5.0 based on 3 customer reviews
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3 Customer Reviews
Spectacular image quality, but with caveats
SAL135F28 18/01/2020 (USA)
Spectacular image quality, but with caveats - A pinnacle lens that's certainly not for everyone I love prime lenses, especially legendary prime lenses with manual focus. I have several. I don't enjoy zooms. I don't have any. Very rarely will I ever give a prime lens a rating less than perfect 5 stars; in fact I've never done it. Never have I reviewed a zoom lens without giving it more than 3 stars. So now that you know I'm biased, let's move on to the review of this lens. I purchased this lens for an unbeatable price for my Sony A7 series. For the full asking price of $1,400 plus tax, I had passed it many times. I had owned this lens in the past and parted with it for the Zeiss Batis 135mm, but I always lusted for it once again. I have the 100mm STF and wanted something longer and more challenging to use. The Sony STF 135mm does that. It's manual focus only, and I love that. It gives me time to shoot slowly and engage in a conversation with my patient subject. The smoothness of the bokeh is unbeatable along with the sharpness and the separation from the background. The shooting experience is completely different from the 100mm STF. Other than the AF vs MF distinction, the 100mm is sharper and easier to use. The 100mm STF provides a smoother, softer bokeh, but the 135mm gives you more separation and background blur. The STF lenses are best used in ample natural light and plenty of room between the subject and the background. I'm using this with a cheap $20 A-mount to NEX adapter purchased from Amazon with an aperture control ring. However, I will only shoot this lens wide open, just like it was designed to be used, and only in full manual mode. Just adjust the shutter speed to be somewhere between 1/160 to 1/200 and play with the ISO setting. This is a heavy lens, so I prefer using a tripod, although I have steadyshot. I also have a 72mm B+W UV filter mounted on it, which makes cleaning the front of the lens much easier and I've not noticed any degradation in the picture quality. Just be sure to keep the hood on at all times as this lens is prone to flare with the front element exposed to a direct harsh light source. So you see, I love this lens. What are my caveats you ask? Well, I can see why Sony doesn't really promote this lens and why most people dislike it or return it. Being a classical lens, it is difficult to use. It comes only in the archaic Sony A-mount. It does exhibit a tiny bit of purple fringing and chromatic abberations in difficult lighting situations (Like the Zeiss ZE lenses). Like the Zeiss ZE lenses or Contax lenses, this lens shows its age and Minolta film roots. It boasts 8 elements in 6 groups, a far cry from the 13 to 15 elements that make up modern lenses in which the image quality is corrected time and again with exotic glass and ethereal coatings. The manual focus ring is NOT very smooth or enjoyable to turn like the new Zeiss and Voigtlaender lenses. In fact I am really surprised with the harsh tactile feel of this lens. It's almost like the lens was designed to be an AF lens, but then the designers decided not to put a motor in it. It feels like I'm trying to manhandle an AF Canon the manual way. I don't like it. Even though the lens is absolutely stunning in appearance and feel, the barrel extends quite a bit in its normal operating focus range, which is up close and personal to the subject. I'm not fond of lenses that are not completely internal focusing. Lastly, the hood, although being a nice piece of plastic has a joke of a locking mechanism. Terrible. It unlocks with the slightest twist, and could fall out at any time. I've decided to tape mine at the bottom to prevent that, but it makes the lens considerably larger at all times, since I cannot reverse the hood for storage. The storage case is a basic padded pouch unworthy of this lens. Just buy a nice Ape Case and you'll be pleased. So should you buy this lens? For $1,500? No. Never. But under $750 it becomes a bargain, albeit a niche one. Get one while it's still available. I love this lens. I love all primes. ;) I trust you enjoyed my honestly biased review. Thanks for your time and patience.
Hello, Yatin Chachad!
Thanks for the cool review! We're glad that you're having an enjoyable experience with the unit.Thanks for choosing Sony! ~Zac
Specialised lens with unique qualities
SAL135F28 05/06/2014 by Birma (United Kingdom)
This lens is pretty much unique across all lens brands and mounts. It is quite an expensive investment and so you need to ensure that the unique benefits are worth it, over the one or two draw backs. The major feature of this lens is how it renders the out of focus back and foreground of pictures. i.e. the "bokeh". There are lots of technical descriptions on the net of the lens' technical construction, based on its additional aperture, and so I will not describe that here. The result of this unique construction is that the bokeh it produces is superb - in fact I would say unrivaled. For people and flower shots it is fantastic. The lens is well built and is optically of top quality. It is very sharp with typical Sony/Minolta contrast and colours. The downside of its construction is that it is manual focus only. If auto focus is important then you need to look at alternatives. With older optical viewfinder camera bodies, the very shallow depth of field with the aperture wide open (the main reason you would use this lens) and the lack of auto focus could be frustrating. With the newer EVF Sony camera bodies with their focus peaking etc. these concerns are lessened. My only quality quibbles are that the lens hood does not fit on and off smoothly, and that the focus ring does not have the buttery smooth, damped feel of older quality manual focus lenses that I have used. I can live with these foibles as it does its main job so well! If you want super smooth bokeh, in front and behind the subject, the 135mm focal length is appropriate for your subjects (e.g. people, flowers), and you can live without auto focus, then this lens is superb, and unique!
The King of the Bokeh!
SAL135F28 28/07/2013 by AnonUser (USA)
This lens is the only reason to go with A-mount! The bokeh is extremely creamy and smooth. I guess they used 'smooth' in the name for a reason. It does take some practice to get the best out of the lens and the bokeh is best when used at 2.8 (4.5 effect) but when all the ducks are in a row and you've nailed the shot, you could find yourself staring at the photo all day long :-) I wouldn't have been able to use the lens without focus peaking function in a camera body. It helps tremendously and I don't know how people managed before without it. You may find that the lens will challenge your old way of composition. For example, instead of trying to keep distracting objects and background out of your subject, now you can consider including them to see if they become pleasing bokeh to compliment your subject. I am sure some other lenses, A-mount or not, can also produce pleasing bokeh under right conditions but based on many comparisons (you can search online), I still feel this lens comes on top. This lens is sharp and its transition from sharpness to defocused area is very smooth. If you are thinking about getting this lens, I'd say get it, learn how to it, and enjoy it.