The Canon 100mm USM F2.8 Macro Lens was the first dedicated macro lens that I purchased, and is still the most common macro lens that I use. The image quality of this lens is superb, sharp at F2.8 and super sharp from then on till beyond F16. This would probably be an L series lens if it was not for it’s plastic build. It’s recently been added to in the range by Canon with an IS version, but that’s retailing at around £1,000.
I’m not currently intending to get the IS version as this one does the job admirably, and the cost of the new one is prohibitive at present. I would guess that the IS one would help if you were to take the majority of your shots hand held via natural light. Whereas I’d use flash, or tripod if the shutter speed was reduced to the point I could not hold this one still enough for a sharp picture, which I personally find tends to be slower than about 1/80th sec.
Having said that the lens is not flimsy at all, it has a nice large manual focusing dial control ( key for getting sharp focus hand held ), as I normally hardly ever use the auto focus that is available with the lens. It’s reasonably priced for the excellent image quality that the lens offers to its competitors in the non Canon brands ( Tamron and Sigma), at around the just sub £400 mark.
The lens focuses to infinity and focuses up close to a maximum macro ratio of 1:1. At the close up end this ratio means that the subject is reproduced on the film/digital plane at the same size as it is in real life.
It is equipped with a USM (Ultra Silent Motor) autofocus system, which can be limited via a switch to vary the minimum focus distance. (0.3m to 0.48m). The lens focuses fast and for normal (non macro) work is accurate. It can be useful in some circumstances with macro work, but can also hunt around if the subject is in grass etc. For macro work I tend not to use the autofocus feature but use the large manual focusing ring to achieve fine focus.
The official Canon website gives the following technical and marketing information.
- Diagonal Angle of View : 24 degrees.
- Number of Diaphragm blades : 8
- Lens Construction (elements/groups) : 10/9
- Minimum Aperture : 32
- Closest Focusing Distance (m): 0.31
- Maximum Magnification (x): 1
- AF Actuator : USM
- Filter Diameter (mm):58
Autofocus lens for macro photography up to life-size(1x) magnification. Medium telephoto lens with a macro feature for 1x magnification. Fluctuations in spherical aberrations caused by focusing are suppressed, and high-quality images are obtained at all focusing distances. With eight aperture blades, good background blur is obtained even when the aperture is decreased by one or two stops. A focusing limiter which limits the magnification to 0.25x is built in.