on December 15, 2004
Prospective buyers of a macro lens for a Canon EOS system have a great first choice in this 100mm Macro. The extra length over a 50mm macro gives much better working distance (space between lens and subject) in the field, and EOS-compatible lenses by other manufacturers match poorly with accessories and are nowhere near as sharp.
Compared with the earlier Micro Motor 100mm Macro that Canon made (which I also own), the USM lens focuses *very* fast. The USM lens also can accept Tripod Collar B (by use of a small plastic adapter)--I recommend you buy the collar with the lens, as adjusting to a vertical composition with a tripod means repositioning everything. The front element is not recessed in the USM model, which makes lens cleaning easier than with its predecessor. And build quality is improved--the earlier model was prone to its switches breaking (could fix it yourself with the ordered part, but really annoying) and eventually the Micro Motor gearing gave out (no trouble so far with the USM ring motor). The USM model will work with Canon's 2x teleconverter by interposing a 12mm extension tube, allowing 2x magnification with lots of working distance, though this is not nearly as nice a solution as the 180mm lens referenced below.
I will quibble with another reviewer--Canon does make sharper lenses, and sharpness compared with the earlier model is virtually the same. But this is still one of the sharpest lenses you can buy, and ergonomically a huge improvement over its predecessor.
Having said that, Canon now has an L-series 100mm macro that is a bit sharper and has better bokeh (out-of-focus highlights). A serious hobbyist might consider that lens, though it costs about 40% more on the street. I purchased the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro Lens less than a year ago, and am very impressed with its greater sharpness and working distance relative to this lens. If you work much with small critters, take a look at that lens before making a purchase.
If you are building up a set of lenses for outdoor/nature photography and you do occasional macrophotography, this might be the first or second lens to buy. If you work significantly at magnifications greater than 1:1, consider the Canon 65mm 1x-5x Macro zoom.
on January 7, 2005
This is the lens I leave on my camera for general purpose use. At non-macro focus distances, it is a very fast lens in a convenient short-telephoto length. The images are sharp out to the corners. This is one of those great Canon lenses that probably deserves an L-series rating but is available without the red stripe and exorbitant cost.
Tested in an astrophotography context (point sources on black backgrounds - excellent for revealing aberration and coma), I have found that this lens is reasonably sharp at f/4 and completely sharp by f/5.6. For daylight terrestrial photography, the tiny aberrations caused by the wide-open f/2.8 aperture are hardy noticeable and by f/4 the images are exquisitely sharp.
There is a lot of glass in this lens - it is heavy. I highly recommend buying the tripod collar as it allows you to attach the camera and lens to a tripod or ballhead with much better balance.
Also, if you plan on using the macro functionality, keep in mind that the effective f-stop of the lens goes way up when you're focusing at very close range. At 15cm from the front surface, it performs as though it were an f/9. You'll either want a lot of light or a very steady subject and a good tripod (another reason to buy the hideously overpriced tripod collar).
on January 29, 2006
The 100 f/2.8 macro is very sharp, even for general shooting, so it works great for portraits, too. When I'm not using a zoom, this is my walkaround lens for people, relatively tight scenes and even indoor sports. Think of it as a great lens that also shoots macro than the other way around. Hard to beat that versatility at the price.
But it comes into its own at close distances. If you've never had a macro lens, you'll run around shooting everything in sight because everything looks new from a macro perspective.
Canon has several macro lenses. I prefer the 100 mm over shorter lenses because I don't have to get quite as close to that bee or wasp. The 180 mm gives you even more distance from your subject, more background blur and amazing sharpness. But it's much more expensive and in most cases you'll need a tripod, and I shoot a lot of improptu macros as I'm hiking.
For extreme closeups with larger-than-life images, there's the MP-E 65. It goes up to 5X, compared to the 100mm's 1X, but you lose autofocus with this lens. In fact, you set your magnification and then move the camera until the object is in focus! As you get beyond about 2X, the viewfinder gets fairly dark. If you're doing still life macro work, it's amazing. I'll probably get one someday for shooting my mineral colletion.
