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10-14-2016, 01:20 PM   #1
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100 2.8 vs. 135 2.8

I have been wondering this for a while...
Why are 90 and 100 2.8 lenses in general preferred over (more expensive than) 135 2.8 lenses?
My understanding is that it would be more difficult for lenses to be 2.8 if they have a longer focal length.
Is it because 90s and 100s tend to be macros and they are more difficult to make?

10-14-2016, 01:52 PM - 1 Like   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by sergysergy Quote
Why are 90 and 100 2.8 lenses in general preferred over (more expensive than) 135 2.8 lenses?
Are they? For what, exactly?

135mm is a classic portraiture focal length from the 35mm film days. It has been well developed, much like other "standard focal lengths" like 35mm and 50mm, and f2.8 is rather slow for those purposes, at least by modern standards.
90mm and 100mm is a good macro focal length because it is not too long to be unwieldy, but it is still telephoto enough so you have some working distance. Macro lenses are very different design, highly corrected, and generally have smaller aperture. They are complex lenses, more corrections, has to focus all the way down to 1:1 magnification, and macro photos require DoF of f8-f16, often even more. Shooting macro at f2.8 gives incredibly shallow DoF, practically useless. Macro lenses used to be f4 and require a macro adapter on top of that to reach 1:1 magnification. Its an engineering marvel that these days a lens will go to 1:1 with fast f2.8 aperture.

Basically, you are comparing completely different lenses, with different features and different optics and different rendering. Something like FA 50mm f1.4 and DA 50mm f1.8 are much closer to each other than compared to DFA 50mm f2.8 macro. And there are enough differences between them to justify their existence. And the DA* 55mm f1.4 - designed for portraiture, as well!

Identify your needs, then get the lens that covers them well, at a decent price. Cost reflects many things, from construction quality to features, type of rendering, aperture, types of glass, rendering output. Cost alone is not enough to gauge how "amazing" a lens is

Edit: That said, I find the DFA 100mm WR macro to be very fairly priced. Its an amazing lens, stunningly sharp, very compact for what it is, looks stylish and it has good features like WR and QS. But for portraiture it is almost too sharp, too brutal, as it shows pretty much all flaws, skin blemishes on the person. And it has no "character" - it is just a clinical, lab-like rendering. For portraits you often want a lens that makes people's skin have a nice colour, doesn't expose all flaws, has pleasing, interesting bokeh. Portraiture is not just about capturing the person's nose and eyes, but about making a beautiful, painterly scene.

Last edited by Na Horuk; 10-14-2016 at 01:58 PM.
10-14-2016, 02:26 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by sergysergy Quote
I have been wondering this for a while...
Why are 90 and 100 2.8 lenses in general preferred over (more expensive than) 135 2.8 lenses?
My understanding is that it would be more difficult for lenses to be 2.8 if they have a longer focal length.
Is it because 90s and 100s tend to be macros and they are more difficult to make?
I think you are comparing apples and oranges. The 90 and 100mm macros are modern and still in production and therefore generally fetch a little higher prices than the 135 f2.8s, none of which are modern (no longer being produced) and you have to buy used.

Having said that, I recently bought a used, but in great condition FA 135 f2.8 for about 300 USD. You can find brand new, in the box DFA Macros for about 375 USD (when they are on special).
10-14-2016, 02:50 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by sergysergy Quote
Why are 90 and 100 2.8 lenses in general preferred over (more expensive than) 135 2.8 lenses?
A lot of it has to do with marketing and sales trends that most of us have long forgotten, or from a time before we were born.

Historically, the 135mm focal length came about because it was just about the longest lens that would work on a Leica or Contax rangefinder in the 1930's. Any longer than that and the viewfinder view would be tiny and squinty, and the rangefinder accuracy would be dubious. The solution was reflex housing attachments that converted your Leica rangefinder into a kludgy, but workable, SLR.

But because it was the longest RF lens in the lineup, the 135mm lens ended up in nearly every photographer's bag, and became a favoured length for candid photography, etc.

With the rise of the SLR in the 1960s and '70s, the 135mm continued as a favourite focal length, but it was so popular that it was made by just about every aftermarket manufacturer. Many were very cheap. Many lacked auto apertures. But just about every student photographer could afford a $79.95 135mm 2.8 - even if what they really wanted was that 200mm that cost $50 more, and was only an f4.0.

