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Photography | Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

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Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro


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Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review

Sample Images

A selection of photos taken in Thailand with the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens that I sold and replaced with the Canon Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS macro.

These images were taken with my Canon 10D, which is the camera I owned at the time of owning this lens. Unfortunately, I had decided that as the images were only for the web I only needed to use 1536x1024 resolution and that by doing so I could save space on my CF card. Big mistake. I learned my lesson shortly after this.

I didn't have a lot of luck with this lens. It was capable of producing very sharp images, but it let me down with extremely soft shots on may occasions. The camera confirmed focus and shutter speed was fast enough to prevent motion blur, but I got soft images. The L IS version of the 100mm macro that I replaced it with has never let me down.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/4 | Shutter Speed: 1/125s

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/4 | Shutter Speed: 1/125s


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:1600 | Aperture: f/5.6 | Shutter Speed: 1/90s

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:1600 | Aperture: f/5.6 | Shutter Speed: 1/90s


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter Speed: 1/350s

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter Speed: 1/350s


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter Speed: 1/125s

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:200 | Aperture: f/8 | Shutter Speed: 1/125s


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:800 | Aperture: f/4.5 | Shutter Speed: 1/125s

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro | Canon EOS 10D | ISO:800 | Aperture: f/4.5 | Shutter Speed: 1/125s


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User Impressions

Try to find a bad thing said about this lens. You won't.

As I was paying for mine in a shop in Bangkok, another customer complimented me on my purchase. Such is its reputation that everyone seems to think that all it lacks is some white paint, a red ring, and an L designation. I had wanted this lens for some time and was excited when I bought it.

I was looking forward to doing some interesting close-up work, and I had also heard it was an excellent portrait lens. Apart from its image quality, I had also read good things about its bokeh quality. When you consider that the lens isn't that expensive, and that it will work with both full-frame and crop bodies, it seems like an absolute bargain.

However, I found it to be an extremely frustrating lens. It was indeed capable of the fantastic image quality I had heard about but I had lots of problems with soft images. It could have been user error but I have been using SLRs since 1982 and I have never had the same kind of problems with other lenses.

On soft images I checked the focus points and exposure settings, and there was nothing to indicate it was user error. My shutter speeds were fast enough, and my apertures small enough to get the required depth of field without camera shake for sharp images. But they just weren't sharp.

My conclusion was that it must have been an internal focusing problem. I owned this lens while I was using a Canon 10D. The 10D never had a fantastic reputation for AF but my one was spot on and never caused me any problems with my 17-40mm f/4L or 70-200mm f/4L lenses.

Out of focus monk portrait - Click for larger image On one occasion while taking photos at a Thai Buddhist temple I came across a really cute dog. I got shots but they were very soft. A little later, a monk asked me to take his photo and he requested a print.

The shots I took were almost unusable. In post-processing I had to add a ridiculous amount of sharpening and I felt quite ashamed when I handed over the prints later on.

On another occasion, a friend asked me to take some photos of her in a park. I just took along this lens, believing it would be the ideal portrait lens for such a session.

More focussing problems with the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro - Click for larger image It was a typical bright and sunny day in southern Thailand so there was loads of light. I used fast shutter speeds and a combination of apertures. When I looked at the photos afterwards I was extremely disappointed with the results.

However, when I reviewed the photos taken with this lens for the photos above I was pleasantly surprised at some of the results. This is what made it so frustrating to use.

It was quite consistent doing close macro work but the inconsistent focusing always seemed to occur when I was using it for telephoto work.

The bottom line is that I couldn't afford to use a lens that didn't guarantee good results every single time. I could have kept the lens and spent a lot of time diagnosing the problem, so that I knew its limitations and could work around them, but that's not how I want to shoot.

I want lenses like my Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L and Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L that I can just pull out of my bag and rely on 100% of the time. I therefore sold the 100mm f/2.8 Macro fairly shortly after buying it.

I was faced with a dilemma because I still wanted a macro lens. I didn't know whether to chance my arm with another copy of the same lens or go for the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro. The sample images I have seen taken with the EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro generally look a lot better than the 100mm f/2.8 Macro.

As a portrait lens, the 100mm was a bit long on a crop body camera. However, with macro work it gives you a bit more working distance. The EF 100mm f/2.8 will also work on all EF mounts whereas the EF-S 60mm will only work on crop bodies.

The EF-S 60mm f/2.8 is a more modern design, it's smaller, and I have read that the optics have been specially designed to photograph flat surfaces. With a crop body, 60mm is probably a better focal length for portraits.

Canon solved my dilemma later by announcing the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS.

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Most original images were shot in the RAW format and converted with Adobe Camera Raw. Noise was reduced using Imagenomic Noiseware Professional. Small amounts of image enhancement were applied using Adobe Photoshop CS2 (curves, levels, saturation) before sharpening using the Smart Sharpen filter (Amount: 30% - 120%, Radius: 0.2px - 0.3px, Remove: Lens Blur).

The large JPG images that open if you click on a thumbnail were saved with a 'High' quality setting of '8' on a scale of 0-12.

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Lens Details

Weight: 19oz; 600g
Filter Diameter: 58mm
Closest Focusing Distance: 1ft; 0.31m
Minimum Aperture: f/32
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Date Purchased: October 2005
Supplier: Fotofile, Bangkok, Thailand
Price: Can't remember
Lens Hood: ET-67 (not included)
Soft Case: LP1219 (not included)

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Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.

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