135mm f/2 DC

Nikkor 135mm f/2 DC

So this and the 85mm f/1.4 are virtually identical in optical quality.. yup, stupidly sharp.

At first I didn’t see much difference between the two. This is also a fantastic portrait lens... perhaps even better! Why, you ask? You have to stand a bit back to get the same frame fill as the 85, but once you do... that critical focus of f/2 gives you tiny bit more play than the f/1.4, which becomes out of focus if either you or your subject breathes. I haven’t decided that one’s better than the other... it’s just what you prefer/what suits you at the time.


Bokeh is nearly the same as the 85mm f/1.4. The DC or ‘Defocus Control’ opens up a whole new chapter where you can change the bokeh quality... I haven’t even played with it much myself... It wasn’t a feature that I was too worried about while buying the lens. Simply it being f/2 at 135mm was enough.

This is my newest addition, and I’m still finding out what she can do. 

Is there any difference between the 85mm and the 135mm?

Yes. Distance to subject. Is that enough to keep it? I’ve decided so.

With any lens, the closer the subject is, and the farther away the background is, the better subject isolation you get.

With my 24mm f/1.4, you have to be within 12 inches to really maximize the subject-in-focus:background-out-of-focus ratio. As you go up in focal length, the farther away the subject can be and still have that separation from the background. The 50mm can have it noticeable when the subject is several feet away. The 85mm even more so. 

Now say you want to get the whole person in frame. 

“You want to get the whole person in frame.”



Now when the subject is at that distance for the 24mm f/1.4, they’re pretty much in the background, and there’s very little isolation unless you have a strong out-of-focus foreground. With the 50mm you get a bit more separation... and yes, you guessed it, even MORE with the 85mm. 

It happened when I was photographing the fire spinners. I had the 85mm f/1.4 on, and I was getting them full in the frame, but I had to be back enough so that they could move in and out and still be in the frame. While the 85mm excels at pooping greatness up close, I started to notice that it was having trouble having making the fire spinners really pop from the background. Sure it was doing it a little, and that f/1.4 kept me praying that something was in focus by the time I clicked the shutter. 

I realized the 85 f/1.4 was a little too short for the distance I was shooting at. 

The 135mm is long enough and fast enough to effectively and NOTICEABLY separate the subject from the background (you must be tired of hearing it because I’m tired of typing it)

As the focus of any lens approaches infinity, the less separation there is.

For close subjects, the 85mm is gold, and allows for a wider frame than the 135, but for subjects at a distance, my magic number is 135.

(Yes, the 70-200mm f/2.8 does this as well.. just not to the extent of the f/2)

All images copyright © 2009-2017 Thomas Michael Ahern. All text and images appearing on this web site are property of Thomas Michael Ahern and are protected by United States and international copyright laws. No images may be used in any form without written permission of Thomas Michael Ahern and payment of required usage fees. To receive permission and reproduction rights, please contact Thomas Michael Ahern at cryptothink8@gmail.com.