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

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

Macro lenses can open a completely new dimension to your photography. It is a segment of photography that deals with shooting pictures of small subjects at a size of 1:1 ratio or larger magnification and in the process capturing incredible details which are normally impossible to notice. For some unknown reasons two of the major lens manufacturers refer to their range of extreme close-up photography lenses with two different names. While Canon refers their lenses as Macro, Nikon prefers to call them Micro. For the ease of understanding, however, we shall be referring these close-up lenses as Macro in our discussion.

Two things are extremely important when it comes to choosing macro lenses. First is the ability to magnify the image to a minimum ratio of 1:1 and the second is the ability to focus without protruding the lens elements outside the barrel. Macro photography is all about shooting images of subjects which are very small and then filling the entire frame with them. A 1:1 magnification ratio is normally used to shoot very small subjects. 1:1 magnification denotes that the size of the subject on the sensor (and thus on the final image) is the exact same as that of its size in real life. Normally a 1:1 magnification is necessary to make a great quality macro photograph but higher ratios are also possible and can capture incredible amount of details of objects that are normally impossible to be seen by the naked eye.

Canon’s line of L series Macro lenses are incredibly sharp and offer a photographer with options to shoot very small subjects from a close focusing distance. The Canon EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM is a great lens for serious Macro photography enthusiasts.

Vanguard Alta Pro 284 CT Tripod

Build quality and weather sealing

Normally Canon’s L series lenses are very tough. They are all weather types and can withstand water (some lenses may need an additional UV filter to complete the weather sealing, so if you’re unsure whether your lens is weather sealed, don’t expose it to water). The EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM is not built entirely with aluminum. The focusing ring, the lens mount and the plates carrying the numbers and details are made with aluminum. The rest of the body is made with “engineered plastic”. Engineered plastics gives a similar quality build but they are comparatively lighter. Pick the lens up in hand and the feeling is reassuring.

The lens is weather sealed making it an ideal companion to have when shooting outdoors. Macro photography is often practiced outdoors, in the woods or in the middle of nature. It is a reassuring feeling in these conditions if your lens is weather sealed to go with a weather sealed body.

Canon’s L series lenses feature RingType USM (UltraSonic Motor). Unlike the MicroMotor type USM they are quicker when focusing and also silent making them less intimidating.

Another good thing about the EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM is that when focusing the front elements of the lens does not push forward. The lens focuses internally and the barrel does not even rotate. This is a great thing when you’re using filters or polarizers as turning the focusing ring would not rotate the filters mounted at the front end of the lens. There is also another major advantage of a non-protruding lens element. When using a lens that extends beyond the lens barrel during focusing it is not always easy to be aware how much the lens has gone forward. Chances are that the lens may bump against the subject or a surface damaging the front elements. With a non extending type lens such as the EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM it is possible to get as close as possible without a nasty bump or scaring the subject. Additionally the lens comes with FTM (full time manual focusing). It means one can let the AF to lock focus on the subject and then manually adjust the focusing without having to flip the switch from AF to MF.

Weight and convenience when using for handheld shots or carrying around

At 625gms, the EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM is neither light nor is it is too heavy. This should be just right for some one who is looking to capture some good macro shots over a couple of hours.

EOS 5D Mk III, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro

EOS 5D Mk III, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro
Exposure: f/2.8; 1/80 Sec; ISO 100, IS On, Handheld

Image Stabilization system

Canon’s image stabilization system has the effect of having four stops of faster shutter speeds when compared to lenses that don’t have it. The earlier macro lenses from Canon such as the EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM did not have IS built-in. As a result hand holding was a bit of a hassle. Sometimes its really handy. AF is very good, much like the performance of the older EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM. However in absolute macro shots a tripod is a must. For serious macro photography IS is no a game changer.

Image quality

Image quality of the lens is excellent. Even at its widest aperture of f/2.8 it is quite sharp. Some amount of vignetting is unavoidable specially when mounted on a full frame DSLR. However if one stops down to f/4 or f/5.6 this is greatly reduced. Mounted on a crop body the problem of vignetting is almost on-existent.


At f/2.8 a nice bokeh is obtained which should come handy if one prefers to blur out the background and focus on the subject only. Users preferring to create a smooth out of focus effect at wide angle will find the results to be near perfect. The availability of IS means handholding shots in windy conditions is much easier, something that the older 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM did not have.

Is it a good buy?

The EF 100 mm f/2.8L IS USM about twice the price of the nearest comparable macro lens from Canon making it one of the most expensive macro lenses from Canon. If you feel like not opting for an IS lens, then something cheaper like the older EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM is better. But if you need hand holding capabilities and the option to get as close as possible without having to constantly keep an eye on the extending lens elements then this is the right choice for you.

