16 comments on “Lens Review–Nikon 135mm f/2.8 Series-E

  1. Well you did sneak in a Dandiloion…;-)

    Some nice shots, especially the artist, and an interesting discussion about a “cheap consumer” oldie.

    • Hey hey hey…dandelions are weeds, not flowers… 😉

      But thanks eths, glad you liked them. I can’t wait to get back to the AI-s Nikkors after all these Series-E’s. Next up will probably be the 50mm 1.8, then 100mm f/2.8, then the 28mm f/2.8. I might do the zooms. Maybe. 🙂

  2. You didn’t mention the most obvious alternative, the 105mm f/2.5 Ai/Ais – a *much* better lens which doesn’t cost much more as it was produced in huge numbers. Mine is an even older Nikkor PC Auto version from 1973, and it will eat the 135E for breakfast!

    • The 105mm f/2.5 AI/AI-s is a nice lens (it’s been proven to be as good as the 105mm f/1.8 at equivalent apertures in real-world usage), but I wouldn’t compare it to the 135mm f/2.8 E. They are two COMPLETELY different focal lengths (especially different FoV’s on APS-C). If anything, the more accurate comparison would be with the mentioned 135mm f/2.8 AI-s–“For instance, this lens goes for about $90/€71, while its AI-s counterpart regularly sells for at least twice the price.”

      • True, I just meant that the 105 is a great portrait lens in a closer price bracket than the pricey 135 f2.8 Ais…they are all superb lenses, really enjoying your reviews!

      • Oh…okay I see what you mean. And I couldn’t agree more, the 100-105mm length (150-157 FoV) has solidified itself as my favorite. My 105mm f/1.8 AI-s is one of my favorite lenses.

        And thanks Simon, always more in the pipeline. Got a “big” one coming soon. 🙂

  3. Thank you for a great review! For my Sony NEX-5R I bought today this Nikon 135/2.8E lens (s/n 181406, used, but in mint condition) together with a brand new Novoflex NEX/NIK adapter. Slightly concerned that my “new” lens is an early version which is not double coated. But it shoots very, very well at first glance. Looks and handles very well on the NEX!

    • Hey there CB, glad you have a good copy! Review of my sharpness tests suggests that my problem with getting good pixel-level detail was due to camera shake. My air-conditioning was on during the tests, and it created just enough shake in the floors to skew detail. Actual performance of this lens was likely much better than my initial findings.

  4. Hi guys!
    I like small and light, so this 135mm Series E would really fit me!
    Many reviewerss find the old big and heavy Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 K, sharper than the newer design in the Ai and Ai-s.
    Since all details in that one (4/4 lens, 1:9 macro, 1.5m min. focus etc.) are identical to this Series E, I am wandering if maybe it is reusing that old design in a small and light package? Any ideas?

    • It’s very possible the design was re-used in the Series-E. It would be another cost-saving measure to keep prices down. Obviously we can’t know for sure. 🙂

  5. Hi! I’m wondering if my copy is multicoated; my sample har serial 225-thousand and as such fairly ‘new’. You say you believe your copy is multicoated, is your serial lower or higher than mine?
    Thanks for a great site!

    • Hello! Unfortunately I sold this lens a long time ago. As luck would have it, none of my product photos (even on the lens comparison page) have the serial number on it. The only advice I would give is to attempt to replicate my flare test (that day was mostly sunny, but you can see how there was a slight level of high-altitude clouds). If your results look similar to mine, your lens is probably multi-coated.

  6. Thanks 🙂

    I did some detective work when I saw your reply (guess I should have in he first place, hehe), and found that only the 50mm and 100mm were always single coated! The 135mm were introduced later than the rest, and were always multicoated! The 28 and 35 and zooms got multicoating about that time also.

    I’ve installed a Dandelion dhip on my 135mm, and get full metering and functions, and thus the ‘shootability’ has skyrocketed 😉
    Pretty amazing to have a 200mm f/2.8 (on Nikon DX) in a package much smaller than a kit 18-55mm!!!


    • Curious, where did you find out the serial number information? I looked around a bit myself.

      But great! Those chips really do help a lot on the “lesser” Nikon bodies. Hope that lens suits you well for a long time!

  7. Found it in a forum where a poster seem to have total control on the case, AND backs it up with a picture of a Nikon 135mm Series E brochure!
    Interesting discussion, especially near the bottom:


    I think that chipping the old lenses makes for a zillion times more enjoyable shooting! Being able to control aperture in 1/3 steps is important with teles, and not having to check exposure for every image is liberating! Not to mention the full EXIF-info 😉

    • Very cool! Good find, thanks for linking.

      On Nikon cameras especially, I can definitely see the advantages to chipping. A shame there still isn’t some way I can manually enter the lens EXIF data on my NEX-7. I usually just guess the lens based on the perspective and DoF in Lightroom 4, haha!

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