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Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 with Softfocus

Review Date: Jan 8, 2008 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Price, f2.8, light-weight, good sharpness, internal focussing.
AF is a little noisy, but only a little. MF-ring isn't as nice to use as on modern USM lenses, but better than on 'cheapo' Canon lenses.

I've had this lens for a few months now, using it on film and APS-C DSLRs.

I bought it mainly for these 3 reasons;
Image quality

I knew that it was a bit of an irrational purchase, I don't think I've ever needed soft-focus before, I've only used diffuse glow in PS a handful of times. This lens just seemed to be one of those 'special' lenses, and as primes were waht I was looking for, it was hard to resist.

Soft-focus was what initially attracted me, but the reviews stated its excellent IQ, which I suppose you should expect from a prime lens. I'd let one bargain 2nd hand lens opportunity pass me by, so the next one I saw on ebay I had to go for.

I can confirm pretty much everything all other reviewers have said. If the lens was USM-focus and had L build quality it would be perfect.

The IQ is more than good enough for me, by F4 the sharpness is as good as I could ever want, and F2.8 though a little soft when viewed at 100% is still more than sharp enough for most applications. It has not been tested to the limits yet, when I go FF it will see much more rigorous action. For a while I had just been using mid-priced zooms, so having the faster aperture, better IQ and smaller size of the prime was a nice change. The SF is of limited use for me, I'd still buy the lens without it. I'd echo that the effect at SF#2 is too strong for almost any application, but if you buy an SF lens you might as well have every strength available to you, especially if you like the more dreamy/retro images.

One criticism (alomst the only one) is that the AF (and MF-ring) are behind the times. My experience is that the MF-ring is not as good/smooth/large as a nice USM lens, but a heck of a lot better than the sort of experience you have with an EFS 18-55 type lens. The AF is noisy compared to USM, but in most real-life situations it will not be a problem. When the lens is AFing a small amount it is almost as quiet as USM, but when AFing from one extreme to another it is more noisy.
The AF is a lot quicker than I had expected (on an EOS 3), and I've never wished for more speed from it. Overall the AF is below modern standards, but still very good.

The build quality is solid, the internal focussing adds to the pleasant handling. The SF switch is fine, the AF/MF switch could be better placed and a little bigger, but is acceptable.

On crop cameras it's quite a good fast mid-telephoto, though I don't find the focal length so useful. On FF (film in most cases until I get a 5D) the lens focal length is just perfect for portraits, candids and detail shots (architecture and abstracts etc...).

I never regret taking this lens with me:

If you like the idea of soft-focus (which cannot be matched by software IMO) then this lens is essential.

If you just want a nice, well priced short telephoto this lens is still well worth buying.

James :D

Lowepro Toploader 70 AW

Review Date: Dec 18, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great expandability. Built like a tank, well sort of, I don't think steel camera bags would catch on! Good shoulder strap. Well padded with good positionable pieces to secure your camera. All weather cover does what it says on the tin.
Chest harness is a nice idea, but not as substantial as necessary when the bag's filled with kit. There should be an extra set of straps to hold lens cases each side more secureley. That's all folks!

I can fit any canon SLR (even EOS 1 series SLR's, just!) with mid price zoom lens fitted in the main compartment, along with remote cord, lens brush, lens cloth, and spare lens/body caps.
The front compartment can take my; film, CF cards, flash batteries, camera batteries (BP 511 and CR5's), and my lowepro gloves (which are also quite good).

All of that at the same time!!!!!!!!

I have stuck a lowepro lens case on each side the cinch straps provided to secure the accessories are at the base of the case, extra straps would be good at the to top to stop the lens cases wobbling around. I improvised and used a shoe lace to secure the top of the lens cases to the bag.

How can I write so much about a camera bag!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Once the lens cases are on it and your gear is in it you won't look back. It's like a tardis!!!!

Not perfect but bloomin' excellent none the less.

It's a must for any photographer; press, wildlife, amateur, landscape or adventure.

I bought the case when I was 17 and I'm still using it regularly now.