Thursday, July 18, 2024

German 135mm

My Close Encounters with the 135mm

  Prakticar 135mm lenses


Left: Pentacon, version close focus to 1.5m 

 Centre: Pentacon, version close focus to approx 1.7m

Right: Carl Zeiss Jena, close focus to approx 1m


I started using East German SLR system of which the common focal length available in the tele range are the 80mm and the 135mm. I did not do much portrait photography and therefore 80mm or 85mm are focal lengths that I used least. I prefer 135mm, for its ability to close in, the narrow depth of field and the flattening effect.



                   Pentacon 135/2.8 MC PB mount                  Carl Zeiss Jena 135/3.5 MC PB Mount 




 USA Traverse City, Ektar 125, Prakticar Pentacon 135/2.8, f 2.8 1/250. A nice and cold sunset. 


West Coast Park Singapore - BC1 - Prakticar Pentacon 135/2.8 - Kodak Gold 100 - 6 Feb 1989



I used frequently my Prakticar 135/2.8 multi-coated Pentacon, only to realise very much later that the 135/3.5 Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar was actually able to create quite beautiful pictures. I guess since I use low speed ASA 100 films most of the time, I will very much prefer the additional half a stop of the 135/2.8 for hand held photography. An additional plus point for the slower 135/3.5 is that it can close focus to 1m, so acts as a semi-macro tele lens.


 Taken at USA Iowa City, Praktica BX20s with Prakticar 135/3.5 CZJ and Kodak EGP400. I like the sweetness of the colour under the low lighting condition and the kid's expression. 


Coincidentally the lens that made me switches from Praktica PB body to Rolleiflex QBM was also a 135 lens, the very beautiful red coating 135/2.8 HFT Sonnar. I used it to photograph a cat and the 8R enlargement really won my heart over to the very expensive West Germany Zeiss.


Left:  Rolleiflex QBM 135/2.8 HFT Sonnar    Right:  Contax C/Y 135/2.8 T* Sonnar 




               Rolleiflex QBM HFT 135/2.8 Sonnar                         Rolleiflex QBM HFT 135/4 Tele-Tessar 





Rolleiflex 3003, taken with 135/2.8 HFT Sonnar at f2.8 and 1/125, Ektar 100 film. The colour saturation and the smoothness won me over from Praktica to the Rolleiflex Zeiss system. 




Rolleiflex SLR lens programme offered 2 Zeiss made lenses of focal length 135mm. One was the 135/2.8 Sonnar, and the other was the 135/4 Tele-Tessar. The Tele-Tessar was reputed to be sharper, but again I had been using the f2.8 Sonnar almost all the time and did not do any serious comparison of the two.




Old City Hall clock tower against an modern building at Toronto. Taken with 135/2.8 HFT Sonnar at f5.6 1/500. 




When switching to the Contax system, I have the 135/2.8 T* Sonnar and the 135/2 T* Planar. The Contax 135/2.8 is well built with 5 elements in 4 groups, different from the Rolleiflex 4 elements in 4 groups. The 135/2 is a huge made in Germany lens without build-in hood and with a very big 72mm filter thread.



                        Contax C/Y 135/2.8 T* Sonnar                           Contax C/Y 135/2 T* Planar




135mm used to be one of the lenses that I will carry along whenever I go overseas for travel. With the addition of the very well made 100/2.8 Makro-Planar for Contax, it may well replace the 60/2.8 Makro-Planar and the 135/2.8 Sonnar if I decide to bring along a 180/2.8 Sonnar. If however I am not going to bring along the 180mm, it will most likely be the 135/2.8 again with Mutar III.


RTS III f4 1/500 135/2 Planar T* UC100 


RTS III, f4 1/60 135/2 Planar T*, VC160, Manfrotto 190B/168 







RTS III,  f4 1/250 135/2 Planar T*,  VC160, Manfrotto 190B/168 








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