Auto Danubia Compact 135mm f/2.8 M42 Lens Review

Today I’ll take a look at the cheapest 135mm lens I could find: The Auto Danubia Compact 135mm f/2.8. Let’s see if it is worth considering if you are on a budget.

Build

The lens is made of all metal and glass, except for the rubber focus ring appears to be disconnected from the body. While it fits snugly around the barrel, it can simply be taken off. There is an imprint, that claims that the lens is made in Japan. It is a rather short lens for its focal length. It feels moderate in weight for its size. The glass has a green-shimmering coating.

My copy came with a metal front cap. It didn’t come with a rear cap, so I 3D-printed one. It has an integrated lens hood which loosely slides in and out when the front cap is removed, but it can be fixed in its extended position by turning it a little.

The focus ring is smooth and the aperture ring is clicky. Both feel reasonably well.

My lens has a sticker claiming it was made in 1982. It comes with an M42 screw-mount which you can adapt to most modern systems, as long as you don’t mind fully manual controls.

Image quality

Overall image quality is rather poor, unless you stop down a lot. In this gallery I gradually stop down. Trust me, I focused correctly. This is really it:

All Photos taken with my Sony A7R II.

The sweet spot at a distance for this lens is at an impressive f/11.

You CAN get fairly sharp pictures wide open, but only at the closest focusing distance (which by the way is at a fairly long 1.5m):

Contrast is below average.

At longer distances sharpness appears to drop at all apertures:

Notice the loss of sharpness in the distance

The quality of the out of focus areas is smooth, probably because the entire lens is blurry:

This is the full extent of this lens’s macro capabilities, but the bokeh is pleasing.

Chromatic aberrations are surprisingly low. Maybe they are hidden by the blur the lens, as well? The lens is very prone to flaring, but the integrated hood is quite deep and thus prevents it typically.

Verdict

This Auto Danubia Compact 135mm f/2.8 is the cheapest option for a 135mm f/2.8 lens I could find at the time. You can easily get it for under 10€. In fact, I’m selling mine right now.

Still you probably shouldn’t buy it. In my opinion, it’s unusable at anything faster than f/5.6, and it’s good at f/8 exclusively. If you are on a seriously tight budget and don’t mind stopping down this much, it might be an option. Otherwise I recommend saving up just a little more and get the Prakticar 135 f/2.8, which is much better at wider apertures.

If you are shooting analog and only look at “normal size” prints, get this, because you probably won’t notice the softness in most situations.

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