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Sears 135mm F/2.8 With Macro Zone Review RSS Feed

Sears 135mm F/2.8 With Macro Zone

Sharpness 
 7.8
Aberrations 
 7.0
Bokeh 
 8.6
Handling 
 8.5
Value 
 9.1
Reviews Views Date of last review
10 38,796 Fri January 19, 2018
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
90% of reviewers $40.11 8.10
Sears 135mm F/2.8 With Macro Zone
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Description:
135mm F/2.8
With Macro 1:7 - 1:5
KR Mount, with Auto Aperture & Ricoh Pin
"Soft Focus" at the "Macro Zone"
Mount Type:
Price History:



Add Review of Sears 135mm F/2.8 With Macro Zone
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Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2015
Posts: 119
Lens Review Date: January 19, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: fast, build quality, IQ
Cons:
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

The made in Korea Samyang 135 is a very sharp lens. You may call me nuts but this is a very sharp lens.
I use it with a f 1.7 adapter and as a 135. It is a dream lens in my view.
Photo - Head shot with f 1.7 adapter

   
Junior Member

Registered: January, 2013
Posts: 28

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 27, 2015 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: cheap
Cons: soft focus, loses light in the macro setting
Sharpness: 5    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: Canon EOS M w/PK adapter   

I had owned both the non macro versions of the Sears 135mm 2.8. The made in Japan Tomioka version and the made in Korea Samyang version.

So I had high hopes for this macro one! ( also made by Samyang in Korea), unfortunately I was let down.

The lens is a soft focus design that was huge in the 70/80s, unfortunately I am not a fan.

Lens is soft and shows aberrations at 2.8 and even at F/8 I could still see a lot in the macro setting, at 1:5 you lose about two stops of light.

If you like soft focus you'll love the lens, if you don't you'll hate it.

Get a non macro version, those are PHENOMENAL.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: Mount Joy, PA
Posts: 542

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 3, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: IQ throughout the range in "normal" mode, metal construction, "A" contacts
Cons: Ricoh pin should be removed, "macro" IQ is subjective
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 8    Camera Used: *ist 35mm, K-5ii   

The Sears 135mm f/2.8 with Macro Zone is a fine example of how manufacturers of camera equipment occasionally try something unusual, and although the feature isn't successful enough to be implemented in other models, it doesn't mean the gear isn't without its merits.

I purchased this lens a few years after I graduated college, thinking it was a reasonable entry to macro photography on a budget. I majored in design, not photography, so I hadn't yet encountered the concept of 1:1 magnification for macro lenses. The "Macro Zone" on this lens allows the user to select from magnification ratios of 1:5, 1:6, and 1:7. As the focus ring is turned towards its minimum focusing distance, a second ring is revealed. This is the Macro Zone selection mechanism. Each zone allows the user to get closer to the subject with the 1:5 magnification being the closest. I don't think any of the other reviews mentioned this, but it's worth noting once one of the macro zones is engaged one can no longer focus to infinity. With each turn of the macro zone ring the front element group extends further from the camera.

I'm inclined to agree with rbefly's comparison of Pentax's short telephoto lenses of a similar generation to the Sears. The M 135mm 3.5 I owned was certainly sharper at maximum aperture than the Sears at 2.8. However, it's really a matter for pixel peeping and lens test targets. In normal usage (i.e. not using one of the macro zones) the Sears is good wide open and serves well as a portrait lens. I'll also mention, while the Pentax M lenses may edge out the Sears in absolute sharpness, the Sears has "A" contacts, thus the user has control of the aperture in-camera. Trying to find a Pentax A 135mm 2.8 will easily cost you 2-3x the price of the Sears.

I have a hard time quantifying bokeh since one's impression of the effect can be impacted by the relative distances of out-of-focus objects within the scene. I'd say the Sears has at least average bokeh. It's smooth with no outlining effect the guys at Photozone would normally blame for the "nervousness" of some lens' bokeh.

In normal use, I'd say the typical purple/green aberrations one looks for in a lens are quite low for the Sears. With some lenses, aberrations actually increase as the aperture increases. I find that to be true for the Sears. I see some purple begin to show up on contrasty edges at around f/8. Post-processing essentially eliminates this, however. In contra-lighting or back-lit situations I've seen some distinctly red aberrations. Usually this is in high contrast situations, like bright highlights on the edges of metal. Again, this can be minimized when converting a RAW file.

