In 2009, Canon released the Canon 100 mm IS Macro. The main difference with the 'normal' 100 mm Macro of Canon is the built-in image stabilization. Due to the focal length, 100 mm, the Canon 100 mm IS Macro can also be used well as a portrait lens. Also, the 100 mm is a nice addition to the standard lens if you like working with primes. The Canon 100 mm IS Macro is more expensive than the Tokina 100 mm Macro .
Construction and autofocus
The lens belongs to Canon's professional L series. By using plastic, this lens does not feel as heavy as the other L lenses. The finish is of a high level and the lens is sealed well against dust and water. The lens hood is very large and is firmly attached. During focusing, the filter does not turn. The focus ring, rubber coated, has a pleasant friction. The focus stroke is approximately 180 degrees. For manual focusing, often necessary with macro, that is sufficient. The AF is driven by a USM motor. Focusing with a Canon 5D MK2 is very rapid, from 15 meters to 1.5 meters in just 0.16 seconds. Focusing is quiet and in low-light, the camera rarely commutes.
Canon claims a gain of 4 stops; this claim is nearly reached. This makes this image stabilization more effective than the image stabilization of the other lenses tested here. By the way, the gain decreases as you focus closer. At a distance of 35 cm, this is only one stop.
The vignetting, expressed in stops, is extremely low. Even at full aperture, f/2.8, this is less than one fourth stop, a record so far.
The distortion is extremely low, namely 0.025%.
A beautiful display of blurred foreground and background is important with macro-photography. This Canon does very well at this point, blurry circles are solidly covered and the picture remains very quiet. In short, a very nice bokeh.
The Canon 100 mm IS Macro is sensitive to backlight. This creates a lot of flare and to a lesser extent ghosting. In practice, this should be taken into account.
The resolution, expressed in LW/PH, reaches at all apertures in the center and corners very high values. Compared to the fast Canon 100 mm, the Canon 100 mm IS Macro is much sharper. The resolution is a bit higher than the resolution of the Tokina 100 mm Macro except on the corners from f/4.0. Then the Tokina is a fraction sharper.
The chromatic aberration remains low nicely and will hardly have to be corrected by software.
WYSIWYG score: This table shows the performance of this lens if you store the files in the camera as jpg, where you have all available in-camera lens corrections applied. This score gives you for this lens/test camera combination: "What you see is what you get".
Very good sharpnes
Very low distortion, CA and vignetting
Equal image sharpnes over the entire image
Effective image stabilization at normal distances
Sensitive to backlight
Limited effectiveness of image stabilization in the closer area
High purchase price
The Canon 100 mm IS Macro performs very well on almost all points. The resolution is very high and things like distortion, vignetting and CA are very low. In addition, important in macro photography, the bokeh is very nice. The lens is very solid and the AF works fast. The image stabilization is effective but not in the nearby area. Only in terms of sensitivity to backlight, the Canon performs only moderately. For the excellent Canon 100 mm IS Macro one has to pay a high price, hhe price/quality ratio of the well-performing Tokina 100 mm Macro is much better.