135mm f/2.0 vs 70/200 2.8 IS

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by duncanapple, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. duncanapple macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2008
    Hi all,

    Question about the 2 subject lenses - I deciding between the 2, and I really prefer the IQ and speed of primes. My only lens right now is the 35mm 1.4L which is 100% awesome on my 5D. 35mm seems to get everything from full body shots, to group shots, to landscapes (maybe the very beginning of what can be "wide angle") on FF.

    I would be using the new telephoto for anything from hockey games (which usually haave poor indoor light and fast moving action), to kids concerts/plays/etc (also can be low light) or even head shots in the studio or soccer games (which dont really require the wider apertures since I have strobes).

    I think my real question is one that perhaps I can only answer by renting a lens, but I was curious if there were any tools online or conversions I could look at. I am wondering, depending on distance, how much would I have to "zoom with my feet" to make up the 65mm difference each way (70->135, 135->200) if I went with the prime? This isnt a 1 to 1 ratio is it? Ie every foot closer I zoom the picture in would be an extra foot closer (further) I had to walk with the prime? I am likely going to have to go with the zoom that has the narrower aperture/larger size/~2x price tag, but just curious. Oh, and buying both is not an option :) For an amateur I have a swelling price tag on my bag as it is!

    Thanks in advance -
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    I don't understand this at all. The zoom ring controls the lens' focal length. The focal length determines the lens' field of view. Field of view is measured in degrees not feet.

    In the range of 100mm to 200mm image magnification is roughly proportional to focal length. So zooming from 100mm to 200mm is the same as walking half way to the subject.

    But, remember perspective depends only on camera to subject distance. So A shoot at 60 feet with a 200mmlens is not the same as a shot from 30 feet with a 100mm lens.

    Perspective is the relative size of foreground to background objects. You clontrol that with camera to subject distance. The zoom allows yo more options.

    Also don't thinK that the prime will have better IQ. Moderen zooms and in perticular the Canon and Nikon 80-200 f/2.8 zooms are very good.

    The 200mm f/2.9 will have razor thin DOF at f/2.0. If yuo like this then the f/2.8 lens just can't do this. Many wedding photographers like the f/2.0 for use durring the wedding when they can't use a flash but DOF isso thin your breathing can move the camera in/out ofthe focus zone
  3. SLC Flyfishing Suspended

    SLC Flyfishing

    Nov 19, 2007
    Portland, OR
    To get the same framing from the 135 mm as you do from the 70-200mm @ 200mm you have to be 32% closer to the subject. That may or may or not be important depending on the shoot.


    200 mm focal length
    subject distance 25 feet
    captured image plane at subject covers an area roughly 4.5' horizontal and 3' vertical

    135 mm focal length
    subject distance 17 feet (32% closer)
    captured image plane at subject covers an area roughly 4.5' horizontal and 3' vertical

    (Image plane is the area in which the subject sits, not in front and not behind)

    difference in distance shot from with these subject distances is only 8 feet.

    now for a different subject distance

    200 mm focal length
    subject distance 100 feet
    captured image plane at subject covers an area 18' horizontal and 12' vertical

    135 mm focal length
    subject distance 67.5 feet
    captured image plane at subject covers an area 18' horizontal and 12' vertical

    difference in distance from subject here is 32.5 feet.

    It's a linear relationship through all focal lengths meaning that if you increase the distance between camera and subject 5x with the 200mm lens then you must multiply the difference in distances between the 200 mm and 135 mm by 5 as well.


    at 25 feet there is an 8 foot difference required for these two focal lengths to give equivalent fields of view, so if we changed subject to camera distance to say 200 feet we'd need to multiply that 8 feet by 8 and we'd see that to get the same field of view from the 135 mm lens as we get from the 200 mm lens we'd need to be 64 feet closer with the 135 mm lens.

    Are you sufficiently confused yet?

    An easy way to calculate these things between lenses is to take a ratio of the two focal lengths: 135/200=0.675 x 100 = 67.5%

    135 is 67.5% of 200

    100% - 67.5% = 32.5 (we'll call it 32 for simplicity) meaning that the subject to camera distance needs to be 32% closer for the 135 to give the same equivalent focal length as the 200 mm.

    This only gets you the same angle of view (apparent focal length) perspective is a different story.

    My head hurts, I'm going to stop now.

  4. akdj macrumors 65816


    Mar 10, 2008
    The 135/2 is a fantastic lens for sure...however, in my kit, my 70-200/2.8is is my workhorse...couldn't live without it;) (Maybe that's a bit over the top...)

    The new V2 70-200 has just been announced...upon release (who knows when that's going to happen), this may or may not affect the price of the V1. Something to consider.

    Shooting sports, I would definitely grab the IS version....BUT, there is another option, albeit a stop slower. Considering the high ISO capabilities of the 5d, you may want to check out the 70-200/f4is. Almost a thousand bucks less, half the weight and just as sharp (arguably a wee bit better even). Again, it's not as fast, but typically hockey rinks are well lit (I shoot pro hockey myself). Unless you're shooting at an outside rink, the f4 a 1600ISO will/should give you excellent IQ.

