A major upgrade to the venerable 100mm f/2.8 Macro, this lens now receives L series designation, weather sealing, and Canon’s 4 stop ‘hybrid’ image stabilization system. The hybrid image stabilization system compensates for linear and rotational shake, making image stabilization more effective at close distances.
With 15 elements in 13 groups, an improved ultrasonic motor, and a nine-blade aperture ring for smooth out-of-focus highlights, this lens represents a major improvement over the excellent Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro it replaces.
When this was first announced, I thought it was a triumph of technology over common sense. Didn’t Canon have something better to do than improve one of their best lenses? The original Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro was as sharp as a tack, easy to use, and reasonably priced. I couldn’t see why they’d change it.
After shooting with this lens, I can see why. First of all, some things are just different, but not necessarily better. It’s a thicker, larger lens than the original version, and it has a plastic body (well-made, heavy plastic but it’s still plastic). Some things are less attractive – the price is much higher (but not unreasonable). Some things are a bit better- its textured plastic hood is much nicer than the standard “shiny until something touches it and leaves a mark” hoods on most Canon lenses. This lens is also a bit sharper than its predecessor with slightly better bokeh than the first version.
But 4 stop Image Stabilization- now that, my friends is worthwhile. It allows me to use this tripod-free for a lot of work, even with it stopped down if the light is reasonable. Handholding for 1/10 of a second in portrait mode is reasonable. One thing I would mention though, in case you don’t read the Canon manual: when shooting Macro shots up close the IS is not as effective. About 2 stops is all you can depend on in Macro mode.
Now, if I were doing Macro work with a tripod and focusing rail, would I pay the difference for this lens? No, I’d use the original version; it was a superb lens. For hand-held work, however, there’s no comparison. This one is miles better
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