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Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM

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Back in July, Canon took the distinctly unusual step of announcing a new technological development completely in isolation from any products. The subject was a novel ‘Hybrid’ optical image stabilization system designed to compensate for two distinct types of camera shake. You can read more about it here, but in essence the stabilizer is different from existing systems, which only detect and correct for changes in the angle the lens is pointing, by also compensating for vertical and horizontal shifts in the position of the lens caused by handshake. This has little benefit at long focus distances, but as the subject gets closer it becomes progressively more important, and in principle offers maximum benefit for macro shooting.

In September the company duly introduced the first lens to feature this new technology, and to no great surprise it turned out to be a 100mm macro. The EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro joins Canon’s impressive short-telephoto lineup as a supplement to (rather than a replacement for) the existing EF 100mm F2.8 USM Macro, and at a significantly higher price. Alongside the latest and greatest IS technology it gains all the usual benefits associated with the premium ‘L’ badge, including robust, weathersealed build and the use of exotic glass for the correction of aberrations. The optical construction is of 15 elements in 12 groups, including a single ultra-low dispersion glass element, and the 1:1 maximum magnification is achieved at a minimum focus distance of 0.3m.

Canon makes some quite specific claims for the effectiveness of its new IS system, and it’s worth looking at these in detail. The stabilizer is supposed to give a 4 stop advantage at longer focus distances, dropping to 3 stops at 0.5x magnification and 2 stops at full 1x magnification. The first of these specs is pretty much par for the course for Canon’s current IS lenses, but even with the Hybrid system it’s clear that the level of stabilization at close distances is expected to be relatively low (this despite Canon’s publicity material claiming that it ‘enables photographers to capture stunning close-up shots without the need for a tripod’). So the question potential buyers will surely be asking is whether the blend of features offered by the new lens is sufficiently compelling to justify buying it over the older, but well-regarded non-stabilized 100mm macro.

Headline features

  • 100mm fixed focal length; F2.8 maximum aperture
  • Macro focusing: 1:1 maximum magnification
  • Hybrid’ image stabilization system for increased effectiveness at close focus distances
  • Canon EF mount for full-frame and APS-C DSLRs

Written by Dimas A. Nugroho

January 6, 2010 at 7:57 am

Posted in Lenses

Tagged with , , ,

One Response

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  1. A little off the subject maybe, but a request for you to think about the ethics of purchasing wetsuits. Do try and consider, for example, the things the product is manufactured from, the human rights of the employees where they’re manufactured and the green credentials of retailers. And try to recycle instead of discarding. Thanks!!!!

    Boots Vest

    April 17, 2010 at 9:32 pm

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