One thing to keep in mind with any macro is that because of the close distances, you're often in lower light conditions. Althought it's fairly pricey, I'm using the MT-24 EX, which lets you adjust the direction of the twin flashes. The MR-14EX ring light is a couple hundred dollars cheaper but will produce a slightly flatter image. And you can always use one of the standard flashes, though the closeness of your subject may cause some odd shadows.
on November 21, 2006
This is hands down the sharpest and most used lens that I own. The combination of macro capability, relatively fast 2.8 aperature, and prime sharpness keeps it on my camera more than anything else. I shoot a variety of subjects from macro nature work to indoor sports, and this lens never lets me down.
One of the major compliments I have for this lens is its versatility (I disagree with many of the reviews here.) I continually find 100mm to be an ideal focal length with my 1.6 APS-c sensor XT for shooting indoor swimming and diving competitions. This length allows for beautifully tight framing, slightly compressed depth of field, and shallow focus to get amazing portrait shots while eliminating distracting background. The speed of the lens allows me to catch swimmers in the air without using a disturbing flash. This is imperative because flash photography is prohibited at the start of a race. Apart from sports events, the lens allows for very intimate portraits without having to be in the subjects face. This performance along with macro capability truly make this a multi-purpose lens.
I usually hand hold for sports photography with good results (the accessory battery grip on my XT is invaluable for this), and usually use a tripod for nature and still-life situations. If I've had one too many cups of coffee I'll use a monopod during sports events. I do wish the lens came with the accessory tripod collar, because it is undeniably a fairly heavy piece of glass, but it is not so important that I have shelled out for one yet. I have no complaints with the AF, and I find that the switch to limit the AF range away from the extreme macro is very helpful. Once you use Canon's USM lenses, you will never buy anything else. The large and easy to use manual focus ring is a luxury. It allows for quick manual override and great control when switching to manual focus. In many situations that I don't want to carry my large bag with me, the 100mm and my 17-40mm L usually cover just about everything I need. (I know that my idea if traveling light is not taking the kitchen sink however.)
This is not an L lens for reasons of the lack of some weather resistance and L level coatings, but don't let that dissuade you. It easily outperforms both my L zooms in sharpness and I find it to be comparable in contrast and color. The level of performance and a price that is a fraction of many L lenses makes this an unbeatable value.
on October 22, 2006
I bought this lens a little over a year ago for macro shooting. I quickly found out, however, that to shoot Macro-only with this lens is a crime. It is a very versitile lens. Its fast f/2.8 aperture makes for good shooting in low light. I pretty much use this outdoors as the 100mm with the 1.6x crop factor of my Rebel XT eliminates most indoor oppurtunities.
I frequently use this lens for family portraits, the resultant photo is so crisp and clear and the bokeh really helps add snap to the primary subject.
As others have stated, this is a heavy lens. It doesn't have Image Stabilization (IS) so a tripod or monopod is a great accessory to get the best images. I use a beefy monopod for my best shots, although I have a lot of handheld gems...
If you are tight for cash, this isn't the "one lens" that does it all. If you are looking for a versitile lens that can do outstanding macros and portraits, THIS is that lens.
on February 17, 2012
I had always wanted a macro lens but it wasn't on the top of my list. However, when Amazon had a superb deal on the price of this lens a few months ago, I snatched it up instantly.
At first, being the novice I am, I wasn't too thrilled about the lens. As someone who WAS accustomed to pointing and shooting with my Rebel T3i, the lens was difficult to use, blurry and slow to focus and I had expected something more out of the most expensive lens in my amateur lens set-up. It took me some time to figure out how to work the lens but this only encouraged me to explore the camera and my photography in new ways.
Some things I learned using this lens that will probably be beneficial to beginning photographers and those who are new to macro-photography:
First of all, this lens works best with a good tripod if you are using it for its' macro capabilities. Once I learned that, it makes the lens much more enjoyable to use. I find that handheld and with autofocus on it can do portrait and landscape pictures decently. Handheld macro shots ARE possible but I personally find that there are not as sharp as when I use I tripod. There is a noticeable difference in sharpness... this lens can be insanely sharp!
