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  • Writer's pictureGilbert Carosin

The king of portraiture lens

Updated: 5 days ago

A review of the venerable Nikkor 135mm f3.5 Ai


a girl with afro hair posing in the studio, session with a nikon f5 and nikkor 135mm f3.5 Ais lens
the lens deliver perfect smooth skin tone

There are many characteristics that defines a legendary portrait lens but contrary to what people think, sharpness is not one of them. When I am working in the studio, I use exclusively the Nikkor 135mm f3.5 Ai, a very unique lens with only 4 elements of glass inside which i consider to be the king of portraiture lens.


Micro-contrast, depth, colour saturation, subject separation are the quality of what I consider a legendary portrait lens and the 135mm doesn't disappoint. It has huge micro contrast and render facial feature perfectly. Just look at the skin tone on the photo, silky smooth while the colour saturation is just amazing.


The construction of the lens is equally impressive made in Japan only glass and metal, my copy may be a few decade old but this things is built to last, the focus ring is still smooth after all these years and it has built in lens hood. Of course this is a manual focus lens only, but for portraiture you dont need autofocus.




black and white picture girl with locks and white flower in the hair
intense black and white with amazing micro contrast

girl with afro sitting on a peacok chair
the peacock chair from the studio

I have already mentionned that this lens only has 4 element of glass inside. I have said it before I will say it again .... glass is evil, glass is a capacitor, glass absorbs light. The more glass in your lens the less information is going to your sensor. With only 4 element inside the micro-contrast and depth rendition of this lens is huge. It is also perfect for black and white picture which require a very high level of micro-contrast.


Of course this being a long focal lens make sure to have enough working distance to use it ( for reference my studio is 6m x 12m and and I can barely frame the peacock chair used in the studio )


this 135mm is definitely the very best lens you could buy for money, I paid mine for 250 usd on ebay in very good condition and just look at the result , the portraits are amazing, the black and white are rich, deep, almost 3d like. I never got a single complaint from any client using this lens .... go get it while it is still available !!! You could also get its modern counterpart the nikkor 135mm f2 dc which has better bokeh and slightly less micro-contrast at around 700 usd used.








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