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  Reviews by: barnwellh  

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Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Review Date: May 30, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: fast, sharp, sleek, non-descript , vivid and contrasty images and fantastic bokeh

To round out my kit with a telephoto lens, I sincerely believed that I needed the EF 70-200mm 2.8 II L IS!…All the amateurs and pros that I admire had one in their kit, the countless product reviews touted the importance of versatility of a zoom and the need for image stabilization – right?!?…instead of making the 2K purchase I opted to rent one for a week…I was excited for less than 10 minutes after mounting that glass to my camera body: the weight, the beige color, the massive lens hood, the limitation of the 2.8 aperture simply did not click for me...yeah it captured those moments but there was no pop / sizzle (even at 200mm) - man I knew there was another lens that was: faster, sharper, sleeker, non-descript , produced vivid, contrasty images and delivered creamy marshmallowy bokeh that Adobe / Nik Software can't even replicate!!…Yes I'm talking about the "Lord of the Red Rings" aka the Canon EF 135MM f2.0 L. This is the review that you hoped you would read – I was once like you on the outside looking in – unsure of the capabilities of this lens / lack of versatility…I can testify that the construction is tough, its auto-focus is wicked fast, the images are sharp, constrasty, vivid, the bokeh is what everyone desires..who cares if you have to zoom with your feet?!? Utilizing this fixed focal length opens up new creative possibilities for you!! This lens goes monkey banana's wide open at f2.0, is a slam dunk at f2.2 / 2.5, offers tactical beauty at f3.2, and at f9.0 makes Scott Kelby wish he owned Canon glass. Obviously it's all relative to your photography style and or budget – I recommend reading the product reviews here at Fred Miranda of this lens, checking out the Canon 135mm image pools on 500px, Flickr and renting one for a weekend or week. Thanks for reading.

Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM "A"

Review Date: May 30, 2013 Recommend? no | Price paid: $899.00

Pros: Optical Sharpness
Bokeh is "slightly" not on parity with Sigma's competitors

Optically one of the sharpest lens I’ve ever used, next to my Canon 135mm L. The bokeh is not as "creamy" as the 35L (if that matters to you?!?). My copy had major AF issues, produced a squeaking sound during focusing and an ugly orange-brown color cast (under certain lighting conditions). Since this was first experience with Sigma, I was extremely disappointed and opted not to exchange this for another copy. If you value consistency and quality, this lens is not for you.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Review Date: May 29, 2013 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,450.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: image rendering, bokeh, color reproduction
chromatic aberration

I specifically wanted to write this review for crop frame users who prefer the 50mm focal length that produces a compressed 80mm perspective on your sensor. I believe the key to using this tool is pre-visualization; and having an intricate understanding of where the “curved” plane of focus falls at apertures 1.2 – 3.2. (at various distances).

If you plan / reliant on using autofocus then this lens will present a challenge to you with missed / out of focus shots. Single point AF is your friend, if you’re shooting portraiture without a tripod then I recommend AI-Servo to compensate for subject & shooter movement.

The build quality of this tool, balances well on my Canon 60D. On a Rebel body it may be slightly imbalanced; but I recommend simply using your index fingers to prop up the lens at the end of the barrel / lens hood…Whitehouse principal photographer Pete Souza has a good technique that I’ve been emulating with my longer lens (eg. Canon 135mm L).

I was concerned that my lack of AF microadjustment would be an issue, alas that is not the case sharp at 1.2 and crisp at 1.8 – if you do encounter this issue your local servicing dealer and or Canon is available to adjust your lens to your body (i.e Rebel series and Canon 60D).

What about image quality and color rending?

Compared to my previous 50mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4 and even mechanically poor Sigma 35mm 1.4 this lens is on another level; am confused on why so many reviewers and posters believe there’s some type of parity with consumer glass?!? It’s simply not there – no comparison except for focal length…from my perspective this tool produces a superior image rendering that is de-mon-stra-tive of professional image output.

Conclusion & Negatives

Don’t let the “L” designation, your crop-body, or the price tag scare you off!! If you demand the best image output for your photography this is the lens for you. For me this is a great companion lens with my Canon 135mm f2 L and Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L II. My only gripe is the by-product of: chromatic aberration which is easily removed with your photography editing software. The lens I received was produced in 2013 (UB 0310), and it came with the new snazzy pinch cap – get this tool while the rebate is still available.