Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

Submit your Photo
Hall of Fame

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In the Canon camp we are all very familiar with the range of 70-200mm lenses. I am very impressed by the 135mm f/2.0 L though. I am considering getting rid of my 70-200mm lens in favor of the 135mm with the addition of a 1.4x extender. This would give me the ability to shoot at either 135 f/2.0 or 189mm f/2.8. I see huge gains in form factor and weight. I understand I would lose the 70-135, and the range between the two lenses. But I would also be gaining the f/2.0 at 135mm. And depending on which 70-200mm lens is used for the comparison, either gaining f/2.8 over f/4, and or losing image stabilization.

I really enjoy prime lenses, and the magic of the 135L is drawing me towards this as an option. Rather then spending the $1500 to outfit myself with this kit blind, I'm hoping someone else has tried this and can tell me it is a bad or good idea, and I can learn from your experience.

Am I really gaining quality or sacrificing?

share|improve this question
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I have both a 70-200 (2.8, non-IS), as well as the 135 and a 1.4x (II). This is a very difficult question to answer because it depends on your use.

For me: I enjoy the flexibility of the 70-200 for certain types of shooting, e.g. action sports and other activities where I'm not easily able to zoom with my feet and/or it's a pain to fiddle with extenders. There's a reason the 70-200 zooms are so popular!

On the other hand, I sometimes like to go out on "prime-only" missions, and the 135 is always in my bag for those. It really is a wonderful lens. Of course, pairing it with the 1.4 (or any) extender) degrades the quality slightly, but is still better than the 70-200 non-IS at the same focal length. So if you don't need the 70-135 range and are able to zoom with your feet, and don't mind swapping the extender in/out to go between 135 to 189 then you might be better off with that combo.

share|improve this answer
I'm really appreciative to have your experience and input on this. This helps a great deal. I'm less interested in flexibility, and more in IQ and max apertures. So I find this really interesting "but is still better than the 70-200 non-IS at the same focal length". That is a huge decision point for me. Thanks! – dpollitt May 8 '12 at 16:46
Keep in mind that I'm referring to the 70-200 2.8 non-IS specifically...which, generally speaking, I think has the lowest IQ out of all of the 70-200s (including the f/4s). So YMMV if you have a different model. But still, prime IQ is nearly always going to be better than a zoom at the same focal length, especially if the 135 is in the mix. It's my favorite lens by far. – djangodude May 8 '12 at 16:53
Sold my 70-200mm finally. Just using the 135mm + 1.4x TC! It is great. Sad to see the 70-200mm go, but I haven't used it since I got the 135mm! It is in a different league with the f/2.0. – dpollitt Nov 22 '12 at 16:15

If you're concerned at max aperture, the 70-200/2.8 is sharper at f/2.8.

I don't own a 70-200/2.8. I have used the 135 with a 1.4x extender. Stop it down one or two stops, and it's fine. The autofocus speed is reduced by 50%, but the 135 is fast enough that this reduction isn't a huge issue.

share|improve this answer
Interesting...the chart certainly gives the 70-200 2.8 the edge at 2.8 (particularly mid-frame and corner), even allowing for a little slop comparing 189mm to 200mm as the tool does. My experience with this differs (135 w/ 1.4x is better overall than the 70-200), though admittedly I have not done the rather rigorous testing such as with the ISO-12233 charts. I'm inspired to try some now, though :-) – djangodude May 8 '12 at 22:59
Your experience with a lens matters more than test chart performance. If you find yourself consistently getting better shots with one lens than another, that's the better lens for you. – Evan Krall Nov 27 '12 at 4:25

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.