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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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on October 12, 2009
I love Canon. Although there were times when I shot with Nikons (D700, D300) and were pretty impressed with the result, I always came back to Canon.
This is the first is macro lens for Canon and they got it right. I have used the 60mm, 100mm, & 180mm macro before and by far this is the best!
Now, if you already own a 100mm macro you should try it before upgrading because the IQ of the lens are identical. I usually use this lens for portraits (yes, I know the 85mm & 135mm is a better portrait lens.) of my daughter and the IS is awesome. Hand holding 1/40 I can still get a sharp picture.

The thing that I really hated about the non-IS 100mm macro was the distribution of weight - it was the most awkward thing to shoot with. This lens feels lighter because of the even distribution of weight and size (gradual taper) and it includes a deep hood.

I know $1K is a hefty sum of cash, but considering what you get and how long it can last you - I don't know why you would settle for the non-IS.

--- Edit ---

I found that for portrait, the bokeh on this thing is incredibly smooth. Instead of the angular blurs (lights, flowers, etc), you get a smooth circular blurs due to its spherical diaphragm. But I guess that's in the eye of the beholder...
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3232 comments| 352 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 10, 2009
I hardly ever write reviews but I felt that I really needed to write a quick note about how amazing this macro lens is. I used to be a Nikon gal until I sold my D300 for the Canon 7D. I also gave up my beloved 105mm Nikkor macro lens at that time, with much trepidation. Would I ever find a lens as sharp with as good IQ? Well, I have no more fears -- the 100mm IS macro fits that bill and more! It is simply amazing. I have the 24-70mmL and 70-200mmL lenses and this macro blows both lenses out of the water as far as IQ and sharpness. I cannot describe the beauty of the colors of my macro flowers! I posted a couple pix with this review... It is also a sharper lens than my 70-200L IS f/4, which I think is a superb lens on it's own. The bokah with this lens is also smoother than the 70-200. Again, a pleasant surprise since I also love that lens. I cannot ever imagine anyone being disappointed with this macro. Just buy it with a credit card that gives you cash back or miles because the price tag is steep.
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on November 25, 2009
I am an occasional macro shooter who mostly does portraits at this focal length of 100mm. So why did I get this lens instead of the non-image stabilized 100mm macro for $600 instead and use other dedicated lenses like the 85 f/1.8 or 70-200 f/2.8L? There are a number of reasons:

1. The image stabilization is of the latest generation and compensates for nearly 4-stops in which angular movement or pitch is compensated for. The effect of this is that it is incredibly sharp for portraits wide open at f/2.8 in comparison to the standard macro 100mm f/2.8 or a heavier lens like the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. The files coming from a 5DMkII are absolutely amazing in sharpness.
2. Contrast and bokeh are excelleny and pleasing to the eye. The background blur is superior to the 100 f/2.8 non image stabilized macro.
3. Relatively light weight at 625g makes it easy to carry and balance. It beats carrying the 70-200 when you don't need it. It is also lighter than the Nikon 105mm f/2.8VR and has a better MTF performance.
4. The AF is somewhat faster than the standard 100mm macro and very quiet.
5. The build quality is worthy of an "L" lens. Although its made of engineering plastic, Canon made the right decision to keep its weight low.

The only drawback I can see with this lens is price. If you wait around, sometimes Amazon has had it for $1000, but I think its more appropriately priced at $850-$900. At the end of the day, this is fun lens which is hard to put down. If you can get this lens for $1000, then just do it, and you won't regret it for a second. As I said before, the files coming from this lens are absolutely beautiful and makes me look like a better photographer than I actually am.
33 comments| 120 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 10, 2009
I wasn't certain this lens would be a good value or choice for an APS-C camera. Having recently purchased a 7D, I felt the focal length might be too long, but didn't want the EF-S 60mm macro, when I expect to purchase a body with a full-frame sensor in a couple years. For anyone considering a 100mm Macro, I'm 6x6" tall, and was able to squeeze in an 8x11" sheet of paper on the floor, while standing with my 20D.

I evaluated the EF 100mm Macro and this lens side-by-side. The older 100mm Macro has a great reputation. From the specifications, you'll see that the new lens is slightly longer, and weighs more. The build quality is excellent and consistent with an L lens. Optics are precise. Color and Bokeh are outstanding, as review samples attest.

Auto focus and manual focus are smooth and deliberate. As with other Macros, the focus is precise, but moves slower than a standard telephoto lens of the same focal length. It takes approximately 2.5 seconds to focus from infinity to .3m. It takes approximately 3.0 seconds to focus from .3m to infinity, as the mechanism delays .5 seconds when autofocus is initiated.

