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Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 with Softfocus

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Reviews Views Date of last review
27 118957 Feb 21, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $262.67
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
7.53
9.58
9.2
ef135mmf_28soft_1_

Specifications:
Telephoto lens with a softfocus feature. It can give razor-sharp snapshots as well as softfocus shots that do not look blurry. You have a choice of two softfocus settings. Even for softfocus shots, focusing with AF is quick and accurate.


 


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RCicala
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Registered: Jan 8, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 2955
Review Date: Apr 24, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $265.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Small, inexpensive, tack sharp. And really, really small.
Cons:
I had trouble getting pleasing effects with soft focus, but I really wasn't that interested in it.

I won't comment on the soft focus part, but as a cheap 135 prime it takes great shots, sharp, lovely Bokeh. Probably not too sturdy, but I can buy 3 of them for what the L costs, so I can replace as needed.

Apr 24, 2005
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MikeBinOKlahom
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Registered: Sep 16, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 653
Review Date: Apr 19, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, sharp, and cheap!
Cons:
Unlike a 70-200 L lens, it will break into tiny pieces if you let a horse step on it! More seriously, the minimum focus distance is kind of long.

I can't comment on the soft-focus feature, I've never used it. But this is an excellent short telephoto lens. I like to carry it along with my 50mm macro and 16-35L as a minimum kit for landscape and some macro shooting (I'm a nature photographer, obviously!). The 135/2.8 and the 50mm share the same filter sizes, which is convenient.

Highly recommended for those who want a lens in this focal length.


Apr 19, 2005
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nightwolf75
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Registered: Aug 15, 2004
Location: Singapore
Posts: 0
Review Date: Jan 31, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: images tack sharp, even at f2.8. light-weight. reasonably fast AF, even tho no USM. relatively low-cost for a prime.
Cons:
SF features a hit-or-miss affair, depending on lighting conditions. the MF ring is a joke, forget abt using MF or even the distance scale. lens hood shld be included for this product. a flimsy looking lens' construction - DO NOT drop it! =)

just picked up a 2nd-hand copy of this lens. images are tack sharp, even at f2.8. if u can find this on the used mkt, BUY IT! i haven't figure out how to use the soft-focus settings properly. think, for the time being, will use it as an outdoor portrait lens. focal length is too long for studio.

Jan 31, 2005
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spartan123
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Registered: Nov 9, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 3683
Review Date: Jan 16, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $265.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharpness, and the excellent "soft focus"
Cons:
none

It has been a LONG time since I bought a lens in and said "WOW" when looking at the photo's. Well, this lens brings out that response.

I honestly think this lens is the sharpest I have wide open. Even when using the soft focus the photos have a certain crispness to them. (I know that sounds weird)

For the money this ranks right up with the 50mm f/1.4 & f/1.8, 200L f/2.8, 70-200L f/4 as underrated great buys from Canon.





Jan 16, 2005
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phiggys
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Registered: Apr 7, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 25
Review Date: Dec 9, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Its fast,lightweight and pin sharp when used without the soft focuss settings. You can ceate some great s/f images. And it comes at a bargain price IMO.
Cons:
None for the price.

If you buy one of these lenses you should take the time to shoot a couple of test rolls of film using different apertures and s/f settings.Remember different working distances from subjects also change the appearance and depth of field If you write down what settings you have used you will soon be able to set the lens to what you want.
On a digital its even quicker and easier to do your testing.


Dec 9, 2004
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choochoo
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Registered: May 11, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 483
Review Date: Nov 1, 2004 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $270.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Sharp at f2.8, soft focus settings 0-2, lightweight, internal focusing, good AF performance, decent build quality for the price, relatively inexpensive (especially when compared to it's 135mm f2 L brother)
Cons:
Long minimum focus distance. No silent USM AF, AF motor a little buzzy

Others have said it before, but I'll say it again. This is probably one of the most underated Canon lenses. It's pretty sharp wide open, and gets sharper when stopped down, f4, f8. AF is pretty good considering that it's not USM. At setting 1 and 2 you get the dreamy effect of the soft focus. For those of you who can't afford the 135mm f2, this is a great mid-telephoto lens to have. It's less than 1/3 the cost of it's "L" brother. The trade offs are: 1) no silent USM AF 2) long minimum focus distance of 4.3 feet 3) cheaper plastic barrel 4) no red ring found on the lens

Nov 1, 2004
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Jack Flesher
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Registered: Oct 23, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 3489
Review Date: Oct 23, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $250.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Exceptionally sharp, compact and lightweight
Cons:
The SF function is a bit strong for my tastes, long minimum focus distance

Most of this has been eloquently stated already, but I'll add my own two-cents for posterity Smile

The cons. The minimum focus distance of this lens is a relatively distant 1.3 meters...

The mids: For my tastes, the strong #2 setting imparts too much softness at any f-stop. The #1 setting is still a bit strong at f2.8 but is pretty good at f4 -- better than most any traditional soft-effect filter with the exception of the Zeiss Softar. FWIW the f-setting chosen varies the soft effect on this lens and in either setting the effect is essentially not detectable by f5.6. IMO the soft effect I get from a Zeiss Softar 2 on my 135 f2 looks better to me than any of the settings this lens delivers, though this filter alone in 77mm costs about the same price as the Canon 135 SF lens!

