Nikkor 135mm/5.6 question : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've been looking at the Nikkor 135mm/5.6 and wondering why it's not more popular. At 200g it's smaller than it's nearest competitor, the 135mm/5.6 Rodenstock. It's image circle of 200mm is also only 8mm less than the Rodenstock, and it's $150 less expensive. Is there any reason why the Nikkor isn't the weight and price bargain it appears to be? Does anyone have experience with this lens?

-- Arthur Gottschalk (, September 19, 2001


I know of no reason why one wouldn't consider it a weight and price bargain. Mine is sharp, contrasty, small and light (as you observed), and I find it an ideal focal length for landscape. It usually serves just as well as a 120 or 150 would; simply move forward or back a bit. Mine's not for sale!

-- Sal Santamaura (, September 19, 2001.

Simple analysis like you just completed where a review of size, weight, coverage and cost previously led me down the path of acquiring mostly Nikon lenses for my work. Last count I have 8 that I use for 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10. I find all of them to be very sharp and contrasty and a bargain in the new or used market. I have heard others say that they feel that Nikon does not care about large format photographers because Nikon does not promote their products in large format anymore. As long as they keep manufacturing them and their quality and price are maintained, large format photographers will make use of them. The lack of an advertisement campaign is one reason I feel that they are more reasonably priced than the German offerings. I think that you would find that Nikon large format lenses are quite popular as their reputation is very good.

Instead of the 135mm, I went for the 150mm Nikon because they are esentially the same price and the 150mm has better coverage. Both the 135 and the 150 are fantastic. You would not go wrong with either.

-- Michael Kadillak (, September 19, 2001.

I have used the 135 nikkor for several years and find it outstanding. Despite the image circle given here in the initial posting, the lens covers 5x7 with some movement, and works well on 4x5. Nikon just decided to reduce its ads in the large format field. But the lens is quite good, lots of value for a decent price in a small package. Bob

-- bob moulton (, September 19, 2001.

I suspect the lack of popularity of the Nikon is price. Nikon LF products seem, at least to me, to be particularly expensive in the US. I'm not sure why you see the Nikon as $150 less expensive unless you are not in the USA.

Here are today's prices in the USA from B&H & Calumet:

Nikon $600 USA B&H $520 Grey B&H $700 USA Calumet

Rodenstock $540 USA B&H $510 USA Calumet $400 USA as Caltar II private label (currently on sale; regularly $470)

The Nikon (even grey) is more expensive than the Rodenstock if you shop around; and the Rodenstock only weighs 10g more than the Nikon, hardly a consideration. Calumet: Nikon is $700;$510 for Rodenstock; $400 (currently on sale) for Caltar II (private labelled Rodenstock).

I just bought the Caltar 135mm, and it looks sweet. Haven't tested it yet, though.

But there is certainly nothing to complain about in Nikon lenses!

-- Charlie Strack (, September 19, 2001.

I was comparing the Nikkor 135mm/5.6 to the Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S. Funny enough, Badger Graphics lists the Nikkor for $545, while the Rodenstock sells for $640. The weight difference between the two is 40g, with the Nikkor the lightest at 200g.

-- Arthur Gottschalk (, September 19, 2001.

I used to own the 135 Nikon and it was an excellent lens but I just found that I almost never used that focal length. I don't think the lack of popularity is so much the Nikon brand per se as it is a general lack of interest in the 135 focal length. People tend to view it as an in between length, with 150 or 210 being considered "normal" for 4x5 and 135 not being sufficiently wider than those to justify having both, so they end up with a 90 to 110 as their moderate wide angle and ignore the 135. I'm not saying that's right, it's just what I think is the kind of analysis that leads to the 135 focal length being somewhat underutilized. But there are a lot of different ways to approach lens focal length choices and if you prefer a slightly wide "normal" lens then I think the Nikon would be an excellent choice.

-- Brian Ellis (, September 20, 2001.

working in the field of architecture, i find that the 135 is a very useable focal length, and mine gets a ton of use (though certainly not as much as the 90mm). i had a 150 nikkor for a while, but never used it. i have used current model 135mm lenses from nikkor, rodenstock, schneider, and caltar, and i cant tell a hill of beans worth of difference in any of them - they are all superb.

-- jnorman (, September 20, 2001.

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