Digital cameras have gone a long way. We even think
that cameras like the Canon 1Ds Mk. II or the Nikon D2X are often more
limited by their lenses than by the cameras and chips.
Here is a list of our current Canon lenses.
One of our most used lenses is the excellent Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L
IS USM. Yes, this lens is a top class zoom. But we should not
forget that all zooms are compromises and top prime lenses still can
do better. Recently we tested (and finally bought) the Canon EF 135mm
Here is an example from our test session comparing these two lenses.
Our test setup:
- Gitzo 1325 tripod
- Arca Swiss B1G ball head
- mirror lockup
- same shutter speed 1/30 sec and f/11
- same processing settings in RSE (shorpnes and detail extraction
set to 0)
- same amount of sharpening with EasyS Sharpening Toolkit
The scene (overcast)
70-200mm f/2.8 IS @131mm (100% magnification)
135mm f/2 corner (100% magnification)
70-200mm f/2.8 IS @131mm corner (100% magnification)
Some more sharpening and more detail
extraction can bring the results of the zoom closer to the 135mm f/2:
RSE sharpness 8 and detail extraction 15 (100% magnification)
Still the principle advantage of the
135mm f/2 lens stays as it provides more natural sharpness to begin
We find that the 135mm f/2 lens delivers
more detail and also more contrast. Interesting how much people discuss
the softness of the images from the cameras and leave the lenses out
of the equation.
For us the quality difference is reason
to use in the future the 135mm f/2 as much as the scene allows.
find the 135mm range kind of boring. But faced with the better image
you would be surprised how well you can capture good frames with
the 135mm lens by moving your body. Yes, there are situations where
is not an option and here the zoom has clearly advantages.
Summary for the 135mm f/2L
- Extremely sharp lens (photodo.com: 4.5)
- Good in low light with f/2
- Bright viewfinder image
- f/2 helps with easier manual focusing
- Reasonable priced for its quality (about $900)
- No IS (image stabilization)
- Not as flexible as the zoom
- Often not optimal for freehand photography (without IS)
We are glad to have the Canon 135mm f/2 now permanently in our bag
and are sure it will be one of our key lenses from now on.