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Old 22nd of August 2004 (Sun)   #1
drisley
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Default Canon 135F2.0L & EF 1.4x Extender Reviews

Well, I've posted alot about this combo, but I figured it was time to post a permanent review. First I will review the 135F2.0L lens, then the EF 1.4x Extender, then provide a couple sample pictures.



Canon EF 135 F2.0L
After owning the wonderful 70-200F4L, I decided I wanted something smaller, faster, and less conspicuous. Since I already owned a couple of primes, I had no problem giving up the zoom capabilities of the Canon L. However, I wanted to make sure I got something equally as rugged, and with just as good image quality. I did ALOT of searching, and I consistently found reviews stating that perhaps the sharpest piece of glass Canon makes is the 135F2L. Wonderful! It was small, light, and black which gave it much more stealth than a big white zoom. In addition, at F2.0 it was super fast giving me the low light capabilities I wanted from a telephoto.
When the lens arrived I was impressed as soon as I opened the box. The 135F2L is built like the preverbial tank, and was finished in a beautiful black speckled coating. It was solid, and almost felt even better than the 70-200F4L! It comes with the usual Canon plastic screw on lens hood with felt interior. I was so happy with it's weight, and size. As you can see above it's not much bigger than the 85F1.8 prime. This was the best built lens I've ever held. If the build quality was any indication of the image quality, then I would be in for a treat.
Well, I've taken a couple hundred shots with this lens, and I can honestly say this is the sharpest lens, with best contrast, and bokeh, I've ever used. I almost ALWAYs shoot wide open to isolate subjects, and the images are the sharpest I've ever produced. The background blur is simply amazing! I think the lens might have a slight warm tone, or perhaps it's the fantastic contrast deceiving me, but whatever it is, I love it! Stopped down, there is no visible improvement in sharpness. That's because at F2.0 it's already tack sharp! I was shooting wide open outdoors on many occassions, and there has NEVER been a single incidence of flare or chromatic abberation. The latter is a BIG improvement over my second favourite lens, the 85F1.8, which produces chromatic abberation upto about F2.8.
As far as focusing abilities, again this lens is the best/fastest I've used.
The ring-type USM offers full-time manual, is silent, and is BLAZINGLY fast! In addition, in situations when my 70-200F4L and 85F1.8 lenses (both have great focusing abilities) would normally have slight difficulty being accurate, the 135F2L locked on instantly! Much to my pleasure, this lens is almost idiot proof. I've never had such a high percentage of shots that were "keepers". I do very little post-processing to the images... they just don't need it. I can honestly say I've never had so much fun with photography as I have had with this lens.

135F2L Summary:
Image Resolution (Sharpness): 10/10
Flare Control: 10/10
Chromatic Abberation Control: 10/10
Contrast: 10/10
Blur/Bokeh: 10/10
Focus Speed: 10/10
Price: 8/10
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

135.0mm, f/2.0, 0.0003 s (1/4000), iso100


Canon EF 1.4x Extender
Since I would no longer have my 70-200F4L, I was going to lose some range with just the 135F2L. So, I considered the Canon EF 1.4x Extender.
However, I was worried that there would be considerable quality loss using an extender. I checked everywhere on the internet for reviews, and the general consensus was that there was very little image degradation. Still, what was meant by "very little"?

First of all the extender is VERY solid, built just like a piece of L lens. It's even moisture sealed! Since I got the extender, and the 135F2L, I've used them in combination for dozens of pictures. After shooting, when I was post-processing, I honestly could not tell which pictures were taken with or without the extender. That's how good it is optically! Even at 100%, I would say the images are sharper than those from the 70-200F4L. I took some pictures using the 135F2L of heavy textures, both with and without the extender, and there was absolutely NO difference! The thing that sold me is a picture I took of a grizzly bear. I was looking at the web sized version, and noticed a tiny black dot over the bears ear. I thought maybe it was dirt or something on the lens. When I looked at the full size image, I was shocked to see it was a fly! Even the fly's wings were visible!
I now use the extender with full confidence that the resultant pictures will be just as good as if I was using just the bare lens.
You lose one stop of light, so this combo gives you a 189mm F2.8 equivialent L lens. That's very fast for that focal length. In addition that combo is VERY light and smaller than an L zoom lens. I don't get nearly as many stares with this combo as I did with the 70-200F4L.
I would say that if you are already starting with a fast/sharp lens, you can use this 1.4x extender with virtually no loss in image quality. I highly recommend it!

189.0mm, f/2.8, 0.0012 s (1/800), iso100
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Last edited by drisley : 23rd of October 2005 (Sun) at 20:05.
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Old 22nd of August 2004 (Sun)   #2
roanjohn
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If this were the olympics, you just gave this lens the gold.

