It was published only today, but Canon submitted its 135mm f/2 lens design (Japanese) back in September 2020. Four versions are shown, ranging from 11 elements to 14 elements.
The designs appear to sport pretty good image quality, going by the theoretical, calculated “sea grass” graphs that appear in Japanese lens design patents. A trip back to Canon's most recent 135mm f/2 patent (2018) shows that these new ones compare favorably.
[Tip to lens geeks: Bill Claff's Photonstophotos.net site incorporates a long list of lenses that he's matched up with their corresponding patents, along with a mesmerizing ray tracing application that shows how light interacts with the patent design elements. Very handy.]
CanonRumor's RF Lens Roadmap sports an f/1.4 version of a 135mm prime, not an f/2. Were Canon to produce an f/1.4 model, it would one-up the excellent Sony and Sigma f/1.8 lenses of that focal length.
Sigma dallied with a super-long f/1.4 design with its 105mm Art prime, a lens that caused some portraitists to start using a tripod. Canon's designs are typically lighter than those of Sigma, but it's hard to imagine a 135mm f/1.4 that weighs less than 3.5 pounds. The new 135 f/2 design looks to be sized similarly to the old EF mount model.
Will be interesting, how an RF implementation of this lens will perform.
And though many prefer an f/1.4 to f/1.8 design IMO I'd prefer the f/2 for size and weight reasons.
And the old EF lens already shows impressive results wide open. (Still on my wish list ;) )
So I'm looking forward for a real product.
Interestingly the Sigma 105mm f1.4 requires a front element of only 75mm. So that lens doesn't really need to be so large and heavy. If you pull the focal length in to 100mm, the front element reduces to 72mm. So not a lot different to a 135mm f2 size wise.
However, on of the joys of the Ef 135mm f2.0 is a great combination of it's unobtrusive size, it's large min magnification and slim Dof, whilst having a nice reach for portraits. If you play the "top tumps" specs game and replace it with an f1.4 behemoth, then you lose out on the current lens' shooting versatility. Sure, the DOF will be very slim. But who wants to lug that beast about when those Dof effects can be achieved easier and in a more controllable way with other optic choices.
I own that Sigma lens, and it's just amazing. For event shooting and shooting woodcock in the evening from close up, it's hard to beat. The Sony attempt at that configuration is reputed to be even slightly better, although I haven't shot it.
In terms of competition versus the 70-200s, I think it's true for non-pros. For some pros - the ones who concentrate on low-light genres - the brighter 135mm lens does matter.
After you get a few hundred great woodcock shots at 8 p.m. over the years, you start to care about the ones that are done at the lower ISOs. You get more selective, keeping the ones where the bird landed within a few yards of you. It's so dark that the difference between a simple keeper and one that you'll run by a photo editor is the one you can take at 1600 ISO at 1/15th of a second versus the one that needed ISO 4000. Normal people - even most pixel-peeping forum dwellers - aren't going to sweat the extra stop enough to shell out $1,400 (Sigma) or $2,xxx? (the new Canon).
I think back in the day, when the prime was expected to be significantly sharper and one stop brighter, you might think of the zoom as a wedding photographer or journalist's lens, where the 135 was a professional portraitist's tool. The quality increase in the zooms has made that quite a gray area now.
Two days ago, I took this picture of the first landing of the first woodcock of the year. It landed about 10 yards away, and this is at 200mm with the RF 70-200 f/2.8. It was taken at 7:30 p.m. at ISO 6400 with -2/3 of exposure compensation to allow the shutter speed to be as fast as 1/20th. I looked at it on the computer, and the very first thought in my head was "should have used the 135."
Woodcock Facts - RGS
I presume they are not in my area, never having seen one. One reason I still prefer to lug around my 400 DO II is the F4 but many folk seem to be happy with the likes of 600 F11. When in Costa Rica a very real issue was the dullness of the forests and my realization was that I could have benefited from fill flash.
Main usage: Nature, plants, wild flowers, ... .
70-200 2.8 is not fit for purpose regarding twilight capabilities, DOF, closeup @135mm
I will to go back to EF135, I am already thinking about Milvus 135, Sigma.
The inly cons that I see to a 1.4 version will be his price (no less than 3500€) and size/weight, (probably +4,5 pounds). By other side, the look may be outstanding.
The 4th design with IS performed really well optically - on par with 135GM and good enough for a 100MP CMOS - based on a simulation result I saw.
However it could be much more expensive too (4x UD and 6 high-index/high-dispersion).
I wouldn't be surprised at all if Canon mark it above $3k.
Yes, that's the guy, Jack! Had him near me again this evening. And I took the 135 Sigma with me, but the bird was 3x further away this time. Of course.
But imagine the price, if it was a full step or at least half a step brighter :rolleyes:
It is as it is and we are the consumers...
Edit: And IQ is not only about resolution and distortion. Contrast, color and bokeh are more important to some...
Review: Canon 135mm f/2L vs. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II - Tangents
The EF 135 works better on the R5 than it did on the 5D mk IV, both in terms of image stabilization and AF. 1/50 is definitely doable if your subject is willing to stand still, but my main subject these days is a fast moving toddler and I always end up shooting at 1/200 or faster. :LOL:
Here's a direct link to Example 4 (I chose Example 4 because it indicates IS (arrow above L3))
It looks like this:
I also added speculative focus (moving L2) that was not in the patent. Looks like it could go to 0.25x
I can export prescriptions in Zemax format. Contact me if that interests you.
Also, if you know of patents that should be in the Optical Bench Hub (match a production lens) and it isn't there please let me know.