Next generation sequencing technologies have vastly changed the approach of sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene for studies in microbial ecology. Three distinct technologies are available for large-scale 16S sequencing. All three are subject to biases introduced by sequencing error rates, amplification primer selection, and read length, which can affect the apparent microbial community. In this study, we compared short read 16S rRNA variable regions, V1-V3, with that of near-full length 16S regions, V1-V8, using highly diverse steer rumen microbial communities, in order to examine the impact of technology selection on phylogenetic profiles. Short paired-end reads from the Illumina MiSeq platform were used to generate V1-V3 sequence, while long “circular consensus” reads from the Pacific Biosciences RSII instrument were used to generate V1-V8 data. The two platforms revealed similar microbial operational taxonomic units (OTUs), as well as similar species richness, Good’s coverage, and Shannon diversity metrics. However, the V1-V8 amplified ruminal community resulted in significant increases in several orders of taxa, such as phyla Proteobacteria and Verrucomicrobia (P < 0.05). Taxonomic classification accuracy was also greater in the near full-length read. UniFrac distance matrices using jackknifed UPGMA clustering also noted differences between the communities. These data support the consensus that longer reads result in a finer phylogenetic resolution that may not be achieved by shorter 16S rRNA gene fragments. Our work on the cattle rumen bacterial community demonstrates that utilizing near full-length 16S reads may be useful in conducting a more thorough study, or for developing a niche-specific database to use in analyzing data from shorter read technologies when budgetary constraints preclude use of near-full length 16S sequencing. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.