The focusing limiter selector switch functions well, eliminating the time to focus, if you know your subject will be between .3m to .5m, or .5m to infinity. The ranges offer a good compromise between focusing element travel and practical subject distances. .3m to .5m represents a 180 degree turn of the focusing ring, and .5m to infinity represents about a 150 degree turn of the focusing ring.

I purchased this lens over the older 100mm Macro for the image stabilization. The image stabilization allows the hand held use of the lens under brighter lighting conditions. The image stabilization certainly behaves differently from other L lenses at 100mm. Telephoto IS may allow you to pan, this lens does not. Better shots will be obtained with IS on while tracking a moving subject; however, IS on this lens is no substitute for a telephoto with panning IS ability. The new IS technology does seem better suited for macro shots than earlier IS techonlogy. The subject seems to "stick" on this lens, as compared with images that seem to "float" with other IS lenses.

IS compensates for movement quite well, but I will shoot low-light subjects on a tripod. With IS on and and shooting at 2.8, the depth of field is extremely shallow. Any movement toward or away from the subject will result in an out-of-focus image. My 1.6 sensor certainly exacerbates the problem. If you need to obtain a more adequate depth of field, you must shoot at 8.0 or above, which will require longer shutter times under low lighting.

Outdoors, this lens will provide unique opportunities in allowing one to complete hand-held shots of bright-lit subjects, especially if you have a full-frame sensor.
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on December 31, 2013

As described in a number of reports on various websites there is a known issue with the 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM refusing to focus when attempting to focus from a very near distance to a very far distance or vice-versa. In some cases, the 100mm Macro’s AF system will not attempt finding focus and will not react or move at all.


Do not throw the baby with the bathwater. There are two options to easily resolve this problem, but first, a little background explanation about the nature of the issue:

There are fairly common issues with most AF macro lenses when there is a need to focus instantly from 2 inches to 200 yards (or vice-versa). When a lens is that far out of focus, and the background on which the AF is attempting focus is totally blurred, the AF system will not find sufficient contrast and will simply “give up.” This happens mainly with Macro lenses, because of their extreme auto-focusing range and requirements. Auto focusing problems also occur when there is insufficient light (again a common problem of macro lenses due to high magnification) or simply insufficient contrast. To avoid situations where AF lenses keep “hunting” (searching) for focus endlessly, Canon has buried in the firmware of many of its high-end cameras a software switch that simply disables Autofocus when there is insufficient light or contrast to reach focus. THE REAL PROBLEM IS THAT MOST MEMBERS OF CANON’S TECHNICAL SUPPORT STAFF DON’T KNOW ABOUT THIS FIRMWARE SWITCH AND WILL THEREFORE RECOMMEND LENSES OR CAMERAS (OR BOTH) TO BE RETURNED FOR SERVICE WHEN THERE IS IN FACT NOTHING WRONG WITH THESE LENSES AND CAMERAS.

Of course, there are sometimes real focusing defects, but in the case of the 100mm Macro, the vast majority of so-called focusing problems are very likely due to a lack of experience with Macro lenses or a lack of knowledge of the Camera’s firmware options.


1) The first option available to most high-end Canon lenses, is to utilize the manual focus override to move the focus ring towards focus (closer of farther), at which point the AF system will take over and achieve focus properly. (Please note that manual focus is highly recommended for any form of Macro work anyway).

2) The second option is to modify the AF control in the Firmware of your camera: From you Camera Menu, go to Custom Functions: C.FnII:Autofocus. Lens drive when AF impossible. > Continue Focus Search. (This is option 6 on my Canon 6D).
I believe it is C.Fn. III #1 on the 5D Mark III, where it's called "AF/Drive when AF impossible."

Please note that other cameras may call this option something else, or may not have that option at all. With the Focus Search ON, the camera will keep looking when it can't find sufficient contrast to focus. (I.e. it will keep “hunting” for focus). Set this option to OFF, and if the image is totally out of focus, the camera will simply hang and give up (unless you help it out with the manual focus ring as explained in option #1 above).

You may want to revert this setting as needed, if you are getting too much “AF hunting” with your other lenses – particularly if you are using lenses that do not offer a manual focus override option in very dark conditions.

