Sony 135mm F2.8 T4.5 STF A-mount lens reviews

reviews found: 40    1 2 >>
reviewer#34780 date: Feb-17-2017
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Zeiss 135mm f1.8
Minolta 85 f1.4G
Minolta beercan (70-210 f4)
Minolta 300 APO HS G
price paid:900
positive:Unique lens, ok maybe not any more but I reffer to lens design. Sharp wide open but not as zeiss 135f1.8. Its a pleaseure to work with that lens, large and smooth focus ring, top build quality.
negative:Wide open not so sharp but it is acceptable, step down to 5.6 and STF became razor sharp. In some conditions STF are prone to have some kind of green flare in center of image.
comment:In one word, excellent!! Yes, its not perfect but you need to accept some negative side of that lens like MF, light transmision factor... OOF filed is so silky and smooth :)
reviewer#33740 date: Dec-26-2016
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 50mm f/1.8
Sony CZ 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5
price paid:1000 EUR New
positive:Bokeh
Sharpness
Minimum focusing distance
negative:Purple fringing
Chromatic aberrations
comment:I dreamt of owning this lens for a very long time, and I am glad I finally decided to buy it.
The construction of the lens is great and it feels really solid, although it does extend when focusing.
The 10 blade aperture is only available at T4.5, T5.6 and T6.3. At any other F stop you have to use the secondary aperture with 9 blades.

If you buy this lens, then bokeh is really important to you, rest assured the bokeh is perfect, even in the most difficult situations it renders bokeh faultlessly.
There are other STF designs out there now, but this one is still the best for bokeh, probably because of the higher compression. That being said there are scenes where even regular lenses can come close to the STF in terms of bokeh, but they can never match it.
Another plus is the minimum focusing distance which offers a magnification of 0.25X, and that is enough for most close-up shots.

I tried using it first on the A200 but the focusing is just too hard a lot of missed shots since the DOF is razor thin around the minimum focusing distance. On the A77II the focusing is so much easier, I really recommend using this with a camera that has focus peaking and can magnify the image for perfect adjustments.
Also a tripod is really helpful when working around the minimum focusing distance.

This lens is still quite unique and if you want your bokeh silky smooth it's highly recommended.
Out of all my lenses this one is the least useful but it's the one I enjoy using the most.
reviewer#12103 date: Jan-23-2015
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 70-200/2.8
Sony 50/1.4
Sony 80/1.4
Minolta 50/1.7
price paid:950.00
positive:* Tank-like build. (Metal Construction)
* Smooth focusing mechanism.
* Smooth aperture rings.
* OMG-BUTTERY BOKEH!!!
negative:* Heavy, like a tank. (Metal Construction)
* DARK. Very dark. That T/4.5 light transmission rating is no joke. It's dark. I'd almost say it was darker than 4.5.
* MANUAL FOCUS ONLY. Due to stiffness, can be slow to focus manually.
comment:I've literally been dreaming of getting this lens for... I don't know how long, now. This lens is a legend and.... I have mixed feelings about it.

On the positive side, this lens is extremely well built. It has to be, there is ALOT of glass inside that metal tube. The focusing is very well dampened and very smooth. The aperture rings are likewise well made and with very smooth action. I agree with the other reviewers that the detents really aren't necessary and kinda detract from the experience... but I understand why they are there.

The imagery... wow. This lens can seperate the subject from the background and render the background a very pleasing blur. Others have described it like applying a guassian blur to the background and I have to agree. It is a very strong effect in some cases and very nuanced in others. But whatever you focus on, it is tack sharp.

Focus peaking is a HUGE help in this regard. I would suggest also using the zoom-in focusing aid as well.

Given the loss of light and the manual focusing, this lens is not going to help get wildlife shots. But. But, if you are able to get some shots with this lens, they would have a very 3D quality to them. Just like how a large light source will wrap your subject and bring out a lovely quality, this lens' STF features will wrap that out of focus magic to the background and foreground in a very pleasing way. Stop signs shot through tree branches will seem interesting(yes, I shot some signs).

At 135mm for the focal length, on an APS-C, that's just shy of 200mm. If you like shooting portraiture from 12+ feet away, sure. It's very much like shooting with the 70-200/2.8 except it's all manual and operating at T/4.5 light.

It is heavy. Without the vertical grip, I felt the camera being torqued somewhat. With the vertical grip, the whole setup is more balanced.