Secondly, the autofocus does not work that great for macro mode. This is not a bad thing. I usually turn off the autofocus and focus manually using the screen rather than the viewfinder and then use the digital magnification capabilities on my T3i to really sharpen the parts of the photo I want to focus on. I don't have a remote so I set the 2-second timer on my camera and take pictures that way. Without autofocus on, you can determine what areas of the the photo to highlight creatively and take advantage of its sharpness. This process may be a little slow and tedious for some people.
Thirdly, it's not a microscope. I was initially disappointed that I could not stand inches away from an object and look at it's molecular breakdown. Haha. Shows my initial naivete but magnification capabilities from a distance allows you to photograph insects and animals without invading their space.
I also use this shot for tripod telephoto shots. It can take some pretty amazing and sharp night shots (with a good tripod!) so I love that it is a very multipurpose lens despite being a macro lens.
I love the USM motor. It is a bit slower than I expected but I assign that to the fact that it's a macro lens. It is super quiet and has introduced me to a level of quality beyond the kit and budget Canon lenses I have in my bag. For budget photographers, this can be a dangerous descent into lens acquisition syndrome.
This lens definitely isn't for everyone. If you're a stubborn point and shooter with no desire/need for creative photography, this lens may not benefit you and will probably frustrate you. However, if you are willing to be patient and thoughtful, you can learn to make some amazing shots with this lens and expand your photographic creativity. If you dislike having to use a tripod and have money to splurge, there is the much more expensive L, image stabailization version of this lens.
I also use this lens for my eBay listings and I feel that it really helps my items pop on the search results compared to competing listings. Highly recommended.
on December 22, 2007
I use this lens all the time, and never get bored of finding things to photograph with it. It is really a good lens and you will often see people comment on the fact that it may be one of those special lens' that could be L glass but gets away with being reasonably priced.
Build: This is a solid well built lens. Its mostly metal construction ensures that it will last a long time. The focus ring is of course rubber and is easy to use. However this lens is heavy, so much so that if you are handholding it and using manual focus your camera holding hand will get tired. I have attempted to do this with a 430EX flash mounted on top and it is literally hand cramping after a while. You will most likely want to purchase a tripod collar with this lens, as a lot of focus will be lost due to camera shake.
AF: This lens isn't the fastest lens on earth, and in conjunction with an XTi I find that it is sometimes annoyingly slow. It also tends to hunt a little in all but the best light conditions. Another reason to get a lens collar and use a tripod. However I rarely use autofocus with macro work, and prefer the control of manual. Given the shallow depths of field, manual is much more useful. Also the only time you really need a fast AF with macro is outside shooting bugs and such, and you will probably have the light of the sun which would of course be plenty to ensure the AF functions as you want it to. I wouldnt pass this lens up on account of the slightly slow AF.
Picture Quality: I find that this lens produces incredibly sharp pictures (again, do not expect really sharp pictures hand held, I feel like a lot of people complain about this, but dont realize its their fault, not the lens'). The saturation and general color is amazing, and I rarely find that I have to up the saturation or vibrance. Personally I have found this lens to be tack sharp at f/4, and it stays there most of the time, as f/2.8 is a very very shallow depth of field.
In Comparison: Although I do not own the 60mm macro, I have had a chance to use one, and although the 60mm is more versatile (i.e portraits), I would not give up the reach. Even at 100mm I find myself wishing I had the 180mm L lens. But 100mm is certainly better than 60mm. This is definitely a macro lens, if you also want to do portraits get the 100mm and the 50 1.8. Personally this is a better choice than loosing the 40mm.
Overall: amazing lens, you will be satisfied if you are looking to do macro and some portraits if you have enough room (outside). The only reason I give it four and not five stars is the slow AF in darker lighting situations. But you can work around this. Great lens from a great company!
