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Thread: 135mm L or 100mm Macro L ?

  1. #1
    Formerly user: Arzuhl
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    135mm L or 100mm Macro L ?

    Hey all.
    Once again I find myself in need of some advice from you good people.
    If you check out my signature I have a 85mm f1.8, I have always found this lens to be no where near as contrasty nor the colour saturation of any of my other L lenses. So I am thinking of moving up to the 135L or the 100 Macro L, I'm using the 5D MkII and my wife is using the 7D. I want to mainly use the lens for portraiture and I've seen the results with the 135, which look amazing. I really like the idea of the 100mm having a dual use as a macro lens though.
    So considering my other gear which option do you think is the better one, 135 or 100?
    Thanks again for any advice you can give.
    Cheers.
    Cameras: Canon 5D MkIII, Canon 7D gripped.
    Lenses: 24mmmm f1.4 L, 24-105mm f4 L, 50mm f1.2 L, 85mm f1.2 II L, 70-200 f2.8 L IS II
    Flash: Canon 600 EX RT.
    Tripod: Manfrotto 190CX Pro3, Manfrotto Automatic Monopod, Manfrotto 498RC2 Ball Head.
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  2. #2
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    I'll preface this response by stating that my advice will be biased, as I own a 135/2L, but not a 100/2.8L macro.

    The 135/2L is a stellar lens. It is tack-sharp, extremely quick to autofocus, and produces stunning bokeh. It is also the most inexpensive L-series lens available.

    I mostly shoot portraits with my 85/1.2L II, but for longer distances the 135 is fantastic. I've also used it for indoor band photography.

    While the focal length of the macro lens is within the portrait-length range, I personally wouldn't use a macro lens for portraits. I own a 180/3.5L, and I've never considered using it for anything other than macro photography. Notwithstanding the fact that I have three other portrait-length lenses, I just consider it a specialised tool for a specific purpose.

    Some use the 100/2.8 macro (non-L) as a portrait lens, and while it will produce sharp results, it's best left to its intended purpose.

    I cannot comment in the 100/2.8L macro lens, as I've never looked at it. It s AF may be slow(ish), given it's a macro lens. It certainly won't focus at the speed of the 135/2L (it seems to be faster than even my 300/2.8L IS), but for portrait work rapid AF may not be a deal-breaker (the 85/1.2L II has very slow AF).

    I'm not sure how keen you are about macro photography, but given you've stated you want to shoot portraits, a portrait lens would be a better choice. Granted, you do have one in the 85/1.8 (itself a fantastic lens, and one I used to own).

  3. #3
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    I own a 135L , it was my first L lens purchase and its a gem. If its for portraits it's a gem, I've also used it for shooting weddings (as a guest) and it's fantastic.

    The color and bokeh that is produced is fantastic and You can stand a good distance away (on crop sensors) from your subject for great DOF to get that extra pop

    Yeh a bit bias but I can't fault the lens.

    I know a wedding photographer who uses the macro for portraits too and she comes back with great results too.

    It really comes down to if your "need" that macro capability
    My Current Kit
    Canon 40D + Grip | Canon 10-22 | Canon 50mm f/1.4 | 135mm f/2L | 430EX speedlite | Bibble Pro | Building my stable of primes...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    ...
    While the focal length of the macro lens is within the portrait-length range, I personally wouldn't use a macro lens for portraits. I own a 180/3.5L, and I've never considered using it for anything other than macro photography. Notwithstanding the fact that I have three other portrait-length lenses, I just consider it a specialised tool for a specific purpose.

    Some use the 100/2.8 macro (non-L) as a portrait lens, and while it will produce sharp results, it's best left to its intended purpose.

    ....
    I'm curious to know why you think this is so. Macro's are generally very sharp, which is one argument not to use them for portraits but then that would exclude ALL other sharp lenses so I don't see that as a valid excuse.

    There are lots of ways to differentiate lenses and their performance, bokeh, CA, sharpness, contrast, flare etc. but I honestly can't see what the issue is with Macro lenses per se, aside from not being very fast lenses, in general.

    I’ve used the Canon 100/2.8 (non L) macro as a portrait lens for years (virtually always wide open where it's already pretty much razor sharp) and been happy with it but I also use various other lenses for portraits too. I’ve never once avoided using the 100 macro in favour of another portrait lens because I though it was in any way inadequate at the task.

    JJ
    Last edited by jjphoto; 21-05-2011 at 2:03pm.

  5. #5
    Drifter, Racer and Picture Taker
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    Or you could wait another month and get the new Sigma 150mm Macro with OS.
    Best of both worlds!

    Macro is great fun, and once you get started on it, you'll love it.
    All my photos are taken with recycled pixels.
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom, is knowing not to serve it in a fruit salad.

  6. #6
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    I have the 100L and it produces beautiful portraits. It's dangerously sharp wide open so there's no need to stop down unless you want more DOF. I like that you can get close too, as I found the MFDs of lenses such as the 85mm f1.8 and 100mm f2 to be quite frustrating when photographing babies or small children. I've had no issues with slow AF on this lens either, as there's a focus limiter switch which I find quite useful. I've shot netball and other sports with this lens and it really nails the focus.

    Yes, the 135 is a stop faster and a tad longer, it is highly regarded and has a cult following, and there's no question that it produces superb images. Still, I'm perfectly happy with the 100L. It can do portraits just as well as macros and I like the dual purpose nature of the lens. I've actually removed the 135L from my lens wish list - and it had been there for a long time before I got the 100L.
    Canon 5D MkII | Canon 7D
    Various prime and zoom lenses



  7. #7
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    I have the 100L and can totally recommend it as a portrait lens. Don't listen to people saying it is worse at portraiture than some other lens.

    In fact the 135 at f2 has such shallow DOF that full head shots will be problematic in terms of only one eye sharp, blurry nose, etc, which will only be a good thing for certain arty looks. Don't expect the subject to like them much. It is possible to have too little DOF. I mean, why complain about insufficient contrast if you like shots where only 5% of the image isn't blurry?

    I must say I am surprised by your comments on the 85/1.8. By all reports it is an excellent portrait lens. Maybe worth having Canon service it first.

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    I simply love my Macro 100mm F2.8 and although its not a L its tag sharp.
    Also its a bargain.
    Regards
    Bodies : Canon 450D, Canon 7D
    Lenses : Canon 15-85 f3.5-5.6 IS USM, Canon 100mm F2.8 Makro USM, Canon 24-70 L F2.8 USM, Canon 70-200 L F4, Canon 100-400 L F4.5-5.6L IS USM
    Editing : Photoshop CS5

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    I am surprised that you find the 85 lacking in contrast, the reviews all praise the lens. I certainly have it on my wish list. Is that lack of contrast show up with the 5D and the 7D?
    Have you got some examples, that show lack of contrast compared to others.
    Does using a hood make a difference?

    I love my 100macro L, focusing is fast enough chasing kids around, which is a challenge. Using focus limiter definitely helps.
    Canon Powershot S70, Sony A 100+twin lens kit and GN36 flash, Canon 7D 15-85, 50mm 1.8, Canon 100 2.8L IS Macro, Canon 70-300L, 1.4* Kenko PRO 300 DGX, Canon 430EX II

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