll be not much longer than the 135 on FX, of course not as fast and with larger depth of field, but otherwise I imagine it would be very similar.
This is a fun lens that, in a sense, is made for digital because it takes practice to understand the defocus effect. If you buy this lens, before taking it into the field, spend an afternoon (or two) around the house taking mundane test shots to get a feel for how the bokeh renders.
Please note: the “defocus” in the name does not mean this lens is soft. It’s not soft at all. As with just about every lens in the world it suffers a little bitt for sharpness at max aperture. Between f/2.8 and f/4 it gets as sharp as you need it to be. The “defocus” refers to those parts of the image that are purposely out of focus. You can make those as creamy as you like by, say, shooting at f/2.8 but setting rear defocus to 5.6.
If you have the space and creativity, this might bump your 85mm out of being your principal portrait lens. Whenever possible, this is the lens I use for portraiture.
This lens does suffer a little for contrast and will not AF on D3x00/5×00.
Once you shoot with this lens, somewhat like with Zeiss glass, your images will have a certain ‘look’ that will separate it from all your other Nikkors.
Build 5/5 (solid, heavy)
Overall IQ: 4.5/5
Standard IQ: 4/5
IQ with DC: 5/5
DC-learning-curve: not that long
AF speed 4/5
Overall: 5/5. If I could only own one prime lens, this (or perhaps its little brother, the 105 DC) would be the one.
It would be great to see them rent the lens and do a review.
The defocus is very simple to use. Not scary at all. The only scary thing is that Nikon HAVE put a patent in for a 135mm f1.8 which may or may not be a vaporware ruse to worry Canon, and if you couple that with how old this design is you can easily get into worrying whether you should buy it now or wait. Their next 135 will be sharper and more contrasty, likely using their nano coating, but whether we will see another DC design ever again is debatable.
BTW how to use the DC: select your aperture. Select the DC to the same aperture and shoot. BUT if you start setting crazy settings on the DC that do not correspond with the actual aperture you can get foggy “effects”. I don’t own it but I certainly have played with one.
As to buying or waiting… buy! Well, buy if you want this price point.
It seems, in recent times, whenever Nikon updates a higher-end lens it gets at least $1000 more expensive.
In some cases the improvements are arguably worth it (80-400) but in others (200-400, 200/2) the original is 99% as good. I love this lens as I write below, ut if Nikon comes out with a new 135 1.8 or 2, with or without DC, I expect the price to easily break $2K. At that point, the Zeiss 135/2 is going to take a massive amount of beating. No AF on the Zeiss but everything else seems absolutely superb. This Nikkor 135/2 DC is all I need and I’m glad to own it, but I think Nikon shoots itself in the foot if it upgrades this lens and doubles the price in the process.
“The defocus is very simple to use”… Don’t forget:
If you change the defocus control lookin through the viewfinder you have always to refocus again !
Photographylife, have you guys thought about doing a review of this lens?
Keep up the good work!
Question for anybody with experience with this lens: How good is the focus speed? Especially wondering because I shoot a lot of sports, sometimes in low light locations, and f/2 would be ideal for those. I don’t want to spend 6K on the 200mm f/2.
William. I have owned it for two years. AF is quite fast on a D700. You won’t be disappointed. I use it regularly for moving subjects in low light (theater mostly). The AF seldom hunts in low-light. I don’t bother with the defocus control. Shoot it wide open – its sharp and the bokeh is very nice. This is my favorite lens, and I own many – all primes. I agree with your philosophy on the 200 f2. This is a close as you can get without spending $6k. Perhaps you already bought it now that I noticed how old your post is…
I am going to buy one today after i leave from work:) Had been checking out the reveiws and comments for so long and now its getting too crazy, time to buy today. I use D610
Rizwan, it’s been a few months now, did you get the lens? How do you like it? Can you believe this design is 25 years old now? That’s like half the age of the F Mount!
Rizwan I have having D610 Just ad i want to know how do you feel about this lens
The Lens is really good it works perfectly with my D610 int term of sharpness,focus speed and it focus very precise.I used it for Portrait so Focusing speed is not much important.
I love that lens. The Defocus Control might sound a bit old fashion in some ways but I find it really interesting to use especially for the background. The lens is beautifully made and is sharp. I never really understood some of the criticism some people post about that lens, personnally I think it is excellent.