Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

I’ve had the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM for years, it is one of the sharpest lenses out there, and it shoots 1:1 macro. I shoot commercial product photography professionally, so the 100/2.8 macro was the lens with which I made probably more than 80% of my income from photography. I however only used that lens for work, but almost never for personal work. I shot a couple of macro shots to test out the lens when I first got it, it was a fine lens but the aperture was not round enough, so the out of focus area was too harsh for my liking. It worked fine for product closeups, but for anything else the harsh bokeh really bothered me, so the lens never left my studio since I got it.

Canon introduced an L version of this lens, it does 1:1 macro, but has the new IS system that provides up to 5 stops of stabilization, the aperture is also near-round, so it yeilds similar soft and dreamy bokeh like my other lenses. I looked on eBay and was surprised to find out that I could easily sell my 100/2.8 with the hood for around $500, so that means it will only costs about $500 to upgrade, which I think is well worth it. The improvements will make me want to take the lens out of the studio and have fun with it. Amazon has this lens for about $1k, which is an amazing deal IMO. I brought it to the SF botanical garden for a test drive, it performed as expected: much smoother transition between in and out of focus areas, way smoother bokeh, the MTF graphs comparison shows that it is even sharper, but pretty much the whole graph is under the Nyquist frequency of the 5D Mark II so I don’t think anyone can really tell the difference. It is tack sharp for sure though. I accidentally shut off the IS so I didn’t get to test it much, I was able to take test portraits without camera shake at around 1/15 the night before, at 1:1 it will have to give a few more stops to be safe.

Some shots from the botanical garden:

sf botanical garden
f/4, 1/1000s

sf botanical garden
f/3.5, 1/1250s

sf botanical garden
f/3.2, 1/640s

This lens is pretty inexpensive for what it offers, other than the crazy MPE, which is very specialized and it’s pretty much a microscope, the 100L is the best macro lens for Canon right now. The AF is very fast, f/2.8 at 100mm is pretty bright, and it is tack sharp at wide open. The lens also makes a really good portrait lens, not quite as insane as the 85L, but it is half the price and it does 1:1 macro. I would definitely recommend getting this over the non-L version of the 100/2.8 macro. The non-L version is $599 and the hood is about $40, so the 100L is only about $360 more, but you get round-aperture, amazing IS, weather seal, an amazing lens hood (best Canon lens hood I’ve seen), as well as a lens bag! Definitely worth the extra $360 IMO. If you have a full frame body and are ready to buy your first L lens, I’d say forget the 24-70L, get the 100L, it is a much cooler lens to have.

You can pick one up at Amazon, btw, the price on Amazon has been fluctuating between $1060 to $1005, if the current price is too high, you should be able to wait a couple of days for it to drop back down to about $1005:

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3 Responses to Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

  1. Pubudu Kodikara March 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    Nice post bro! really great!

    PS : Bro, you have created a great wordpress plugin jQuery Image Lazy Load WP! But… why aren't you updating it? please do it mate! Actually, you have a small thing to do! 😀


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