Canon 135mm f/2.0 L EF USM VS. Canon 85mm f/1.2 L II EF USM. If you’re looking to purchase one of these lenses you can buy the Canon 135mm f/2.0 L USM EF from Adorama or Ebay and the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L ii USM EF from Adorama or Ebay. It helps me if you purchase it through one of these links here in this review. When you purchase through these links it financially enables me to devote time to develop this site further. Thanks for the help! -Todd
Bokeh: At f/2 both lenses produce very nice bokeh but the 135mm is less distracting and harsh, however if sharpness doesn’t matter you can open up the 85mm a little bit more to get a bit more blur. This would be fine indoors but out in harsh light this might not be ideal.
The 135mm draws the background in better blurring it but being a 135mm lens it can be hard to find the space to actually shoot the lens for portrait work. I prefer the look of the 135mm for portrait work as it draws the background in and bends the lines making for flattering portraits.
The 85mm has lots of chromatic aberration at f/1.2-1.6 but quickly clears up and is very usable around f/2. The 135mm also has a decent amount of chromatic aberration wide open but leaves pretty well around f/2.8. The 85mm does better then the 135mm in this area
Blowing the images up on my computer one can see the 135mm at f/2 is definitely sharper then the 85mm at f/2 however it is very difficult to see due to all the chromatic aberration. Even at f/2.8 there is still a noticeable difference making the 135mm the winner for sharpness and by f/4 they are basically the same though.
Although the 85mm has a 3D Pop effect which is just amazing and like no other lens I have seen by Canon!
Both lenses have very low pincushion distortion but the 135mm seems straighter throughout the majority of the image where the 85mm seems to have a little more wave effect nearing the edges. Both of these lenses have some of the lowest distortion I have seen in a long time though.
The 85mm has more vignetting wide open but around f/2-2.8 it is coming to an end where the 135mm wide open has more vignetting but also quickly starts to clear at f/2.2 and coming to an end around f/2.8 also.
The 135mm has a very quick focus response with very low amount of misses if any at all and has a very short through.
The 85mm is a very slow focusing lens and can miss a tiny bit at larger apertures putting the subject out of focus due to the raiser thin focus area. As you can see on the 100% crop at f/1.6 I missed just a hint. Stopped down to f/2 it does very well and doesn’t seem to miss much. The focus through is very long though which increases slow focusing even on manual focus.
The 135mm is better at getting macro focus at 3 feet (0.9 meters) where the 85mm 3.2 feet (0.95 meters).
The 85mm is roughly around $500-800 more used or new so if price matters the 135mm might be the better option.
Which one to buy?
This entirely depends on what you are shooting and how much space you have.
If you need low light then the 85mm is the winner because you don’t have to kick up your ISO in the body.
If you have all the space in the world and want a very blurred background the 135mm is probably the best. In bright light you do have to stop it down a bit to get rid of the chromatic aberration which reduces the blur.
If your going for pure sharpness then the 135mm is the best.
Personally for the fast pace tight spaced work I do the 85mm lives on my camera body more then 50% of the time. I like the idea of the 135mm more but I find it is not a very practical lens lens for me to use since I have to get so far back from my clients that it’s a little strange and fairly annoying. If I have the time and space then I try to reach for the 135mm but I seem to mostly default to the 85mm.
If you can only buy one then it is a very tough call and I couldn’t say one is better then the other as they are both extremely great in different ways. It just depends on what you can afford and what your needs are. They are both very different lenses and either one you end up with will be one of the best portrait lenses out there right now!!
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My hopes are to take the time to continue developing this website with more test photo based reviews. If you are ever interested in purchasing a lens or other photography equipment please do so through these links here in this review. I would buy the Canon 135mm f/2.0 L USM EF from Adorama or Ebay and the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L ii USM EF from Adorama or Ebay. This helps support my family and allows me to take more time for the site. The best part is this site is free for you and I link good deals I find!
Sometimes these links will actually give you better deals then typical retail prices! I personally buy from the links I have listed whether looking for new gear or fun old stuff. I can personally attest to their good & safe service from years of experience. Thanks again to you, our readers, for supporting us! -Todd