Modern Classic SLR Series :
Additional Information on Canon EF lenses
Canon EF 135mm f/2.0
L USM Telephoto lens

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For many decades on 35mm photography, be it for Canon, Nikon, Minolta (KONICA-MINOLTA), Olympus or Pentax, the 135mm telephoto lens group were used to be one of the most popular focal length in any camera system label after standard and wideangle lenses. Reasons for its popularity can be a mixed, I guess the main reason could be the "reach" on images taken with telephoto lenses. It is an obvious step beyond the sub-tele range of optics where telephoto which has a considerably longer focal lengths for greater subject magnification.

Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L Telephoto lens with Canon D60 by Mark Schretlen
Credit: Image courtesy of Mr. Mark Schretlen® from Canada, where I have spotted this photo from his excellent PORTFOLIO at Mark also has another PERSONAL SITE. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

The angle of view for this becomes narrower and images taken come with a sense of image isolation, a compressed perspective which projects a feeling of presence. Medium telephoto lenses are excellent choice for portraiture, scenic landscape, journalism and even for candid snapshots etc. For an instance, the narrower angle of view presents a very good method in isolation of a portion of a wide open space in a scene. The moderate compression on perspective in particular have been used by many photographers to convert an ordinary scene into a different visual presentation from, otherwise a static visual. Basically, (in particularly, portraiture) the telephoto effect and depth of field factor can be very appealing to the eyes than photos taken with conventional standard or wideangle lenses.

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A brief Lens Development & Version History
: Until 1947, Canon (old name as Seiki Kogaku) was not a lens manufacturer but was more confined as camera design & manufacturer. Earlier Canon lenses were sold under trade name of Senenar and it fits Leica and even on
Nikon RF models. The first 135mm was an all chrome-finished, simple 4 elements in 3 groups SENENAR 1:4 f=135mm which possibly first sold in 1948 in domestic and overseas markets (possibly after this stage, "Canon" name was slowly replaced with the "SENENAR" trade name). The stepped up version of a faster lens speed 135mm f/3.5 telephoto which has a larger lens barrel but also in chrome for Canon own range of rangefinder cameras was first sold in 1952; this version has gone through three stages of updates, the last being in 1961 before the R-mount lenses was introduced, some of which has changed to semi-black and chrome physically. However, mid between 1958-59, Canon introduced a 135mm telephoto with a fastest f/2.5 maximum aperture in its class. The R-mount 135mm Canon telephoto lenses in f/2.5 and f/3.5 versions were surfaced during 1960-61, these Super-Canomatic Canonflex lenses which has an all new optical design (6E/4G symmetric (gauss type) optical system) as well as treated with Spectra coating; the slower f/3.5 which debuted earlier as a pre-60 lens came with almost similar optical design inherited from earlier version (4E/3G). Canon 135mm telephoto range during the subsequent FL-mount era have a different appearance, but optically they share many similarities - possibly thought the lens upgrading was sufficient (Strangely, Canon museum has no info stated on the FL-mount 135mm lenses (see photo below as well as the link above). The FL 135mm f/3.5, in particular, was probably one of the earliest batch of FL lenses that experimenting a FD-looked and feel before the eventual design was adopted..

Canon old RF 135mm f/4.0 tele lens Canon old RF 135mm f/3.5 telephoto lens Canon fast speed SENENAR 135mm f/2.5 telephoto lens Canon SENENAR 135mm f/3.5 black telephoto lens Canon R-mount 135mm f/3.5 telephoto lens

Modern feel of Canon 135mm telephoto was versions that carried with the FD-mount where physical appearance was a radical change from many of the previous Canon lenses. The first of the series was the Canon FD-mount 135mm f/2.5 in 1971 (S.C. version in 1973) where an all new optical design of 6E/5G design was first used. The lens was considerably lighter at 670g (S.C. version lighter at 630g) , with close focus ability down to 1.5m and maximum magnification ratio of 0.14X as well as has a 58mm filter attachment size. The slower Canon FD 135mm f/3.5 (1971) (S.C. version in 1976) also seemingly has a new optical design of a simple 4E/4G arrangement as opposed to the FL-version's 4 elements in 3 groups. But the lightweight (merely 385g) and extremely compact (85mm length) which uses 55mm filter was sold very well in numbers due to its affordability as well as its excellent optical performance.
Canon FL 135mm f/2.5 Canon original FD 135mm f/2.5 S.C. Telelphoto lens Canon New FD 135mm f/2.0 Canon New FD 135mm f/2.8 Canon New FDN 135mm f/3.5