Was it worth it? Yes. This is an amazing lens. The conditions for successful use of this lens must be understood to make the best use of it, but this lens produces some very nice shots.
reviewer#11781 date: Apr-19-2014
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony Carl Zeiss - Sonnar T* 135 F1.8 ZA
price paid:~ 900 Euro new
positive:Bokeh
Built quality
negative:Purple fringing in high-contrast area
comment:Not much to say about this lens! Sharp when focussed properly, beautiful Bokeh, nice colors, all manual lens (I like that - I don't use AF that often with my other lenses, except for wildlife-photos).
reviewer#11359 date: Oct-1-2013
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 85mm f/1.4 ZA
Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G
price paid:1100 USD open box
positive:Sharp
Colors
Background control
Build
72mm filters.
negative:The STF function is 100% manual, but I knew what I bargained for.
Not really a good lens for being indoors.
I wish the hood was not plastic, but it is at least good plastic.
comment:Before buying this lens, try to know what you are getting first. This thing is everything I bargained for. It makes my work look like it has melted oil painting backgrounds. I've used it on an A99, A77 and A900. On the A77 you really need to be outside and with good light or posted on a tripod with a fairly still subject or you'll risk being above ISO 400 and ISO 800 really ruins the shots on the A77. Since the A99 and A900 have decent ISO 800-1600+ you can work with a little less light. Wide open this lens looks pretty darn good. Play around with the STF and you get a better idea of what your shot is going to look like. On the A99 and A77, the EVF is spot on and Focus Peaking really makes the biggest weakness of this lens manageable.
reviewer#11332 date: Sep-9-2013
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:TESTED ON APS-C 20MP A58 (no option to choose it among the listed sensors at this moment)

Minolta 135mm F2.8
Minolta 100mm F2.0
Zeiss 85mm F1.4
price paid:
missing
positive:best bokeh ever
really sharp (when focused properly)
top notch build
beautiful colours
negative:manual lens - focusing can be tricky even with peaking
focus ring ribs colleting dust
purple fringing in high contrast areas
comment:What a lens ! Was dreaming of owning one from day one I`ve heard about it.

I would consider it a perfect portrait lens. Obvious downside is lack of autofocus; this may be remedied to some extent by using a camera with focus peaking; nonetheless in low contrast areas (which a face easily is) peaking doesn`t "peak" = the focus magnification is necessary, otherwise it is hit / miss game since the DOF is tiny at F2.8 (T4.5). Therefore it requires some time to arrange a photo (longer than for autofocus lenses) - my Minolta 135mm F2.8 is more suitable for quicker actions.

A bit longer on APS-C, but still pretty usable, giving results (especially in the out of focus areas) as no other lens can deliver.

The lens is plenty sharp, well appropriate for landscape photographers too.

On the negative side - I was surprised how much purple fringing I get in high contrast areas - while it can be corrected in post processing, it`s a small annoyance for me.

In comparison to other portrait lenses I own / owned - in sharpness it equals to 100 F2 and Zeiss F1.4 and it`s sharper than Minolta 135mm F2.8. But non of them can match it in the bokeh field - the winner is clear here!

This lens is bringing real joy to my photo hobby !
reviewer#11226 date: Jun-30-2013
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Zeiss 135/1.8
Minolta 70-200/2.8 G SSM
price paid:1300 CHF (new)
positive:bokeh
complete lack of vignetting
image quality overall
solid build
negative:
missing
comment:Fascinating lens that shows a kind of "perfection" no other lens I know of does. Great sharpness, perfect bokeh and no vignetting. Most lenses only do sharpness well, have meh-ok bokeh (in comparison) and accept some amount of vignetting.
Admittedly from a practical point I tend to use the Zeiss over the STF most of the time. But I still don't ever see myself selling this one.
reviewer#10693 date: Nov-12-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Zeiss 135/1.8
Min 135/2.8
Tam 24135
Min 80200G
price paid:usd 900 used
positive:smoothness of focussing
deep colors
background blur
lack of vignetting
negative:manual focus
comment:On an A900 with its bright viewfinder, this is the smoothest, easiest, most accurately focussing manual lens I've ever used, even in dimmish light. I have recently confirmed that it is even better and easier to use on a focus peaking body. This lens is a no-brainer with focus peaking.

