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Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM – Lens Review

Author: Iacopo I.
Date: Sunday, September 7 2010
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The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM is one of the lenses that more I love. Developed to satisfy the needs of who want the best from a macro prime lens without going to an extremely expensive solution, it has confirmed all the expectations doing more. The features that make this item so special are many but let’s proceed with order.

At first glance the lens gives a sense of strength and stability, although this is not built using L-series materials it don’t give the feeling of touching something made of poor plastic. The weight of 1.38lbs (625g) is well distributed over the lens body (4.8in [122mm] long x 3.1in [78.76mm] in diameter) making it particularly well balanced even mounted on the camera body.

Internal schema Canon EF 100mm macro USM

Internal schema Canon EF 100mm macro USM

Thanks to the continuous focusing the EF 100mm macro is able to focus any subject positioned between a minimum distance of 14.9cm to infinity without any interval. Ultrasonic autofocus motor (USM) ensures incredible accuracy, speed and silence during focusing even passing directly to infinite from the minimum distance. Another important feature related to the construction of this lens is the choice of adopting the internal focusing mechanism using three group floating system ensuring the best image quality [see chart]. This solution permit to the lens to not change the length and not turn the front lens during focusing. Although these may seem insignificant features the opinion should completely change during the use in short distances and if using circular polarizing o gelatin filter or accessories such as the macro ring lite MR-14EX flash unit.

The full-time manual focusing system allows at any time to adjust the autofocus with manual intervention on the focusing ring. These kind of adjustments are fundamental in presence of close objects that can disturb the shot especially in open air.

From the optical point of view the results reached with this lens are definitively enthusiastic. The sharpness of detail, the well balanced contrast and color yield is fantastic especially considering the reasonable price and that this is not and L-series professional lenses. Sometimes happens that I choose to go around to take pictures only with this prime lens on my camera body. During these occasions I could lose some interesting wide angle prospective but the quality of the particulars that I can catch is impressive. This lens is exceptional also for portraits both with natural and artificial light. The max aperture of 2.8 can be used to take very nice pictures with natural interior lighting without forcing the use of high ISO.

Technical specification:

  • Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 100mm 1:2.8
  • Lens Construction: 12 elements in 8 groups
  • Diagonal Angle of View: 24°
  • Focus Adjustment: Inner focusing system with USM
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 0.31m / 1 ft. (film plane to subject)
  • Filter Size: 58mm
  • Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: 3.1″ x 4.7″, 21.1 oz. / 79.0 x 119.0mm, 600g

Mounted on a Canon EOS 7D the Canon EF 100mm Macro USM f/2.8 gives fantastic performances. Here an example of a picture taken at the minimum focal length (max macro aspect ratio) with this camera taking in account the crop factor of the sensor. The image is composed of a series of small squares 1mm x 1mm each and the result is an image of 21,5mm X 15,3mm:

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The calm of Milano after the rain
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