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Dr. Joshua Ong ® ô who has his Portfolio at Pbase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

However, some of the shutter priority AE and multi-AE modes Canon SLRs such as the Canon AE-1 and Canon A1 which enjoyed tremendous commercial success during the mid to late '70 saw Canon went through a lens updating program across the board for all their FD lenses with a FDN (or New FD-mount). The new 135mm lens group comprised of three members: FDN135mm f/2.0 (1980), FDN135mm f/2.8 (1979) and FDN135mm f/3.5 (1979). As most of these FD lenses have a separate site on their own, you can browse to the related section for more. The interesting part was perhaps with the FDN 135mm f/2.0 as it is relative to the current EF 135mm f/2.0L in focal length (135mm) as well as in its maximum aperture (f/2.0). There were none designated as a L-lens in nature but most Canon old time folks should have a pleasant memory of what a lens it was... In fact, even if it was a fastest 135mm tele-lens Canon has ever produced, at 670g the weight was even lighter than a comparing older version of 135mm f/2.5. The optical construction was comprised of an all new 6 elements in 5 groups formula, enabling it to close focuses down to just 1.3m as well as an impressive maximum magnification reaching 0.13X. Due to its extra ordinary lens speed, it uses 72mm filter and a body length measures approx. 90.4mm. This lens utilizes a new optical system that appropriately distributes power to disperse it throughout the whole, achieving a large aperture through sufficient correction of spherical aberration in addition to being lightweight and compact. Another interesting feature was the use of a 8 blades diaphragm which is effectively provides a more natural blur background as well as out of focus spots. The alternate FDn 135mm and f/3.5 were equally impressive in this respect, weighs merely 395g and 325g respectively (strange, although that is not important - the 135mm f/3.5 actually measures longer than the equivalent f/2.8).

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Canon EF135mm f/2.0L USM telephoto lens
Marketed:- 06.1996; Status: Current model (as at 06.2006)

The above was just used as a quick reference for anyone who may be interested in gathering some background in the development for the Canon autofocus 135mm lenses that followed in the late '80. Why ? simply because Canon had omitted this medium telephoto focal length EXCEPT for a special application lens type called Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 SOFT FOCUS - incidentally, it formed as one of the pioneer batch of Canon autofocus EF lens group when the EOS system was introduced. The decision was obvious - the importance of 135mm as a prime (fixed focal length) telephoto was superseded by coverage of a wide to tele-zoom; next, Canon designers probably had concluded for photographers that 135mm tele was mainly used for portraiture photography; thus, why don't just offer them a portrait-specific 135mm telephoto ? Although the lens has been compromised with a slower f/2.8 maximum lens aperture from the previous FDN 135mm f/2.0 but its added feature in permitting control of soft focusing effect obviously counters the lack of fast lens speed. It was not until 8 years later in April, 1996 that the first true fast speed Canon telephoto lens was being introduced to satisfy desire of many Canon photographers. It was regarded as one of the fastest 135mm telephoto lens in its class and it was born genetically as a L-lens in nature - meaning it has a an all new optical design in a custom elite-class L-family outfit that everyone is so familiar with today.

Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L Telephoto on a Canon EOS 30 SLR camera

Credit: Mr. S.V, Chang & Mr. Liew Chee Wai of YL camera, Kuala Lumpur for generously lending the lens and camera for production of these images appearing in this site. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.
lens mount at the rear section of Canon 135mm f/2.0L telephoto

I would assume most people wouldn't deny the fact that, nowadays photographers are more inclined to invest into a telephoto zoom rather than a, prime (fixed focal length) telephoto; it is of course possible to use a zoom lens to cover telephoto lens focal lengths and minus the convenience in its ability to vary the focal length at will but most often, it is more 'economical" for an investment in a zoom than investing into a few prime lenses. However, it is much depending on individual preferences for photography, but one should also consider several of the important advantages of single focal length versions present. Although in most cases - tele-zoom lenses usually have slower maximum aperture (this phase is not exactly true when applies to high performance zoom lenses - but on the other hand, a good top class fixed focal length telephoto is usually cheaper than a comparing large aperture tele-zoom). So, for those photographers who may be already had slower zoom lenses, investing into a prime lens is not entirely a stupid idea. Secondly, in any case even when it is supported by detailed MTF-graghs or so on, I still hold the belief focal length to focal length, a prime also excels than a comparing zoom (don't argue with me on this, as I said - this is personal interpretation).