Flare from shooting into bright light can reduce contrast with a warm veil covering the shot - actually not unattractive, depending on the scene (in my opinion). While I never used one, the lens would probably benefit from the inexpensive metal screw-in hoods meant for telephotos, easily and cheaply acquired on eBay. In normal situations I would grade the colors as neutral, maybe cooler than those one finds with Pentax SMC lenses, but still punchy with good contrast and saturation.

The lens has a long focus throw. A lot of people like this on certain lenses, and it's especially helpful with macro and close-focusing accuracy. The Sears has a nicely dampened focus ring not unlike Pentax K, M, and A lenses. The lens is all metal, feels well made, and has nice broad treads for gripping. One might call it heavy, but it's well balanced on a body like the K-5ii with a grip. It would probably feel end-heavy on an entry-level DSLR like the K-x. The focus action is in the middle of the barrel, though, so the weight is manageable.

This lens will come with the dreaded Ricoh pin, so if you buy one check to see if the previous owner ever removed it. The aperture ring has "KR" on it, an identifying mark for lenses with the Ricoh pin. I got lucky - I was not aware of the issue when I first purchased this lens, but I never had the Sears get stuck. I think some lenses can be more problematic than others, your mileage may vary, but don't take chances. Removing the pin can be done in literally minutes - I removed the pin in less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee. Just make sure you have a quality screwdriver!

The Macro Zone on this lens is weird and wonderful, and probably as useful as one makes it once they know how it works. As the other reviewers commented, the Macro Zones give images a certain glow - weakest at the 1:7 setting, strongest at the 1:5 setting. This is also impacted by the aperture. At 1:7, the glow is minimal at about f/4 and sharp thereafter. At 1:5, things stay "dreamy" until about f/6.7, and even at f/8 highlights are going to have a softness when closely scrutinized. In all situations, the effects can be enhanced or suppressed by lighting, contrast, etc. I've posted some samples shot using the 1:6 setting, the middle-of-the-road to give you an idea of what to expect. The 100% crop samples were from parts of the image with higher contrast to more clearly see the extent of the glow.

   
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2013
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 2,528

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 3, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $70.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Value Lens
Cons: ?
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 7    Value: 8   







Now this lens seems to work rather well when not in Macro , and I think it would be hard to criticize as it performs above kit lens levels .
I only just go this lens and am trialing it on my istD . Its a very dark and dreary day and the lens is performing rather well . In all fairness , its a fast lens ( f2.8 ) .
My main reason for getting this lens was for the Macro or close focus ( truer ) feature . So lets check it out , I took quite a few test pictures ...
So lets start with f2.8 and maximum macro and as close as possible to the subject ..

















Now in Macro , the images are soft up to about f6.3 , and down right Halo-ish to f4 , its sure does offer scope for experimenting ( lens ) especially if your using a higher MP camera that allows ISO-800 or higher without getting overly grainy , the little istD has hit the wall @ 800 , and there is little room for cropping at this ISO .
The images in non Macro mode dont appear to suffer and even at f2.8 are relatively sharp , which makes this a nice fast lens . 135mm is a little much for a general purpose lens , but for landscapes etc .
If you can find one cheap enough , certainly worth while having in the kit . I paid a little more since postage hurts some what from the USA , so I went for the cleanest looking lens I could find on Ebay that came within my price range ..

Lens was as near mint as I can tell
Tight and smooth .
Korean Manufactured ( Not Japanese - or is it Korean Assembled ? ) either way stamped Korea .
For the price , nothing to complain about . Except the Macro halo @ f2.8 to f4 ( but thats personal )

Overall id rate it a solid 9 - 10 , beats most kit lenses ...
   
Senior Member

Registered: August, 2012
Posts: 118

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 19, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $3.00 | Rating: 5 

 
Pros: Cheap, good construction, center sharpness
Cons: fringing on edges
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 4    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9   

I've got the manual version in a PK mount. It is reasonably sharp, but has some fringing on the edges which remains when stopped down- even in DX mode! For $3 I'm not going to be too picky. Macro zone gives some nice soft focus effects. Very good construction, better that a SMC-A lens, not quite as nice as a SMC-M.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2007
Location: Newcastle Australia
Posts: 5,284

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 9, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: "A" setting. Compact size. Macro settings. Sharp and great bokeh
Cons: Manual. Ricoh pin has to be removed.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8   





   
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2010
Location: California
Posts: 2,223

