Review Canon 100 mm/2.8 L IS Macro (C FF)

Canon_100_mm_ff_bouw2In 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. {insertgrid ID = 289}

Image stabilization

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. vr


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. vignet


The distortion is extremely low, namely 0.025%. distort


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. Canon_100_mm_ff_bokeh1


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. Canon_100_mm_ffoverstraling
Canon_100_mm_ff_tegenlicht_2 Canon_100_mm_ff_tegenlicht_3



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.


Chromatic aberration

The chromatic aberration remains low nicely and will hardly have to be corrected by software. ca

Conclusion Canon 100 mm 2.8 L IS Macro review

Use the Lens Comparison or look in our list of reviewed lenses to compare this lens with other lenses.

WYSIWYG score: More and more often when designing a lens, distortion, color separation and vignetting are consciously not optimally corrected. As a result, fewer expensive lens elements or exotic glass types need to be used, which ultimately results in a more attractive selling price. The lens manufacturer relies on automatic correction of these characteristics in the camera or in photo editing software. The “jpg-score” gives you for a lens/test camera combination, “What you see is what you get” when all available lens corrections are applied in the camera. 

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Pure RAW score: With more expensive lenses, a manufacturer often goes to great lengths in the lens design to prevent lens errors. Neither costs nor effort are spared, which can be recognized by the use of exotic types of glass and many lens elements. The “RAW score” approximates the intrinsic quality of the combination of lens and test camera, with CameraStuffReview attempting to bypass any automatic lens corrections of RAW files. If you use lens correction profiles in Photoshop or Lightroom to convert RAW files, the RAW scores for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration will be higher or equal to the corresponding jpg scores.

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  • Very good sharpnes
  • Very low distortion, CA and vignetting
  • Equal image sharpnes over the entire image
  • Nice bokeh
  • 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.

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