The background blur is dreamy. The round aperture gives a single edge to the blur (where angular blades give that two-edge effect on pixel peeping.) The blur is smooth (and traffic lights in the distance at night are surreal.) I think this smooth roundness is amplified by the air gaps between lenses that one can see in the lens diagram (which exists also with bokeh champions 85G and 200G)

The internal apodization lens (a variably graduated radial neutral density filter) allows for central brilliance and background darkening. It also appears to squelch bright highlight aberrations in the background. This is the most striking thing about the pictures that are produced...the central image is caught in a bowl of light, while the background is dark but not vignetted, and this contributes to the overall effect greatly.

This is a slow, f4.5, lens (although in Southern California where I live, that's not a problem.) The f2.8 part of the lens identifies the reduced depth of field, so the DOF is f2/8 when the aperture is f4.5. This isn't very important in itself, I feel, since this is a telephoto, and at most portrait distances, we are discussing a difference in depth of field of less than 5mm. But...I think the combination of DOF and apodization filter and air gap is another reason why the bokeh is so very smooth.

In comparison with other 135mms, it is the best. I don't like my Zeiss, because it is too crisp and bright: this lens is as "sharp" (although it probably isn't because it uses a larger circle of confusion) but it seems just as spot on in detail rendering, and it has an amazing tonal depth that the Zeiss simply lacks. The 135/2.8 is shown, in comparison to this best-of-all-lenses, to be a fabulous piece of glass too. That old Min is brighter, it has edgy bokeh, but it is still wonderful.

The comparison with the 85G and 200G demonstrate Minolta's skills in optical design. They produce central images of great clarity, like the STF, but then capture light from the background, bringing it up too: the STF does the opposite. They have excellent bokeh but a totally different rendering.

The Tam 24135, as a zoom, appears to have greater depth of field at all apertures, and so produces very different images from the STF. it is an excellent lens and, as a zoom, can go where the STF can't, but the STF is the lens of choice if the image allows.

The STF is like eating marzipan covered in dark chocolate....
reviewer#10399 date: Jul-20-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Minolta 100 2.8 Marco D
Sony 70-200 2.8 G
Minolta MC 58 Rokkor 1.2 PG
Minolta AF 200 G 2.8 HS

price paid:850 Euro used
positive:Worlds best Bokeh
3D Look
Sharpness
Build quality
A joy to use
negative:Nothing - you have to keep in mind that the STF is a fully manual lens with F(T)4.5.
comment:I have this lens in use for two years. There is nothing in my collection that come close. The bokeh is outstanding and have a 3D look.

Some people ask questions about the bokeh:
really good - Photoshop? Whats the name of the plugin?
Or, please give me a overview about your workflow...
Most of them have never see a lens with two aperature blades.

One Nikon user said, that the Nikkor 105 DC and 135 DC are not a competitor in terms of bokeh. The Defocusing Control is an excellent lens, that offers Nikon users the ability to make out-of-focus areas appear softer by strategically introducing spherical aberration to just the defocused areas (in-focus areas are not affected). The Nikon DC lens has Autofocus, but cannot meet the supreme standard of bokeh of the STF lens... the DC lens shifts lenses around to over-correct or under-correct for spherical aberrations, to optimise the unsharp areas in either the foreground or background, but not both. Only the apodization filter in the STF lens optimizes both foreground and background unsharp areas.

You get the best 3D results when the subject is 3-4m away.
The background is rendered very snooth then - the colors are beautiful.

When I take photos from my young children in the garden, the results are 40% acceptable sharp and 20% exellent sharp.
Only 20% sharp photos? Yes, because it is a fully manual lens without any electronic devise. The focussing dot in the viewfinder doesen`t work. Therefore it is not a snapshot lens. My results on static objects are 100%. I have a litlle experience with the Alpha 99 and the MF control system in the viewfinder. A huge improvement over my A850.

Macro: the 100mm Macro D are not in using anymore and I sell it. With a 12mm extension ring and the STF I got better (sharper) results. 1:1 is not important for me - with the extension ring a ratio to 1:2 are possible.

Since 1984 I start my hobby with my first SLR camera. During the time I switched from Leica R > Canon > Sony. I would like to point out, that these systems have nothing that come close to the STF.

