Get Updates Straight To Your EMail!


LENS REVIEW: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

LENS TEST: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 (1988 Version)
LENS TEST: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 (1988 Version)



There are several versions of this lens. The older ones have a single push-pull zoom/focus ring type. This lens we're writing about is the Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 (1988 Version).


Check out my lens test video for the
Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5




========================================

Specifications

Manufacturer: Nikon
Model: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 (1988 Version)
Made in Japan

Focal Range: 35 - 135 mm (DX = 52.5 - 202.5 mm)
Max-Min. Aperture: f/3.5 - f/22
Aperture Blades: 7
Minimum Focusing Distance: 1.5 m / 5 ft (Normal Mode)

Build: All Metal, Focus/Aperture Rings are plastic
Filter thread size: 62 mm
Can be used with: FX and DX

Serial# 520576
(This is the 3rd version, in production between 1988-1998)

www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html#35-xx



Macro Mode -- Retracted and Extended

Zooming at 35mm (left) and 135 mm (right)

Serial Number has already faded. In real life, I can hardly see it!

========================================

Handling

Macro Mode can be accessed at 35mm. It would have been nicer if the macro was at the longer 135mm end so we have a longer focusing distance from the subject. There's a tiny silver button that you need to press to get to Macro Mode. If you're used to holding the lens for support with your left hand's palm facing up (see photo below), then it would be painful for the wrist. Best you hold it with your left hand palm facing down.




This lens is all-metal and pretty big and heavy. It has CPU contacts that allows it to communicate with the camera. Auto Focusing is possible for cameras with motorized bodies, but on my D5200, it's manual focus only.




The Aperture Ring should be locked at the minimum which is f/22, otherwise you get an error. To be able to use the aperture ring, I disabled communication by wrapping a tape around it. With this mod, I can only use Manual Exposure Mode. It's not a big deal.




The aperture ring is very stiff and my fingers went sore after just turning it a few times. To resolve this, I removed the ring and saw that there's a little piece of metal stopper that's folded like a V-shape. I just bent it a little straight, so now the ring turns SUPER smoothly with just my pinkie finger.




Although this lens performs beautifully, the paint looks very tacky. The copy that I have is obviously very old and some areas are forming bubbles or have chipped paint. The older Pre-AI lenses with me have more beautiful finish than this, considering that they're even older. The barrel is push-pull type but doesn't go smoothly so zooming might become jittery for videos.


========================================

Image Quality


Sharpness, Contrast, Color Reproduction

The sharpness, contrast and colors are very beautiful through this lens, even wide open at f/3.5 on a bright sunny day without hood or filter. I could even use this as a nice portrait lens on the 135mm end with a soft blurry background. 


Bokeh at 135mm






Noise, Flare, Chromatic Aberration

Images are clean when used in low light and set to ISO 6400 (thanks partly to Nikon's processor). CA is not visible to the eye even when zoomed in. Flare is handled very well by this lens. Even when a bright light source is in the frame, there won't be any coma or glow at any aperture setting.

Bokeh Rings at f/11 (Left) and f/3.5 (Right)



Aperture Range

Maximum Aperture ranges from f/3.5 at 35mm to f/4.5 at 135mm. That's only a small amount of light lost compared to zooms with f/5.6 or f/6.3 at the longer end. Yikes!


========================================

Summary

Pros

Nice bokeh especially at 135mm (I wonder if this can compete with a 135mm f/3.5 prime)

Decent use in low light, unlike my other darker zooms

35-135mm is just the right working range for me

Can be used on FX and DX

Good contrast and sharpness from 35 to 135mm

Nice contrast even without hood or filters

Images are very clean even when cranked up to ISO 6400

I can use any of the 35-135mm range in low light with no blur!

Macro Mode at 35mm allows me to get closer

Images usually don't need corrections if you get the camera settings right

Built very sturdy with metal body (except for the plastic focus and aperture rings)

No zoom creep



Cons

Front element rotates while focusing (annoying if you're using Circular Polarizing Filter!)

Size and weight

35-135mm may not be enough for some

No Vibration Reduction

Can only Auto Focus on motorized bodies

Since this is a push-pull type, it creates vibration when zooming during videos

Aperture Ring so stiff! I did a mod to make it loose

Paint seems to be tacky, some parts are already chipped off or have bubbles

62mm Filter Thread Size (I have different lenses with different sizes)

Minimum Focusing Distance... you need to step back a bit (just a bit and not too far)

You really need a UV Filter, the front glass is prone to fingerprint and they're iridescent!



Conclusion

The Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 was originally intended for FX users. It has an equivalent focal range of 55-200mm on DX cameras like my D5200, which is still very useful. This range covers enough for me: product macros, street photography, portraits, events.

It's modded as a fully manual lens now, so I can only use it in Manual Exposure mode. Nothing to lose for me!

Compared to many zooms with variable apertures that start at f/3.5 and end with f/6.3, we only lose half stop of light in this lens under review, with a range of f/3.5 to f/4.5. In layman's terms, when I zoom from 35mm to 135mm, the loss of light is only very little that I hardly even notice, AND I don't need to keep changing the settings.

At first, it's easy to be tempted to go for super zooms like 18-200 which can go very dark at f/6.3 -- but I realized that I don't need that much range actually. At least for me.

35mm on the wide end, one might think that this is not enough on a DX like my Nikon D5200. There's a handy fisheye adapter in my bag which acts as my ultra wide angle adapter. It works nice with 35mm since I don't need to crop or correct for distortion, unlike using fisheye with 28mm.

The longer end of 135mm is just right for me. I realized that I rarely shoot longer than that. I can use this length as product marcro or also for portraits.

Pros and Cons for this lens is actually just equal. However, I really like the overall performance of this lens and would readily take this out as my all-around lens! There are just two things here that matter most to me: the aperture range is not too dark, and the images are always sharp and have good contrast.

Overall, this is a very beautifully performing lens with a useful Macro Mode for closeups. Images have balanced colors, are always sharp and contrasty in any range, and have little noise even at high ISO.

========================================

SAMPLES

The sample images are unedited except for the selfies,
which were enhanced for creative effect.
No filters and no hood used.


Bokeh

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)



Zooming from 35 to 135 (Same Spot)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)



Low Light

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)



Macro Mode

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)



Selfie Mode (Manual Focus, Handheld)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
Selfie at 35mm handheld

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
Selfie at 35mm handheld

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
Selfie at 35mm handheld

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
Selfie at 135mm



Street Photography

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

LENS REVIEW: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
On a dimly lit street...

LENS REVIEW: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
At the 35mm end with a fisheye adapter

LENS REVIEW: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
At the 35mm end with fisheye adapter

LENS REVIEW: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
This was at 70mm

LENS REVIEW: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

LENS REVIEW: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)

LENS REVIEW: Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
Set to 135mm on a super late afternoon.
It was already dark but the scene was captured as you'd see in real life. No edit!

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
35mm

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
50mm

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
35mm

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
135mm

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
135mm

Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 Macro Zoom (1988 Version)
35mm

========================================


Your generous donations help me to review more products
and re-sell them at budget prices.
That way, more people will become happy!


========================================










2 comments :

  1. Very good review, very helpful, I will never part from my example of this good lens.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very usefull review for me. Thanx!

    ReplyDelete

 

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *