Canon 135mm f/2 vs Canon 70-200 I L Lens Review / Comparison Test

I just love doing lens tests.  Especially since I often find it challenging to find the lens comparison tests that I am looking for. For this review I will be testing and comparing the Canon 135mm f/2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 I L.  I was specifically looking to compare sharpness and bokeh.  Distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration were not as much of a concern. My reviews are not scientific or heavily controlled tests.  In this case, each lens was mounted on the Canon 5D.  I intentially photographed each wide open since this is where most my interest was since I often photograph at the widest apertures. Minimal post processing was done (I don’t think any were done on these photographs besides Lightroom’s native settings.

Here are my results;

The first test compares each lenses sharpness as well as how the render background blur or bokeh

Lens Test Canon 135mm  vs  Canon 70-200mm

Lens Test Canon 135mm vs Canon 70-200mm

 

Here is a close up

 

Lens comparison of the Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L

Lens comparison of the Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L

 

Background blur is similar, but the Canon 135mm clearly renders smoother bokeh.

Here are a couple more photographs comparing the bokeh between the two lenses.

Lens comparison of the Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L

Lens comparison of the Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L

Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L Bokeh

Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L Bokeh

 

Again, similar, but the Canon 135’s bokeh is more creamy.  However the 70-200mm is also renders very nice background blur.

Here is one final comparison showing the differences in bokeh between the two as well as real life sharpness.

Lens comparison of the Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2

Lens comparison of the Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2

 

Lens Test Canon 135mm  vs  Canon 70-200mm

Close up Lens Test Canon 135mm vs Canon 70-200mm

 

Again, the bokeh is very similar, with the 135mm creating more creamy bokeh. Sharpness looks similar, but the 135 does edge out the 70-200.

The next set of images looks more closely at the differences in sharpness as well as chromatic aberrations

Lens comparison of the Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L

Lens comparison of the Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L

Lens comparison of the Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L

Lens comparison of the Canon 135mm f2 L vs the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L Detail

 

Here you can see that again, the Canon 135mm f/2 is sharper with less chromatic aberration around the numbers. It also shows how the 70-200 2.8 produces warmer tones compared to the 135mm f2 which look a little more cool.

So which lens is better? Do the differences add up to a clear winner? Well I guess it all comes down to what is most important to you as a photographer.  The Canon 135mm is definitely sharper,  renders smoother background blur or bokeh and is better at controlling chromatic aberrations. It is also one stop faster.  However, you lose convenience and the ability to zoom which can be vital for such things as event photography, sports, etc..  You also have to consider how much of a difference will it make in REAL WORLD situations? I have never had a client complain about sharpness when using the 70-200 2.8 L. I doubt anyone would ever notice.

I hope you found this review helpful.  For other Canon, Tokinia and Tamron Lens review, please click on the following link:

Canon, Tamron and Tokinia Lens Reviews