So with the market flooded with 135mm's ranging from el-cheapos, to reasonable budget ones, to the very good ones from the camera manufacturers, the 135mm was considered boring.

It also began to be seen as not being long enough for sports photography (where you really wanted a 200 or 300mm), and too long for portrait photography where you had to keep your distance from your subject (most 135mm's only focused to 4.5 or 5 feet, or 1.5m).

So while the tyro bought the 135mm because it was the longest lens that fit the budget, the knowledgeable photographer sought out the 85mm-105mm focal length because it was handier for close up portraits, and could be had with a f2.0 or f1.8 aperture.

All these years later, those prejudices remain, especially since 135mm's are common as dirt, and the shorter portrait lenses are harder to find.

10-14-2016, 02:52 PM   #5
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Lenses at 28/35/50/135mm were made by everyone in the film era so bargains abound and the optical formulae are set in stone. The macros are very specialized so more expensive. Part of that is the odd logic that f/2.8 makes sense for a macro lens; while great for general use nothing is less appealing (to me) than an extreme closeup shot faster than f/8. That's why the older 100/4 macros are fine (for me)!

I saved money and cubic inches with the smc-M100/2.8 not.a.macro lens.
10-14-2016, 03:43 PM   #6
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I was mainly referring to older lenses: vivitar 100, panagor 90, etc. The only 135 with AF I am aware of is the FA
So, let me ask in a different way; Is it the case that all those 90s and 100s are macro lenses and therefore are more expensive? or are there any 90mm or 100mm lenses that are not macro ?

edit: ok, M100 2.8 , thanks jimr pdx)
10-14-2016, 04:01 PM   #7
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Something often overlooked is the Angle-of-View (AOV), a perspective, associated with various lens focal lengths -- speaking specifically of the appearance FOV and depth of view (DOF) behind the main subject.

Using an original, full frame reference, the 35-55mm lens offers a FOV common to normal eye sight. FOV's longer than ~135mm are readily accepted as telephoto views. The view between 60-135mm is sometimes 'different' and distracting unless of a rather special subject such as close-ups or portraits where little background is noticeable. The 90-135mm FL fills those special needs well for many reasons -- including a little more DOF.

Personal preference plays a part too. My personal "normal" was for 85-105mm lenses for full frame 35mm use. My favorite 'normal' lens on a Spotmatic, an SMC 85/1.8, became much less attractive on the APS-C DSLR bodies.
10-14-2016, 04:33 PM   #8
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There are all kinds of older lenses that you can find out there. Pentax K is famous for having so many old, legacy, third party lenses available! Not all of them are great, but some are real gems. You can tell us which lenses specifically you are interested in, because it is difficult to talk generally. But yes, 85mm and 135mm primes are classic portrait focal lengths. 90mm, 100mm and 105mm are classic macro medium telephoto. But there are exceptions. You can use the Lens review database on these forums to identify a lens before buying.

High price often indicates higher quality, more features, or at least rarity/popularity.

10-14-2016, 06:03 PM   #9
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I really think that the 135 like the 50 was done very well by many as was said earlier. The lenses were cheap and good and plentiful. More importantly zoom lenses sucked. So a kit back in the 60s and 70s might be just three primes 35, 50, 135. This affects price and availability.
10-15-2016, 03:41 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ontarian50 Quote
So while the tyro bought the 135mm because it was the longest lens that fit the budget, the knowledgeable photographer sought out the 85mm-105mm focal length because it was handier for close up portraits, and could be had with a f2.0 or f1.8 aperture.
Yep, exactly!

When I bought my first SLR kit in 1975, I could only afford the K135/3.5.

The faster K135/2.5 and the portrait K85/1.8 & K105/2.8 were out of my budget. The 135mm was more of an all around all purpose telephoto.

Phil.

Last edited by gofour3; 10-15-2016 at 03:47 PM. Reason: Typo
10-15-2016, 05:41 PM   #11
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thank you guys for all your comments
10-19-2016, 02:05 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by sergysergy Quote
I was mainly referring to older lenses: vivitar 100, panagor 90, etc. The only 135 with AF I am aware of is the FA
So, let me ask in a different way; Is it the case that all those 90s and 100s are macro lenses and therefore are more expensive? or are there any 90mm or 100mm lenses that are not macro ?

edit: ok, M100 2.8 , thanks jimr pdx)
And there's the K 105/2.8, a very nice lens.
10-22-2016, 06:23 PM   #13
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true, thanks timo
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