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Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM Lens Review

By Cory Disbrow on July 5th, 2011   |    Posted in:  Camera Gear   |    3 Comments

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM Lens Review

The Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM prime lens is a lens I really enjoy and hope you will give it a try after reading this review.

Build Quality

First things first, let’s talk about the build quality of the Canon 135mm f/2L lens. Being of the Canon L Series, it is built like an absolute tank. First class all the way. And it needs to be built that way, looking at the monstrous front element. F/2 requires a lot of glass!! Seeing as this is a prime (fixed focal length) lens, it only has one rubber ring on it, that being the manual focus ring. It is nice and smooth, but also not too loose at the same time. Again, very nice.

In the Box

Don’t expect any fun surprises when you first open the box, it will include exactly what other lenses come with. Canon ships the the lens with a lens cap, lens hood and a carrying pouch.

Canon EF 135mm f/2L on a tripod

Performance

This Canon 135mm f/2L is considered to be part of Canon’s “Holy Trinity of Prime Lenses”, along with the Canon 35mm f/1.4 and the Canon 85mm f/1.2 (read our review of the alternate Sigma 85mm f/1.4). That said, we expect some serious performance. And boy do we get it. The autofocus is blazingly fast, even on my Canon 5D Mark II, which is known for having a somewhat shoddy autofocusing system. The image quality is staggering, sharp wide open at f/2, and it only gets sharper from there. I don’t have another lens in my bag that renders contrast and colors like this one. Being a fast prime lens, bokeh is also something that photographers search for. And again, the Canon 135mm doesn’t disappoint.  Smooth, creamy bokeh that has me barely go above f/2.8 when shooting with it.

Canon 135mm photo example

Canon 135mm f/2L for Disney Photography

The big question is, how does it perform in Disney? This is where the lens will be completely worth it for some, and not so much for others. 135mm is a sort of odd focal length that isn’t really used all that often. It isn’t like an ultra wide angle, or a standard 50mm. So, unless you are parked in Town Square, you won’t get all of Cinderella Castle in the frame. But, Disney theme parks have a ton of amazing detail in them, and if you want to capture them, there is, in my opinion, no better lens.

Canon 135mm bokeh example

With its super fast autofocusing, parades and shows are much easier to shoot with something like this. Take the Finding Nemo musical or Festival of the Lion King for example. Fast aperture + fast autofocus in lower light is always a good thing. It even performs quite well on some of the better lit dark rides, like it’s a small world and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.

Canon 135mm photo example from Epcot

Canon 135mm Disney World

In Conclusion

So in conclusion, the Canon EF 135mm f/2L lens is an extraordinary piece of glass. It has superb build, wonderful autofocusing, and amazing image quality. The only thing that keeps it from being a must in every Canon Disney shooter’s bag is the focal length. If using a telephoto lens quite a bit isn’t your thing, you would be better served with something wider, like the Canon 17-40mm f/4L or the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. But, if you like capturing every last detail of the parks, and portraits of characters and performers, this is a lens for you.

Products Referenced in this Review

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Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this lens review, and if you did, help us spread the word by clicking the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or G+ sharing buttons at the top. Every little bit helps and we appreciate it! Be sure to stop by our Disney Photography Forum to join in on the discussion and post some of your own photos!

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see ya real soon!

3 Comments

  1. Crystal & Bryan   |   Jul 5, 2011

    Damn you, Cory! Between this lens and the Sigma 85mm you’re going to cost us a fortune! :)

  2. ChiSoxKeith   |   Jul 6, 2011

    Up next on wdwphotography.com, how to come up with all the cash to support your gear habit.

    Seriously!

    Great work Cory.

  3. Chris M   |   Jul 7, 2011

    Great review, thanks! The 135mm prime is next on my list… the Nikkor one though :)

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