Please note that in most instances, the 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM, is an extremely responsive lens that focuses almost instantly. It focuses faster than my 24-105L and even my 70-200 F2.8LII. Focusing with this lens is certainly not an issue, once you understand how to utilize it and how to configure your camera. It is one of the sharpest lens in Canon’s line of L glasses and good value for money. The only minor issue I personally have with this lens is the fact that it is built of high-grade plastic instead of metal. The lens is fairly light, but does not feel as solid as most other L lenses. Furthermore, plastic being not as good at soundproofing, USM and IS micro motor noises are also more noticeable. The 100mm 2.8L Macro is indeed a fairly noisy lens (particularly with IS turned ON). The plastic construction and noise issues are reasons I am not giving this lens a perfect rating.

I have written to Canon and have requested for a notice to be included with the lens documentation explaining the focus issues and solutions described above. (I have not heard back from Canon yet). This would avoid for many lenses to be mistakenly returned as “defective” or sent in for service at considerable cost to Canon and/or its customers. It would further increase the satisfaction level of customers purchasing this lens.
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on December 23, 2009
To start off, this lens deserves 5 stars on outstanding picture quality alone. I currently own the 70-200 F/2.8 IS, the 50mm 1.4 and now the 100mm L Macro. I was always weary of reviewers that say primes are the only way to go....but after 3 different 70-200mm lens's, I am learning why. The zooms have a niche, but PQ is alway better on my primes. That being said...

I really really like this lens. It re-inspires me to get out and take pictures; it is fun all over again. The color contrast is just the way you like it. The bokeh, as others have mentioned, is very smooth in transition (see my sample pictures). The lens is made of a newer plastic barrel, but it is far from the cheaper non L variety. It is very acceptable for its size.

I hear the IS isn't very useful up close and personal. It is my opinion that it is VERY useful for everyday real world applications. I was shooting baby pictures in very low light from 7 inches away, and most my pictures were keepers (of course I positioned myself to be stable). The IS is very quiet and smooth. I think it is worth the money.

There is a reason I gave it 4 stars. I have noticed on several occasions that the auto focus travels and doesn't lock. This only seems to happen in low light and on objects that aren't dynamic, for example baby pictures (smooth skin, no hard lines). However, for this price, it shouldn't happen as much as it has.

I have had this lens for about a month and I think it is my favorite, no wait, it IS MY FAVORITE. I will update my review as I get the opportunity to judge it on true macro work, bugs, plants etc.

I cannot compare it to the former 100mm, but so far, I don't think I would go without the IS. I just find that I need it more often than I don't.

Hope this helps. If you can afford it, this will be one of your favorites too.
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on December 2, 2009
I bought this lense recently on Amazon and immediately in love with it. The build quality & its "look&feel" is good enough for a L-series lense. According to Canon, this is the first L lense that made of "engineer plastics" instead of traditional aluminum metal. But I see no difference in the build quality. In fact, this is even better in term of weight (this one is one of low weight L-series lense).

For quality, it really significant & invaluable to have the IS on a macro lense. I did test two lense (the original 100mm f/2.8 Macro and this new 100mm f/2.8L IS lense). The IS made the difference:
- At the same aperture (let say 3.2); the new 100mm 2.8L IS produced nicer bokeh and better contrast, color.
- At low speed (below 1/60) - the new 100mm 2.8L IS obviously defeat the non-IS. A picture at 1/20s with IS enable is sharper than 1/100s of the old lense (without IS).

In my opinion, this lense is also usable for many other purposes (other than macro) for example: portraiture - this will be in between the 85mm and 135mm lenses, with the IS feature and nice bokeh & sharpness, this lense is also very nice for portraits, especially for kid portraits (if you already had three 85mm 1.2L-II, 100mm 2.8L, and 135mm 2L lenses - I have nothing to say; but if you can have only one of them, then 100mm can be a good choice since it can fill a lot of jobs!)

I wish Canon will release 135mm f/2L with IS enable soon. Otherwise, this one will be my first lense in the three lenses: 85mm 1.2L, 100mm 2.8L IS, 135mm 2L.
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on April 26, 2010
I'm an experienced amateur/prosumer with many years of 35mm and about 6 years of digital photography. I was going to buy Canon's new 5DMK2, but found it too heavy to hold, so bought the newly released T2i instead. I was consistently told by professionals that, on a limited budget, I should put my money into high-quality lenses. I did a lot of research between the apparently similar non "L" f/2.8 100mm macro - Canon's previous version of this lens. I really wasn't sure if I could justify spending nearly double the price.

For the extra money, not only are you getting the "L" quality optics, but also Canon's new hybrid image stabilization, which is both horizontal and vertical. For macro photos, this essentially gives you the equivalent of another two stops.

