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Vintage 135mm lens recommendation


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Hello! I am looking for recommendations for a 135mm lens for 100-150$ (preferably even less). I currently have a Nikon 135mm f/2.8 pre-AI, which turned out to offer quite a disappointing performance, producing red halos around all moderately bright stars and having visible coma in all parts of the image, save for the centre 1/3rd (1/9th by area actually). It is a good lens for daytime photography but it falls short when doing astrophotography. I am currently looking at the SMC Takumar 135mm f/3.5 (the 2.5 is a bit outside my budget and I would've used it stopped down to f/3.5 anyway). If anyone here has used a vintage 135mm lens before for astrophotography please share your experience. Thanks!

PS: Here's a link to an unprocessed image of the Rosette I took with my Nikon lens at f/3.5: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Y_aFcmDTh1BWf4k1yo83Qe61-Xi236iY/view?usp=sharing

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There are some pretty experienced people here so you should get a lot of feedback.  I've been tinkering with an OLD Carl Zeiss Sonnar 135mm f/3.5 which should be in that price range pretty comfortably.  It's been too cloudy to be able to really take it for a spin so no images to share for the time being other than these.  (I do have some ones of Orion but tbh I can't remember if those were with a 50mm or the 135mm - dodgy memory).

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I have an old Pentacon 135mm which I used on my canon 1100d and sky adventurer a few times. I was just starting out in AP but was delighted with the results. CA was not noticeable and no obvious coma except out in the far corners.

Here are 2 images with it. They are not very good but like I say, I was just starting out

https://www.astrobin.com/q7jg0g/?image_list_page=2&nc=&nce=

https://www.astrobin.com/4c5g0f/?image_list_page=2&nc=&nce=

I also have a Takumar 200mm  which I think is fantastic so i think you could do worse than try a Takumar.

https://www.astrobin.com/8ceusq/?image_list_page=2&nc=&nce=

HTH

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What camera are you using? I noticed that you mentioned a Nikon lens in your post, if you are using a Nikon camera then all the vintage M42 type lenses and most others wont focus at infinity.

Alan

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On 08/02/2021 at 19:07, Ovi said:

anyone here has used a vintage 135mm lens

Hi

We use both the Zeiss 135 and the Takumar 135, the latter just having the edge. But as @Alien 13 points out, both are no go on a Nikon body.

Bear in mind though that old lenses give nothing like their modern (and more expensive) counterparts' quality and fall a long way short of an imaging telescope.

HTH

Edited by alacant
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Being a Nikon user myself, I can only repeat what @Alien 13 & @alacant have said with mounting a lot of vintage lenses on a Nikon F-mount body; it's perhaps one of the biggest annoyances of the design.

What I'd suggest is instead of looking for a vintage lens, sell the Nikon 135, put the money from that and the initial budget together and look around for a used Samyang/Rokinon 135 F:/2.  You might get lucky or you might need to put a bit more money in to find one, but that may be the best option both optically and monetary.

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While I generally agree re the comments on using M42 lenses on a Nikon, on some lenses I expect this can be overcome without needing an adaptor with a lens. This would however require some surgery on the lens and that would depend on how determined you are and also how willing to dismantle and alter the internals. 

The older Zeiss 135mm zebra and also a Schacht em-Travenar 135mm for example, both of which I've just serviced, I can see 2 possible options:

  1. Reset the main helocoid one thread over such that the lens retracts a little further
  2. Shave a small amount off the hard stop at the infinity end allowing the lens to be drawn in further before hitting the stop.

Of the above, option 2 is likely better since the lens could then still be used on other camera makes, retaining the close focus but would focus beyond infinity before hitting the hard stop. Option 1 would lose the closest focus range but also reach beyond infinity when used on another camera make and may gain more than the required in-travel depending on the helicoid fitted. We're talking approx 2mm more in-travel of the lens groups to achieve infinity on a Nikon body. Doing this would be trial and error so will need a lot of patience. You'd also need to ensure that the rear protrusion doesn't reach far enough back to hit the mirror. On both of the above lenses the rear element/baffle remain internal to the M42 mount but some may not.

edit - I should add here too that doing this may render the lens unsellable or at least lose on the price later on.

Edited by DaveL59
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21 hours ago, Alien 13 said:

What camera are you using? I noticed that you mentioned a Nikon lens in your post, if you are using a Nikon camera then all the vintage M42 type lenses and most others wont focus at infinity.

Alan

Sorry for not writing this in the original post. I have a Canon 60D so afaik M42 lenses will focus to infinity on my camera.

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