Canon EF 100mm macro f/2.8 is one of the Canon prime lens aimed at photographers who want to venture into macro photography on a budget. The price of this lens and the features make it the favorite canon macro lens in the market. Its sharpness would ensure that every tiniest detail on your tiny subject would stand out.
Should you buy Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens?
This is a true macro lens giving a magnification of 1:1 (life size) reproduction of subjects, meaning you can capture the exact size of your subject on the camera sensor. The minimum focus distance is 1’ while you get 6” minimum working distance from the end of the lens. You can increase the magnification by 1.19x and 1.39x with 12mm and 25mm extension tubes respectively.
This optics in this lens is sharp. At f/2.8 tiny aberrations are hardly observable and by stopping down to f/4.0 the images get incredibly sharp. However, do not expect this sharpness while holding the camera in your hand. Canon claims that the secondary diaphragm blocks stray light at f/2.8 and increases contrast in backlit situations.
Colors are amazing and you would find less time using Photoshop to enhance the saturation in your images. The bokeh is great like it should be all smooth and creamy.
Although Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro is not a L series lens and not build to that quality, it is still solidly well built with metal construction ensuring a long life. It performs exceptionally well in cold temperatures.
The lens uses internal focusing which means the lens length always remains constant and the front element does not extend when you focus the lens. The focus ring is easy to use. Manual focus is available all the time with override option (even in AF mode) to let you take capture great images before they flee. Whenever you feel like controlling the focus, just grab the ring and there you go.
If you are using automatic focusing, Ultrasonic Motor is quite fast at all distances. In fact, some people rate it much faster than the Canon 180mm macro L lens on autofocus.
With focal length of 100mm this makes for a great portrait lens. The bokeh as mentioned above is also smooth and creamy making great head shots.
If you are using this lens on compact sensor, the magnification is 1.6x. This means more working distance in macro and more telephoto effect. However, at 160mm it becomes difficult to handhold the lens and it is better to use a support like monopod.
As this is the propriety lens by Canon, you would find it far way better than other 3rd party macro lenses ensuring complete compatibility in all areas. Tripod collar and lens hood are available as options.
You can use this lens for reproduction of art and advertisements of selling items online. I personally know people who experienced great difference in their sales based on the images taken with this lens.
There is no Image Stabilization (IS) on Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro the lens which is quite a difference from the L series lens in the same category but with this price this is hardly anything to complain about. I have also experience that AF is sometimes slow in lowlight, but if you are taking macro pictures you should ideally be using a ring flash. Another weak point I noted is that there is not button for shifting from macro mode to telephoto mode, which can sometimes make the camera go focus hunting.
The main competition in macro category would be Canon 50mm and Canon 180mm. The Canon 50mm has a shorter working distance while 180mm although giving more working distance is much more expensive. The Canon 100mm 2.8L with IS is tough competition but it is almost twice the cost making it out of reach for beginners and hobbyists.