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Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM in review – Best Macro Lens?

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Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM in review – Best Macro Lens?

My experiences with the Canon 100mm lens as a blogger and food blogger. In recent weeks, the questions have arisen again and again, with what we shoot the food videos, with what are the detail shots made. Now we would like to once again provide a look “behind-the-scenes” and tell what lens we used for photos and videos. We have tested many lenses, but most of the shots were all taken with the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM.

Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM – experience and impression

For a long time we wondered if we explicitly needed a macro lens, but the more often you travel, the more often the need became apparent. A nice dinner in a hotel, some beautiful interior details or often product shots.

Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM in review - Best Macro Lens?

With the various videos, there were then the problems with the ingredients to be able to capture them as sharply as possible and still a slow motion. As camera for the recordings the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II (especially video) and the Canon 5D Mark IV (mainly product shots) were used and for a long time the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. However, to be able to capture the moments even better, to be able to document the events even better, a macro lens Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM should now complement the equipment.

The choice was between the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM or the regular EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro, which is about 250 EUR cheaper. However, the choice fell on the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro with Image Stabilizer and this has often done a very good job in recent weeks.

Basically, you have to think about what you want to use the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens for. Is it always only shots from a tripod, always fixed product photos at a known location or should the Macro lens also be used once as a replacement for a telephoto lens, such as the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM or the 70-200 f/4 and have a nice bokeh?

For our requirement, it should be a lens that can be used quickly once for a food sequence in the kitchen, just as quickly once for a portrait at an event and, of course, make detailed product shots, as recently used, for example, by the RØDE Videomic Pro+ or in the review of the Krups Evidence fully automatic coffee machine.

Of course, if you use the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM relatively often, the lens is very light to begin with. With only 625 grams and a filter diameter of 67mm, it fits very well in the hand and is therefore suitable for many shots. A bit unusual for the beginning is the plastic barrel (compared to metal versions of the L-series in general), but also pleasant with it in the photo backpack.

The Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens can be used on all full-frame cameras in the series, such as the new Canon 6D Mark II, but also on all APS-C cameras (such as currently on the EOS 200D, the EOS 77D or the EOS 80D). For cameras with APS-C sensor, the crop factor of 1.6 must then be taken into account, so that the focal length is extended to 160mm and it can already be compared to many telephoto lenses.

Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM in review - Best Macro Lens?

Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM – The perfect addition in the photo backpack?

So if you’re looking for a good macro lens from the L-series in addition to a good telephoto lens for portrait photos, you can’t go far wrong with this lens. Certainly, with identical values, if a lot of photography is to be done in rigid environments, you might consider the 100mm f/2.8 without image stabilizer, the bokeh is a bit more angular, due to only eight aperture blades (IS version nine aperture blades).

Those who, like us, shoot freehand very often or would also like to use the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens once in combination on a gimbal should rather go for the version with stabilizer. In current food releases, the lens was used on a gimbal and the image stabilizer completely eliminated the last minimal movements, resulting in beautiful camera movements.

The Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is a good all-around lens and was used much more often in photos and videos than originally planned in the first few weeks. The hybrid stabilizer is a great help, especially in detail shots, as it not only compensates for motion blur caused by axis rotation, but also for parralel-shifting motion. While shifts of one millimeter would often not be noticed in landscape shots, they are often already exclusion criteria for the image in macro or detailed product shots.

The image quality with the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is very good, as expected. Already at open aperture the details are incredible (compared to similar models), but if you then shoot at aperture 6.3, 7.1 or 8 you will get another significant gain in imaging performance.

Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM in review - Best Macro Lens?

Focusing – autofocus and manual focus

Basically, we prefer manual focusing for macro shots or product shots, because you can focus much better and more precisely on the desired point and also use the blur much more selectively.

However, the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is also very fast in autofocus mode (for a macro lens) and also very reliable. If you want to use the lens for portrait photography, for example, you can directly limit the focus latitude and thus once again significantly increase the speed with the lens.

The Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM allows for very easy manual focusing with its wide focus ring and light weight. Autofocus is still snappy, but also very reliable, and of course it takes a bit longer to focus for detailed focus shots than it does with the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II for an action shot.

We prefer to use the manual function for our detailed food focus, as you simply have a bit more creativity in the image and can decide more precisely what you want to focus on at that moment.

However, for portraits or spontaneous event shots, we relied on the autofocus function and also did not limit the focus length.

Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM in review - Best Macro Lens?

CONCLUSION – Canon 100mm f/2.8L lens

The Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens convinced us in almost all areas and was used in many more situations than originally planned. It is suitable for almost every photo situation and, with its light weight, is of course an alternative to heavy lenses such as the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II when traveling.

In daily event use, during a video production or even interior shots, the lens has performed very well and the IS addition has already saved us some shooting situations.

We can therefore recommend the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens for almost every photo fan and would also prefer the higher-priced lens with IS function.

However, if you only want to take product photos in the studio with a rigid camera, you can think about the cheaper model, but also deprive yourself of the possibility to be prepared for other shooting situations in the future.

Only for nature photographers who can’t or don’t want to get very close to the subjects (closest focusing distance 6cm), the even higher priced Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM might be the even better choice.

We will certainly be using our Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM regularly in photos and videos in the coming weeks and months. If you have any further questions about the lens, feel free to send us an email or use the comment function directly below this blog post.

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