Canon FD Resources - Telephoto lenses
New FD 135mm f/2.0, New FD 135mm f/2.8 & New FD 135mm f/3.5


As said earlier on the 100mm section, those days of the manual focus era, focal lengths of 85mm to 135mm were generally regarded as the second most popular lens for a relative newcomer to 35mm SLR photography.

The visual effect of a telephoto lens can be easily checked when compared with a standard lens the moment you look through the viewfinder of your camera and see the effects of the 85mm, 100mm and, finally, the 135mm telephoto lenses.
As you moved up the focal length scales, you will see an increase in compression of perspective, a narrowing of the angle of view, increased magnification of the image and a decrease in depth-of-field. You won't see these changes to any great extent with the 85mm and l00mm lenses. But they become more apparent with the 135mm. The basis for classification of lenses, in addition to angle of view, is the extent to which they magnify the image you see in the finder. Well, for many still prefer and believe in edge of superiority of the built and optical quality of prime lenses over zoom lenses, these lenses, although they may not present the conveniences of modern zoom lenses, still presents a very attractive alternative.

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The 135mm is considered the middle range of the medium telephoto lenses, with 300mm being the top. It can be used to capture sports or as an outstanding portrait lens on the other. The advantage of the maximum and constant apertures of these New FD-type of 135mm lenses are large enough to make the lenses useful in low light situations especially when used in combination with faster films.

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There are three options in the Canon FD line for the 135mm focal length - other than the f2.0 version, the other two lenses are designed to be extremely compact and lighweight. The 135mm lens is a telephoto with a wide range of applications, yet it is very attractive for a beginning photographer and useful for a professional alike. The appearance of compressed perspective starts to be much more obvious with the 135mm lens than lenses of shorter focal lengths. It is perhaps the first of the true telephoto lenses, since all the attributes and characteristics of telephoto lenses are apparent enough to be significant for picture-taking.

How do you determine which lenses - particularly telephoto - will do the most for your picture-taking needs? What you shoot is the key in determining which telephoto lenses you will need. With a zoom lens, most of this could be resolved by simply zooming in and out and find the best focal length to fill up the picture frame. I am not against zoom lenses, to sum it up in a short note, I still don't think zoom lenses will benefit somebody new to photography - primarily because he/she might not able to get a feel about the relations of lenses that are generated by focal lengths or picture angles. Visualizations of how you envision a photograph should look like does not happen overnight. It needs the experiences and know-how that are accumulated over the years, and the feel of getting the various characteristics of different focal lengths by actually using them, will help a lot in improving one's understanding of how lenses works and their limitations. On a personal note, unless you are willing to cough out more from your pocket, it is still hard to convince that zoom lenses are now rivaling prime types in optical quality, especially evident in situations where shooting directly against strong light sources will produce flares.

Generally, as a guideline - just take a
look at your pictures that satisfy you least. For sports photography you may find that you need medium telephoto lenses - 135mm, 200mm or 300mm or if you have a distance to work with such as high speed car racing, longer focal length lenses will be more desirable. If your main interest is in traveling, the 50mm, 85mm and the 100mm focal lengths the longest lenses you may need (or a high power zoom ratio zoom lens is all you required). Since photography is a free form of expression, medium and short telephoto lenses are equally good for scenic and landscape shots as you can isolate a particular section in a scene and not necessary just limiting the lens for sport or portraiture photography - well, that was the assumption back in those days when the availability, prices and qualities of zoom lenses did not meet your demands or you may have already built up a sizable collection of prime lenses.

Tips: We often find ourselves falling into conventional ways of doing things. Almost automatically, for example, we tend to shoot horizontal compositions with telephoto lenses. Instead, try using the vertical format; in fact, you can virtually fill the frame with a person's head at about 1.3 meters, or five feet.
Another approach is to think in terms of angle of view. Typically, you might select 85mm, 135rnm and 300mm lenses for your photography. The 85mm is about 10° greater in angle of view than the 135mm lens, while the 135mm lens has 10° more angle of view than the 300mm. As we noted earlier, the subject area of the 135mm is about 25 percent of the area covered by the 85mm lens and about four times that of the 300mm. The 50mm covers about four times the subject area of the l00mm lens. The 100mm covers about four times that of the 200mm.

A field of view comparison chart of telephoto lenses and the standard lens

Magnifications, compressed perspectives and greater visual impacts are just some of the key advantages a telephoto lens present. Now take a look at the illustration above which show the areas covered by the 85mm, 100mm, 135mm, 200mm and 300mm lenses compared to that of the 50mm.

With a clearer view in mind of which focal length you may need, the next one is an even more difficult question. WHAT lens speed should I go for?

First, the priority is again what type of photography will you be involved with? If you shoot a lot of stage shots or concerts, indoors and low light portraits to fashion shows that uses a lot of flash, f2.8 is the compromise between prices and practicalities. But if most of your portraits are accomplished outdoors or shot in bright conditions, the f/3.5 lens will do just nice. However, for serious work with available light most of the time, then the 135mm f2.0 is a more logical call. Obviously, it breaks down to price versus practicality again (Most lenses of this style will yield more than satisfactory results, so the issue of performance is not in the priority list). The f3.5 version is the cheapest and the most compact among the three but has less depth of field control. The f2.0 version is pricey but is indispensable if most of the time you have to fight with shutter speed. The middle-of-the-road f2.8 version looks the most logical compromise among the three in terms of price, performance, versatility and mobility.