    The others have explained "Zooming with your feet:)" well enough.

    I love the 135/f2, in fact it's next on my wish list at B&H. But, I definitely look at it as a specialty lens and not nearly as versatile as the 70-200 (pick your flavor). IQ is a different story...it's one of the three in the Holy Trinity, IMO (35L, 85L, and 135L)...but, as always, YMMV.

    Good Luck
  5. Grimace macrumors 68040


    Feb 17, 2003
    with Hamburglar.
    Both are amazing lenses, but I use the 70-200mm more because I am lazy with my feet a mid-range focal lengths.

    Depending on the sports that you are shooting, the f/2 may make a big difference. Shutter speed is all-important so if it is anything indoors, the 135mm is the winner hands down. But, if you're outside... both are awesome.

    If it is outdoors and a tossup between the two, thing about how else you might use the lens and see if that tips the scale.
  6. funkboy macrumors regular

    Apr 25, 2008
    Well, IMHO there are two kinds of Canon shooters: those that own the 135L, and those that don't. <grin>

    Personally I started out with the 70-200 f/4L non-IS, and a year after that I got the 135L and a 1.4x TC at the same time (the TC works with both :).

    I found that the 70-200 was fine when it was the only thing I was carrying, but with all the other lenses I like to take it was certainly the most bulky, so most of the time when traveling carry-on-only I took the 135 & TC and left the 70-200 at home.

    I sold the 70-200 a little over a year ago and got a 70-300 IS (and made a little money on the deal), which I used more because of the IS (my tripod doesn't see much use), but it made me miss the 70-200. Enough that I gave the 70-300 IS to my brother for Xmas & am now in the market for a 70-200 f/4L IS.

    But the 135L stayed with me the whole time, along with the 1.4x TC. I couldn't exactly say that this setup is the equivalent of a 130-190 f/2-2.8, but I pretty much know beforehand if I'm going to need to optimize for low light or extra reach & plan accordingly. On a few trips where I really had to bring a small bag I said nuts to the zooms & just brought the 135L & my Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 (well, I put my Tokina 11-16 on my GF's 350D but it pretty much stays with her most of the time anyway).

    Here's the 135L on my 40D in Sancerre last fall after the harvest (& a nice French nuke plant for contrast):

  7. akdj macrumors 65816


    Mar 10, 2008
    I like that shot Funk...ALOT! Thanks for sharing...and I really, really want a 135 too :jealous: !!!

    Heading to Vegas on Monday and I'm thinking about buying one while I'm there....instead of gambling...seems soooo much smarter!

    Again, thanks for sharing...amazing detail in those crops and the nuclear power plant is icing on the cake! Great Work!~

  8. duncanapple thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2008
    Thanks for all the replies guys - for some reason I was having trouble wrapping my head around it - SLC and ChrisA, I read slow, but I am with you both :) I knew the closer you get with any lens the subject will "stretch" a little, likewise moving back will compress it a little. So I guess I am better off considering a zoom just that, zooming in on the same perspective.

    My question was really how much would I have to move in to fill my view finder, given perspective will not change in the 70-200 and will change in the 135 f/2. I think you both explained what I was after though, the answer is a linear relationship to subject distance/focal length. I think in the end as much as I want to go all primes (and save the cash) I may end up with the zoom.

    As to if I go f/2.8 or f/4, thats another tough one that I know has been asked a lot. I will prob end up with 2.8 just because of low light kids school concerts/plays, indoors shots, and hockey. I should have explained - by hockey I mean little leaguers - those rinks don't tend to be as well lit as the big boys in the NHL ;) Its a decent amount more (~$800 ish) but I hate to spend all that money and still not have what I really want (the 2.8) so i will likely just save a little longer. Weight isn't an issue as I will be in my seat/stands. Hopefully at 28 I don't start complaining - yet :)

    Thanks again for the help guys -
  9. Mousse macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2008
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    Zooming with your feet is a luxury that is short supply during a sporting event. It might not even be possible to move around at all most of the time. Because of that, I'd prefer the versatility of the 70-200 2.8.
    For your kid's plays/concert/etc, I think they don't mind too much a parent roaming the aisle.:) If that's more of a focus (no pun intended) than sporting events, I'd definitely go with the 135 f2. I'm also in the Primes > Zoom camp.:cool:
    IMO, you can't go wrong with either.
  10. funkboy macrumors regular

    Apr 25, 2008
    Thanks for the compliments. I probably should have cropped out the OOF bit on the bottom more than I did, but I wanted to keep the square aspect ratio without compressing the framing too much around the interesting bits.

    The rest of that series is here in decidedly web 1.0 gallery format :). They're all with either the 135L or the Zeiss 35 1.4 on the 40D. Light was back & forth between heavy clouds & bright sun all day. Some of them are fairly horrible but I was playing around with a few new techniques & wanted to see how they'd turn out. I don't think I spent more than a couple minutes in PP (LR3β) on most of them.

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