The STF is not cheap, it is a fully manual lens, worth it`s price? My answer is clearly YES! The pictures have a look that other lenses can not produce...
Get it, and you will not believe your eyes...



reviewer#10379 date: Jul-14-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:1398 USD (new)
positive:Built like a tank
Bokeh is unsurpassed
Sharp as a tack when focused
No vignetting even on full frame
negative:Minimum focus distance is three feet
Manual focus
Needs a lot of light
Really expensive
comment:I had been reading about this lens for years, I just had to have it! If you have read the articles and seen the pictures posted all over the place, you either know you want this lens, or you don't. If you do (and you know who you are), it is everything you dreamed it was. There is simply no lens ever made that is better for pretty flower pictures and bright light still portraits.

But let's be honest-- this is a difficult lens to use. It needs a lot of light. Anything short of bright sunlight might not do. It is manual focus only, and the nature of the lens disables the PD focus confirmation in manual mode (the green box that lights up).

Here is where the innovations of Sony's digital approach come into play, and help overcome these difficulties quite well. Focus peaking works perfectly, and thus it becomes a much more usable lens. When you are controlling the aperture, you can see the background melt away as the shot is composed. Image stabilization works also, which is nice on what is effectively a 200mm lens on the a77.

If you have an a77 the two make a great pair, but you need some distance if you are capturing a normal height adult for a portrait. With an a99 it is a lot easier for portrait work, and is even a pretty good walkaround lens in daylight. Wide open in there is no noticeable vignetting or softening in the corners. Even the sharpness tests show very close (and excellent) sharpness values corner to corner.

If you know you want it, you do. If you just *think* you want it, you probably don't. Seriously, it is expensive, heavy, and can be a real pain to get the shot you want.

In my opinion the unique qualities of this lens are well worth the extreme extra effort (and price). The results are beyond anything possible with other lenses, and probably even beyond what you can manipulate digitally.
reviewer#10138 date: Apr-23-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Beercan, Sigma 70-200 /2.8 Macro
Minolta 100 Macro
price paid:950 $Australian
positive:Sharp
Contrasty
Bokeh
3D effect
negative:Manual focus
Loss of light
comment:This is a LOVELY lens. Bokeh is in a class of it's own (well maybe the nikon 100/135 DC are comparible). Compared at times the difference between the STF and a normal lens feels like the difference between a normal lens and a reflecter. 3D effect is outstanding - in certain situations this lens does a brilliant job when any other lens (even the 100/135 DC) would be absolutely lame.

Problems with this lens:

Dissatisfaction with all my other lenses.

Sometimes a little bit of "bad" bokeh in distant highlights can be good.

Useless for people inside - too dark.

I find manual focussing with the optical viewfinder (A580) at 2.8 extremely unreliable. If theres something with high contrast focussing is much easier - sadly most stuff you photograph ith this lens is harder to focus on than printing on a page. Mostly I use this on a tripod with live veiw to focus.

This lens is a very stong arguement for an electronic view finder with focus peaking - it's made me into an EVF convert - now will buy the A99 even if a FF with OVF comes out.

I can confirm - Focus peaking makes an amazing difference to this lens - FF is a LOT nicer than APS for field of view
reviewer#10023 date: Mar-12-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tamron 90mm/2.8
Minolta 200G APO HS

price paid:1100 USD (Used)
positive:Bokeh!
Sharp!
3D feel!
MFD
Magnification (1:4)
Did I say, bokeh AND sharpness?
negative:Some CA (wide open)
No MF confirmation (but non issue with Focus Peaking)
comment:Fantastic. Superb. Excellence. Perhaps the most underrated benchmark. The only downside would be lack of AF to most people and to many who are okay with MF but not so much without a focus confirm. This should not be an issue for people with MF assist features (as in EVF prescribed 7x-14x zoom).

And speaking of MF Assist, here is something I was not expecting: Focus Peaking works! So, my NEX-3 may see this lens quite a bit, a reason I got the NEX-3 was to use MF lenses. But, I had absolutely no trouble focusing with SLT-A55 via the EVF at all (not using the 7x-14x zoom).
This lens could even substitute for a macro lens, unless a magnification better than 1:4 is desired.
reviewer#9378 date: Sep-1-2011
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:85mm F2.8, 70-300G
price paid:749UKP(new)
positive:Well built, sharp, bokeh.
negative:Manual focus. Effectively 200mm equivalent on APS-C.
comment:Lives up to its reputation. Very sharp.

It's easy to see why there are so many flower and plant shots with this lens - as these display its ability to declutter the background (and foreground). It's a pity it doesn't focus closer. It would make a great macro.

