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Canon EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro Review

October 2009 | By Andy Westlake

Back in July, Canon took the distinctly unusual step of announcing a new technological development completely in isolation from any products. The subject was a novel 'Hybrid' optical image stabilization system designed to compensate for two distinct types of camera shake. You can read more about it here, but in essence the stabilizer is different from existing systems, which only detect and correct for changes in the angle the lens is pointing, by also compensating for vertical and horizontal shifts in the position of the lens caused by handshake. This has little benefit at long focus distances, but as the subject gets closer it becomes progressively more important, and in principle offers maximum benefit for macro shooting.

In September the company duly introduced the first lens to feature this new technology, and to no great surprise it turned out to be a 100mm macro. The EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro joins Canon's impressive short-telephoto lineup as a supplement to (rather than a replacement for) the existing EF 100mm F2.8 USM Macro, and at a significantly higher price. Alongside the latest and greatest IS technology it gains all the usual benefits associated with the premium 'L' badge, including robust, weathersealed build and the use of exotic glass for the correction of aberrations. The optical construction is of 15 elements in 12 groups, including a single ultra-low dispersion glass element, and the 1:1 maximum magnification is achieved at a minimum focus distance of 0.3m.

Canon makes some quite specific claims for the effectiveness of its new IS system, and it's worth looking at these in detail. The stabilizer is supposed to give a 4 stop advantage at longer focus distances, dropping to 3 stops at 0.5x magnification and 2 stops at full 1x magnification. The first of these specs is pretty much par for the course for Canon's current IS lenses, but even with the Hybrid system it's clear that the level of stabilization at close distances is expected to be relatively low (this despite Canon's publicity material claiming that it 'enables photographers to capture stunning close-up shots without the need for a tripod'). So the question potential buyers will surely be asking is whether the blend of features offered by the new lens is sufficiently compelling to justify buying it over the older, but well-regarded non-stabilized 100mm macro.

Headline features

  • 100mm fixed focal length; F2.8 maximum aperture
  • Macro focusing: 1:1 maximum magnification
  • 'Hybrid' image stabilization system for increased effectiveness at close focus distances
  • Canon EF mount for full-frame and APS-C DSLRs

Angle of view

The picture below illustrates the lens's angle of view on full frame and APS-C DSLRs (taken from our standard vantage point):

100mm (Full Frame)
100mm (APS-C; 160mm equivalent)

Canon EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro specifications

Price • US: $1050
• UK: £989
Date introduced September 2009
Maximum format size 35mm full frame
Focal length 100mm
35mm equivalent focal length (APS-C) 160mm
Diagonal angle of view (FF) 27°
Diagonal angle of view (APS-C) 17°
Maximum aperture F2.8
Minimum aperture F32
Lens Construction • 15 elements / 12 groups
• 1 UD element
Number of diaphragm blades 9, rounded
Minimum focus • Full: 0.3m / 1.0ft
• Limit: 0.5m / 1.64ft
Maximum magnification 1.0x
AF motor type • Ring-type Ultrasonic Motor
• Full time manual focus
Focus method Internal
Image stabilization • Hybrid IS
• 4 stops
• 3 stops at 0.5x magnification
• 2 stops at 1.0x magnification
Filter thread • 67mm
• Does not rotate on focus
Supplied accessories* • Front and rear caps
• ET-73 Lens hood
• Lens case LP1219
Optional accessories • Tripod Mount Ring D
Weight 625g (22 oz)
Dimensions 78mm diameter x 123mm length
(3.1 x 4.8 in)
Lens Mount Canon EF
Other Supplies distance information to camera body

* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

This article is Copyright 1998 - 2015 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Total comments: 5

Hi everybody

I have a question.

What difference is between DOF distance of EF 100mm Macro vs EF 100mm non-macro in the same aperture F/2.8? Regarding to 1:1 magnification of macro lens.

For instance, if the Macro lens in wide aperture F/2.8 mades 2cm DOF, is the non-macro lens mades same DOF as 2cm in F/2.8(with same condition and same situation)...!?

Best Regards.


crank up the volume and listen to the noise the 100/2.8L macro IS makes in shooting handheld video...


one more thing to compare with lenses, IMHO : the NOISE the lens makes when you shoot video with your DSLR. Not just the noise from autofocus and follow-focus, as there are situations where you don't use follow-focus...but what about the noise the I.S. , Image Stabilization , makes during video in handheld shooting ? I can tell you from personal experience, this lens is HORRIBLE for handheld video noise level from its I.S. !!!! I have the 100/2.8L macro IS USM LOUD-LOUD-LOUD ) and EF-S 55-250 IS II ( non-STM ) ( loud, too, even when IS is turned off ! ) and the newest , EF-S 55-250 IS STM ( total silence, not just silent AF but also silent I.S. ). So if you shoot video with your crop DSLR , handheld with I.S. needed, in a silent area ( e.g. to record birds ) , go for the 55-250 STM ...


I absolutely love this lens as well. It's incredibly sharp. I thought about getting the cheaper non-L Series version but I am glad I spent the extra money on this one.

1 upvote

I love my Macro Photography, l had the Tamron 90mm superb lens for macro and portrait photography, but when l bought the new Canon 100 mm macro with the new hybrid IS. This lens is just superb. If you like your Macro photography and you have the cash buy one.

1 upvote
Total comments: 5