L grade lens, excellent image qualiy, sturdy and robust, has image stabilisation (makes it awesome for hand held shots) and has a good working distance (makes it great for taking photographs of insects)Cons
It's expensive (but well worth the cost)Verdict
The Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM macro lens has all the features you need in a macro lens and if you have a passion for capturing images of insects, this is the best lens currently available.
The best macro lens for insect photography
If you want a 100mm macro lens for a Canon dslr camera there are a few options available, however the best ones are those made by Canon, namely the EF100mm 2.8 macro and the EF100mm f2.8L IS macro. Both of these lenses are very good but the best buy, by a country mile, is the Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM.
Firstly, the Canon EF100mm 2.8L IS USM lens is a professional grade or “luxury” lens, which means it is made from superior components, is fully weather sealed and contains superior glass to correct for aberrations. Like all Canon L grade lenses I can only describe this lens as bullet proof. It doesn’t matter what environment you are shooting in, or what the weather is doing, this lens will not suffer any harm.
The Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM lens also boasts image stabilisation (“IS”) technology, which is not seen in other Canon macro lenses. The IS used in this macro lens is a hybrid system that is designed to combat two types of camera shake. Firstly, the IS corrects for any issues arising by the angle between the lens and the subject. Secondly, the IS corrects for any horizontal and vertical shifts of the lens, and when this technology is combined the result is a lens that is most useful for macro and close up photography.
Many photographers argue you don’t need IS technology on a lens with a focal length of 100mm, although I have to disagree. Firstly, when you take in to account the 1.6x crop factor the effective foal length is 160mm, which is actually quite long. Secondly, when you’re scrambling around on your hands and knees looking for insects and mini beasts to shoot, and don’t get the option of using a tripod IS technology is exceptionally useful. I have managed to capture sharp hand held images that would not have been possible without IS technology, so I am more than happy with it.
The image quality of the Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM lens is simply stunning and you really have to experience it to fully appreciate what this lens can do. Prime lenses are well known for being tack sharp, and this lens is no different. There is a bit of softness when used wide open at f2.8, but stop it down a single stop and everything is tack sharp. The softness at f2.8 isn’t really an issue especially since the depth of field is so small at such apertures it is not used when taking macro and close up photographs. All images taken with the Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM are bright and punchy but not oversaturated. In addition, there is good contrast throughout, flaring and ghosting is well controlled and there are no problems with vignetting or pinhole cushioning at all.
Many people think the image quality of the Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM lens is the same as the Canon EF100mm f2.8 USM lens, however this is a total nonsense. Having owned and extensively used both lenses (and I still have my old EF100mm f2.8 macro lens) I can honestly say there is a big difference. The images captured using the EF100mm f2.8 macro lens are fantastic, but the images captured using the EF100mm f2.8L IS USM are simply amazing. Put the same image (one taken with the 100mm f2.8L IS USM and one taken with the EF100mm f2.8) side by side and you will easily tell the difference.
The Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM lens you can achieve the 1:1 magnification at a minimum distance of 30cm, which means there is a large working distance, i.e. the distance between the end of the lens and the subject. This large working distance is yet another reason why this lens is so good for taking photographs of insects.
The Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM lens is expensive and almost double the cost of the Canon EF100mm f2.8, however the additional cost is well worth it providing you actually use the lens of course. If you are not serious about macro photography and will only use the lens occasionally my advice is to buy the Canon EF100mm f2.8 USM lens, which is a great lens in its own right. If, however, you are serious about macro and close up photography I would advise spending the extra and buying the Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM lens.
So, the question you have to ask yourself is “Do I really need the L grade optics and IS technology in the Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM or not?” If you are serious about your macro and close up photography and want to capture the best images possible then you should be concerned with these features, even if you only shoot slow moving/static subjects and still life subjects. If you are like me and like to capture images of insects and mini beasts the L grade optics and IS technology are must have features.
In conclusion, if you want a 100mm macro lens for a Canon dslr camera the EF100mm f2.8L IS USM lens is the best macro lens currently available, especially if you want to capture macro and close up images of insects and mini beasts. This lens is packed full of features and technology, all of which will take your macro and close up photographs to the next level. Ok, the EF100mm f2.8L IS USM lens is not cheap but it is a professional grade lens that will provide many years of trouble free service.
Here's the best place to shop for Canon EF100mm f.28L IS USM lens
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