One-off Nikon 135mm 'Plena' lens promises flawless bokeh for portrait photographers

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Nikon Z 135mm Plena lens successful photographer's hands extracurricular pinch grassy background
(Image credit: Nikon)

Can a lens really beryllium perfect? Nikon thinks so, labelling its caller Nikon Z 135mm f/1.8 S Plena lens “the cleanable bokeh lens”. Aimed astatine image photographers, nan one-off Nikon ‘Plena’ is only nan 2nd mirrorless lens from nan camera elephantine pinch its ain name, pursuing nan Nikon Z 58mm f/0.95 S ‘Noct’.

The Noct was a existent showpiece portraiture lens successful nan Nikon Z system, pinch a whopping $8,000 / £8,300 / AU$14,000 database value that makes moreover Leica's optics look for illustration a bargain. The Plena, thankfully, is simply a comparative snip astatine only astir a 3rd of nan costs of nan Noct – it's priced astatine $2,600 / £2,700 / AU$4,600, and goes connected waste successful mid-October.

That value is still importantly costlier than Sony's balanced FE 135mm f/1.8 GM, not to mention nan cheaper-still Samyang 135mm f/1.8 and Sigma’s ain version, which is disposable for aggregate lens mounts. However, Nikon thinks its caller showstopper is next-level, promising flawless information bokeh and nary lens distortion whatsoever, pinch sagittal coma, onion-ring, vignetting, and flare each controlled. 

If that engineering feat has so been achieved, nan Plena will nary uncertainty rank arsenic 1 of nan best Nikon lenses ever, and should beryllium hugely celebrated pinch pro image photographers – nan little value constituent helps, too.

Closeup of nan Nikon Z 135mm Plena lens' Plena signature

(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon’s champion lens yet?

I had immoderate hands-on clip pinch nan Plena alongside nan Nikon Zf up of nan world announcement (they're not a earthy pairing, by nan way), and it’s a sizable spot of glass, pinch acquainted creation cues from Nikon’s different pro S-Line lenses, featuring a akin engraved yellowish signature to nan Noct (it's pictured above), connected an different all-black reliable exterior. 

At 35.1oz / 995g, nan Plena is overmuch smaller and lighter than nan Noct, and successful a akin creation and value bracket to nan Nikon Z 85mm f/1.2 S, which is importantly much costly than a lens for illustration nan Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8. And dissimilar nan manual focus-only Nikon Noct, nan Plena is an autofocus lens, pinch quiet soul focusing and a minimum attraction region of conscionable 2.7ft / 0.82m.

These pro-grade S-line lenses request to connection that overmuch much to warrant nan other cost, and Nikon says nan Plena has nan highest wide rendering powerfulness of immoderate Z-mount lens yet. So it will beryllium tack-sharp crossed nan full image area, astatine immoderate aperture, and will nutrient heavenly-looking bokeh that maintains its circular, buttery-smooth characteristics correct into nan corners, successful immoderate light.

Head and shoulders image astatine nighttime pinch inheritance lights and information bokeh

(Image credit: Nikon)

This is what nan very champion mirrorless lenses do truthful overmuch amended than DSLR lenses: support nan champion optical capacity astatine immoderate aperture, pinch amended power complete lens distortions. And nan Plena, pinch its 11 rounded aperture blades and 16 elements successful 14 groups, should execute amended than most, astatine slightest connected paper. 

It each sounds dreamy, and though I took a fewer photos utilizing nan lens during that sneak peak, we weren't permitted to return those integer files distant pinch america to look at, truthful for now I’ll person to make do pinch immoderate sample images by Nikon pros (above), and look guardant to seeing what nan Plena is really made of during a afloat review. 

I'm particularly willing to spot if bokeh is so information and soft successful nan corners of nan framework – that would beryllium something, because successful different lenses bokeh usually takes a cat-eye style towards nan corners. The Plena is surely a merchandise trial to look guardant to, and should make for an enjoyable image sprout pinch a difference.

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Tim is nan Cameras editor astatine TechRadar. He has enjoyed much than 15 years successful nan photograph video manufacture pinch astir of those successful nan world of tech journalism. During his clip arsenic Deputy Technical Editor pinch Amateur Photographer, arsenic a freelancer and result editor astatine Tech Radar, Tim has developed a profoundly method knowledge and applicable acquisition pinch cameras, educating others done news, reviews and features. He’s besides worked successful video accumulation for Studio 44 pinch clients including Canon, and volunteers his spare clip to consult a non-profit, divers stories squad based successful Nairobi. Tim is curious, a keen creative, avid footballer and runner, and mean level achromatic drinker who has lived successful Kenya and believes we person overmuch to bask and study from each other. 

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