Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS Macro

 just realized that I like lenses more than camera bodies.  I started my equipment reshuffle few months back, and the plan was to have a fast camera, in the case, the 1D Mark IIn, and a full frame camera, which I haven't got.  Originally, the 1Ds Mark II was my choice, but changed my mind midway and instead decided on the 5D Mark II, a more modern sensor, whose image quality I really like.  Unfortunately, the plan isn't working.  I use the money saved for the 5D II to buy the 100mm f2.8 IS macro lens instead.

This seems like a stupid idea, because I already have the 180mm f3.5L macro, which I used two to three times a year.  Besides, I have four other manual focus macro lenses in various focal lengths.  Why on earth did I buy another macro lens?  I don't even shoot macro that much.  Further more, I have had the EF 100mm f2 lens for years and really like it.  I know, I am out of my mind, but I am not regretting it.

You see, the 100mm f2.8L is such a marvelous lens, once you use it, you will immediately think it's worth every penny.  Really.

I know I have had it only two days, but it really impresses me.  The much hyped hybrid IS really does work.  The image from the viewfinder is rock solid with the IS on.  This is one of the best advantages about lens based versus camera body stabilization.  You can see the effect in the viewfinder with lens based IS.  I don't have very steady hands, but sharp pictures taken on 1/8 of a second is very repeatable.  Not every time, but very good chance.  It's less effective at minimum focusing distance, but still much better than without.

The other feature that stands out is the focusing speed.  Sure, if you rack it from closest focusing distance to infinity, it takes a couple seconds, simply because the focusing throw is very long, typical of macro lenses, but within focusing range, the subject snaps in focus instantly, even in full macro.  Much faster than the 180L in this regard.  Simply amazing. 

The 100mm f2.8 IS is sharper than your mother-in-law's tongue.  Much much sharper.  Easily one of the sharpest lenses I have used.  I am talking about sharp wide open, not stopped down.  Stopping down only improves sharpness marginally.  The colour and contrast is typical L lens.  Oh, the bokeh is amazingly good and pleasing.
If I have to find fault with this lens, it would be the missing tripod collar that should be included with the lens, and instead, Canon charges something like $200 for it!  Insanely greedy on Canon's part.  The other thing is the depth of field is not as shallow as I would like, even at f2.8, but I am splitting hair here.

If you are looking for a macro lens, please try the 100mm f2.8L.  You will be sorry if you don't and end up with something else later on.

Is it time for me to get rid of the 180L macro, and the 100mm f2 L like lens?  Not right now, but intend to test the two 100mm lenses, not for their close up capabilities, but the affect of one stop of light on depth of field.  Stay tuned.

Flower at f2.8 -- 1D IIn & EF 100mm f2.8L IS. Click to see larger.

Bee -- 1D Mark IIn & EF 100mm f2.8L IS. Click to see larger.

Street Musician -- 1D IIn & EF 100mm f2.8L IS @ f2.8. Click for larger


  1. Pic #2 of the bee looks pretty sharp. Was that handheld?

  2. Chester, all pictures were shot handheld.

  3. I feel that canon's strength has been in that focal length, for instance I love the TS-E 90mm

    but if you got to get a lens for the same price then clearly the plan is working

  4. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)