Images by EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro Lens on flickr

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS Specifications

Released on September 1, 2009

Image size  Full Frame & APS-C
35mm film equivalent focal length 100mm
Angle of view H:19.8°,V: 13.5°, D: 24°
Construction (elements/groups) 15/12
No. of diaphragm blades 9
Aperture 2.8-32
Closest focusing distance (m) 0.3
Max magnification (x) 1
Distance information Provided
Image stabilizer 4-stops
3-stops at 0.5x magnification
2-stops at 1.0x magnification
AF actuator Ring USM¹
Dust/moisture resistance Yes¹
Filter Size (mm) 67
Max. diameter x length (mm) 77.7 x 123
Weight (g) 625g
Magnification – Extension Tube EF12 II 1.17-0.12
Magnification – Extension Tube EF25 II 1.37-0.27
Lens hood ET-73
Soft case LP1219
Extenders Yes

Available at Amazon | Adorama | B&H

Canon U.S.A. Introduces Three New EF and EF-S Lenses, including The First Camera Lens Featuring Hybrid Image Stabilization

Introducing the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, and EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lenses

Lake Success, N.Y., September 1, 2009 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, continues its advancement of EOS lens technology with the introduction of three new EF and EF-S lenses – EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM and the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS, lenses. The new EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS lens is the world’s first camera lens featuring Canon’s new Hybrid Image Stabilization (Hybrid IS) technology*, compensating for both angle camera shake and shift camera shake, up to four shutter speed steps. The EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens is compatible with all EOS cameras, while the EF-S 15-85mm and EF-S 18-135mm zoom lenses are designed specifically for Canon digital cameras that are compatible with EF-S lenses.**

EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens
The EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens could very well be the essential multipurpose lens for every camera bag due to its ability to capture sharp close-up images of small objects as well as beautiful portrait-length telephoto shots. The incorporation of Canon’s new Hybrid IS in this L-series macro lens allows it to compensate more effectively for camera shake during close-up shooting and marks a significant improvement for professionals and advanced amateurs utilizing macro photography for portrait, nature or wedding shoots.

New Hybrid IS Technology: Designed Especially for Macro Photography
The world’s first* optical image stabilizer for SLR cameras was introduced in the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM in 1995. Since then, Canon has made continual advancements in IS systems to enhance panning capability and improve compensation for camera shake. Now, in a move aimed at extending image stabilization to the macro realm, Canon introduces its Hybrid IS in the new EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM – another first for Canon and the world.

Conventional image stabilization technology is useful for reducing the effects of camera shake in non-macro shooting situations. When shooting handheld close-ups at 1x, however, camera shake makes it difficult to achieve acceptable results even with lenses incorporating conventional image stabilizers. Now, thanks to the Hybrid IS found in the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, Canon extends IS technology to the macro realm, making it easy to obtain clear handheld close-ups – a world first* and a definite advantage in environments where use of a tripod is not an option.

In order to combat the effects of camera shake in a macro lens, the IS system must be able to compensate for both angular camera shake and shift camera shake – problems that become more apparent as magnification increases. The effects of shift camera shake are rarely noticeable when shooting outside the macro realm, such as in landscape photography. But when shooting extreme close-ups, even the slightest amount of camera shake, either of the angular or shift variety, can adversely affect image quality.

In macro photography, shift camera shake and angular camera shake affect both the image formed on the sensor and the image shown in the viewfinder. This is especially relevant to handheld shooting at 1x, since the inability to properly compose and focus due to a shaky image in the viewfinder makes it extremely difficult to record sharp images.

Conventional image stabilizers of the type found in Canon IS lenses incorporate an angular velocity sensor (vibration gyro) to compensate for angular camera shake. Based on the amount of camera shake detected by the sensor, the IS system calculates the amount of blur on the image plane, after which lens elements in the IS are positioned to compensate for the shake. However, this type of image stabilizer can neither detect nor correct shift camera shake common to handheld macro photography.

The Hybrid IS includes an acceleration sensor in addition to the conventional angular velocity sensor (vibration gyro). Based on the amount of camera shake detected by the two sensors, a newly developed algorithm calculates the amount of blur on the image plane, after which lens elements in the IS are positioned to compensate for the two types of shake – a first in an interchangeable lens for SLR cameras and an excellent way to solve the problem of camera shake in macro photography.

Order Your EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro Lens from


  1. Wander full Cemra FOrm Canan Nikon D900

  2. Great lens and creative photography

  3. Great lens to have in the kit.


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