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

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 MP24MP24 MP36MP36 MP42MP42 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.
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.

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