I find it a bit of a struggle to manual focus on a A700. There's no focus confirmation. A cheap Seagull 2.3x flip up focus magnifier from Hong Kong (looks suspiciously like the Sony equivalent) helps solve this problem but slows down composition of shots.

So using this lens is a different experience in terms of pace of work and its abilities.
reviewer#9241 date: Jul-17-2011
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:650 Euro used (mint)
positive:the way to take pictures, the way the pictures look, mfd, build
negative:focal length on aps-c
comment:first of all: i am a beginner. the a55 is my first dslr.

I looked at all those wonderful stf pictures all over the web, read all the threads like: "which one would you take: zeiss 135 or stf", read about difficult focussing and still didnt know how this lens would feel for myself. now i know and would like to describe my first weekend with this lens on a a55.

focussing: the most important part about this lens. love it or hate it. i love it. with the a55 lcd screen you'll get a pretty good idea of what is sharp and what is not. accuracy is pretty high when using the lcd this way.
to get 100% sure of focus, use the magnifier the a55 offers. sadly magnification of 7,5x is really close but things work out pretty okay. focussing a picture takes me about 10 seconds at least but i am not used to it yet. can be a bit stressy when walking with the girlfriend and stopping every now and then.

this lens forces me to think before taking a picture. i like the feeling of working a little more for a good result. it is very rewarding.
i hope this lens will help me develop in taking pictures. at least it is fun already and i like the first results.

oh, i am sorry. i nearly managed to write an stf review without using the word bokeh or sharp in any way. so here you go:

BOKEH BOKEH BOKEH BOKEH BOKEH and
SHARP SHARP SHARP SHARP SHARP.

edit march 8th 2012: this lens gets a lot easier to use with the focus peaking from the a77 (the a65 and some of the nex have this aswell). most times I trust the peaking and rarely use the magnification for verifying. still 135mm on aps-c are very long. I still am not used to this length but I will try excessively this spring and summer :)

pictures at Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixiepeeper/sets/72157628917798543/
reviewer#9014 date: May-13-2011
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:$1249 NEW
positive:Sharp, Build, COLOR, Rendering, BOKEH, BOKEH, BOKEH, BOKEH, BOKEH
negative:No focus confirmation of any type! :(
comment:This Lens is magic! really seeing images on the internet only getting your excitement starting. Once you use it you'll be stunned "Assuming you get your subject within focus". The way it renders the out of focus area is amazing and complement your subject big time. I JUST LOVE IT.

I tried it first with Sony a700 which I got 1/3 of the images I took was in perfect or acceptable focus! Really there is no focus confirmation at all! but I wanted to use it with 35mm film camera anyway. So I mounted on my Dynax 7 and out of the 36 exposures I used 32 exposures with the STF lens. I got 29 or so PERFECTLY FOCUSED....WOW
The big viewfinder really makes that much different (TO ME) when focusing this Bad Boy :)

I didn't find any problem with flare or any other problem, So I gave it perfect 5 on every thing (unless there was ease of use option :)!

Regards,
Mohammed
reviewer#8519 date: Jan-13-2011
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 3
flare control: 3
overall: 4.2
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Minolta: 35/1.4, 50/2.8, 58/1.2, 85/1.4, 200/2.8
price paid:$1,695 CAD after tax
positive:Solid build. beautiful colour, sharp.
negative:Slow, slow, slow. Thick DOF. A hint of purple fringing. Macro mode drawing style in terms of transitions to OOF areas.
comment:I have no opinion on distortion or flare. Wasn't an issue and didn't notice it.

This lens is matches the 35G, 85G and 200G in terms of build, colour, tones, saturation, drawing style and contrast and should be a "G" lens in my book.

But the combination of slow maximum aperature combined with long focal length gives this lens less than ideal practicality. Anything but a sunny summer afternoon would require bumping up the noisy ISO more than a few notches.

I was interest in the STF's 1:4 marginal macro capability, however was a bit dissappointed. The transition to out-of-focus areas was not to my liking.

For non-macro shooting, while bokeh is uniquely soft and smooth, perceived DOF can be thicker than I hoped.