I wanted to get a macro lens and everyone told me this was the one to get... I'm so glad I did. With the smaller sensor on my 30D, the 100mm is more like 150mm or so, so it's a nice , wide-open telephoto/portrait lens as well. I've uploaded a few photos I've taken w/ this lens to show what it's capable of in macro and telephoto. I thought the 17mm-85mm IS USM lens that came e/ my camera was sharp - but compared to this lens, the kit lens might as well be from a DIY pinhole camera.
My less than perfect rating is that there is no image stabilization available for the macro lenses. When I'm trying to hone in on bees pollenating a flower, there is a lot of shake. I can't practically use a tripod when the insects are bouncing from bud to bud, so I have to take 100 shots to get one that's not shake blur - and I miss some really cool shots.
In addition to the lack of image stabilization, I am frustrated w/ the sometimes unpredictable focusing that will happen as the lens is trying to decide whether it should be focusing at telephoto or macro. I wish there was a switch on the lens to make it macro only or telephoto only, so it wouldn't be bouncing from one focal length to the other all the time.
I've taken far more successful telephoto shots than macro. The telephoto focal length is a bit long (for those of us who cannot afford a full-frame sensor camera) for most casual photography. I recently used this lens to shoot some promo shots of some massage therapists in a small eatery. I practically had to set up in the restaurant's bathroom to get the photos I wanted, but opted for this lens because it's much faster (2.8) and I wanted to use natural light over flash.
The lens is long and heavy for its range. With the addition of the battery pack grip, this lens added on is very weighty, so I may not take it w/ me in my kit bag on every shoot. Once I add another short fixed focal length lens and a moderate telephoto to my kit, my guess is that this lens will be pulled out for only special occasions.
It's tack-sharp, but it can be frustrating at times.
on August 13, 2010
I was agonizing between this lens and the Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM. Basically, the reviews and specifications are similar. The 100 mm lens is EF while the 60 mm lens is EF-S, so the 100 mm lens is compatible with full frame cameras. However, most people willing to invest in a full frame camera are probably considering the 100 mm L lens. My thoughts on comparing the two lenses:
1.) Price is similar, with the 60 mm being $100 less only
2.) 60 mm lens weighs half as much
3.) Both get 5/5 stars with around 100 reviews on Amazon
4.) Magnification is the same on both (1:1)
5.) You can stay a bit further from your subject with the 100 mm lens at max magnification, 1 ft rather than 8 inches
Anyway, I was unable to decide between the two, and I saw that the 100 mm lens was available from Amazon. I decided to test-drive it and keep it if I was happy. My thoughts:
1.) The lens didn't seem that extraordinary on my camera, but I was extremely pleased with the results once I looked at them on a big screen. It's sharp and the colors are beautiful.
2.) I thought I'd rather have a 100 mm lens than a 60 mm lens since I already have a 50 mm lens. However, I think 100 mm is a rather awkward focal length on the non-full frame camera. It's not long enough to take much in the way of animals and birds, but it's often too long to take pictures of pets or people you're with. For things in macro, it doesn't make much difference since you're going to be so close to the subject either way.
3.) The lens felt very heavy on the camera given that it's a fixed lens
For me, the main argument for the 100 mm over the 60 mm was that I had a 50 mm lens already, and I thought it would be great to have another fixed lens at a different focal length. The main argument for the 60 mm lens was the weight. After using the lens, I think the 60 mm is probably a better choice for non-full frame users.
on July 10, 2006
This lens is great. I will never buy an imitation. Canon is the way to go... The key to using this lens is light. Be aware, If you are planning on taking pictures of tulips in the bright sun, fine. But if you plan to take pictures indoors, I suggest going to for a 50mm or getting the flash ring. And don't consider a tube without it. You lose so much light that your depth is cut down to about ½ of a mm! The flash makes all the difference. This lens sat for a good while until i got the flash. And a standard flash does not work either.
However, the lens does it's job wonderfully. Everything is remarkably crisp and HUGE! You just need the light to focus and get a decent shot.
And BTW - For more controlled environments, the flash ring also has a lamp to focus and setup with. It's extrememly handy with a decent tripod for those indoor shots.