Canon EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro Review
Studio Tests (APS-C Format)
The 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro performs very well even on the resolution-hungry APS-C format. Sharpness is high and fairly even across the frame, chromatic aberration is low, and distortion and falloff minimal. Despite not being on its 'native' format, the results are close to the excellent Olympus Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 Macro, and clearly better than the older Canon EF 100mm F2.8 USM Macro.
|Sharpness||The lens is very sharp wide open, with just a slight drop off towards the corners. Best results are seen in the F4 - F5.6 range, at which point the measured sharpness is likely to be limited mainly by the 50D's relatively aggressive optical low-pass filter. Diffraction progressively reduces sharpness on stopping down further, with apertures smaller than F16 giving extremely soft results.|
|Chromatic Aberration||There's a tiny amount of lateral CA, but at just 0.05% in the corners it's rarely likely to be visible in normal use.|
|Falloff||We consider falloff to start becoming noticeable when the corner illumination falls to more than 1 stop below the center. As usual for a full-frame lens on APS-C, falloff is negligible.|
|Distortion||Distortion is to all intents and purposes zero.|
The 100mm gives true 1:1 macro, which reveals a lot of fine detail on a high resolution APS-C sensor. The measured closest focus is 29cm, giving a 13cm working distance from the front of the lens to the subject.
Central sharpness is very high even at F2.8, with the corners just a little behind. Optimal results are seen around F8; apertures of F16 and smaller inevitably start to suffer badly from diffraction, and should probably be avoided unless extreme depth of field is required (F32 is very soft indeed).
There's a slight hint of red/cyan fringing from lateral chromatic aberration towards the corners, but you're unlikely to see it outside of doing copy work.
|Macro - 21 x 14 mm coverage
Corner softness: Low
Focal length: 100mm (160mm equivalent)
Specific image quality issues
The EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro shows a slight degree of lateral chromatic aberration (color fringing at high contrast edges towards the edge of the frame), and while it's nothing like what you'll see from many zooms, it can very occasionally be visible in 'real-world' shooting. A quirk in the lens's CA profile also means it is more obvious on APS-C cameras - but it's also easily corrected in software if required. For example, we found that using Adobe Camera Raw 5.5, a 'Fix Red/Cyan Fringe' of -13 did the job nicely.
Longitudinal chromatic aberration is also present at larger apertures (which is only to be expected), and takes the form of magenta fringing around high contrast edges in front of the plane of focus, and green fringing behind. Because of the extra magnification imposed on the image by the smaller sensor, this is also distinctly more visible on APS-C; it's also much less straightforward to deal with in software (as it's dependent on the image content). It's not hugely intrusive though, and decreases gradually on stopping down, becoming insignificant by F5.6.
|Canon EOS 50D, F7.1, camera JPEG||Canon EOS 50D, F2.8, camera JPEG|
|100% crop, lower right||100% crop, in front of focal plane|
|100% crop, CA corrected (ACR)||100% crop, behind focal plane|
Diffraction softening at small apertures
One aspect of lens performance that's literally impossible to get away from is the gradual softening of the image due to diffraction at small apertures. The 100mm F2.8 macro stops all the way down to F32, which will give extremely soft results at the pixel level on APS-C. Of course this comes with the very real benefit of increased depth of field, so the trade-off can sometimes be worthwhile (especially when shooting closeups). But it's important to appreciate just how much the image degrades in the plane of sharpest focus.
The example below illustrates this much-misunderstood effect, looking at the depth of field of the picture as a whole alongside the pixel-level sharpness of 100% crops from selected regions. Stopping down brings progressive benefits in terms of depth of field, but detail in the region of sharpest focus (by the eye) is starting to soften at F8, and very heavily blurred at F32 (all the sharpening in the world won't bring it back). Against that, though, detail on the ear is most defined at F32, at which point it's coming close to that in the plane of focus.
The choice of aperture for any specific shot is dependent upon both the desired aesthetic, and the final output size. The F32 shot here would look OK in a 6" x 4" print, for example, but very visibly lack detail at 12" x 8". For most purposes we found apertures around F11 to give about the best compromise between fine detail and overall depth of field on APS-C. It's also important to understand that diffraction isn't a specific flaw with this lens (or indeed any other), but simply a direct consequence of the immutable laws of physics.
Nov 11, 2009
Sep 1, 2009
Nov 9, 2012
Nov 9, 2012
|Christine by JP Zanotti|
from Car wreck
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more