In the end, it was too similar to my 85G and 200G, the main difference was trading the lack of harsh bokeh highlights for slow aperature, to justify owning.
reviewer#8246 date: Nov-13-2010
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Zeiss 135 F1.8
Minolta 200 APO HS 2.8
Sony 70-200 2.8 G
price paid:1.249 USD
positive:Bokeh, Bokeh, Bokeh did I mentioned BOKEH. Sharp
negative:NONE, I also love the manual focus
comment:If you like Bokeh, this is THE LENS. No other lens can achieve what this piece of art can, the bokeh is almost unreal, NO OTHER lens can do it.
If you have problems with manual focus buy the focusing screen (type M), this will help you a lot.
Also the sharpness of this lens is GREAT. This a very specific kind glass, but it worth every singe dollar, its just perfect for portraits
reviewer#7762 date: Jul-31-2010
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:70-300 G SSM
price paid:
missing
positive:Love the bokeh. I may be biased when I score all 5 for this lens. And have I told you I really really love the bokeh???
negative:Manual focus and bit CA esp shooting into brightly back-lit object wide open.
comment:I really love this lens and thinking that if I had the money I will buy a FF body to pair it permanently. Bit difficult with A550 small OVF. Still got some missfocus when pixel peeping at monitor on 1:1, but it prints just fine at 4x6.
reviewer#7616 date: Jun-27-2010
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:135 F1.8
price paid:900€
positive:once you get used to it
it is a love story

portrait and flowers with this lenses are so poetic

manual focus is ok with A900 visor
rendering of the bokeh has no competitor
negative:no AF
lenshood not well fixed
comment:
missing
reviewer#6386 date: Nov-14-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma - 10-20 F4-5.6 EX DC
Sigma - 12-24 F4.5-5.6 EX Aspherical DG
Tamron - SP AF 14 F2.8
Sony - AF 16 F2.8 FishEye
Tokina - AT-X 17 AF F3.5
Sigma - 17-70 F2.8-4.5 DC
Sony - AF DT 18-70 F3.5-5.6
Minolta - AF 20 F2.8
Minolta - AF 24-50 F4
Minolta - AF 24-85 F3.5-4.5 RS
Sony - AF 24-105 F3.5-4.5
Minolta - AF 28 F2 RS
Minolta - AF 28-70 F2.8 G
Minolta - AF 28-85 F3.5-4.5
Sigma - 28-300 F3.5-6.3 DL Aspherical IF Hyperzoom
Minolta - AF 35 F1.4 G RS
Minolta - AF 35-105 F3.5-4.5
Sony - AF 50 F1.4
Minolta - AF 50 F1.7 RS
Sigma - 50-500 F4-6.3 DG EX APO
Minolta - AF 70-210 F4 (beercan)
Sigma - 70-300 F4-5.6 DG Macro
Minolta - AF 75-300 F4.5-5.6
Minolta - AF 80-200 F2.8 HS APO G
Minolta - AF 85 F1.4 G RS
Minolta - AF 100 F2.8 Macro D
Sony - 135 F2.8 [T4.5] STF
Sigma - 180 F3.5 EX DG IF APO macro
Sigma - 400 F5.6 APO
Sony - AF Reflex 500 F8
price paid:1200 Euro (new)
positive:BOKEH with capital letters - you have to see this to believe it.
Creative double aperture
Amazingly sharp
Contrast
Color - larger than life
Manual focus - smooth and good range
negative:No autofocus capability - not a big deal however
Not IF
comment:This must be beyond a shadow of a doubt the most impressive lens I have ever had the privilege of owning. It is a marvelous portrait lens. It really shines in landscape, interior and nature photography. Actually it's an all-occassion lens.

The nice thing is the really unsurpassed bokeh, due to the apodization element that enables the user to continuously vary the degree of back- and foreground unsharpness. And the smoothness in this unsharpness is very silky and nicely blended. It is almost rendering the use of studio backgrounds useless...well almost of course ;-)

Then of course sharpness. Well this is yet another surprise. While this is a standard tele prime, the depth of focus, while shooting with open aperture, is quite thin. Nevertheless I never have trouble focusing on the main subject in the composition. Even on the A900 I can achieve sensor limited resolution...so 24.6 megapixel of shear resolving power.

Build however is very good, but it has this modern Sony SAL plasticy feel to it. I am not that fond of the the tiny ribs on the focusing ring. I much rather like the nice Minolta G type coarser ribbs as they do not tend to collect dust and skin fragments from rubbing.....

Colours are of a very nice neutral tone, well saturated, but without a special bias towards any of the prime colours. A crystal clear colouring would be my label for this lens.

I can also recommend this lens as a macro lens, when used in combination with an extension ring. Very nice!

I have not seen a tendency towards flaring. I do however always put on the "generously large" lens hood.

