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Author Topic: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed  (Read 8115 times)

ryllz75

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Hi All,

I recently upgraded to a 5D MK III which I will be using for more portrait and engagement sessions work.  I deliberated between the 35L vs the 50L and decided to go with the 50L based on opinions i read here and the IQ and AF when paired with the 5D MK III.

Now I am in need of your expertise and experience on which lens to get next.  As mentioned I am just getting into "paid" portrait shoots (fitness model shoots/headshots and some family and baby shoots) and just booked my first 2 engagement shoots for Jan and Feb and wondering which will be best to use.  I also have the opportunity to shoot 2 weddings in summer 2013 as well which will be my first experience shooting weddings.  1 as a second shooter and 1 as primary.  Im giving the relevant information in order to determine which lens will be good to get in terms of IQ, versatility, etc.  At this point in time i cant afford both having just invested in the 5D MK III and the 50L.  My initial budget getting into this semi pro photography was $5000 and will unfortunately have to exceed it.

So is the 135L better for my current/future needs or will the 70-200mm IS MK II a better choice since it will give me the FL versatility that i may need for future shoots?  Im looking for realworld experience of owners of these lens as I was initially leaning to the 135L and started to think in terms of versatility and started to doubt my decisions. 

Your opinions will be greatly appreciated!  thanks in advance!


BTW just to disclose my only 2 other lenses im using now, I currently have a 24-105L and a 28-75 Tamron 2.8 (i Know not very good lens but cant afford the Canon version at this point.  LOL..)  On my short list after getting one of the lens above (135L or 70-200 2.8L) is I definitely want to get the 16-35 L MK II for the wide group shots during the wedding etc. unless you guys can recommend a better lens maybe a 24L? Not sure here yet.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 03:33:09 PM by ryllz75 »

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neuroanatomist

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2012, 03:28:05 PM »
I have both.  The 70-200 II is great for portraits.  The 135L is slightly better for portraits.  So, if head shots were your primary intended use, the 135L would be the way to go.  If I'm going specifically to shoot portraits, I'll take the 135L (often for indoor sports, too).  But you mention weddings, and for that, the versatility of the zoom is important, and you're not giving up much on the IQ/bokeh side.  So I'd say go with the 70-200 II.
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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2012, 03:29:15 PM »
Hi All,

I recently upgraded to a 5D MK III which I will be using for more portrait and engagement sessions work.  I deliberated between the 35L vs the 50L and decided to go with the 50L based on opinions i read here and the IQ and AF when paired with the 5D MK III.

Now I am in need of your expertise and experience on which lens to get next.  As mentioned I am just getting into "paid" portrait shoots (fitness model shoots/headshots and some family and baby shoots) and just booked my first 2 engagement shoots for Jan and Feb and wondering which will be best to use.  I also have the opportunity to shoot 2 weddings in summer 2013 as well which will be my first experience shooting weddings.  1 as a second shooter and 1 as primary.  Im giving the relevant information in order to determine which lens will be good to get in terms of IQ, versatility, etc.  At this point in time i cant afford both having just invested in the 5D MK III and the 50L.  My initial budget getting into this semi pro photography was $5000 and will unfortunately have to exceed it.

So is the 135L better for my current/future needs or will the 70-200mm IS MK II a better choice since it will give me the FL versatility that i may need for future shoots?  Im looking for realworld experience of owners of these lens as I was initially leaning to the 135L and started to think in terms of versatility and started to doubt my decisions. 

Your opinions will be greatly appreciated!  thanks in advance!

Having the same decision on my lap, I went with the 135L.

I prefer the workflow of primes and the look it gives me. The 70-200L II is a great lens, but I would also have to take a 24-70L and a 50L. Its more weight than just taking the 24L, 50L, 135L on two bodies.

The 135L was much cheaper at the time I bought it. I saved that 1000$ for another body for me to shoot with.

The downfalls of this prime setup are the possibility of missed shots and more cropping in post. It will happen.

Every wedding photographer I know has a 70-200mm 2.8L II, so much of the work looks alike. I like to be active in getting my shots and because the 135L w/o a hood with being black, Is very incognito.

No IS can be a problem sometimes.

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2012, 05:37:30 PM »
I have personally gone the route of the 135L and I also carry a 1.4x teleconverter.  If you need the extra reach, you can use the teleconverter and have a nearly 200mm (189mm) f/2.8 prime that still has exceptional image quality and fantastic bokeh.