The pros. With the SF turned off (setting 0) this lens is incredibly sharp -- probably on par with the 135/2. Really. This surprised me... Thus, for its relatively low cost, you get a great 135 f2.8 that is lightweight and compact AND you get a very good soft-focus lens with setting 1 and f4! The Bokeh at any of the settings below f5.6 is second to none; smooth and creamy as you can get.


Oct 23, 2003
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Bosch
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Registered: Oct 15, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 181
Review Date: Aug 12, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $280.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Small lens (52mm threads), same hood as 85mm lens. This is makes a nice fast and light telephoto lens on a DSLR. Optical performance is outstanding, out of focus highlights are very pleasing. Focusing is relatively quick and quiet for a non-USM lens, thanks to internal focus mechanism. Lens doesn't extend or rotate during focusing.
Cons:
No USM, build quality notch below 85/1.8 and 100/2 lenses. Manual focus gritty. Minimum focus distance could be less.

This lens has gotten more use than I expected initially. When I want to bring a real telephoto lens, but want to keep weight and bulk down, this is the lens. With a D30/D60/10D, its field of view is equivalent to a 216mm lens on a 35mm system, In practice, I found that I have not really used the soft focus feature, except for playing and testing. The effect is hard to predict, I find, and not easy to visualize on the small review display of a DSLR. If you notice it, it is too much.

Aug 12, 2003
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Gochugogi
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Registered: Jun 25, 2003
Location: United States
Posts: 9922
Review Date: Jul 6, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $275.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Ultra sharp, compact, light, fast AF, inexpensive & dial-in soft focus
Cons:
Minimun focus only 1.3 m; loose & gritty MF

The EF 135 2.8 SF was one of Canon's original EF lens offerings in 1987. The designation "Soft Focus" refers to the two levels of dial-in spherical aberration that softens and imparts a beautiful glow to the image. Unlike a soft filter, you can quickly vary the effect by changing the aperture or soft focus setting. AF works perfectly with soft focus engaged, but if you change soft focusing settings after AF, you'll have to refocus. The soft focus effect is only visible from F2.8 to 4, so you need to use Av or M mode and shoot slow film during the day. Highlights, especially on backlit subjects, enhance and intensify the glowing effect. Level 2 at F2.8 is usually too soft for my taste. When soft focus is turned off, this is an extremely sharp, contrasty and flare resistant (only 7 elements) telephoto lens.

The front element does not rotate, nor does the barrel change in length when focusing. Although it uses AFD, it focuses surprisingly fast due to its IF design, almost as fast as ring-type USM. Moreover, the sound of the AFD motor is soft and muted, softer than most AFD designs. It has a distance window but lacks FT-M. Manual focus is loose and gritty, but slightly better than the EF 50 1.8 (MK I). I wish the minimum focusing distance was closer than 1.3 m (4.3'), but at least that's near enough for a head and shoulders shot. This lens has 52 mm filter threads and uses the massive ET-65 III (or ET-65 II) lens hood, a clip-on design.

I don't use this lens for anything except outdoor portraits of women and occasional street photography. It's too long for most studio or indoor use. Most women love the glamorous, blemish free glow it imparts. The 135 mm perspective makes models look thinner than 85 or 100 mm lenses. Although build quality is a little light and plasticky (what do you expect for so little $$), I've had no problems with this lens in over 13 years of use. For only $275, you won't see much better quality this side of an L lens.


Jul 6, 2003
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cherry
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Registered: Nov 25, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 105
Review Date: Apr 22, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $300.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Soft focus that is virtually impossible to obtain with filters or Pshop tools.
Cons:
Not exactly robust build quality

This lens gets a lot of grief because it's wimpy build quality. But it's fine for the environment it was designed for: the studio.

The selling point for this lens is that it gives a soft effect which, if used properly (f2.8 at setting 1, or f4 at setting 2), is just about impossible to get with a screw-on filter (even the big $$$ filters) or in post-process via PS plugin, etc. BTW, the best SF filters cost as much as this lens. I use it not just for portaits, but still life and certain landscapes as well. It's very sharp when used as a standard short tele and could be an excellent travel companion (weighs nothing) along with a wide prime. Just don't drop it...

Carl


Apr 22, 2003
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dadas115
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Registered: Nov 25, 2002
Location: United States
Posts: 1502
Review Date: Apr 2, 2003 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $280.00 | Rating: 6 

 
Pros: Very sharp with soft focus turned off, soft focus
Cons:
Cheap feel, Soft focus not as good as I expected, but better than any screw-on filters I have used.

I had high hopes for this lens when I got it but was a little bit let down once I started using it. At wide apertures the SF is a bit too much for my taste, even at the 1 setting. When stopped down to f/5.6 or more I have a difficult time seeing any difference between the 1 and 2 setting. At f/2.8 the 2 setting is unusable, the pictures produced with this setting look awful to me. I would recommend the 135mm f/2 above this lens unless you really want the SF feature, and I strongly recommend testing one out before you actually buy one.

Apr 2, 2003
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Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 with Softfocus

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
27 118957 Feb 21, 2014
Recommended By Average Price
100% of reviewers $262.67
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating
7.53
9.58
9.2
ef135mmf_28soft_1_


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