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    85 vs 135 Prime

    I have the classic zooms, the 16-35 2.8, 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8, & 100-400 4.5-5.6. I also have 24 1.4, 35 1.4 & 50 1.4 primes as well as a 100 2.8 2x macro. I tend to use my zooms for run & gun work (docs, events, corporate work, etc.) and my primes for creative work (commercial projects, short films, music videos, etc.).

    I am wanting to pick up a longer fast prime for my creative projects since my longest 1.4 prime is a 50mm and my 100mm macro is more of a specialty lens. As such, I'm looking into two focal lengths, the 85mm and 135mm.

    I'm a Sony shooter (FX6, A1, A7SIII) and am looking at the 85 1.4 GM and the newer 135 1.8 GM. Both look like great glass. The 85 is a little softer wide open and has a slower AF motor, but both would get the job done.

    My reason for posting is I would like to see what people like to use more in their work, an 85 or a 135. I know that this is completely subjective, but I would still be curious to see who uses which and why. For me, I've owned an 85 before and sold it because I found myself almost always grabbing the 50 over it. To me, the 85 just didn't seem all that much different than my 50, but my 50 could focus way closer than my 85, so I almost always grabbed it instead. That makes me lean toward the 135 which is very different than the 50 1.4 and has a unique, almost dreamy look to it. But, I ALWAYS read about guys filming with 24, 35, 50, and 85 primes, never a 135. So I'm curious to know why.

    Is it because people find it too redundant with a 70-200? Is it because it's too much of a specialty lens? Or is it because people like being closer to the subject which an 85mm would be better at?

    I would love to know how many of you have ever worked with a 135 for video, what your thoughts were on it, and how you liked that length compared to an 85mm. Thanks for your time!
    Last edited by Joshua Milligan; 10-03-2021, 09:02 AM.

    #2
    Mostly, I travel with:

    Canon L Zooms 16-35, 24-70, 70-200.

    Canon L 100 macro.

    Sigma zoom 150-600.

    Sigma ART primes 20, 24, 35, 50 and 85.

    16-35, 35 and 50 are my most used lenses.

    I love my 85 but lately I've been wondering about swapping my 85 for a 135 to replace 70-200 shots and 85 shots but decided to stick with what I have as I feel it's more versatile.

    I often shoot A and B cameras and the 85 is such a nice medium-close lens I feel 135 would be too restrictive. Stilll want to buy it though.
    "There is nothing permanent except change."
    Heraclitus

    www.liamhall.net
    TWITTER: @WordsbyLiam
    INSTAGRAM: @picsbyliam

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      #3
      I own a six lens set of the Canon Cine Primes, which includes an 85 and 135. I agree with Liam that the 85 is going to be more versatile, BUT the 135 has historically been my most used interview lens, as long as I've been shooting on primes. Followed by the 85, then 50 and 35.

      I should also add, that a lot of the interviews I shoot are multi-cam, so a lot of the times, it's necessary to shoot at longer focal lengths than you may otherwise, because you have to stay out of the way of other cameras and lighting and tighter shots are still preferred for certain types of interviews.

      I also just bought the 25-250 and I wonder how much I will use that for interviews, now...

      I've posted these pics before. Here is the 135 2.2 in a real interview followed by some quick shots from a lens test I did a few years ago including the 85 1.3 and 135 2.2. Camera and objects stationary, only lens and ISO changed in test:

      Canon CN-E 135 2.2
      Cam135.jpg

      Canon CN-E 85 1.3
      85T1.3-500.jpg

      Canon CN-E 135 2.2
      135T2.2-1000.jpg
      Last edited by Run&Gun; 10-03-2021, 12:20 PM.

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        #4
        Thanks for the comments guys. Run&Gun, I shoot a lot of multi-camera interviews as well and usually on three cameras. Right now my most used interview lenses are my 35 1.4, 50 1.4 and 70-200 2.8.

        One of my uses for the 135 1.8 or 85 1.4 would be to replace my 70-200 for the tighter interview shots. There's nothing wrong with my 70-200 and I certainly am not going to get rid of it, I just would love to shoot all of my interviews on primes because of how sharp they are and how they render the background. Although I've never directly compared a 70-200 2.8 to a 135 1.8, so I can't say I know exactly how different they would look.
        Last edited by Joshua Milligan; 10-03-2021, 12:55 PM.

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          #5
          Originally posted by Joshua Milligan View Post
          One of my uses for the 135 1.8 or 85 1.4 would be to replace my 70-200 for the tighter interview shots. There's nothing wrong with my 70-200 and I certainly am not going to get rid of it, I just would love to shoot all of my interviews on primes because of how sharp they are and how they render the background. Although I've never directly compared a 70-200 2.8 to a 135 1.8, so I can't say I know exactly how different they would look.
          I have a 135 Sigma Cine Prime as part of my 9 lens set and am thinking about selling it as I have hardly ever used it. For me, it's often the case that I don't have room or time to be able to land a camera exactly at the appropriate distance for a 135mm to be just so, and the difference in bokeh between 2 and 2,8 at that focal length I find to be subtle enough not to make a fuss about it. If there is a specific characteristic of a given prime vs a given zoom, that is relevant for sure. Things are very interesting these days where "sharpness" is for the first time I can remember not necessarily a prized characteristic of a lens!I

          So yes, I would strongly recommend you get hold of the 135 you are considering and test it against your 70-200 and see how you feel about the resulting images in an A/B environment. And please post the results!





