Geartalk: Canon EF 135mm f2.0 L USM

For the longest time, the best lens i owned was the Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 28mm f2.0. Nothing will ever stop making that a great lens, perhaps THE best 28mm lens for the Canon full frame system. But a new King has arrived, in my small little world of gear. The Canon EF 135mm f2.0 L USM. Perhaps the best technical review of this lens can be found on The Digital Picture, so i won’t reinvent the wheel by telling you what that review already says to great effect.

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What i will tell you is why i like this lens, and why i think i’ll carry this lens anywhere. I’ll start with the last part first. It’s a huge chunk of glass, but it isn’t as heavy as it looks (or as i thought it would be). And for what it does so well, it’ll be silly to leave it at home. It’s give you reach. It gives you DOF separation. It fast enough for low/poor light conditions. It is so sharp, if it was any sharper, it’ll cut your eyeball in the viewfinder. Why not bring it everywhere?

And i did exactly that for a few of my most recent outings. To a concert, to an engagement party, to a portraiture engagement. That and the highly competent Canon 17-40mm f4.0 L and you’ve got most bases covered, as a general walk about setup. Suffice to say, i didn’t miss a shot, was never left wanting (what i call Missing Focal Length Syndrome) and was pleased everytime the shutter snapped.

Alright — now why do i like this lens? I feel that it, like the Zeiss Distagon 28mm, has character. The images have a snap, a pop, a sizzle, some pleasant vignetting wide open, and micro-contrast detail to die for. Colours seem more vibrant. Bokeh looks creamier. Subjects are rendered in as close to 3D as you can possibly hope to imagine. And it’s all done almost effortlessly. Just get the composition and framing decent, and the lens does the rest in the most astonishing way.

It’s the type of image quality that makes you fall in love with the image (which isn’t a necessarily a good thing, depending on who you ask). And love is good. At least for me and Robin Wong.

Enjoy the sample images from this lovely lens — note the amazing colour saturation in the colour photos, the sharpness and detail in the B&Ws. Click through for the larger versions on Flickr.

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Tha Jie Ying - IMG_5435

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