I have to agree with RLPhoto in that while the 70-200L is more flexible for event work, the 135L produces far more distinctive images.  I ended up buying mine because I recognized that many of my favorite shots (environmental portraits) were taken with the 135L.  I love it for event work and portraiture for that reason.

I personally don't have a big hand-holding issue (steady hands), but the ability to push ISO combined with the fantastic low light (and light gathering) performance of the 135L makes it still a very good choice for those with less steady hands.

One final issue is weight and size in the bag.  The 135L fits fine standing upright in my bag.  That's huge!
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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2012, 10:17:58 PM »
I prefer the 135mmL, but the 70-200mm MK II is probably sharper.  For me, being able to use f/2 is just enough of a edge to be able to get some shots of moving subjects that f/2.8 can't quite get.  And Yes, there is a special quality to the 135mmL images.

IIIHobbs

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2012, 11:02:04 PM »
Had the 70-200 f2.8 with my Crop Body, bought the 135 f2 when I went to FF. I eventually sold the 70-200, I just wasn't using it as much any more after getting the 5D3. I ended up with a 300 f4 and then the 2.8 after a bit. Love the look and feel of the primes and do not miss the zoom.

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2012, 12:52:59 AM »
I have both.  The 70-200 II is great for portraits.  The 135L is slightly better for portraits.  So, if head shots were your primary intended use, the 135L would be the way to go.  If I'm going specifically to shoot portraits, I'll take the 135L (often for indoor sports, too).  But you mention weddings, and for that, the versatility of the zoom is important, and you're not giving up much on the IQ/bokeh side.  So I'd say go with the 70-200 II.

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Just remember that the 70-200 is a little bit heavier to carry around and more visible on your camera.
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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2012, 12:52:59 AM »

M.ST

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2012, 01:25:05 AM »
I have both of them but in many situations I prefer the 135 mm L lens.

For travelling I mostly use the 70-200 2.8 II L IS in combination with the 24-70 2.8 II L, 16-35 2.8 II L and 50 mm 1.2 L in my bag and the 500 2.8 II L IS in the car.

olderdog

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2012, 02:43:44 AM »
I'm not using either of them at this point (somehow I've just missed buying those)  but still have an observation possibly of use.

I've been shooting for 50 years, literally and grew up on the dying glory of rangefinders and the hey day of the Nikon F, when primes were the rule and only toward the end were the early zooms coming along. I gave up the trade as a profession in the early 70s, but continued to shoot and somewhat revived the old interests to the point of driving my wife crazy.

A burglary forced me to give up the Nikons and for a long time I shot Olympus OMs, then I jumped into digital with the 20D and immediately began adding zooms, etc. Moved now through all three 5D versions, currently on 5D3, plus a smattering of other odd bits, e.g. a Leica M9-p which I enjoy for its sheer manual backwardness.

Probably six or seven years ago, I got a hint of my internal dissatisfaction with zooms, even the good solid L zooms. There are a couple of issues. One is that Zooms have slightly different characteristics that sometimes surface at not necessarily good times, i.e. the odd color cast reflection when shot into the light at some angles. The quality of the good prime will be better than a good zoom, perhaps not enoughto be noticed. But there's also something that it does to the shooting mentality. It's a bit easy to just use the zoom to frame an image rather than doing the obvious of moving the camera and shooter.

It's a mindset, but I also find myself on occasion using the crutch of the zoom to justify shooting some frames -- not hard because I shoot heavily anyway. There is a bit of an edge, IMHO, to the added minor discipline of using the 135 prime instead of the one size fits all. I cover that range with a 70-300 and a 55-250 (latter on aps-c) but if I were in your shoes, I'd lean toward the 135.

I tend to think that there are core focal lengths which just work better as primes, e.g. the 50, the 75-90 length, the 135 for sure and all other things being equal, I'd rather use a 300 prime than the zoom. For what it's worth, that's probably true of all the long focal lengths, it just isn't practical for most of us. I've got a Sigma Bigma which covers the longer shots well enough. If I were doing wildlife, give me the prime.

As an aside, I have both the 15mm and 6-15 fisheyes. As a rule, I prefer the 15 prime. The other is a great lens, weights a bit more and is a bit more versatile in the bag. Working in a more or less known environment, being able to control for the prime, especially given its optics, pushes me that way.


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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2012, 04:12:10 AM »
There is a strong case for having both...their functions are both subtly and obviously different. But if I was only going to have one then the need for maximum versatility would swing the argument solidly to the 70-200 f/2.8isII. It's a lens any working photographer can scarcely afford to be without. I'd love to ask 100 professional Canon shooters what their most used lens is....I'd put money on a very high percentage ticking the box for the 70-200 f/2.8isII.

