Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus

Lens Reviews / Canon Lenses i Not yet tested
135mm $529
average price
image of Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus
(From Canon lens literature) Telephoto lens with a softfocus feature. It can give razor-sharp snapshots as well as softfocus shots that do not look blurry. You have a choice of two softfocus settings. Even for softfocus shots, focusing with AF is quick and accurate.

Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus User Reviews

8.5/10 average of 4 reviews Build Quality 6.5/10 Image Quality 8.8/10
  • 10 out of 10 points and recommended by (6 reviews)
    Small, cheap, optically excellent, fast-focusing, funky soft-focus effect
    Dated build and feature set, hexagonal iris.

    The lens's main strengths are in the optics and the compact size and discreet appearance. Wide-open sharpness is very good in the center and good in the corners. Center sharpness improves to excellent at f/4 and peaks at f/5.6. Corner sharpness improves to excellent at f/5.6 and peaks at f/8. Flare resistance is excellent at all apertures. Bokeh is neutral, but improves to pleasing with even small amounts of soft-focus dialed in -- try 1 notch at f/4 or two notches at f/5.6. The soft-focus effect cannot be effectively duplicated in software; uncorrected spherical aberration behaves very differently from a gauze filter.

    Focus speed and precision are very good, and for an AFD lens it's not particularly noisy.

    The lens's biggest problem is the company it's in -- the 85/1.8 and 100/2.0 have comparable optical quality and roughly similar price, but are brighter and have more modern builds with ring USM; the 135/2.0L is a stop brighter and a hair sharper wide-open (although twice as big and three times as expensive).

    OTOH, if you want the unique mix of features this lens brings to the table, you're unlikely to be disappointed. It has no hidden flaws and one hidden strength -- namely, the options that subtle use of the soft-focus effect will give you.

    reviewed January 11th, 2007 (purchased for $295)
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (16 reviews)
    Sharp, light, nice soft focus effect, relatively sharp.
    A little too long on a APS-C DSLR

    For its price, this is a very good lens.
    Sharpness is good even at 2.8, and the soft focus gives a dreamy effect to your pictures (but I guess you can have it with software too).
    On a APS-C DSLR, its 200mm equivalent focal lenght is a little too long for portraits, but then is perfect for sports.

    reviewed January 4th, 2007
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (62 reviews)
    nice portrait FL, relatively cheap, sharp
    a bit too long on APS-C DSLR

    This is one FUNKY lens with the soft focus activated. It creates a very 70's or 80's looking glam shot (think Alexis Carrington from Dynasty!).

    When not using the soft focus feature, this lens is sharp - as you would expect from any prime portrait lens. It may be a bit too long for portraits on a APS-C DSLR, though.

    reviewed December 13th, 2006
  • 8 out of 10 points and recommended by (3 reviews)
    Sharp, bright, good soft focus effect if required.
    None I can think of.

    This lens is a hidden gem. You will only find it on the shelves of specialist dealers. It's less than a third of the price of Canon's 135 f2L and comparable optically.

    Without the soft focus engaged the lens is sharp over the frame. On an APS-C camera it has a field of view equivalent to 200 mm so you can use it for sports and it will take Canon (or Sigma) teleconverters to extend the reach. On full-frame it is an ideal portrait lens and useful for street candid shots. It's fairly light (390g) and unobtrusive.

    The soft focus effect only works at apertures from f2.8 to f4. The soft focus ring has two click settings but you can set it between the stops. A setting of 1 at f4 produces a dreamy but focused effect that's hard to achieve with software.

    I also use it as a macro lens with an extension tube.

    reviewed November 6th, 2005