Distortion? What distortion? No complaints here.

If you can afford to buy this lens, I would say: Go for it! you will not regret it.
reviewer#6076 date: Sep-18-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Leica 180 2
CZ 135 1.8
Pentax 50 1.2
Pentax 80 1.4
Pentax 77 1.8
Pentax 31 1.8
price paid:
missing
positive:Sharp
Beautiful Color
Extraordinary Bokeh
Perfect focal on FF for portrait
negative:Very slow effective f/stop
The hood easily falls off
comment:The Good:

So I used to shoot this lens on the A700 along with my Pentax system. It is the sharpest in addition to very beautiful color rendering and creamy bokeh. Since this was my only lens for my A700, I've shot quite extensively with it to know its strength and weakness on a crop camera.

The Bad:
It's slow for some indoor shots, a bit too long too (esp on an APS-C camera). And the hood is just so easy to come off. I'd dropped my hood more time than I cared to remember that sometimes I just shot without the hood. LoCA on this lens is quite bad. But I can live with it after PP.

My personal experience:
I've shot mostly wide open since there is no point to get this lens and shot on anything less. It took quite a while to actually master the manual focus speed. I got through several wedding out-door sessions with much success (70-80% usable), so I don't think this lens has any precision problem as pointed out. Indeed, there was time that I wish I can auto-focus with this lens, but have to accept it due to personal limitation. The pictures came out of this lens often gave good impression on my clients. Nonetheless, it does lack the 3D/pop-ness of the typical Zeiss. Now that I got my Zeiss, this is probably needed for an exclusive portrait session. Lastly, I have to say it again: this lens is so sharp for its ability to render buttery bokeh. It's amazing how it can do that with that extra element.

Update: I sold the lens, but then just re-acquire it. In short, it manages to amaze me once again. I think I just like it much more than the Zeiss 135mm. But each has its own use so I'll keep both and shoot both. It deserves much more use.
reviewer#5698 date: Jul-14-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I have experience with this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:
missing
positive:Sharp, extremely well made, handles very well, spectacular out of focus areas.
negative:No autofocus, terrible in lower light, range on APS-C, expensive.
comment:I rented this lens for three weeks and really enjoyed it. The weight and handling of the lens are really nice and the focusing ring is well weighted. The build quality is stellar and feels a good cut above the 24-70 and on par with some of the older high-end Minolta glass. More importantly the results are stunning and the out of focus areas this thing renders give its output a 3D feel. The infocus areas are also quite sharp. The big downside is that it is a very slow lens which when combined with it being a 135mm makes it almost useless for any sort of indoor or lowlight work. The lack of AF also limits it but for the type of work it is designed for that isn't a huge issue. What is somewhat of an issue is that unless you have an FF viewfinder it can be hard to get your focus perfect wide-open. I find it a great lens to play with and as fun a lens to use as any i've tried but were I to choose between it and the 135 1.8 i'd probably go for the 135 1.8 because of the far greater versatility.
reviewer#5654 date: Jul-6-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma EX DG 105mm
price paid:1100 Euro (new)
positive:Very sharp
Excellent color reproduction
Bokeh
No lens disortation
No vignetting
negative:No AF indicator (but that's not possible due to the apodization element)
heavy
comment:The 135 STF is a speciality lens. The STF does what it is designed for excellent. It's all about bokeh.

The STF is not a every day walk around lens. You need time when using this lens. It is not designed for fast action.

In many situations a tripod helps a lot. Also a bright viewfinder like in the 7D, A700 and A900 helps for easier finding focus. I woud recommend this lens only for cameras with 12MP or higher.

With 6MP cameras you are losing a lot of details due to "low" MP.

When you taking some time working with this lens, you will be rewarded with outstanding pictures.
reviewer#5514 date: Jun-10-2009
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:- 135za
- 85za, 85G
- 100Macro
- 200G
- 200Macro
- some manual lens
price paid:1000$ (used)
positive:+ Sharpness from wide open
+ Exclusive very smooth bokeh
negative:- Too much CA in bokeh.
- Manual AF only.
- No AF confirmation.
- Ring of manual AF have to small angle control angle.
- extends on focusing.
- plastic hood.
- now weather resistance.
comment:This review after my second experience with STF. First i bought when i have A100 and sold it after some week experience because on that moment it was too hard to me focus properly without confirmation. Some later i bought STF again and now much more positive experience, but in all i get only 10% sharp images.