Couple @ Land of conflicts, Jerusalem by  Damon Lynch
Couple @ Land of conflicts, Jerusalem ..

: Image courtesy of , Mr. Daman Lynch® from Aotearora New Zealand. You can access his impressive Portfolio at Pbase or his personal site. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

So, in order to make prime survives in this zoom dominated circle, manufacturers usually will design the prime with some advantages over the zoom lenses:- one of them is usually the large aperture. With a generous wide selection of aperture range - from f/2.0, f/2.8, f/4.0. f/5.6, f/8.0, f/11, f22 and f/32 - A TOTAL OF 9 F-STOPS where you can take full advantage of the extended aperture range for bright/low ambient light situation, manipulating greater depth of field control. This high performance tele-lens is very portable. It is compact, lighter weight than a comparing large aperture tele-zoom and permits photographer to shoot more comfortably rather than struggling on balancing and counter stability with a large aperture comparing tele-zoom. Although telephoto lenses are not designed for close-ups, but the lens does offered a reasonably close up range with good magnification (maximum 0.19X) and this readily available option with an equally impressive optical performance is there should you need it (at close focus, the rear group focusing will auto compensating for any possible aberrations). With its maximum aperture of f/2.0, there's no denying that this lens is designed with available and low-light in mind, including indoor portraits using ISO 100 or slower films. For indoor sports, the use of ISO 400 or higher film speed will enable you to have faster shutter speeds to freeze the subject movement with the lens' fast maximum aperture. It is capable of delivering top-notch examples of stop-the-action shots rather than associating this lens with just for almost-stationary subjects.

Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L front lens element
This lens uses a larger 72mm filter thread, there are not too many EF lenses that have the same filter attachment size (another fast speed telephoto, Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L USM (MK II) and even the shorter Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L USM (MK II) also have an enlarged dimension of 72mm due to their respective large aperture but as most people don't usually keep a 135mm and 200mm in a same camera bag; chances is rare that exchanging accessories can be a selling point (errr ... if you insist, Canon will not resist this kind of idea from users... hehe.).

Telephoto Lenses Angle of View Comparison Chart


28° 30'















8° 15'

4° 35'

8° 50'


2° 45'

field of view of 135mm and others

I do understand selections can be easily substitute by a high ratio zoom lens but personally, I think this Canon fixed focal length lens is a good supplementary lens for photographers who may just own slower maximum aperture zoom lenses.

In the case of the Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L USM Telephoto lens, Canon offers a f-stop faster than a conventional 135mm telephoto lenses which usually have their maximum aperture stops at f/2.8 (err.. I think Nikon other than the standard MF Nikkor 135mm f/2.0s, the Company also has a special application AF-Nikkor 135mm f/2.0s). Together with the 85mm lens, this large-aperture L lens covers the medium telephoto range. It's perfect for indoor sports photography that takes advantage of f/2.0 brightness, and for portrait photography that uses the beautiful shading as well as more natural out of focus blur, only possible with some selective large aperture EF lenses. This Canon fast speed EF telephoto lens uses two UD elements effectively compensates secondary spectrum, delivers crisp, sharp image quality. A distinguish feature on this Canon lense over competitions is its quick, smooth and quiet autofocusing with the use of a ring-type USM as AF actuator as well as deploying a rear focusing system. The USM also contributes to the fact that manual focusing is permitted even during AF operation for fine control on focus.

BangkokFashion Week by Hugh_Peter_Chen 92k Jpeg Loading ...
Overall, as I said earlier, this Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L USM Telephoto lens was a crystallized product from decades of accumulated experience in the development effort by Canon optical designers which can date back to 1948. Other than its superlative image resolution offers, the excellent balance makes this an easy-to-handle lens & more practical than many other large aperture Canon tele-zooms when handling shooting assignments such as indoor studio/fashion photography; it adds mobility for photographers on the move such as reporters and journalists on field works or traveling. Other than its famed image resolution deliveries, this is the first group of Canon telephoto where Canon officially stated for matching the optic with an Extender for minimal loss of image quality. So, when equips it with Extender EF 14X or 2X. it can be used for AF photography as a long 189mm f/2.8 telephoto or near a super-telephoto range at 270mm f/4.0 lens.

