Canon 135mm f2L USM review: An oldie but a goodie

By Paul Carroll - Thursday December 27 2012

Lens Review
Introduction | Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM lens performance | Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM versus competition | Conclusion

16 years on from its launch the Canon EF 135mm f/2L prime is still going strong and available to buy brand new today. With a wide maximum aperture, useful telephoto focal length and good build quality it offers some attractive features. Costing $1,000 however it’s at the expensive end of the range for a standard telephoto prime. So with newer, fresher and cheaper competition coming on to the market all the time is this old-timer still relevant?

Launched on 1st April 1996 the Canon EF 135mm f/2L prime lens was certainly no April Fool’s joke and has stood the test of time.

135mm is a good focal length for portraits when attached to full-frame Canon DSLRs like the EOS 5D MKII. Also compatible with APS-C cameras like the EOS 7D however the increased 216mm focal length makes it attractive for sports or wildlife photography too - as long as you don’t need the flexibility of a zoom of course. The maximum f/2 aperture makes it a good option for fast shutter speeds in low-light and what’s more, artistic types will appreciate the creative shallow depth-of-field and attractive Bokeh effects possible with such a wide aperture.

So does an oldie like the Canon EF 135mm f/2L still deliver the goods in the 21st century? Does it have anything to fear from the new breed of telephoto primes or an even older telephoto prime the EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus? Read on to find out.

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM lens performance

Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM versus competition

Conclusion