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 8, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $65.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Color, sharpness, easy to use, glowing macro, 135mm, A lens
Cons: Ricoh pin needs to be removed prior to use on Pentax DSLR
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I bought this lens and got it stuck on my Pentax Kx, the Ricoh pin was the culprit. After I removed the pin, I put it on the camera again and discovered the beauty of this lens. I do recommend it. I bought it mainly because of the glowing halo when used in macro, it is actually a soft focus that created a really nice effect on certain photos. Here are some samples:


Sears135-2.8@f3.5-Macro1-5-LoquatFlower-2 by Palenquero, on Flickr
[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/palenquero/6464103515/]


Sears135-2.8@f2.8-Macro1-5-leave-2025 by Palenquero, on Flickr


Sears135-2.8@f2.8-NonMacroLeave-2024 by Palenquero, on Flickr



Sears135-2.8@f2.8-Pomegranate-2016 by Palenquero, on Flickr



Sears135-2.8@f22Macro1-5-Pomegranate-2021 by Palenquero, on Flickr



Sears135-2.8@f2.8Macro1-5-Pomegranate-2020 by Palenquero, on Flickr
   
Site Supporter

Registered: October, 2009
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 2,030

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 29, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $48.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Bokeh, The "Glow", Focus Dampening, Solid Construction, Price
Cons: Flimsy Aperture Ring, Sharpness
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 7    Value: 10   

This is a fine single-purpose lens. I wouldn't call it a good all-around short telephoto, it lacks the great sharpness of (for example) the M 100mm 2.8 or the equally sharp M 135mm f3.5, which are both from the same (or older) generation. And it is not even close to the razor-sharp Pentax 100mm f4.0 Macro, a "10" in sharpness if there ever was one.
But, it has something that very few other lenses can boast; The "Glow".
It can and regularly does, light up a heavenly aura, a halo around highlights when in Macro Mode and wide-open to about f4.0. With a side-or-backlit subject, the results are simply spectacular.
It turns even average Macro shots into objects of great beauty. The OOF highlights are equally rendered into glowing orbs of softly-lit near-circles.
It is a sturdy, heavy lens with heavily-damped focusing rings, both the normal focus ring and the front Macro ring. The focusing throw is long and slow, just what's needed for closeup work.
But (on my copy, at least) the aperture ring is sloppy and has very loose detents, making an accurate setting difficult. You can easily change apertures throughout the entire range with a single finger, there is virtually no resistance or positive "Lock".
If you are looking for an unusual Macro style and "Wow" reaction, the Sears is the ticket. And at $50.00 or so, it can't be beat for value. But for ultimate sharpness or general short tele work, there are many better lenses.
   
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2011
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 123

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 20, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Interesting macro capability, well-built, nice colors, good bokeh, great value
Cons: poor sharpness, lots of CA
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I just got this fully manual lens (no "A" setting on it) - dirt cheap - in near-mint physical condition with a PK mount and tested it out yesterday with my K-r. The glow at f2.8 mentioned in the previous review is, indeed, the highlight of this lens. I'd like to try taking a portrait or two with this! So far I've just experimented with knick-knacks and flowers.

Otherwise, while I think I need to work more with it, I find that even stopped down to f8 and at infinite focus what I get is not as sharp as I expect. You can see, in this picture, the lack of sharpness and the CA (which is correctable in Lightroom).

But you know, for $10 (OK, plus $13 for shipping and insurance) and the really cool macro effect, I can definitely recommend this lens for
   
Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2011
Location: Minahasa, North Celebes (Sulawesi)
Posts: 585

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 27, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $85.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: "A" setting. Solid. Sharp even wide open. Nice colors. Interesting macros. Not bulky
Cons: Quite rare
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 9   

This lens is quite popular, but it seems there is no review yet, so let's get started

Required mine recently. I have not tried the 'non-macro' version, I also have no idea if all of the 'macro' version also have the "A" setting, but mine is with macro and "A" setting, also with Ricoh pin that I quickly removed. Shots really nice and sharp, very easy focusing. Colors are rich and contrast well-maintained. The most interesting part is the 'macro zone'. It gives the celebrated glowing effect at the widest aperture. Not many lens offers this feature, at least not at this lens price range.

This shot is without engaging macro:


Engaging the 'macro', this is the result:



Sample shots:





This lens is sharp, even at wide open aperture.



Cropped from above:




Cropped from above:



Great experience using this lens, definitely recommended!

ADDED:
I just bought another version of Sears 135mm F2.8 lens. Still with the "Macro" front dial, but without the "A" feature. Will post comparison as soon as the lens arrived.
Add Review of Sears 135mm F/2.8 With Macro Zone



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