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LENS PORN: Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)
Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)



The main reasons that people get a prime lens over zoom lenses are:
1) Better performance in sharpness and contrast
2) Brighter aperture (at 135mm, your zoom lens is already at f/6.7!)
3) A more 3-dimensional rendition of images
4) A challenge to think and frame/compose the shots better
5) Others: __________

Look at this tiny portrait prime lens from Sigma! It was released in 1981 and the tiny size is really a wonder. Aside from the compactness that can easily fit the palm of my big hands, it also feels very light. But don't judge, it's made of metal and is a tough piece of glass.

But first, let me tell you a little personal history with this lens. When I bought it, the cosmetic appearance looked mint. Of course, that's WOW! The glass inside just needed cleaning from fungus, which wasn't hard to do. 

It originally came in Canon FD mount. But I'm very grateful that the mechanism wasn't too complicated in the sense that the aperture lever was not attached to the mount that I would remove. The only feature that was dependent on the mount that I removed was the aperture clicks. Now, this lens is a de-clicked cine lens. After that, I replaced it with a Nikon mount, the parts which took 2 months to arrive here in the Philippines. Of course, I measured the accuracy of the distance and if it could focus to infinity at a hard stop, before putting it out for sale.

Now for the image quality, I'm very pleased with what I see. The sharpness and vividness of the colors are good for its day. The colors appear saturated and neutral, unlike most lenses of the time that shift toward bluish.

For the f/2.8 fanatics out there, know that f/3.5 is still a nice aperture for getting decent bokeh, giving your subject a 3D look that jumps out of the canvass.

The built-in hood appears to be too short, but at least provides some guard from stray light. The minimum focusing distance is 4.5 feet or 1.4 meters (that's closer than many other 135mm's that have 6 feet as the MFD). Focusing is smooth and has a focus throw is 270 degrees -- it's not hard for me to nail focus on moving subjects like people crossing the street (see samples below).




Scroll right/left to view the photos below.

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5

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Specs


Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5

Year Released: 1981

Minimum Focusing Distance: 4.5 feet / 1.4 meters

Filter Thread Size: 52 mm

Focus Throw: 270 degrees

Built in lens hood.

Made in Japan


Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)
On the left is another Sigma sibling,
the Sigma High Speed Zoom 80-200mm f/3.5-4

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Summary


Pros

Contrast holds well against backlight

Nice flare control

Very compact and lightweight (a little bigger but lighter than my tiny 50mm!)

Sharp wide open at f/3.5

Vivid and good contrast

Colors are vivid like watercolor

It's easy to clean the lens inside out

The de-clicked aperture of my copy makes this a nice cine lens



Neutral

My copy had some internal glass coating peeled off. I don't see any effect on contrast and flare control.

The built-in hood is a nice feature to reduce stray light, but may not be long enough to block all incoming stray light.



Cons

When facing backlit subjects, a negligible amount of color fringing may appear at the edges if you zoom in to pixel level. But this is to be expected from old lenses.



Conclusion

This mini portrait lens is a good alternative to those huge lenses of the same range. You should also compare the Minimum Focusing Distance on this lens, its closer than many others. You will also love that it takes in 52mm filters. Image quality... you will not be disappointed at the vivid photos you can shoot. Plus it holds up well against backlight. There's nothing to lose with this tiny portrait lens!


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Further Reading






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Samples


Shot with Nikon D5200.
All samples here are unedited.

Settings:
Size - Basic/Small
White Balance - Preset
Picture Profile - SD (Standard)
HDR/ADL/Flash - Off

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)
The lens did very well in this bright scene. You can still see all the details.

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)

Sigma Mini Tele 135mm f/3.5 (1981)



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The Nikon D5200 as my weapon of choice.

Vintage lenses are my poison.

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