Bangkok Fashion Week, 2005

: Image courtesy of Hugh Peter Chen ® from Taiwan, Chen, who has also has his works posted at his PORTFOLIO at Pbase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

So sometimes when people ask me what to choose between the 200mm f/2.8 and 135mm f/2.0 - also check if you already own an Extender - the f/2.0 aperture should have an advantage with its extra-stop of light gathering ability and turbocharged it to an even longer focal length if situations require you to do so. A comparing 200mm f/2.8 may show its weakness in terms of flexibility when work in confined space as well as due to light loss factor on lens extension (with Extender(s)) in particularly when shooting under absolute low ambient light scenario. Basically, all I am trying to emphasize is, although the focal length is shorter in nature but it permits the photographer to manipulate options, especially when you have physical restriction, an example like taking indoor studio fashion shots etc. I would think between all the lenses, each has its own strength and weaknesses physically; when you are in the working fields, certainly it demands the intelligence of the owner to exercise a little wisdom in making a choice for in pre-determine what to bring (or what to invest into) for each photographic assignment.

On lens handling, it balances very well on few of the EOS SLRs; the DOF scale printed near the distance window could have added with a few more f-stop for quick visual reference.

Measuring just and weighs 750g (1.7Ibs), the use of some light mechanical parts resulting this excellent telephoto dressed up in an all solid, rigid outfit externally as well as making this Canon
L-tele lens the lightest lens in its class among competitions On a less notable feature is its non-rotating front lens element, hence permitting use of many filter accessories or other attachments.

Credit: Mr. S.V, Chang & Mr. Liew Chee Wai of YL camera, Kuala Lumpur for generously lending the lens and camera for production of these images appearing in this site. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.

Technical Specification for Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L USM Telephoto lens: -

Type: - Autofocus lens type with manual focusing mechanism
Focal Length: Fixed focal length 135mm medium telephoto focal length
Focus Adjustment:- Autofocus; ring type USM; ear focus design
Manual Focusing:- possible via AF/M switch and electronic full-time manual focusing possible during AF
Zoom Adjustment:- Nil. Fixed Focal Length Lens

Depth of Field Scale Close focus Limiter
Distance Scales: Provided via window on metres/feet.
Closest Focusing Distance:- 0.9m (3.0ft)
Maximum Magnification:- 0.19X
Drive System:- Ring-type USM enabling full-time manual focusing during AF
Minimum Aperture: - f/32
Filter rotation: No
Aperture range:- f/2.0 - f/32

Angle of View:- 15° 10° 18° (horizontal, vertical and diagonal)
Number of Diaphragm Blades: - 8 blades
Filter Attachment Size:- 72mm front mounting
Lens construction:- 10 Elements in 8 Groups with Two UD glass elements (at 2nd and 4th); internal floating design, rear focus at close range.

Speed demon on ice  by Mark_Schretlen (88k Jpeg) Loading ...
Indoor speed that requires fast shutter speed, the f/2.0 comes in just handily.

: Image courtesy of Mark Schretlen from Canada whose PORTFOLIO can be accessed at PBase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Optical Contruction of Canon 135mm f/2.0L telephoto lens MTF graph for Canon EF 135mm f/2.0L
Extenders: Usable. Extender EF 1.4X (II):- focal length multiplication: 189mm f/2.8 ~f/45, AF retained, Magnification ratio: max. 0.27X; Extender EF 2.0X (II): focal length multiplication: 270mm f/4.0~f/64, AF retained; Magnification ratio: max. 0.38X;
Others: - Extension Tube Extension Tube EF12 II: 0.29-0.09X; Extension Tube EF25 (II) 0.41X-0.20X
Diameter:- 82.5mm x 112mm (3.2" x 4.4");
:- 750g (approx. 1.7 Ibs.)

Depth of Field calculation chart for Canon EF  135mm f/2.0L telelphoto lens
Accessories:- lens hood:- ET- 78 II; Lens Cap/pouch E-72U (supplied ); lens hard case: LH-D18 or LP-1219; Gelatin Filter Holder III/V (72mm):- 5; Other Optional system lens accessories, Detachable Tripod Collar. 72mm close-ups Lens 500D; 72mm Circular Polarizer PL-C; Lens Dust Cap E Rear Cap, Gelatin Filter Holder Adapter III 72; Gelatin Filter Holder Adapter IV 72; Macrolite Adapter 72C; 72mm UV Haze etc.

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Bow river grass  by Mark_Schretlen (43k Jpeg) Loading ...
Bow river grass...

Telephoto for close-ups ? Why not ?

: Image courtesy of Mark Schretlen from Canada whose PORTFOLIO can be accessed at PBase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

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