Telephoto Lenses Angle of View Comparison Chart


28° 30'















8° 15'

4° 35'

8° 50'


2° 45'


3° 06'

1° 40'

2° 35'

New FD 135mm f/2.0 Lens

Big and heavy but balance very well in hand, even with a motor drive and winder. The extra stop in speed may made a lot of differences for available light photography. Further, you will have extra stop to play around with depth of field control. Especially suitable for head and shoulder type of portraiture or fashion photography. Equally versatile for news and reportage, sports and even nature photography where its slightly longer focal length can be used to isolate a section within a view.

Focal length: 135mm
Aperture ratio: 1:2.0
Lens construction: 5 groups, 6 elements
Coating: S.S.C (super spectra coating)
Angle of view: Diagonal: 18° Vertical: 10° Horizontal: 15°

Distance Scale: (m) 1.3 (magnification 0.13X) to 20.OO (ft) 4.5 to 70.oo
Focusing: Helicoid
Minimum aperture: f/32 .A Diaphragm: Automatic
Filter Size. 72mm
* credit: Mr. Marian Steinbach for rectifying a mistake of the filter size.
Hood: Built-in Type
Cap: C-72
Function: Auto Aperture, Full aperture metering (AE operation when used with ALL Canon automatic SLR cameras.
Length x max. diameter: 90.4mm x 78mm
Weight: 660g

Canon 135mm f/2.8 by
New FD 135mm f/2.8 Lens

Much more compact in size than the f2.0 version. This lens has a telephoto ratio of 0.88 and an overall length of only 78mm.

The use of a cemented convex/concave lens in the third group corrects spherical aberration while a concave lens effectively controls rising flares. Designed for handling ease and compromise between speed and economy, good substitute for the bigger brother if price is a factor to be considered.


Focal length: 135mm
Aperture ratio: 1:2.8
Lens construction: 5 groups, 6 elements
Coating: S.S.C (super spectra coating)
Angle of view: Diagonal: 18° Vertical: 10° Horizontal: 15°
Distance Scale: (m) 1.3 (magnification 0.13X) to 20.
OO (ft) 4.5 to 70.oo Focusing: Helicoid

Minimum aperture: f/32 .A
Diaphragm: Automatic
Filter Size. 52mm
Hood: Built-in Type
Cap: C-52
Function: Auto Aperture, Full aperture metering (AE operation when used with ALL Canon automatic SLR cameras.
Length x max. diameter: 78mm x 63mm
Weight: 395g

Canon FDn 135mm f/3.5 telephoto front
New FD 135mm f/3.5 Lens

Popular and modestly priced among the few telephoto lenses in the FD series. It was the first unit among the three versions that was being discontinued at quite an early stage, making way for the f2.8 version to be even more popular.

Using the minimum necessary elements - four, in four groups - makes this lens one of the smallest and lightest of the telephoto group. A practical design and utmost portability plus a very reasonable price make this lens the perfect substitution and good companion if your budget is tight.

Canon FDn 135mm f/3.5 telephoto Rear Canon FDn 135mm f/3.5 telephoto side view

: Image courtesy of Bob Barton ® where he has a EBAY STORE on its own. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.


Focal length: 135mm
Aperture ratio: 1:3.5
Lens construction: 4 groups, 4 elements
Coating: S.S.C (super spectra coating)
Angle of view: Diagonal: 18° Vertical: 10° Horizontal: 15°
Distance Scale: (m) 1.3 (magnification 0.13X) to 20.
OO (ft) 4.5 to 70.oo Focusing: Helicoid
Minimum aperture: f/32 .A
Diaphragm: Automatic
Filter Size. 52mm
Hood: Built-in
Cap: C-52
Function: Auto Aperture, Full aperture metering (AE operation when used with ALL Canon automatic SLR cameras.
Length x max. diameter: 85mm x 63mm
Weight: 325g

135mmf3.5 135mmf2.5
Older Version: Canon FD 135mm f2.5 S.C & 135mm f3.5 S.C

During early stages, these were the two FD lenses at 135mm focal length. Both are designated 'S.C.' and none were coated with S.S.C.
Click Here to the dedicated page for more info.

Current Autofocus Version: EF 135mm f2.0 L USM

Technical highlight:
Another high speed lens for medium telephoto shots. The large f/2 aperture permits low-light situations such as indoor sports, stage shows or news. It also gives great background blur for portraits. Two UD elements correct residual chromatic aberrations, resulting in sharp images, which are also responsible for this lens to earn its L-designation. The lens is also the lightest in its class at 750 g. Retrofocusing with a ring USM make autofocusing silent and speedy. Attaching Extender EF 1.4x or EF 2x increases the focal length to 189mm f/2.8 or 270mm f/4 respectively while autofocusing remains operational. Full-time manual focusing is provided to fine-tune the focusing in AF mode. The lens does not rotate during focusing, any attached special effect filter will not be affected.

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