In Praise of 85L and 135L Lenses

In the realm of Portraiture, two lenses in the Canon line-up – EF 85mm f/1.2 L II and EF 135mm f/2 L – have attained occult status for their superlative optical performance and for the creative possibilities they open.

The 85L II lens was primarily conceived as a portrait lens. Not the fastest autofocus arrow in Canon’s quiver, it is best deployed in controlled, deliberate situations. With its widest aperture of f/1.2, it is a delicate tool requiring of care & skill.

The 135L lens revels in tight head shots and its fast autofocus lends it an extra edge. Stopped down, it is a splendid candidate for landscape work in the medium telephoto region.

A couple of portraits of my little niece Saraswati, taken in Panjim, Goa, are offered below.

The first image taken with 85L II underscores its signal feature: ability to cull the essentials from a composition – in this instance, the eyes – with its wafer thin depth of field at f/1.2.

The second is a quick, spontaneous capture with the 135L at an outdoors event. Here I had no choice but to make do with the angle & character of the available light at that moment. Perhaps the soft shadows in this instance enhance the profile. You decide.

 
Close-up of Saraswati<br>5D, 85L II

Close-up of Saraswati
5D, 85L II @ f/1.2

 
Portrait of Saraswati<br>5D, 135L

Saraswati
5D, 135L @ f/2

 
 
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