          Charles Papert
          charlespapert.com

          Comment


            #6
            One factor to keep in mind is if you're shooting FF or cropped. 85mm on FF "feels" about like 50-60mm on S35, which is a focal length I find to be a no man's land sometimes. On S35 I'd be more inclined to shoot 85mm (where it feels like 135mm on FF) than on FF I think. However it's also a pretty standard focal length on both and maybe you don't want a gap from 50mm to 135mm.

            But I think differing opinions on that FOV might be related to what format people are shooting.

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              #7
              85 may not be that different from 50 in terms of frame size/reach, but I think that the perspective is noticeably different when you're framing closeups. Which makes 85 great for closeups from shorter distances and when you don't want the further flattening of an even longer lens

              Why not experiment by locking your 70-200 at either of those 2 focal lengths during an actual shoot and seeing what you can do with it? (Even if you end up zooming to a different focal length for the actual take.) I agree with what some have said about FOV trumping other considerations if you're often constrained for space or, conversely, need more reach.

              In terms of DOF, I often find that f/2.8 is sufficiently shallow for me with full-frame at 135mm+. Or even too shallow. Whereas at 85, 1.4 can be very useful, especially when the subject is close to a background surface.

              I sort of thought that the 24, 35, 50, 85 set was about typical coverage needs (like a 24-70 for walkaround).

              Supposedly Sony is coming out with a GM 85 1.2 at the end of next year or beginning of 2023. You could get the 135 now, which is supposed to have badass autofocus. And get the new 85 when it comes out
              www.VideoAbe.com

              "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." -Harvey

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                #8
                I was thinking about this. Full frame right?

                135 holds you back, and is a little more formal or classic for an interview, 85 you will be in getting a little too close or intimate.

                too close? intimage? formal?

                so Id be doing a ceo with a 135
                and
                a love scene drama with an 85

                apart from I like a spanner in the works and do the ceo with the 85

                Its a funny spot.. I have 85/2 and 135/2.8 nikkors and 135/2 nikkor (beaten to shreds) and use none of them.

                With my manual primes a big thing is the (lack of) minimum focus distance of these lenses - I dont know the ones you are considering. but my primes dont go close enough.

                I have a 70mm 3.5 macro, which while a little short is a more favorite lens than my 85 or 135

                What to buy.. ? well Id be looking for close focus as a big prioriy and that might be a 100mm macro, which might do all work no picked up by a 70-200.

                Last edited by morgan_moore; 10-04-2021, 06:13 AM.
                http://www.sammorganmoore.com View my feature Film

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                  #9
                  Josh, if you land on going 135 and autofocus capabilities aren’t required, maybe sweet talk Charles and see what he wants for his 135, if he really wants to sell it. The Sigma Cine Primes are beautiful. If I was buying from scratch today, it would be a tough decision between the Canon CN-E Primes and the Sigma Cine Primes.

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                    #10
                    Over the years my inclination has been to go the 85-90mm length for the following reasons. With 85mm primes, you’re still going to be close enough to your subject so that communication is easy. You’ll also find that this 85-90mm focal length will allow you to create a mixture of three-quarter length, head, and shoulder shots, and headshots more easily in limited spaces. It’s this versatility that makes 85mm primes lenses perfect for human portrait size images moving or still. On top of this flexibility, I also find that levels of compression also help create very flattering facial features, 135mm tends to flatten facial images too much for my liking. Apart from anything else in most cases given equivalent maximum apertures on both lengths, the 85-90mm lenses are usually smaller and lighter. Another if more minor consideration if using on a gimble.

                    Chris Young

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                      #11
                      On full-frame sensors like the Fx6 and A7Siii I think both are pretty essential honestly. On S35mm, 85mm will get you far enough for a lot of things, but it doesn't give you a tonne of compression on the larger format (for when you need to squish objects together in your frame.

                      That said, since you already have a 70-200mm (which covers most telephoto needs anyway. I'd probably opt for the 85mm, becuase you'd use it more.
                      DREAMSMITHS | SHOWREEL | INSTAGRAM
                      www.dreamsmiths.com.au

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by Grug View Post
                        That said, since you already have a 70-200mm (which covers most telephoto needs anyway. I'd probably opt for the 85mm, becuase you'd use it more.
                        +1. That said I would agree with the comment re the 85 if you already have the 70-200 in the arsenal.

                        Chris Young

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                          #13
                          I think it is most important to consider minimum focus distance. It might not matter now (n close focus af land) but some of my 80-200 are very poor,

                          im still thinking 100mm marcro

                          a quick check
                          FE 85mm F1.4 GM magnification is 1.2 (EDIT CORRECTION 0.12)
                          70200 and 135 magnification is .25

                          a big difference? i think so.

                          my 24-105 kitlens focusses at about 2in - amazing.
                          Last edited by morgan_moore; 10-06-2021, 10:51 AM.
                          http://www.sammorganmoore.com View my feature Film

                          Comment


                            #14
                            That's .12x for the 85gm, not 1.2
                            www.VideoAbe.com

                            "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant. Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant." -Harvey

                            Comment


                              #15
                              sorry - .12 yep not very much

                              I think that also on the canon 85 1.2 if I rembmember correctly

                              quite lack lustre.
                              http://www.sammorganmoore.com View my feature Film

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