Sony 135mm F2.8 T4.5 STF A-mount lens review by MediaArchivist

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 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Zeiss 135/1.8
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. Update: on the a99ii it is just plain "better". The improved IBIS, resolution, and sensitivity only make the lens easier to use and the results more likely to impress. I have been able to use it for outdoor punk rock concerts, and the results are certainly different than anything else produced from the same show!

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.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 43
  • sharpness: 4.90
  • color: 4.95
  • build: 4.84
  • distortion: 4.86
  • flare control: 4.77
  • overall: 4.86 - Home of the alpha system photographer
In memory of Cameron Hill - brettania