Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens Review

(Last Updated On: 21. June 2019)

Canon EF 100mm 2,8 L IS USM Macro product review

Macro and close-up photography is a great discipline to open to you a complete new perspective. Using a proper macro lens, you would have a lot of fun by getting a lot of new possibilities to develop your creativity. But what is a proper macro lens? There are a lot of photo equipment manufacturers out there, and of course, everyone of them extolling their lenses as the best ones. There are surely several very good macro lenses available. But if you new to macro photography, you need an advise, which lens to buy, right? Therefore, I would like to give you a product review about the Canon EF 100mm macro lens. Not because I think, it’s the best lens in the world but because I am using a Canon DSLR in combination with this lens. Doing this I was impressed by the quality and the features of this macro lens. So read on, folks.

Abbreviations in the description

The full description for this lens is Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM*. And without being effusive, in my opinion this lense combines an excellent image quality with a light body and useful features.
 
But first, let’s start to “decipher” the abbreviations in the name and implement them into this review.
 
  • EF stands for “Electro-Focus” and it means, that the lens is able to focus automatically by an electric motor built into this lens. A lot of Canons lenses have this “EF-function”.
  • L stands for “Luxury”. Every Canon lens from the L series is recognizable by the red stripe around the end of the lens.
 
But what does this mean to the 100mm macro lens? In general it can be said, that deciding for this macro lens, you would get the same high-quality results like with the other lenses from the L-series. Canon itself says about its L lenses that they use special optical technologies to push the optical envelope. Therefore, deciding for this 100mm macro lens, you can expect a high-end result in your photos.
 
  • Now let’s take a look to the next abbreviation which is a really great feature. I’m talking about the “IS” which means “Image Stabilization”. More about this feature will follow below.
  • Last but not least: “USM“. This stands for UltraSonic Motor which is a fast and quiet autofocus motor.

The body of the lens

Unpacking the lens I noticed that is was made of plastic. Maybe it could sound a bit confusing and disappointing for some people because lenses from the L series are known for their metal bodies. But there is no reason to reject this device because it’s made of so-called engineering plastic which has a good quality, compared with other kinds of plastic. The good thing about this fact is that it makes the 100mm lens lighter than other lenses made of metal. The weight of this baby is about 625 g (22.1 oz)

Another great characteristic of this macro lens is the weather sealing and the dust resistance which is provided by the construction and the rubber ring around the mount.

The focus ring of this Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens* is nicely placed and goes very smoothly which is very useful when using the manual focus during the fine-tuning.

Full time manual focus and autofocus limiter

This 100mm macro lens is provided with a so-called full time manual focus feature and a autofocus limiter.

Full time manual focus means that you can use the camera in autofocus mode, and if you hold the release button pressed, you can adjust the rest of the focus manually by turning the focus ring which does a really great job.

And here is the deal with the autofocus limiter: When I’m shooting at macro distances with autofocus, it can happen, that the camera tries to focus on the background and not on the subject. By activating the autofocus limiter, you will be able to avoid these situations. I appreciated this feature a lot, and it was a great help for me. The available settings are 0.3 – 0.5 m (1′ – 1.6′), 0.5 – ∞, and the full range.

Aperture of the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

Opening the aperture of this lens at its widest value of f/2.8 will create a very great bokeh (also thanks to the 9 blades of this aperture) which will make you addicted to its blurry backgrounds.

 

Of course, there are two sides of the coin, and the sharpness range at the aperture of f/2.8 will be very narrow if you shoot at small distances. So this kind of aperture seems to be rather proper in situations where the subject is farther away from the lens. If you don’t want to renounce this aperture, you still can use it and do some photo stacking in Photoshop*. In this case, a tripod* is very advisable.

In total, when you shoot other images than macro, the resolution of the image goes through from the center to the corner of the image by any aperture between f/2.8 and f/14 (using a full frame DSLR like Canon EOS 6D*. Only at f/16 the diffraction (loss of sharpness) starts to be visible. If you combine this macro lens with APS-C cameras, like the Canon 70D*, the resolution might not be as great as when you use a full frame DSLR, but it’s still impressive.

Image stabilisation

The image stabilization on this 100mm lens is pretty sophisticated and works pretty well on subjects which are farther away from the lens. But the effect of stabilization gets partially lost at very short or macro distances. But in my opinion it’s better to have a stabilizer which has some weaknesses as not having a stabilizer at all. For one of the advantages of Canon’s image stabilizer is that it’s easier to frame the shot.

With an active image stabilizer, the shaking of the viewfinder vanishes for the most part and will give you a still view of your subject. Therefore, the image stabilizer is suitable even for tight framing of close subjects, and it makes this lens much more usable.

Summary

Who is it for? This L version of the Canon EF 100m f/2.8 Macro Lens is best suited for photographers who want to use it beyond just for hobby and fun. But of course advanced amateurs will also have a lot of enjoyment shooting with this lens.

The good quality of the body will help to stand up for hard work, and the extra weight gives to it some extra points.

The outstanding macro lens is not only useful for macro photography but also for great portrait photography. So if you ask me, the excellent sharpness of the photos, the image stabilization and the other standard features of the L series makes this device very useful in the field to make outstanding photos, folks.

The biggest disadvantage here is the price. Of course, Canon wants to so see some extra cash for quality. So if you don’t care about macro photography but looking for a macro lens for another purpose like portrait photography, you could consider to buy the cheaper 85mm f/1.8 lens*. Another alternative for you could be, if the price acts for you as a deterrent, to consider to buy the non-L 100mm f/2.8 macro lens* which would cost you about the half of the price from the L-series.

Concluding a brief list with the pros and cons of the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


*Affiliate link: when you click on this link, no additional costs would arise for you and the product or the service will not become more expensive. When you decide to buy the product or use the service, I’ll get a little benefit from the provider which I would reinvest to keep this blog alive.

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4 comments
  1. Hi Max,

    I am new to photography and your article makes me to think about trying macro photography. Could you recommend a good macro camera?

    1. Hi Jeoff,

      there are no special macro cameras but only macro lenses.

  2. How about the vignetting, Max? Is it very visible?

    1. Using an aperture of f/2.8, you will see a minimal vignettning. But it is hardly recognizable an therefore I can say that it’s almost non-existent. At apertures from f/4.0 it vanishes completely.

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