You might get a different answer if you asked what their favourite lens was. The legendary qualities of the 135 f/2 might deliver a very solid, well deserved vote. But if your circumstances require you to narrow to just one, the 70-200 f/2.8isII is the clear option.

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symmar22

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2012, 04:33:31 AM »
I think you should try to foresee your future equipment needs and financial capabilities. I have the 135 f2 and the 70-200 f2.8 IS (v1). If you don't need to work (in photography), I would tell you to buy the 135mm, it's my favourite tele by far; BUT, if you plan to start a career and have no equipment, I would rather suggest than you go with the 70-200 F2.8 IS II, it's not about the slight edge in IQ your 135mm will have, it's about productivity and the possibilities the zoom is offering. The zoom will cover every need of your future assignments, until you can buy more specialized primes.

Don't misunderstand me, I love primes, I've been working with them since I got my first camera, and I still use them today, in fact most of my work is with primes; BUT I work always with a tripod and have time to frame my compositions. The primes I use the most are my TS-Es for the flexibility they bring to MY style of pictures.

What I suggest here, is that you need to have some equipment efficiency when you start your career, as your budget is limited (like most of us). The 2 basic bread and butter lenses that you will need are IMO a standard zoom 24-70mm 2.8 (but your 24-105mm will do, I still have mine and prefer the flexibility of it to the 24-70 2.8 (v1) of my wife) and a 70-200mm f2.8 IS (here you cannot afford the f4 or the lack of IS). I would add a 50mm (it would be financially more efficient to buy the 1.4) and maybe a cheap portrait lens of your choice (either 85 f1.8 or the 100 f2); even better a 100mm Macro IS would add a lot of possibilities for close ups and details of clothing, table arrangements, rings, portraits.... Do not focus too much on the red ring on the lenses, it's not what makes the IQ or the good picture. Have a basic kit of excellent IQ, make money with it, then you'll see what you need and can afford.

Among the lenses you might need in the future, the 135mm f2 will certainly be an excellent choice.

I never saw a client ask for what equipment you use. The only exception to the rule is in the architecture business, were some clients asked for TS/PC lenses since they knew it is the tool needed for what they want.

You'll be judged by your results, not by your lenses, and IMO the flexibility and possibilities of the basic pro zoom kit will be more important than the slightly improved IQ of the primes on you first assignments. People will remember the shot you could not deliver (especially in wedding), and the nice 1.2 bokeh portrait will barely compensate for it. I agree I am not a specialist in weddings, but I had my share of reportage, and I think the flexibility of zooms means more keepers.



« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 05:02:33 AM by symmar22 »

lukemike

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2012, 04:45:39 AM »
I owned both and used on 7D.
135:

Pros:
more incognito, you can walk with that lens on the body and nobody will care, put 70-200 2.8 IS II on and you'll be bothered by at least two people on your Sunday walk.
lighter
f/2
Sweeet bokeh even on 1.6 crop but not that much different from 70-200
Better contrast
Cheaper

Cons:
BAD Bokeh Fringing / Longitudinal Chromatic Aberrations (LoCA) See here:
http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/430-canon_135_2_5d?start=1

Significantly slower AF
No IS

Bottom line:
If you will use it for portraits go with 135 f/2
If you want to have something much more versatile and use it for dynamic shots go with 70-200 f/2.8 II IS
« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 07:08:52 AM by lukemike »

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2012, 04:45:39 AM »

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2012, 06:02:26 AM »
I have both ... these days, I never take the 135 out of the cupboard ...

I use the 70-200mm extensively for events and conferences. I was raised on the primacy of primes - but, modern zooms are excellent. For a most of my work  the 16-35 / 24-70 / 70-200 are the only ones I'd take with me ...


Interestingly, I never shoot portraits with lenses longer than 70 ... and frequently wider.


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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2012, 06:14:26 AM »
I don't own a 135L but have used one and it's a very nice lens. However I do own a 70-200 and I'd go with that for versatility especially at weddings where you'll be rushed and not necessarily be able to move yourself / subjects to get proper framing. Also the IS is worthwhile at those sorts of focal lengths when you don't have a tripod and maybe shooting quickly.

A few people mentioned it being smaller / more covert but really for wedding / portrait work most people will assume (often wrongly) bigger = better so that's really not an issue, and in their eyes probably makes you look more professional.

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Re: 135L vs 70-200 IS MK II - real world opinions and experience needed
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2012, 06:14:26 AM »