I decided to buy the lens and test it out for myself, thinking I could always return it if I wasn't satisfied. Quite honestly, my other other Canon lenses (NOT kit lenses) give exceptional quality, even up to large blow-ups. When I first look at the pictures from the 100mm, I wondered why I paid the extra money.... until I started blowing them up on my monitor - I kept on zooming in, and the image was, as Canon claims, 100% tack sharp. This was exactly what I wanted and had been looking for. As I said, I can't hold a heavy camera, so trying this lens on the T2i, my hands were a little shaky. The new IS system managed to compensate for that, even in low light - truly giving me extra stop equivalency.

I actually bought this lens more of a portrait lens, which are often shot soft-focus, but that is not my preference. But I did want macro too, so it is good value in that respect as you are almost getting two-for-one.

The USM motor is amazingly quick and silent, and is the same one as on the cheaper model.

They say that once you shoot with an "L" lens, there's no turning back, and I now know why. I'm busy selling off old equipment to fund new purchases! I also know why you don't find used "L" lenses on ebay.. because they'll last you a lifetime.

The lens comes with a very nice, felt lined hood (to limit reflection) and a soft case, which is only enough protection if you are putting the lens inside a padded camera case.

I bought it during one of Canon's rebate promotions, which are quite frequent as long as you keep checking, so it was $200 less than list price. If you can get this lens for anything under or up to $1000, you'll be very happy that you did.
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on November 7, 2015
This is a macro lens and for that purpose it is great! Also takes good portraits and pet pictures. Has excellent background blur and bokeh. It's lightweight due to the plastic body, which is very strong surprisingly, but then again this is a L lens. Takes a while to focus is moderate to low light but all other macros I have played with do this. Would recommend!
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VINE VOICEon April 14, 2015
The canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS USM Macro lens is a bit of a monster to be honest. Like most other Canon L series lenses, this lens comes in a little bit heavier than standard EF or EF-S lenses. This is due in part to the excellent build quality (and weather sealing) and also in part to the inclusion of Image stabilization.

Like many others, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to determine whether I should get this lens with image stabilization or whether to get the roughly $300 cheaper albeit non L series 100mm Macro lens. Generally the quality of the glass in a L series lens is higher than a standard EF series lens, so that would be a plus. The other big consideration was whether I wanted image stabilization. Now that I've had this lens for about a year I can say with full confidence that spending the extra for IS and the L series is definitely worth it.

Controls on this lens are fairly standard across canon's series of lenses, you have a range selector switch, AF/MF switch and an image stabilization On/Off switch. Since this is a prime, there obviously isn't a zoom ring, just a focusing ring, which is nice and wide and has a very smooth motion to it.

The Canon 100mm Macro lens is really a multi purpose lens. Although it's main use is for macro photography, you can very readily use this as a portrait lens on a full frame body (on a crop sensor this will be a 160mm lens which is a bit long for portrait photography) with excellent results.

For the most part when shooting macro, you would want to shoot on a tripod with rail system and good lighting however since owning this lens I've found the amount of times that I've been out wandering around and happened across something that I wanted to shoot and didn't have my tripod with me to be a lot more than I expected. This is where the image stabilization on this lens comes into play. I've found that with the IS you get around a 2 stop advantage. It also makes taking macro shots by hand actually possible.

Macro focusing is an art into itself. This lens allows you to stop all the way down to 2.8, with a beautifully creamy bokeh but a very narrow depth of field (for example, if shooting an insect, you may get the insects head in focus but the body will be out of focus) or go up the scale to allow more of your shot to be in focus. Of course, increasing your f-stop also means increasing your exposure time. Increasing your exposure time means the more likely there will be camera shake whilst taking the picture and as mentioned this is where the image stabilization kicks in for around 2 stops advantage.

To get really close shots you can pair this lens with extension tubes. Extension tubes don't have any glass in them and simply create more of a distance from the back of your lens to the actual camera sensor. This effectively "zooms" you in further.

Image quality from this lens is phenomenal. Very sharp images with wonderfully creamy boken produced by it's 15 elements. This lens creates the best bokeh I have seen form a lens, including the lenses I own that stop down to f1.4.

If you are looking for possibly one of the best macro lenses on the market. you won't be disappointed with this lens. If you are looking for a great portrait lens, you won't be disappointed with this lens and if you are looking for a macro lens that you can use without the need of a tripod, then this is definitely lens you want.

Overall the Canon EF 100mm f2.8L IS USM Macro lens is a winner. I'm so glad I paid the extra for the L series and image stabilization. Totally worth it.
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