The Canon EF 100mm F2.8 Macro USM is a medium telephoto macro lens for Canon’s full-frame and APS-C DSLRs.
This is the lens I most frequently recommend for someone starting out in macro photography – at least most frequently recommend until the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens was introduced.
The 100 macro is a medium-small lens and is rather light in weight. This is a very comfortable-to-carry-and-use lens. Build quality is decent but not as solid as Canon’s L Series lenses.
Most macro lenses are sharp, and the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens does not disappoint in this area. This lens is sharp wide open and even sharper stopped down slightly with corners showing the most improvement. The tiniest details in your tiniest subjects will come to life with this lens.
Vignetting is apparent at f/2.8, but rapidly disappears when stopped down. Flare is very well controlled. Color and contrast are excellent. Distortion is negligible. Eight aperture blades help to create an excellent quality background blur.
The focal length also affects other macro photography aspects. Longer focal lengths require more distance to acquire the same subject framing. The result is a change of perspective – the telephotos compress/flatten the subject features more than short focal lengths. The wider angle of view of the short focal length macro lenses mean that more of the background will be in the picture – and that the background will be less-diffusely blurred. Picture what I am talking about …
The pictures above were taken with three macro lenses (180mm L, 100mm and 60mm). They are identically framed using the same aperture setting (f/16) and have identical subject to background distances.
Here is a warning for anyone contemplating the purchase of the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens: You will find yourself looking for little things to use for subjects – which are everywhere. No bug is safe. You will find you neck hurting from looking down all the time. You will discover a world you never knew existed. Macro photography is great fun. And men – You now have another reason to buy your wife flowers (they make great subjects).