I think we can call 2022 the year of budget anamorphic lenses. It's mid-December and I'm not even sure this is the last lens that we'll see this year. Let's talk about Sirui's missing piece for their full-frame anamorphic Venus set, the 135mm one.
This is the longest lens in the set and there's very little to dislike about telephotoanamorphics. The only thing off the top of my head is that the weight might make handling a bit challenging, but we'll get there. While the rest of the set has a 1.6x squeeze, Sirui decided to push for more on their last lens and deliver a 1.8x squeeze. This means the 135mm has a horizontal field of view equivalent to a 75mm spherical. This is still a bit tighter than the 100mm with 1.6x, which matches a 62.5mm spherical, and you can really feel the difference in bokeh.
Back to the weight thing of the longer telephotos, this one weighs 1300g or just under 3 pounds, and while it's a heavy lens, it's 200g lighter than the 100mm. I won't complain about that. The lighter build combined with Panasonic's anamorphic stabilization gives very pleasing results even handheld. Just make sure not to jitter while handling it. It's much easier to handle than the Vazen 135mm, thanks to the difference in size and weight.
Even then we still have a quarter-inch hole at the bottom of the lens to attach lens support. To get the tech specs out of the way, the lens has 82mm threads and comes with a variety of mounts: L, E, RF and Z. Focus throw is about 120 degrees, and we have engravings in both feet and meters on both sides of the lens. Focus and iris rings are geared and match positions with the rest of the set.
Considering that this is a Sirui telephoto, I'm a little disappointed with the short focus throw. I'd want way more control over that. Maximum aperture matches the rest of the set at T2.9. While this hunts the wider end of the spectrum at 135mm, T 2.9 is almost too hard to keep things in focus. For my tests, I'd go for T4 when trying to boost my depth of field a few inches. Minimum focus sits at 0.9 meters, or just short of three feet, and face close-ups at this distance look pretty intense. Watch out for the change in squeeze Factor though. At minimum focus, we'll see a lot of squeeze change with a squeeze at 1.67x, while the most desired 1.8x shows up at Infinity.
The thing I'll keep hammering on this review is bokeh. I love how these out-of-focus areas create a unique texture to the background. As per Sirui tradition, the lens is super sharp at its focus plane, while the longer focal length almost cuts off the subject from its surroundings, landing to dramatic close-ups and dreamy feeling imagery. I do feel bokeh is not as elongated as I would want it to be though, like for a 1.8x squeeze. I had lots of fun filming things from pretty far away and still getting an interesting visual that I couldn't create with a different focal length.
And going longer than this is definitely for specialty shots. Despite the long focal length, we still see some pincushion distortion going on with this lens - but not to a point where it would be inconvenient - and most of the time unless you're filming a grid, you're not going to notice it. For flares, I feel this 135mm is the subtlest of the whole full frame set, with still strong saturated blue flares but not as overpowering as they used to be. Even the general wash from large bright areas is better controlled here.
This is a super fun long lens that allows for unique shots, but is not as versatile and popular as a wider focal length. I think overall I want it vocate to be a little more oval-shaped, and I find it strange to have a 1.8x to cap off a 1.6x set: not the best in terms of consistency. The lighter build is very welcome as well as all the good mechanics. The price is very affordable compared to Vazen’s 135mm full-frame. But at the same time, we have to deal with the changing squeeze factor.