Lens lust on Black Friday


Well I can't buy wine (the 2009 Bordeauxs!) or new camera equipment because I'm out of budget for this year 🙁 But that doesn't mean on Black Friday, I can't want some cool things. So if you are generous this holiday season for the dedicated amateur geek who wants cool lenses and things, here are some things for the person who already has his Canon 5D Mark II and wonderful camera kit (50mm F/1.4 for available light, 16-35 for landscapes, 24-105 F/4 for travel, 70-200 F/2.8 for portraits and indoor sports, 100-400 for outdoor sports and wildlife). Here are the lust lenses:

  • Canon 85MM F/1.8 for indoor sports. It isn't image stabilized and isn't a long zoom, but it is very fast at autofocusing which you need for basketball. Coupled with a ISO 1600 and you get 2+ shutter speed that you would with a F/2.8 lense. Don't get the 85MM F/1.2, its confusing, but this is a portrait lense and slow. $400 for so.
  • Canon 135MM F/2 for more zoom, but slower autofocus but it is way more expensive at $1000
  • Canon 8-15MM is another specialty lense listing at $1700. With a full frame camera, it makes a 180 degree fish eye view which can be pretty cool and interesting. I've been doing alot more with my 16-35MM and it is a pretty cool effect. 
  • Canon T2i (550D) or 60D. These are probably the best values in the Canon bodies right now. Both at 18 megapixels but the main thing is that they are fast and light and relatively cheap ($800 and $1100 body only). Way faster than the original Rebel XT (350D) I have mainly because the maximum ISO is 1600 vs. 400. As with all bodies, the main issue is getting a high quality lense. The main difference between the two is burst speed (the 60D is 5fps so good for sports) and convenience of a tilting LCD screen (not a big deal for me I think). The main drawback is that it has the older 9 AF sensors, while the 7D has the newer 19 autofocus sensors and a 8fps rate, so its the dream although its LCD screen is marginally a generation behind but still 3" so in the main I'd say either stick with the 550D or hold your breath and head for the 7D. Personally, I'd favor the 550D as I think bodies continue to evolve at a geometric rate and it is way lighter at 1.8 pounds which makes a difference as a travel camera.
  • The big issue is the path of the next Sony NEX-5 class cameras that have nearly the same performance of a dSLR in a compact body, but there isn't a perfect camera there yet. The Canon G12 is the best of the compacts but the APS-C sized sensors that are mirrorless are evolving so, so, so fast. 

but as radiantlite.com says:

The 135mm F/2 is regarded as one of the best three prime lenses that Canon produce (Along with 85mm f/1.2 L USM and 35mm f/1.4 L USM). 

The images from this lens are very sharp, contrasty and show a lot of details even in wide open at f/2. The depth of field is very shallow at f/2. As a result, the background will be compressed. Because of that features, Canon 135mm is ideal for portrait, especially candid portrait, street photography and indoor sports. Build quality is very good, the best Canon can made. The lens is not as big and heavy as telephoto zoom. 

But unfortunately, this lens does not have Image Stabilization built-in. Image stabilization in telephoto is quite important so you can shoot with shutter speed lower than the focal length X crop multiplier. For example, when you attach this lens into crop sensor camera such as Canon Rebel series or 0XD series, then you need to set a shutter speed to at least 1/200 or greater to get a tack sharp result. It is also depend on how steady your hand is. If you have steady hand, then 1/160 will be adequate. 

This lens have a decent closing focus (1m) this is better than most of the telephoto zoom range. You can also get a extension tube to get the focusing even closer (.6m with 2x extension tube). Therefore, this lens will be quite good for macro photography. 

The application of the lens will be quiet narrow. Candid photography is one in my mind when I think about this lens. It is because the telephoto range, maximum aperture, and the size is not that big and obtrusive. 

The second one will be close-up and head-shoulder portraiture, and then for indoor sports such as volleyball, basketball and so on. 

The downside 
This lens does not have a wide range of application because the inflexibility of fixed focal length lens (prime lens). 


Although the focusing is quite fast, but it is not as fast as EF 50mm f/1.4 USM or EF 85mm f/1.8 USM. So in the fast action sport, expect to miss some shots. 

Other alternatives: 
Other lens that you might consider to buy is Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L or 70-200mm f/4 IS. 

They are similar in price. the 70-200mm f/2.8 has more flexibility but bigger. The 70-200 f/4 L IS is great because it has IS but you don't have the luxury of big aperture. The weight of f4L lens is almost the same, but the length is slightly longer. 

Other 'budget' telephoto primes alternatives: Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 and 100mm f/2. Both are not as sharp and detailed as the Canon 135mm f/2 but when stopped own to f/2.8-4 they will impressed you. 

In conclusion 
You will love this lens if you are into close-up portrait, candid photography and indoor sports shooters. With extension tube, you can transform this lens into a super sharp macro lens. 

Is it worth it? This lens has a narrow application, so if you are specialized in candid portraiture or indoor sports and want the sharpest lens. This lens is definitely for you. 

If you are looking for more versatile lens, then investing on high quality telephoto zoom lens will be better. Check out my website, www.radiantlite.com for more reviews, sample photos and video tour.


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