There are 8 lenses total in the “consumer” lineup of Nikon’s Series-E’s. You can take this post as a bit of a guide for help choosing which lens may be right for your photography. Lenses are arranged from wide-angle to telephoto. Links to the full reviews are located in the headings. Also, below two pictures are in a much bigger size than they are displayed here. Click on them to see more detail. First up, the 5 primes in the series:
Left to right: 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 100mm, 135mm
135mm, ISO 100, f/4, 1/2000
Orange partial color edited in LR 4
In an effort to inject a little creativity into my samples at the end of the 135mm f/2.8 Series-E review, I took it upon myself to do a solo photo-walk around town. Granted, my town isn’t exactly a great place for street photography, as “downtown” consists of about three blocks. Outside of that, suburbia. I figured this might present a great challenge, and I’m very glad I stood up to it. In addition to getting some great shots for the review (and this post), I ran into a photographer named Butch. With him were a few other photographers, part of the Central Kentucky Photo Group, a local internet-connected photo meet-up community. An organization like this is EXACTLY what I have been looking for, as I have always wanted to go on group photo walks in big(ger) cities in my state to give real street photography a try.
People love fast things. Fast cars, fast guns, fast internet. When it comes to lenses, it is the fast primes that often garner attention from the slower zooms that sit on many a DSLR. Unfortunately, the 135mm f/2.8 Series-E (for a history of the Series-E lenses, see here) is not one of those lenses. Despite its fast f/2.8 aperture, good reach (200mm FOV equiv on APS-C, 270mm on m4/3), and compact size, the 135mm–and other Series-E lenses–were largely considered dinky and consumerish. Due mostly to their sub-par build quality (at the time, compared to the AI-s counterparts), they never gained popularity with the masses. Good news for you and me, most of these lenses used the same (or similar) optical formulas as the AI-s lenses, and can be had at a bargain at your favorite online auction house. For instance, this lens goes for about $90/€71, while its AI-s counterpart regularly sells for at least twice the price. Though I do not have the AI-s version (yet), I have my doubts that it is twice-as-good as the Series-E version. Time will tell.
When most people think “fast telephoto”, they envision a large, heavy, and expensive lens that is suited for DSLR usage. Putting a 70-200 f/2.8 on a mirrorless camera seems silly for everyday shooting; though the weight advantage (the body) is still there over larger cameras, the size advantage is long gone. Part of the compact, lightweight, and inexpensive Series-E lenses by Nikon (more info here), the 135mm f/2.8 E is probably the cheapest, lightest, and smallest way to get a 135mm focal length lens (~200mm field of view on an APS-C sensor and ~270mm field of view on m4/3) with a fast f/2.8 aperture. This allows for greater light gathering and depth of field control than slower zooms–two factors that are extremely important to my photography.
Well the lilies are out this time of year, specifically those in the warm yellow-to-red spectrum. Figure I would go ahead and just take some pictures to get it over with and move on, I’d rather not have flower shots in all my posts (though as new ones sprout up, they’ll probably find their way into the lens tests!).
So here are three. All of which were taken with the NEX-7 and Nikon 135mm f/2.8 Series-E (first impressions coming soon!) on a tripod.
135mm, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/2000