RO1
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Old 22nd of August 2004 (Sun)   #3
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Absolutely!
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #4
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This lens is high on my purchase list for next year - glad to hear it is functioning as I would expect it to.
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #5
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This is one of the only lenses I've seen to get a perfect 5/5 at FM forums reviews, and a few other places. Other than the moderate price, there is absolutely nothing to put under the "cons" list. This lens is basically flawless.
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #6
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Just great, after reading this (excellent) review, I have this saliva all over my cubic ... See what you've done ? Are you happy ?
Drisley, do you sell your 85mm ?
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #7
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Hehe, well Olegis, considering that you have the 70-200F2.8L, I dont feel too bad
Nope, I dont think I will ever sell the 85F1.8. I love it almost as much as the 135F2L. Since I dont have any zooms, it fills the range between 50mm and 135mm nicely.

Actually, there is one drawback to the 135F2L... it spoils you!
I had to use the 300D kit lens to take the top picture of the lenses.
I was so disappointed with the detail and contrast of the image after exclusively using the 135F2L for the past few weeks.
Even though I was using F8 with the kit lens, the picture looked like it was taken with a cheap point-and-shoot digicam in comparison to what I'm used to with the 135F2L.
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drisley
Even though I was using F8 with the kit lens, the picture looked like it was taken with a cheap point-and-shoot digicam in comparison to what I'm used to with the 135F2L.

It's been a long time since you saw a pic from a 150$ camera, right?
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #9
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Excellent! Thanks for posting this review.. in addition to your post I have edited "The list" in the Review sticky..

I think I need this lens...
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #10
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great review Drisley !
I'm continuously torn between primes and zooms.... I don't know if I want the 200 f/2.8 or the 70-200, I don't know If I should buy the 400 f/5.6 or the 100-400, and so on...

Thanks for taking the time.
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CyberDyneSystems
I think I need this lens...
I don't remember where I saw this, but this always comes to my mind when somebody says "I need ..." -
WANT becomes NEED once we can affort it 8)

Great expression ... So true ...
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drisley
This is one of the only lenses I've seen to get a perfect 5/5 at FM forums reviews, and a few other places. Other than the moderate price, there is absolutely nothing to put under the "cons" list. This lens is basically flawless.
My 135 f/2 arrived last week and, between crappy weather and impossible work deadlines, I've only had one good opportunity to use it. The lens is stunning! I'll be able to post some shots in a few days.


Jim
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #13
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Default Re: Canon 135F2.0L & EF 1.4x Extender Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by drisley
I did ALOT of searching, and I consistently found reviews stating that perhaps the sharpest piece of glass Canon makes is the 135F2L. Wonderful! It was small, light, and black which gave it much more stealth than a big white zoom. In addition, at F2.0 it was super fast giving me the low light capabilities I wanted from a telephoto.[/img]
Thanks for a great review.

I'm trying to imagine how this lens fits into a typically shooting senario. I've seen the 85/1.8 used for a variety of low-light settings. For the same settings, the 135/2.0 would get you additional tight shots, but changing lenses back and forth between the 85 and the 135 would be a hassle. (That's probably why the 70-200/2.8 zoom is so dominant.)

My question is -- what are examples of when the 135/2.0 would be very useful as the main lens for the shoot (aside from portraits)? The 135/2.0 on a full frame SLR is equivalent to the 85/1.8 on the 10D. Is is possible that the 135/2.0 finds its greatest utility with film cameras?
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #14
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Default Re: Canon 135F2.0L & EF 1.4x Extender Reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by maderito
My question is -- what are examples of when the 135/2.0 would be very useful as the main lens for the shoot (aside from portraits)? The 135/2.0 on a full frame SLR is equivalent to the 85/1.8 on the 10D. Is is possible that the 135/2.0 finds its greatest utility with film cameras?
One of the reasons I bought this lens is for shooting theatre (musicals, mostly). I use the 24-70 f/2.8 on the 1D Mk II for most shots but it is never really long enough for face closeups. I intend to put the 135 f/2.0 on the Rebel (for a 216mm film equivalent) and use both cameras for a shoot. I think it will be a great combo.

Jim
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Old 23rd of August 2004 (Mon)   #15
drisley
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I like using the lens for candid "street photography". It gives you nice reach, and is very inconspicuous.
For theatre work I would do, I usually have my pick of what row I want.
Knowing the lighting, I can easily get 1/250s shots at F2 and ISO1600.
The 85F1.8 was very nice for this purpose, but I found I would like to isolate the subject more from the background. In addition, as sharp as the 85F1.8 is, the 135F2L is even sharper wide open. Thus I can be assured of razor sharp images without having to stop down at all.
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