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Customer Review

650 of 661 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent lens for the budding nature photographer, December 15, 2004
This review is from: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Fixed Lens for Canon SLR Cameras (Camera)
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.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 3, 2009 11:19:11 PM PDT
NYL says:
Thanks for the review! What might you recommend as other options for 1st or 2nd lens for outdoor/nature photography besides this Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lenns then?

Posted on Oct 11, 2010 2:44:27 PM PDT
Hi Scott:

Since it was mostly your review that inspired me to buy this from Amazon (which arrived in shaky boxing), let me ask:

On mine -- the focus ring seems a little bit loose (jiggles a little length-wise when touched). Is this normal for this innner focusing lens?

The local camera stores don't have one, to look over and compare it with.


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2012 11:39:22 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2012 11:43:39 AM PST
Hi S. Mandulin,

Depends on what you like to photograph. Midrange to wide focal lengths are most commonly needed for landscapes, short-to-medium telephoto and macro for "portraits" (it is sometimes useful to think of insects and flowers as being portrait photography) and longer telephotos for animals. The 180mm macro lens works well for the latter groups, and mates with the 2X teleconverter.

What I would take on a trip abroad or backpacking, if there are severe weight restrictions: the 180mm macro and a wide-to-medium zoom (probably the 17-40mm).

The big **BUT** here is that everyone has different needs. And lens selection is of little importance compared to artistry. Tony Sweet creates images with an iPhone that amateurs can only sigh longingly at. Dollars into equipment count little compared with reflection, practice, and making use of critiques of your work.

I am putting together a Listmania list here on Amazon of 10 favorite photography books--these will cost less than that 180mm lens and probably do more for the skills of the typical photographer.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2012 11:42:58 AM PST
Hi Web Developer,
I've had no trouble with the focus ring being loose, though "loose" is a relative term. A Canon service center may be of some help--I sent my wife's current camera body in and they did a nice job cleaning out the infamous "black powder" from the pentaprism and replacing the scratched screen. Clearly they had check it over in other areas too, because it performs better than new.

Posted on Jun 4, 2012 1:25:34 PM PDT
S. Sadlier says:
Hi Scott,

Your review was very helpful! I'm still figuring out what to buy. I am not a professional photographer (though I've done paid shoots). I am really drawn to nature/insect photography and want a macro lens to capture the fine details on the grasshopper, dragonflies and other subjects of my recent outdoor 'photo shoots'. ;) I'm currently shooting with a Canon Rebel and getting some great close ups with the 300 zoom lens, but I know I could be getting fine detail not visible to the naked eye with a great macro lens. I need one that zooms since my wildlife subjects don't stay still for long! ... so I'm leaning toward the Canon 100 mm f/2.8 macro lens. Your thoughts?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2012 10:32:49 PM PDT
Hello Ms. Sadlier,

I do a lot of insect photography, too, but for that I mostly use the 180mm macro lens. With either macro lens, you will mainly see improvement in higher magnification shots--you can fill the frame with even small insects (your zoom may reach a practical 1:4 magnification ratio, but the 100mm and 180mm Canon macros focus to 1:1). A close-focusing zoom is what I started with as well, but my first 100mm macro allowed me to capture photos of much smaller critters. It was the first lens I added to my Rebel kit back in the mid-90's. 100mm is versatile for shooting portraits of people, so a consideration there is that it may also work for those paid shoots. But the 180mm gives a lot of extra working distance: for a particular magnification, you are further from the insect and therefore it is less likely to fly off. A macro prime lens will probably yield some improvement in color rendition, and a little more resolving power, depending on what focal length you are using the zoom at; but keep in mind that you will have to view the photos at a moderate size or larger to notice differences in resolution. I do photo shows, and my standard size print is a large 16" X 24", so a lot of detail shows when someone stands close to the image. If you are doing smaller prints or viewing from a greater distance, you may not notice as much difference in resolution. I know this is a bit general, but not knowing much about you and your photography it is difficult to be more specific just yet. I am happy to converse with you further on this, though I won't be quick to respond over the next 2-3 weeks. Hope this helps a little, and please do let me know if I can help you further.
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