Long focal length gives the longest working distance and makes it great for capturing images of insects, professional optics means great image quality, the build quality is second to none.Cons
This lens is a heavy beast that doesn't have image stabilisation technology built in. The maximum aperture of 3.5 simply isn't fast enough to cut it.Verdict
The Canon 180mm macro lens is a good perfromer but it is just too big and heavy to use for hand held shots. What's more, it doesn't have image stabilisation. A better alternative is the Canon EF100mm f2.8L IS USM lens.
I have a passion for taking macro and close up photos of bugs, insects and mini beasts, therefore I am always striving to get 1:1 reproduction with the greatest possible working distance, i.e. the distance between the end of the lens and the subject, so I don’t disturb insects and scare them away when I try to take their photograph. Lenses with longer focal lengths give the maximum working distance and since the EF180mm macro is Canon’s longest macro lens I thought this would be the solution to my problems.
The Canon 180mm macro lens is an expensive lens and before going and spending my hard earned money on one I thought I had better hire one and put it through its paces to see if it really is all it is cracked up to be. The Canon 180mmmacro lens boasts the red ring, which means it is a professional grade lens so it must be good.
Being a luxury lens the Canon 180mm macro lens is made out of the best components and has superior glass and optics to ensure of the best possible image quality. The Canon 180mm macro lens is strong and robust, and since it is fully weather-sealed (like all L lenses) it can be used in all situations without having to worry too much.
The first thing you will notice about the Canon 180mm macro lens is its physical size. This lens is a beast and is both long and heavy. The lens is supplied with a tripod collar, something which is usually an optional extra with most Canon lenses, so this kind of suggests the Canon 180mm macro lens should be used with a tripod or some other kind of support.
The canon 180mm macro lens does not have image stabilisation (“IS”) technology, which is a real shame. When taking macro and close up images you are very close to the subject and the smallest movements are exaggerated and your photograph can end up being a blurry mess. In my opinion the Canon 180mm macro lens needs IS technology. With the Canon 180mm macro lens being so big and heavy it is even more difficult to take hand held shots without being affected by camera shake. This is the biggest limitation of the Canon 180mm macro lens and because of this I have doubts over whether this is truly is the “best” macro lens for Canon shooters.
Providing you can control any camera shake issues the image quality of the Canon 180mm macro lens is simply awesome and better than any other macro lens currently on the market. Colours are bright and vibrant without being over saturated and the sharpness is something else. This is one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used, although I did have to use a tripod to achieve it. If I could use a tripod for taking macro photographs of insects I would buy a canon 180mm macro lens in a flash.
The other issue I have with the Canon 180mm macro lens is f3.5 widest aperture. Many people think you need to use narrow apertures for macro photography however this is not always the case. Most of the time you will want to use a narrow aperture, but there are times when it is nice to open the lens wide open for some creative images. A maximum aperture of f3.5 doesn’t really allow for this.
Like all L grade lenses the Canon 180mm macro lens is not cheap and does come with a high price tag. Is the canon 180mm macro lens worth the money? I think the jury is still out on this one. The Canon 180mm macro lens is an exceptionally good lens, there’s no argument over that, but the question is “Is it worth the few hundred bucks more than the canon 100mm macro lens?” For my style of macro photography, I think not.
Would I recommend the canon 180mm macro lens? This is a tough question and the answer depends on what you are going to use the lens for the most. If you are like me, and like scrabbling around taking images of insects and bugs in their natural environment the Canon 180mm macro lens is not the best option. The sheer dimensions of this lens are just too much and it is a hindrance in the field. The other big issue is the size of the lens and the lack of IS makes it very difficult to eliminate camera shake and get pin sharp images. If you want to take hand held shots of insects and bugs the best macro lens is the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS USM. This lens is smaller, lighter and has IS technology in it. It may have a shorter focal length but the working distance is still impressive and, overall, it is simply the better macro lens to use.
If, on the other hand, you take macro and close up images of still life and non-moving subjects the Canon 180mm macro lens is more suitable. Even though the canon 180mm macro lens has better image quality it is not that much better than the Canon 100mm f.28L IS USM that is demands the premium price. The image quality of the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS USM is exceptionally good, and unless you go pixel peeping you will be hard pressed to tell it apart from the Canon 180mm macro lens.
So, the Canon 180mm macro is an awesome lens but the Canon EF100mm 2.8L IS USM lens beats it hands down.
But as you saw in my review, I don't recommend it.
To see what I do recommend, click the button to the right:
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