The Canon EF 135 mm f/ 2.8 SoftFocus is a unique telephoto soft-focus prime lens equipped with the Soft Focus system for Canon EOS digital and film cameras. It is one of the most uncommon EF lenses.
Equivalent focal length for APS-C cameras: 216 mm.
As different from other lenses, this one has a 3-position (0-1-2) Soft switch. This switch alters the position of an aspherical lens in such a way that the focal point of central and rim rays does not coincide. Optimum efficiency of this switch is achieved at the maximum aperture.
No soft-effect in position 0. Light soft-effect in position 1. Maximum soft-effect in position 2. It causes image contrast to dramatically fall and half tones get blurred, but HF definition still retains. A special frame ring adjusts the effect.
By means of the Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focusin the appropriate light conditions, it is possible to smooth over skin defects and emphasize eye details, eye lashes, brows, locks.
Both autofocusing and manual mode are available. In MF mode there may be a considerable override past infinity, which makes it possible to focus either central or rim rays.
It is better to use the Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus on film or digital cameras with a 24x36 mm full-size sensor.
With the f/2.8 maximum aperture ratio the lens enables shooting with very shallow depth of field, as well as shooting in low-level-light conditions.
Set at 0 (no soft-effect), the lens is already rather sharp at f/ 2.8. It is very sharp from f/4 onwards. There are drops in resolution at the frame borders on 35 mm digital cameras.
Vignetting is visible only when shooting wide open. Vignetting is usually an advantage for a portrait photography, as it provides a picture with additional volume. If necessary, it is easily edited in RAW-converters.
The Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus is not very well resistant to back or side light. In order to ensure a better image quality, it is recommended to use a hood.
Focusing is internal. The front lens does not rotate, which enables the use of a polarizing or gradient filter. Manual adjustment of sharpness is possible at any time by turning the focus ring.
Autofocus is a weak point of this lens. Autofocusing is slow and noisy. In low light conditions there are frequent hunting problems.
But the price of the lens is quite affordable (especially on the secondary market), let alone its uniqueness.
When used thoughtfully and artistically, the Canon EF 135 mm f/2.8 Soft Focus may be very useful for soft retro-style female portrait, for pictorial photography, etc.
Compatible hood: ET-65III
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Posted by: Sergei Borodin Date of publication: 16.09.2010