STF very very special lens. I use it rare, mostly in portrait shooting and sometimes to shoot beauty of nature near macro (flavour, leaves...).
Bokeh is awesome. There are no any other lens that can produce bokeh to compare. Lens is sharp from wide open. And 95% photos i made on STF take from F2.8(T4.5). I think that STF@T4.5 sharper than 85za@F2 and comparable with 135za@1.8
In bokeh i found many CA (bokeh CA in photozone.de terms).
not fast (T4.5) 135mm lens is not very useful on cropped sensors. I have 15 minutes experience with STF on A900 with M-type screen and it was much more versatile.
On my own A700 for portrait shooting from 85za, 135za, 135STF personally i prefer 85/1.4 lens.
The only minus with STF on my experience is the focus ring. It have small (for manual focus only lens) control angles. i try some M42 lens, macro lens, all typically have angle at ~180-270 degrees, while STF only ~120. STF exceptionally hardly use STF to shoot on distance longer than 3 meters, while (for example) 135/3.5 Takumar was ok at distance to 10.
reviewer#5228 date: Apr-13-2009
sharpness: 2.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 3
flare control: 3
overall: 3.3
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:old stf
price paid:1071 USD (new)
positive:new design
negative:less sharpness than the old stf
distortion on the edges
comment:my father owns uses the "old" stf lens for more than 10 years - an I'm using it since about 5 years.
one month ago i bought the new sony stf in the UK's for 820Euro ... and I'm very disappointed.
in comparison to the old lens the new lens is scrap. first I thought the lens has a productionfailure - but after an
Support Request i got the messages "works as designed"

i tested both on my A900
reviewer#5215 date: Apr-12-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:900 USD (new)
positive:bokeh, bokeh, bokeh, oh, and also sharpness.
negative:manual focus.
comment:Money well spent.
reviewer#4783 date: Feb-1-2009
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:The world
price paid:
missing
positive:Unique one of the kind lens. Bokeh machine!
negative:Manual but I'm fine with it.
comment:I like this lens alot. If you are looking for something unique or you love bokeh, this is the lens for you.

STF
http://www.darren-francis.com/p892748637/?photo=189598339

To view more of my works, visit my gallery:
http://www.darren-francis.com
reviewer#4447 date: Nov-29-2008
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Min 50/1.7
Tamron 90/2.8 Macro
Sony 70-200/2.8G
price paid:999EUR (new)
positive:Bokeh, bokeh, bokeh
Excellent Sharpness & Colours
Well Build
Great MF ring/control

negative:some purple fringing
quite expensive
comment:The 135STF is a speciality lens very easy to love. The sharpness and colours are absolutely stunning and it is clearly the bokeh dreammachine. You do 'only' get MF, but the focus ring and control is better than on any of my other lenses. One thing I do notice is that purple fringing occurs more often than with for example the 70-200/2.8G.

All things considered, I think it's a great lens.


Little update: I've bought myself a Minolta 7 a few months ago and now also an A850 and this lens really shines on FF, focussing is so much easier and more precise wit a good VF.
reviewer#4428 date: Nov-24-2008
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:the world
price paid:13000 SEK (new)
positive:bokeh bokeh bokeh bokeh bokeh
and bokeh
negative:some purple fringing...
comment:if you too have a BOKEH-FETISH then this is the lens for you!
it's not the best walk-around lens if you're not used to manual focusing.

this lens is in a world of it's own. nothing can really compare in my opinion :D
reviewer#3822 date: Jul-9-2008
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 70-300 APO
KM 50/1.7
price paid:1200 USD (new)
positive:Bokeh
Build
Tact Sharp
Colors
negative:
missing
comment:This lens is simply "one of a kind". There is no comparable lens in any other mount. Although I listed MF as a negative, it is simply a mater of fact that goes along with what makes this lens great - the optics design that produces great Bokeh! And the areas that are supposed to be in focus are SHARP.

The build of this lens is above average with all metal construction. The extra wide focus ring is well dampened and a joy to use. I second some other reviewers however that the lens hood feels cheap next to the lens itself. It would be nice for Sony to include a metal version similar to their high end CZ and G lenses.
reviews found: 40    1 2 >>

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 40
  • sharpness: 4.89
  • color: 4.95
  • build: 4.83
  • distortion: 4.85
  • flare control: 4.75
  • overall: 4.85

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