For a nice birthday gift that made a truly and awesome birthday gift. In my opinion, and as lucky owner of this glass, the above title says it all. But if you still need to find out more on what the Canon EF 135mm f/2 L USM is capable of (I won’t call it a review, it’d be biased), keep on reading.

The *Magic Prime* (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2009)

The *Magic Prime* (Vietnam, 2009)

I simply could not wait. She had a few tricks in her bag to make me drool over my birthday gift box this year. But I know my wife and she could not resist to show me the package (or I do not know her that well and it was too difficult to hide the box in our “decorationless” appartment).

A few weeks earlier I made a ‘not-so-little’ wish list of gifts and came up with some lenses (Canon 85mm f/1.8, Sigma 50mm f/1.4), some non-photography related stuff. The 135L was by far the most expensive object and it was there with little hope to get it. Anyway the package would not tell me what was inside but the box format could only be a lens. I took the chance to weight it and within a second I simply knew its content. I own another L lens and that box was quite heavier already. It could not be any other glass, and from there I must open it and try it out.

The first few shots had our cat as subject and I was amazed by the results. I was a little worry not being able to zoom but wanted very good picture quality in low-light situation (my DSLR body is VERY noisy, anywhere from 200 ISO!). No regrets: re-framing involves physically moving but wow! it well worth the little extra hassle.

Suki

Suki (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2009)

The lens gives its best at f/4 (center) and f/5.6 (center AND corners) and a slight vignetting at f/2 (though negligible on a crop sensor), no distortion to be seen and unlike what I’ve read, I am still looking for chromatic aberration to happen. Simply put: I gain a hell lot of time in post-processing since I got this glass.

In the field, the Minimum Focus Distance (circa 90cm) does not bother me a bit. Same thing for the magnification of .19x (not sure if that value is for the crop sensor). However, 135mm is long… If you need to shoot a couple you better have a lot of room behind you. For animals it is just great, you do not have to get too close to see them well and fill the frame. I have also used it for travel photography and it gives great result. I had to change lens a lot of times though.

For all these reasons I have updated my photo gear purchase plan. First, I will get a new DSLR body (most likely the Canon 7D next time I set a foot in Hong Kong), so that I can carry two bodies in my bag and not have to switch lenses all the time. Later on, a full-frame body somewhere in around two years, when the 5D Mark III will be available, and in between an extra lens, probably a prime again 🙂

Last but not least, a few extra samples pictures, most of them being shot at f/2…

Pros:

  • Amazing sharpness from f/2 to f/32
  • Impressive color rendition
  • Fast focus + focus limiter
  • Large focus ring
  • Sturdy like an L lens
  • Not as heavy as you’d imagine
  • I love my wife even more!

Cons:

  • On an APS-C sensor, 135mm is a little long without IS

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