Another Vintage 135mm Lens

An afternoon with a Sears Auto 135mm M42

I have a funny obsession with the 135mm lens. I have nine of versions. I would have twelve, but I gave a few away. I think it’s a great focal length for urban wildlife and portraits. I also like it for photowalking. All of mine are vintage manual focus lenses, for a variety of mounts.

There are too many lenses here.

This focal length had it’s heyday in the 70s and 80s. These days, serious photographer have gravitated toward the 70-200 zoom. I get it, those are very versatile.

After all of these decades as a photographer, prime lenses just suit my style. The 135 fits nicely in the long end.

I recently acquired this Sears 135mm M42 screw mount lens from a friend. It was not uncommon for department stores to rebrand camera equipment. Sears branded most of their cameras, Tower. And there are a few different versions of the 135mm focal length. I don’t know who made this lens for them. It was made in Japan. It could have been any number of manufacturers. I can say that this lens is optically nicer than any Vivitar 135 that I’ve used. I currently have two versions.

I took it out today and mounted it to my A7. I really like this thing. It’s big and heavy, but it handles well. Solidly built. I like that it has a built-in lens hood too. The focus throw is long. Focus is nice and smooth. A real joy to use on a mirrorless camera. The real test is mounted on my Spotmatic and a roll of Pan F. I’ll do that next week.

I’ve been shooting a few different 135s, and this might be my new favorite. I’m going to have to shoot it a few more times to decide if it’s better than the Takumar. Mirrorless cameras are bringing many of us, so much joy. All you need is the proper adapter to shoot these cool vintage lenses.

These are a few images I shot with this Sears 135.

Final thoughts

This is a very good lens. If you’re shooting an M42 screw mount camera and mirrorless digital, then you can’t go wrong with this lens. This particular model shouldn’t be too difficult to find, just don’t pay to much for it.

If you’re only shooting digital, I think there are better choices for your focal length. I really like the Canon FL 135mm f3.5, Canon FD 135mm 2.8 S.S.C., Nikkor 135mm 2.8, and Minolta 135mm Rokkor-X f2.8.

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