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Canon 135mm F2

A gift from the photography gods

The Canon 135mm f2 is often overlooked in favor of the very popular 70-200 zoom option by many a wedding photographer. But, for us this focal length and aperture combo creates a look we love and just can’t live without!  Ariel and I both want to shoot this wonder of a lens all the time, it just so good.  It has the fastest autofocusing speed of any lens we’ve ever used.  For dark ceremonies you can literally attain immediate focus across a large church in f2.0 light!! It doesn’t search at all, a half release of the shutter and it’s in focus. Every first kiss image we create now has at least one angle from this lens.  When we need accurate fast autofocusing this is our weapon of choice.

Fast autofocus is great and it would be reason enough for us to carry it in our bag. However, it also happens to be one of our favorite focal distances for portrait photography as well.  It’s perfect suited for beautiful portraits and wide open it can render bokeh that is out of this world. It comes with us on every shoot and surprisingly wins the culling race with some frequency. This lens is nothing short of incredible for portrait sessions, and it creates a soft dreaminess that other lenses just can’t replicate. The true power of this lens is its telephoto focal distance paired with the f2 aperture.  This combination compresses backgrounds and makes people look flattering from every angle.

But still there is even more to love about this marvel of a lens.  It’s insanely sharp! Not just sharp in the middle, it’s sharp everywhere.  How on earth did Canon create a lens this good and sell it for so little? Which is yet another attractive perk at $1089 at the time of this writing, it’s literally a steal.  When paired with the wildly popular Canon 85mm 1.2 you have the ultimate portrait photographers duo.   The 135mm was designed in 1996 and it’s design still holds true.  Actually more than true, in our opinion nothing can touch this baby for autofocus, aperture and cost combined. This lens is one of the reasons many portrait photographers abandon Nikon for a Canon system.

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Fast Autofocus

This thing just gets focus so quickly, it simply amazes!  This lens is very popular with indoor sports photographers thanks to it’s very fast aperture, medium range telephoto and of course the fast autofocusing.  If you consider indoor sports photography and wedding photography in a church side by side the situations are very similar.   Both events tend to take place in rooms with tall ceilings, fluorescent lighting and moving targets.

We immediately gravitated to this lens, thinking if it was used by indoor sports photographers we should have no trouble capturing the bride and her loved ones.  We have never to date had a bride run down the aisle and slam drunk her groom.  However, with the Canon 135 we are ready if such an instance were to ever take place!  Even with our Canon 6d cameras relatively simple 11 point focusing system we attain many sharp in focus images thanks to this lens.

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In Conclusion

If you are looking to create dreamy portraits look no further.  Photography gear tester Ken Rockwell wrote a review about this lens in which he refers to Canon’s 135mm as a virtuoso, which is stated so perfectly.  Like any virtuoso everything it does, it does amazingly well. Which is most certainly an attribute you want out of your equipment anytime you need to perform at your very best.  We can’t recommend this lens enough and we have added a second copy to our bag to keep us from fighting over it.

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More Resources

Are you interested in learning more about this lens? There are lots of great useful resources all of the web to help us photographers achieve our photographic dreams! We have included some of the articles and resources that were helpful for us when researching our own gear purchase.