Canon Lenses

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro

The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens is an extremely fun lens to use. It combines excellent image quality with a useful focal length, a relatively small/light body, fast/quiet AF with 1:1 (1x) macro capabilities – and HIS (Hybrid Image Stabilization).

The above hoarfrosted leaf was captured handheld (1/25 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100) between very strong wind gusts at the top of Cadillac Mountain (Maine). The 100 L was mounted to a Canon EOS 5D Mark II.

My less-enthusiastic-than-they-should-have-been expectations were lifted by the fact that this was an L lens. And, the Canon MTF chart (the higher the lines, the better the expected image quality) was looking great. I don’t regularly include Canon’s theoretical MTF charts in the reviews, but this one is drool-worthy.

Build quality overall is very good – and includes weather sealing. I like the smooth, straight design of this lens – including the flush-mounted switches. The 100 L Macro is very comfortable to hold and use.

What isn’t new is the old standard Canon side-pinch-only lens cap. Canon really needs to update this design to the center-and-side-pinch caps used by most competitors. The long, narrow installed hood (included) makes it very difficult for me to access the lens cap. Adjusting a circular polarizer inside the hood is nearly impossible as your hand completely blocks the light.

Review a size/weight comparison chart below.

 

Model Weight Dimensions w/o Hood Filter Year
Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro Lens 9.9 oz (280g) 2.7 x 2.5″ (68 x 63mm) 52mm 1987
Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens 11.1 oz (315g) 2.8 x 2.5″ (72 x 64mm) 55mm 1998
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens 11.8 oz (335g) 2.9 x 2.8″ (73 x 70mm) 52mm 2006
Canon MP-E 65mm Macro Lens 25.8 oz (730g) 3.2 x 3.9″ (81 x 98mm) 58mm 1999
Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Lens 14.3 oz (405g) 2.8 x 3.8″ (72 x 97mm) 55mm
Canon EF 100mm f/2.0 USM Lens 16.2 oz (460g) 3 x 2.9″ (75 x 74mm) 58mm 1991
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens 21.2 oz (600g) 3.1 x 4.7″ (79 x 119mm) 58mm 2000
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens 22.1 oz (625g) 3.1 x 4.8″ (77.7 x 123mm) 67mm 2009
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens 15.9 oz (450g) 2.9 x 3.7″ (74 x 95mm) 58mm
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Macro Lens 31.6 oz (895g) 3.1 x 5.4″ (79.6 x 137mm) 72mm 2006
Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L USM Macro Lens 38.5 oz (1090g) 3.3 x 7.4″ (83 x 187mm) 72mm 1996
Sigma 180mm f/3.5 EX DG HSM Macro Lens 33.4 oz (945g) 3.1 x 7.1″ (80 x 180mm) 72mm
Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di Macro Lens 32.5 oz (920g) 3.3 x 6.5″ (85 x 166mm) 72mm

Though it gained IS, weather sealing and L-designation over the non-IS 100mm macro lens, the 100 L IS macro gained almost no size or weight. This is an easy-to-use and easy-to-take-with-you size and weight.

To start with, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens is sharp wide open – right into the corners. By f/4, full frame users will see the 2-stops of corner vignetting disappear and all will see even slightly sharper results. At f/5.6, full frame body shooters will see another very slight improvement in the corner of the frame.

Great image quality will only take you so far. If the camera is not steady for the shot, motion blur will destroy image sharpness. F/2.8 is a relatively fast/wide aperture and 100mm is a short telephoto focal length. This means a 100mm f/2.8 lens can be handheld in a lot of situations. However, move in close and things change.

The aperture displayed by the camera assumes an infinity focus distance; however, the effective aperture becomes darker at closer focus distances. The following chart details the amount of light loss incurred at the specified subject magnification.

 

Magnification: 1:5 1:3 1:2 1:1.5 1:1
Exposure Factor (loss in stops) 0 2/3 1 1 1/3 1 2/3 2
Effective Aperture   f/2.8   f/3.6   f/4.1   f/4.6   f/5.0   f/5.9

 

Choosing a macro lens, like choosing any lens, means getting the right focal length for your needs. The 100mm focal length is one I highly recommend.

Model MFD MWD MM 12mm ET 25mm ET 1.4x 2x
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens 7.9″ (200mm) 3.5″ (90mm) 1x 1.28x 1.61x N N
Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Lens 11.4″ (290mm) 3.9″ (99mm) 1x Y Y
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens 11.8″ (300mm) 6.0″ (150mm) 1x 1.19x 1.39x N N
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro 11.8″ (300mm) 5.9″ (146mm) 1x 1.17x 1.37x N N
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens 12.2″ (310m) 4.7″ (122mm) 1x N N
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Macro Lens 15.0″ (380mm) 7.6″ (194mm) 1x Y Y
Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L USM Macro Lens 19.2″ (480mm) 9.5″ (240mm) 1x 1.09x 1.21x Y Y
Sigma 180mm f/3.5 EX DG APO HSM Macro Lens 18.0″ (460mm) 1x Y Y
Tamron SP 180mm f/3.5 Di LD Macro Lens 18.5″ (470mm) 1x Y Y

Choose a longer focal length for more working distance, a narrower AOV (Angle of View) and a more-enlarged background / compressed image. Longer focal lengths require more distance to acquire the same subject framing.

 

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM+Accessory Kit
As a Canon EF EOS lens, the 100mm f/2.8 L IS Macro works perfectly with every Canon EOS camera ever made, meaning every Canon DSLR and every Canon autofocus camera.