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Old Jul 15, 2011, 2:19 PM   #1
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Default Canon 135mm 2.0 vs 70-200 2.8 is

First, I confess I am really intrigued by lenses. I might even be a lens junkie.

Let's say you are ready to shoot and the right focal length is 135mm on a Canon full frame camera.

You look into your bag and you can pull out:
Canon 135mm L 2.0 lens
or
Canon 70 200 L 2.8 (is) lens and shoot it at 135mm

What will the prime lens do that the zoom can't? Which would you shoot with and why?

Thanks for free education!

Faithfully yours,
FP
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Old Jul 15, 2011, 2:35 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FaithfulPastor View Post
What will the prime lens do that the zoom can't? Which would you shoot with and why?
Well, the first and most obvious thing is: the prime can shoot at 2.0 and the zoom cannot.

Secondly the 135mm is sharper than the zoom.

The zoom has 2 features that provide benefit over the prime: flexibility and image stabilization.

You have to ask yourself: how often will you use the 135? That's a fairly specialized focal length. A number of low light sports shooters used to use it because it was the longest affordable 2.0 or faster lens (200mm 2.0 / 1.8 lenses are a bit on the pricey side). The 135 is a fantastic portrait lens on full frame but really provides limited flexibility. But with both lenses and shooting portraits on full frame the 135 will win out on IQ.
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Old Jul 15, 2011, 2:43 PM   #3
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Thanks, JohnG.

Somewhat unrelated, but along the same line. I read in one of Scott Kelby's books where he wrote that a lens is at it's best about 2 stops above it's lowest f-stop.

For example, say I'm shooting with my trusty 70-200 is 2.8f. Then the best fstop for that lens would be 3.4F

In general, to me that sounds like decent advice. But I'm no expert. Do you think Kelby is on the right track with this advice?

FP
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Old Jul 15, 2011, 3:27 PM   #4
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FP - every lens has a sweet spot. Generally speaking better lenses perform better 'wide open' than lesser lenses. The 300mm 2.8 is exceedingly sharp wide open while the 70-200 2.8 IS is not. Version II of the 70-200 2.8 IS seems to be a bit sharper wide open than the predecessor - though you pay an awful lot for it.

When you start talking about professional grade lenses, that's one of the things you're paying for - sharpness wide open. Expect any pro grade prime to be sharper than a similar era pro grade zoom though. That's simple engineering. It gets a bit trickier when you compare a modern zoom to an older prime though. For example, my 85mm 1.8 is sharper at 2.0 than my 70-200 2.8 (non IS) is at 2.8. The 85 is a very nice sharp lens. The 70-200 4.0 IS is sharper wide open than the non-IS.

All this boils down to is: what you need to stop a lens down to to get sharp results depends entirely upon the specific lens in question.

However I want to point something out. 2 stops from 2.8 is 5.6, not 3.4.
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Old Jul 15, 2011, 9:43 PM   #5
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For portraiture, you cannot beat the Canon 135 f/2 L. It's superbly sharp, has great bokeh and is black and therefore does not attract attention.

Here is my gallery dedicated to this lens and my old 5D.

http://www.pbase.com/sheila/canon_135f2_with_5d

Sadly, its not a lens I use a great deal now but makes mental note that I should.

Cheers
Sheila
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Old Jul 19, 2011, 12:49 PM   #6
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Shelia,

Thank you for your kind reply. My wife's dream week would be to come to Australia and spend the first 6 days working at the Australia Zoo (Crocodile Hunter's zoo) then spend the weekend singing back for Darlene Zchech at Hillsong.

When looking at your portraits of people, I wondered one simple question. About how far is the distance from your 135mm lens ( on a full frame) to your subject? For example:

http://www.pbase.com/sheila/image/106429624

http://www.pbase.com/sheila/image/57805636
Thanks!

Michael
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Old Jul 27, 2011, 9:05 PM   #7
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Hi Shelia,

Please check your private messages for a message from me.

Michael
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Old Aug 5, 2011, 9:18 AM   #8
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All I can say, which isn't adding much to the thread, is that I would love to have the 135L if I had plenty of money to throw at any lens that suits my fancy (my wife thinks I already do this, ), but I just haven't been able to justify that lens given I have that focal range covered with a very high quality lens that is so much more versatile: 70-200, 2.8 IS. If I primarily did portraits, that might be a different story, but I just need more versatility and I don't have unlimited funds.
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