No one can deny Canon's prowess when it comes to making lenses. Fans of the Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM have long waited for an update, myself included.
To be fair, releasing a version II will not make the original any worse. In fact, the telephoto prime is superb. Despite seeing new challengers, has Canon become complacent in neglecting this lens or is it still competitive in 2018? We will look at what options are available for photographers and how do these lenses stack up against the 135mm f/2L.
I confess that I prefer using zoom lenses, especially for wedding photography when things happen at a very fast pace. For more than eight years, Canon shooters have been blessed by the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM and like so many of you, I bit the bullet to acquire one brand new and it has become the workhorse lens ever since.
The focal range is incredibly versatile but whenever I get enough space, I just go ahead and shoot at 200mm.
My preference is to shoot dual bodies on a wedding day because the 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM pairs so well with the 70-200mm. In fact, 95 percent of my shots are covered by the 24mm to 200mm focal range and capturing them without the need to swap lenses is a major convenience factor.
Here comes my second confession: damn is this combination heavy!
Realizing that I am not getting any younger, I started to pair my 24-70mm with the legendary 135mm f/2L USM during morning preparation and later at reception. My shoulders never felt so relieved. Most importantly, I always feel that guests are looking at my white lens (it sticks out like a sore thumb as I am often dressed in black); the lightweight telephoto allows me to shoot much more discreetly.
The Imperfect, Perfect Lens
Canon has yet to update the 135mm prime despite the rumors. I have heard arguments from both sides, in particular how the lens is so sharp and quick with autofocus (both true) that there's no need to upgrade anything. Some see the 70-200mm as a replacement, or an alternative to the large aperture telephoto.
The 135mm isn't without flaws though. The weather sealing (if any) doesn't come close to the 70-200mm so during critical assignments where durability matters, I just grab the zoom lens. Canon really designed the zoom lens to become a workhorse, there's no better adjective to describe it.
For cinematographers, the lack of image stabilization makes it difficult to shoot without using a tripod. The new Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM is stellar, but the focal length is just too close to the zoom's 70mm. There were instances where I wish I had image stabilization on my 135mm; seeing a money shot slightly out of focus at 100 percent crop can be frustrating.
Here Comes the New Challenger
Those buying the zoom for the first time will not be disappointed and no doubt Canon will sell countless copies of the version III. However, I don't see any reason to upgrade because the existing lenses are just that good.
Still Hanging Onto the 135mm?
Anyone out there still hanging onto the 135mm and if yes, what will it take for you to let it go? Share your experience using the 135mm in the comments!