Why You Should Try a 135mm Lens for Portraits

The most classic portrait focal length is 85mm, but 135mm lenses have a special place in the heart of a lot of photographers. If you have not tried one in your own work, check out this excellent video that discusses the benefits of working with one and offers some helpful tips. 

Coming to you from Julia Trotti, this great video discusses the benefits of using a 135mm lens for portraits as well as some tips for creating effective compositions with one. Traditionally, 85mm is the focal length of choice for portraiture, but of course, it is not the only reasonable choice. A lot of photographers prefer longer focal lengths, as the additional compression tends to flatten the features a bit more, and there are some beautiful 135mm options out there at rather affordable prices compared to premium 85mm lenses, such as the Canon 135mm f/2L. There are some downsides, on the other hand. Most notable is the increased working distance. If you are working outdoors, this probably will not be an issue, but if you are shooting in a studio, things can get a little tight compared to shorter focal lengths. Still, you might prefer the look of the longer focal length for your work. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Trotti.

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6 Comments

Joe Hogan's picture

I was foolish enough to sell a Canon 135 f2L once. And realised it the day later. It took me a year of mourning until I decided I couldn't live without it. It's not the lens I use most, but it is THE lens that I would now, never ever part with.

Alex Cooke's picture

Ha, same exact experience here! Sold mine, bought another copy a few months later. Love that lens.

Gregory Mason's picture

I had one when I shot film, its a nice length to shoot portraits with.

John MacLean's picture

I’ve owned a Nikkor 135mm f/3.5 back in the 80s, and used a Canon 135mm f/2, but I prefer the versatility of my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8.

Rolando Urenaphoto's picture

I use 135 mm for portrait for more than 40 years. It’s excellent.

Sylvain Santoro's picture

This is my favorite focal lense : when I was using Canon gears, of course I used the Canon 135mm f2.
Now I shoot with Fuji gear and my first lens choice was of course the 90mm f2 (135mm equivalent)