85mm 1.8 or 135mm 2.0? (Please help)

Discussion in 'Canon Lenses' started by coledphoto, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. coledphoto

    coledphoto TPF Noob!

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    Hey! So I was wondering how significant the difference in DOF/bokeh there is between the 85 1.8 and 135 2.0. I could get the 135, but if the bokeh is similar to the 85 1.8 then I don't think I'll be spending that extra $. It's a $600 price difference so...

    Keep in mind that now I only have the Canon 6D and 50mm 1.8. I'm mostly shooting portraits. Thanks!!

    -Cole


     
  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The 85mm first: (at the max. aperture of 1.8)

    Both at 10 feet distance (no particular reason other than that is what was in the calculator when I went there).

    Subject distance 10 ft

    Depth of field
    Near limit 9.79 ft
    Far limit 10.2 ft
    Total 0.44 ft

    In front of subject 0.21 ft (49%)
    Behind subject 0.22 ft (51%)

    Hyperfocal distance 443.7 ft
    Circle of confusion 0.03 mm

    Now the 135mm: (at the max. aperture of 2.0)

    Subject distance 10 ft

    Depth of field
    Near limit 9.91 ft
    Far limit 10.1 ft
    Total 0.19 ft

    In front of subject 0.09 ft (50%)
    Behind subject 0.1 ft (50%)

    Hyperfocal distance 997 ft
    Circle of confusion 0.03 mm
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well...the two focal lengths are very different tools. They are again, very different. The 85mm is a short telephoto lens, and it has a relatively normal look to its images. The next length up is 100 or 105mm in Nikon. Above that, there has long been the 135mm lens. The MAJOR difference is this: on FF or 35mm, the 85mm gives a fairly naturalistic appearance to the scene; the 135mm is long enough that it does two things. First, and the most major thing it does, is is literally magnifies the size of things behind the subject. I mean it literally makes things in the background LARGER, significantly so, than a 70mm or 85mm focal length does.

    The second thing the 135mm lens does is is creates a shallow depth of field band at portrait/social photography type distances, and then the depth of field has a very definite transition zone, where the in-focus band makes a FAST, quick, very visible transition to out of focus-ness. This is what the 135/2 can do: it can "separate" or "isolate" the subject to a very significant degree. It looks "lensy".

    When talking about the bokeh, I use that term to mean the quality of the OOF blur. The 135/2-L has lovely bokeh. Really good bokeh. But it ALSO does "selective focus" to a higher degree than the 85mm lens does. The subject can be made the same height in the frame with an 85mm lens and a 135mm lens by changing distances, but the angle of view BEHIND the subject is always narrower with the 135mm lens; there is physically less of the world shown, and it is shown larger, and more out of focus, than with a short lens.
     
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  4. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The 135mm f/2L is the easy winner here... and really in almost every way. Even at wide-open the 135mm f/2 delivers the highest level of detail resolving, the lowest CA, and the strongest and creamiest background blur. But keep in mind that the 135mm f/2L will require that you walk back farther to get the equivalent framing as compared to the 85mm... but the walk is worth it.

    While I do own the 135mm f/2... I confess that I use my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM more for portraits (and I tend to shoot all the portraits at the 200mm end.) Overall, the EF 70-200mm is probably one of the most popular portrait lenses. Today it's the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II... I don't own the "II", I still shoot the original -- the "II" is just a tiny bit sharper in the center and I think they bumped up the performance of the image stabilization a bit... but I couldn't justify the purchase price considering how well my original performs.
     
  5. DanOstergren

    DanOstergren Move, I'm Gay. Praise Satan. Supporting Member

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    I have both lenses, and use the 135mm 90% of the time. While the 85mm has a nice way of rendering a blurred background, it doesn't come close to the way the 135mm renders a background with the aperture wide open, and even when you aren't shooting wide open. It's such a dramatic effect that it can sometimes make a person look like a miniature version of themselves. I personally like the effect.

    That said, the 135mm can be a pain in the ass to shoot with indoors even on a full frame, while I find that the 85mm focal length is much easier to shoot with in small spaces. The 135mm is also heavy compared to the 85mm f/1.8, and takes some practice to keep steady (especially if you're skinny like me). The 135mm has a steep learning curve from the 50mm 1.8, and the 85mm would make for a much easier transition. The easy way isn't always the right way though; if you really want the 135mm, get it. You'll get used to it, and chances are you'll love it if you like razor sharp focus and backgrounds that are buttery smooth.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
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85mm or 135mm for filming

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135mm easier to focus than 85mm