In 2009, Canon released the Canon 100 mm IS Macro. The main difference with the ‘normal’ 100 mm 2.8 Macro of Canon is the built-in image stabilization. The Canon 100 mm IS Macro is a nice addition to Canon 17-55 mm, a pretty fast lens too.
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 0.17 seconds. Focusing is quiet and in low-light, the camera rarely hunts.
Canon claims a gain of 4 stops; this claim not really reached. By the way, the effectiveness decreases as you focus closer. At a distance of 35 cm, this is only about one stop.
The vignetting, expressed in stops, is extremely low. Even at full aperture, f/2.8, this is less than one sixth stop, a record so far with a camera with an APS-C sensor.
The distortion is extremely low, namely 0.02%. Also on this point, Canon holds the record.
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. We do see some color shifts. All in all a nice bokeh. We have recorded a videofilm with this lens; see the blog of November 11, 2011. For testing, a Canon 600D. The movie shows that you can play with the depth of field with this lens.
The Canon 100 mm 2.8 IS Macro is sensitive to backlight, indicated by much flare and 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 IS Macro is much sharper. If you compare this Canon with the Sigma 105 mm OS Macro and the Tokina 100 mm Macro , you will see that the Canon is slightly sharper mainly at full aperture. At the other apertures, the differences are negligibly small.
The chromatic aberration is reasonably low but will have to be corrected by software at high contrasts.
The Canon 100 mm IS Macro performs very well on almost all points. It does not matter whether you put this lens on a full frame or an APS-C camera. The resolution is high to very high and things like distortion, vignetting and CA are strikingly 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. The purchase price for the excellent Canon 100 mm IS Macro is very high though.