Canon’s enthusiast-friendly 135mm f/2 Portrait lens is a true workhorse and works wonders for Art, the Canon 135mm f2 Portrait lens offers truly excellent sharpness and contrast across the frame, outstanding performance for the price point. And features like an optimized front lens element that delivers beautiful bokeh. It also has a dedicated portrait mode that turns this lens into one of the most appealing portrait lenses out there.
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The Canon 135mm f/2 Lens Review
The new Canon 135mm f/2 comes in at around $1000 USD, making it one of the more affordable portrait lenses on the market…something that is especially important as you increase your shooting speed and switch to autofocus cameras with smaller sensors.
I really enjoyed using this lens: the creative control that you have over your images is amazing. The sharpness and resolution of this lens are gorgeous, and if you really want something to stand out in a portrait, using the selective focus mode of this lens will do it. That said, this lens didn’t feel quite as natural on a DSLR at f2 as I thought it might: it would make for one hell of a fast-aperture portrait shooter on an APS-C or MFT camera.
Here’s what I loved about this Lens:
Features of the Canon 135mm f/2 Portrait Lens
• Smooth bokeh—this is one area where the Canon 135mm shines. The smooth bokeh makes a huge difference in how appealing and artistic your portraits are, giving a very “documentary” feel to your images.
• Fast aperture—if you shoot wide open, this is a lens that will never be out of focus, even in low-light situations. An f2 aperture is ideal for those times when you’re shooting at night or indoors. And if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to try this lens out, just get the “kit” version with the 2X teleconverter attached: shooting at f8 it gets closer than ever before to instant bokeh perfection.
• Sharpness—the image quality is also quite impressive. I did find that the newer 135mm f/2 had slightly better sharpness and bokeh, but the Canon 135mm lens is still very good.
• Nice build quality—I love the fact that this lens has a metal exterior. It makes it feel like a serious piece of equipment, and you get more stability in your images as well.
• Built-in image stabilization—this feature makes this lens even more versatile by giving you more options when it comes to shooting; it’s especially handy for isolating your subject with a shallow depth of field.
• Exhaling and breathing—I love this feature, as it will give you a nice “breathing” effect in your portrait shots. In low light or indoor situations, the new Canon 135mm f/2 allows you to use this interesting feature by simply adjusting the focus mode on your camera (which is handy for videos).
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• Portraits and portraits only—this is a lens that shines in portraits, making it a favorite among photographers and people who get paid to shoot people. It’s a great lens for anyone who has to work with lots of people every day.
• Wide aperture—the wide f/2 aperture is ideal for wedding photographers shooting indoors. And at nighttime or in dark situations. The bottom line: if you need a Canon 135mm fast-aperture lens that performs well in low light, this is it.
• Built-in optical stabilization—this lens has a built-in IS that can be activated via switches on the barrel of the lens. The switch allows you to turn off the IS for video if you prefer.
• Landscape shooters love this lens—I love having a fast telephoto portrait lens, as I find it makes shooting landscapes even easier with more flexibility to isolate subjects from their backgrounds. The new Canon 135mm f/2 makes a great landscape lens as well.
• Sharp focus—the subject is always in razor-sharp focus, even at f/2, with accurate autofocus as well. The autofocus is fast and accurate.
• Useful for videos—I found that this lens was very smooth to use for video; the preset aperture modes made it easy to get smoothly transitioning backgrounds for video. With the combination of telephoto length and nice bokeh. The new Canon 135mm f/2 makes for a great portrait lens for video.
• Great for portrait photographers—this lens becomes a formidable portrait lens once you reach f/2. It’s also a great tool for buying some extra time to get your shot. Without having to resort to a slower lens. If you find yourself shooting fast, this is one of the best lenses you can own right now.
• Provides the creative control that I like—I love having the ability to choose what I want in my photo (also called the selective focus). And this lens delivers on this in spades. You can choose exactly where to look sharp within your frame. And there are advanced features like AF-Lock available as well.
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• Quality Construction—you don’t have to worry about the durability of this lens; the casing is metal and you can tell that it’s solidly built. If you need a fast telephoto portrait lens, this is one nice piece of equipment.
• Close focusing range—another feature that I really like. Is that the new Canon 135mm f/2 has a minimum focusing distance of 0.85m. Which can come in handy. When you want to shoot something really close up or want slightly more flexibility in your framing. This is especially true if you are using it as an astrophotography lens for landscape photography (or for birding).
• Image Stabilization—I love having IS on a lens of this type. As it lets you shoot handheld in low light with a faster shutter speed.
• Can be used for advanced shooting—not only is the Canon 135mm f/2 good for portraits and portraits alone, but you can also do some really creative things with it if you’re advanced in your shooting. By using a combination of AF and IS, you can create some really amazing images with this lens: just be sure to download your images as RAW.
• Built-in ring-type ultrasonic motor—this built-in motor does a great job of performing autofocus quickly as well as accurately. There’s no trouble with in-camera focusing at all, no matter what type of camera you use.
• Smooth transition from sharp to blur—the smoothness of the bokeh transition is beautiful. And I found that my images really popped when I used this lens for portraits. In fact, this lens gives you a lot of flexibility. When it comes to choosing the range where you want to focus when shooting portraits.
• Easy to use—the focus rings are smooth and not too tight, so you can quickly zero in on your subject. The manual focus also offers some nice options in case you want to fine-tune your focus from a distance.
• Images look great with this lens—this is a very sharp lens; the images are sharp and beautiful, even when shooting wide open at f/2. This is the type of lens that you’ll have fun shooting. And will definitely deliver on all of the reasons that I love it.
• Value for money—this is one of the best lenses that Canon makes right now. This means it’s also one of the best values for money as well.