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Thread: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

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    180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    I'm expanding my lens line up for my D800.

    My question is: which lens to get for available light/candid work? 180/2.8 or 135/2DC?

    Putting aside the differences in price and the fact that the 180 is a 2.8 max aperture and the 135 is a f2. Also the DC feature on the 135 is not particularly relevant to me (although I might end up liking it!).

    I want a lens in the 135-200mm range that I can confidently use wide open for stuff like candid shots at a wedding, theater/concert photography, etc, and think the 180/2.8 is most likely the best option but am also drawn to the 135/2.

    What do you think?

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    This type of decision should be based on your preferences as either lens can be effectively used for the type of subjects you identified . I acquired last year the 135DC almost purely on its reputation . Because of the ability to control the OF areas it is unique and has a character thats different from say the 85/1.4 G .

    It is very sharp even wide open and I found F2 to be a working aperture rather than an exception . I generally use the aperture to control DOF and am not concerned about improvement in IQ . (I am sure its better at F4 but its not as dramatic as I expected). The micro contrast is lower than the G primes and even the 70-200/2.8VR2 ...so the images have less punch (contrast/color saturation) . The AF is the older generation and is noisy by comparison and almost clunky but its fast and I found with a little adjust to be very accurate (DOF is very small even at distance and you need perfect technique to for with the lens at F2 ..its easy to miss by a ft shooting at say 30-40ft . ) The lens is heavy and extremely well built ..the older all metal crinkle finish ..very professional and made for hard use .

    The color profile of the lens is that of the pervious generation Nikkors ..so its favors a yellow/green tint . This can be easily managed in post but it does not match the color of the new G primes (24/35/85) . Not a big issue but I wish it had the G coatings .

    The bokeh is the unique aspect of the lens and I found the subject to background separation to be very abrupt but at the same time without the sharp edges . So the OF area is quite soft immediately ..this may be adjustable . Its not bad but its different and it could affect how you compose your images .

    As you can see this lens is different and clearly one you should considering trying first . A good candidate for renting,borrowing or getting return privileges arranged .

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    Super Duper
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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    Agree with most all of what Roger expressed regarding the 135mm f2 DC lens...a long time favorite of mine. I suspect the lower contrast of the lens was in part specifically a design goal as the lens was marketed primarily as a portrait lens and also one where users had a degree of control over placement of depth of field via the DC control. There are a myriad of ways one can adjust/set this lens to achieve a look and effect...by a combination of aperture control and seperately it's DC control. A sharp lens with with somewhat lower contrast and a lovely bokeh and the way in which it draws an image.

    One thing to note, a substatial number of these lenses seemed to have left the factory whereby the calibration of the DC control at it's "null" position of zero was "off" and that actually settting the DC control to one or two units to either side (+ or -) gave the sharpst results when lens was shot at f2. Nikon can easily correct/adjust this.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    There is also the older 135/2 manual lens -- was supposedly excellent, but an all manual lens.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    I like the 135 focal length both for Nikon 135/2 D and the Canon 135/2 L.

    The 135D is good for portraits specially when I do not wish to carry the 200G.

    This one is 135/2 D





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    Workshop Member Bryan Stephens's Avatar
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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    I am looking at the 135/2 as well, as I currently have the 105/2 and like this a lot, but for portraiture, I think the 135 may be better suited.

    If the 135 performs as well as the 105 does, I know I will like it a great deal.
    Bryan

    “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” — Ansel Adams

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan Stephens View Post
    I am looking at the 135/2 as well, as I currently have the 105/2 and like this a lot, but for portraiture, I think the 135 may be better suited.

    If the 135 performs as well as the 105 does, I know I will like it a great deal.
    I am thinking just like you Bryan. I have the 105DC and love it, it's one of my favorite lenses. I know the DoF will be slightly shallower with the 135, but also have two concerns: First is I have heard it isn't as critically sharp as the 105 and then second, I'm concerned the net focal is not really enough longer to be significant. And I do have the 70-200 which is excellent. But it's tempting me nonetheless.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Workshop Member Bryan Stephens's Avatar
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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    I know the DoF will be slightly shallower with the 135, but also have two concerns: First is I have heard it isn't as critically sharp as the 105 and then second, I'm concerned the net focal is not really enough longer to be significant. And I do have the 70-200 which is excellent. But it's tempting me nonetheless.
    I have the same thoughts as you on the focal difference, and I have the 70-200 2.8G which is a great lens, I just need to fine tune the AF on it.
    Bryan

    “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” — Ansel Adams

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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    Thanks!

    So, pretty much everyone voting for the 135/2 it seems! The chief thing in favour of the 180 for me was the lower price and the slightly longer focal length. Both of which aren't deciding factors as the main thing is to get it "right" and from what I've heard and seen above, the 135 may well win the day!

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    Super Duper
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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    Jack, with two good representative samples of the 105DC and 135 DC respectively, there is a somewhat noticable increase in sharpness with the 105DC, but both lenses are very good. I personally found the 105 focal length more versitile...but that is of course subjective.

    Dave (D&A)

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    The 135/2D DC is more fragile than the 180/2.8D due to more complex internal construction - I have both, my DC had to be serviced after travels. Even though it's a full metal construction, it's quite heavy due to all the thick glass elements. The 180, while bigger, is a bit lighter and built like a tank.

    So unless the defocusing function is a priority, and if a longer focal length is preferred, then my vote is for the 180. Or go for the DC and be careful with it.

    Judging from comments above I seem to be the only poster with experience from using both lenses?

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    I owned the 180 several times and for the money a excellent lens. I always use the around 200 range for portraits.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    My original intention was to get a 180/2.8 and also a 105/2DC but the lure of a 135/2 ... hence this thread.

    Guy and Lars, both of you seem to like the 180, and certainly when I tried one out some years ago I also liked it, but what are your thoughts on it's sharpness wide open? Any issues? It won't be at it's optimum (I seem to remember it's sweet spot was 5.6, but can't remember what it was like at 2.8) but would it be as sharp as the 135/2 for example?

    Thanks again!

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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    Well, now you can add the very recently announced Zeiss APO-Sonnar 135/2 to the options available - if AF isn't necessary and price isn't an issue.

    New: Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 lens | Photo Rumors
    Leica Monochrom, Olympus EM-5, Ricoh GR

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    Re: 180/2.8 vs 135/2?

    ... Zeiss APO-Sonnar 135/2 - oh my, now I'm spoilt for choice! Wow, if only it was af like the Sony alpha fit one!

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