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Canon EF 135mm f2L USM review. Part 2.

canon 135 f2L usm review

canon 135 f2l with lens hoodI already wrote about this lens Article... I recently rented it for filming conferences with a lot of participants and was very happy.

Canon EF 135mm f2L USM Is a portrait prime lens. The catch is which ones they should take portraits. It is inconvenient for staged filming. 135mm is a specific focal length.

135mm in wedding photography

In the first review, I wrote that I prefer 85mm for weddings and walking photo sessions... At 85mm, it is convenient to work with people, you don't need to move too far away from the person with it, and at the same time, it gives an excellent background blur. 135mm forces you to be at some distance from the subject. I would say the average distance is 5 meters. Of course you can talk to a person at that distance and you can walk around him with a radius of 5 meters, but this is uncomfortable. Especially if you are filming a wedding in some popular location, for example, in Mezhyhiria... It would seem that a location with an area of ​​140 hectares ... In practice, when you appear in Mezhyhirya in the summer, it is very crowded there. Lines of couples with photographers stand at each bridge / arch / bush. In such conditions, it simply will not work far back with a telephoto lens. This situation is not only with Mezhyhirya. Even on an ordinary street, the photographer often has nowhere to go so that the newlyweds fit into the frame. It is worth remembering that the result will be quite similar between 85mm and 135mm. For weddings, it is better to opt for the practical option.

What is the Canon EF 135mm f2L USM for?

I began to write my second review when I saw the true purpose of this wonderful lens. It forces you to be at a certain distance from the subject. This is also its advantage.

When you shoot people at 135mm, the distance to them is such that they no longer pay attention to you. With 85mm this effect is absent. For me personally, this is a decisive factor, because this focal length allows you to take portraits discreetly. The appearance of the lens is also beneficial: it is not a long white tube like any 70-200, but a medium-sized black lens. Not small, but not gigantic either. At any event, be it a wedding, corporate, birthday etc. with 135mm, you can catch vivid emotions on people's faces without attracting their attention. This is a very important point. With 85mm, you need to approach a distance from which you will be clearly visible. The situation is different with 135mm. Now I will show you a series of portraits made in this vein.

I find 85mm optimal for working with people when you need their attention and communication. 135mm, on the contrary, is needed to work with people in incognito mode. As a result, these two lenses give completely different photographs.

I really like Canon 135mm f2L in conjunction with 24-70 f2.8L for reporting. The 2 lenses offer tremendous focal length coverage and therefore a lot of flexibility.

The frames were taken from the same distance. At 24-70, I deliberately closed the diaphragm so that both men were in focus. At 135mm it would not help, but it isolates the person from others.

135mm or 70-200mm?

I don't like 70-200mm lenses. I took a few years for the f4 version and sold it as unnecessary. All 70-200 lenses are large, white and eye-catching. That one thing, that another interferes with my work.

Review-comparison Canon EF 70-200 f4L IS USM vs Canon EF 135mm f2L USM

In the 70-200 series, the stabilizer pleases. With it, you can shoot at fast shutter speeds. The main drawback of 135 f2 I see is not that it is a fix, but that it does not have a stabilizer. The Canon 70-200mm f4L IS can shoot at shutter speeds up to 1/80. On Canon EF 135mm f2L USM less than 1/200, I would not bet. Also 135mm is not very suitable for video because of this. Camera movement will always be jerky. Only software stabilization will help, reducing the quality. However, this is not so critical for photography, f2 allows you to set short exposures in any room.

The advantage of 70-200 still appears if you are shooting someone in the distance, and they come up to you and ask them to take a picture. With 135mm on your camera, you quickly go into your bag to change lenses. On the other hand, at 70mm you can shoot a group portrait without changing the lens.

There is one more nuance of using 70-200: most often you shoot them just in the 135mm region, that is, in the middle of the range focal lengths... 200mm is rarely used and 70mm doesn't feel like a good telephoto.


Overall, I find the Canon EF 135mm f2L USM more interesting than any 70-200 lens. You need to learn how to work with a fixed focal length and the lens gains some advantages as a reportage telephoto. For productions, I see it as meaning only for a change. This will already be more a whim of the photographer than a practical necessity.

Also read: portrait comparison on Canon 50mm f1.4, Canon 85mm f1.8 and Canon 135mm f2L.