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Sony 135mm f/1.8 GM - First Mirrorless Version


Autofocus f/1.8 135mm primes have only been around since 2007 (Zeiss) and they had the marke to themselves on the Sony Alpha DSLRs for a decade Then we got the ikonic Sigma DSLR version, in 2017, which set the standard for 135mm image quality. I bought the Sigma as soon as it came out. It's image quality blew me away and put every other lens I'd ever used to shame! Unfortunately it didn't get enough use because it was too heavy, mostly how front heavy it was and especially noticeable on a mirrorless camera (Sony A9). Fortunately Sony decided to make the first mirrorless version for the Sony FE mount in 2019, but would it be as good?..

Sony A1 - bokeh pano


135mm Lenses

Canon and Nikon have had AF 135mm f/2.0 lenses for many years, but f/1.8 versions are rather new. Zeiss was the first to make one (for the Sony Alpha DSLRs) back in 2007. Then Sigma showed them what amazing image quality really looked like. Sony was the first to make a mirrorles version and managed to retain much of the Sigma's image quality while really cutting the weight down.

  • 2007 - Zeiss A - 1,210g (2.67 lbs)

  • 2017 - Sigma - 1,200g (2.65 lbs)

  • 2019 - Sony FE - 950g (2.09 lbs)

  • 2022 - Samyang FE - 772g (1.7 lbs)

  • 2023 - Canon RF - 935g (2.06 lbs)

  • 2024 - Nikon Z - 995g (2.19 lbs)

The Sony A1 & Sigma lens weighed 1,937g (4.27 lbs), which made it heavier than the Sony A99II + Zeiss 135 from 2007 (1,899g (4.19 lbs). Switching to the Sony 135GM lens brings that weight down to a much more manageable 1,687g (3.58 lbs), but what makes this more pleasant to use is its weight distribution. It's nowhere near as front heavy as the Sigma. Admittedly you can get that down further still to 1,509g (3.32 lbs) with the Samyang version, which is insanely good for the price and weight, but the Sony 135GM just does most things a little better (colours, AF, buttons).


Build Quality

The lens is really well built, with great weather sealing. I have take it out in heavy rain and snow with no issues at all. It has some nice controls too, including a declickable aperture ring, two custom buttons, a focus limiter and AF on/off switch. The hood is nice and big, with a rubberized front ring and a locking button. I don't think you could ask for much more given its price and weight.


Image Quality

If it wasn't for the Sigma version of the 135mm f/1.8 lens I would say the Sony is pretty image quality perfection. Both are pretty great on sharpness, even right into the corners when wide open, but I did feel the bokeh rendering on the Sigma was a touch nicer. That's a bit subjective of course, but one thing that wasn't was the CA & ghosting from strong light sources. The Sony isn't bad, it's probably better than most other high performing lenses, it's just the Sigma was insane. I could have the sun in frame and there would be nothing on the other side of the frame, as long as you weren't stupidly using a filter to "protect" your lens.



The focus speed from the dual linear XD motors is extremely impressive considering it's massive glass elements. It tracks subjects really well on the Sony A1 and it nearly totally silent.

The minimum focus distance of 69cm (27 inches) makes this lens capable of closeups on people's faces or prducts. It also makes it a half decent macro lens too, especially when you pair it with a high megapixel body like the A1 (see below).

Similarly if you're shooting things further away a 50mp sensor does so well on this lens that you can kind of use it to increase your usable focl length. For example, the results from this lens can be cropped very use-ably to a 200mm f2.7 (23mp) or even a 300mm f/4 (10mp) equivalent. Since it performs well at its widest aperture you can almost always shoot at low ISO and reliably crop like crazy without concern. Although it's not a cheap lens I think it's actually reasonably priced for what it is. Even when cropped to 200mm it let's in more light and provides better subject isolation than the Sony 70-200GM II.


Bokeh Panos

This focal length can feel a bit restrictive, so if you want a winder angle with the dreamy shalllow depth of field you can use the bokeh panoramas technique (A.K.A. "Brenizer Method"). Just shoot a bunch of images with locked settings and stitch them together. I have been shooting these for 15 years now, they're much easier to shoot on mirrorless cameras and lighter lenses,

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