Every camera series should include a macro lens, and the Canon R system has no fewer than three options – this 100mm AF is the biggest and most advanced, but also the priciest Canon RF 100mm f/2.8LMacro IS USM PRICE: £1479 CANON.CO.UK
SPECS › Price £1479 › In the box Front and back cap, ET-73C hood, LP1222 pouch › Format Full-frame/APS-C › Compatibility Canon EOS R › Filter 67mm › Construction 17 elements in 13 groups › Aperture range F/2.8-32 › Diaphragm Nine blades › Magnification 1.4x › Autofocus Yes, Dual Nano USM, internal focusing
I used on-camera flash for some butterfly shooting, so went hood-free. With the front element only recessed a few millimetres, oblique lighting might cause flare – be aware of this. Moving in very close will also produce light loss. The camera’s TTL metering takes care of that, but watch shutter speeds as you get in close, and make adjustments in manual metering. Autofocus is very good at normal shooting distances, and meshes well with the camera’s AF skills. Indeed, face/eye detection in face+tracking mode works well, even when a large amount of SAC is dialled in. AF remains good – for a macro lens – when up close. They can be a little flaky and searching is a particular issue, but this lens was effective, especially when the subject had an edge – or detail to pick up on. Make sure the AF zone is on the subject, and having the range limiter is a big help, too. You might have to lend a hand, depending on the subject, and use a selective AF point with the focus lever, or touch and drag AF to ensure correct focus. Optically, the lens was generally a very good performer. Images at the wider and mid apertures looked excellent, with awesome detail and great sharpness. I’d happily use it at f/2.8, knowing the results would be first-rate, and stop down when needing depth-of-field. The lens was a tad disappointing at f/22 and f/32; diffraction had a significant impact, more than expected. WC
THE CANON RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is an innovative lens with real potential for nature and portrait photography. Let’s get down to the headline features. It focuses close enough for 1.4x life- size magnification without extra accessories, or the need to engage a special mode. The new Spherical Aberration Control delivers focusing creativity, and hybrid optical image stabilisation gives 5EV benefit at normal distances. Add internal focusing with a Dual Nano USM AF motor, weather sealing and advanced optical construction, and there’s huge appeal for EOS R owners. Build quality is decent, with a metal mount, but a polycarbonate body. I had the lens for a few weeks and gained some scuffs and marks in that time. Treat this lens with care. Used on a Canon EOS R5, it balances nicely despite the length; it’s almost like a 200mm prime. Fix the camera on a tripod and it is front heavy, so Canon’s optional Tripod Mount Ring and Adapter E(B) helps, except it costs £239. Cheaper third- party mounts will soon be available. Towards the front of the lens, a control ring can be set to perform 18 functions, if you include off. The other rotating barrel is Spherical Aberration Control (SAC); at zero, this can be locked in place. It is an interesting feature, giving controllable soft focus from one of the sharpest lenses many of us will ever use. The effect is strongest at f/2.8, and is minimal when stopped
down to f/11 and beyond. Using the depth-of-field preview and adjusting aperture shows this. Move the ring towards the + end, and the subject gets slightly larger and more blurred. Going in the opposite direction makes the subject smaller, but still blurry. But going either way has no pictorial effect on background bokeh. If you need nicely out-of-focus shots straight out of camera, SAC is handy. I prefer to edit them from a sharp original. It remains a handy feature, although many will probably never use it. A manual/AF switch, Image Stabilizer, on/off switch and three-range focus limiter also appear on the lens body. Apart from test shots, I used the lens handheld. That was fine at standard distances – I didn’t notice any camera shake, so IBIS was doing a fine job. Near to half life-size and closer, however, it’s a different story: the IBIS/hybrid OIS is much less effective, with little benefit. There is no focus distance or magnification ratio scale, but that can be shown on the EVF/monitor. If the magnification ratio is important, it is easy enough to focus manually to the right ratio, then move towards the subject for the desired result. Work at 1:1 and the subject is about 5cm from the end of the supplied bayonet lens hood, and even closer at 1.4:1. Watch your lens shadow, and probably dispense with the hood if using any supplementary light. Adding a protection filter is a good idea, in case you get too close.
› Minimum focus 26cm › Weather sealed Yes
› Image stabiliser Yes, hybrid optical Image Stabilizer with 5EV benefit, 2EV benefit at 1:1 magnification. 8EV benefit with IBIS and OIS › Lens coating Super Spectra Coating, fluorine coating on the front element to resist dirt and smudges › Dimensions (dxl) 81.5x148mm › Weight 730g › Contact canon.co.uk
BIG FOR ITS FOCAL LENGTH The lens’ physical length means there’s room for the SAC barrel and a control ring – plus the manual focus grip. There’s space for an optional tripod mount, too. Balance is good though, so handling rates highly
Verdict Canon’s 100mm macro lens is something special, most notably its ability to give 1.4x magnification. Add hybrid OIS, silent AF, weather sealing and very creditable optical performance, and EOS R owners keen on close-up shooting should give it serious consideration. It’s big and expensive, but also deeply impressive. PROS Very good down to f/16, Spherical Aberration Control has potential for portrait shooters, 1.4x life-size magnification with no extra accessories CONS Image quality at f/22 and f/32 isn’t hugely impressive, quite large for a 100mm optic, no magnification indications or focusing distance on the lens itself, no tripod ring supplied (an expensive optional mount is available)
GREAT MORMON SWALLOWTAIL Shot with the RF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens on a Canon EOS R5
Our test lens was used on a Canon EOS R5 to shoot our custom test chart, with the pair on a Leofoto LS-324C. The Raws were processed through Adobe Lightroom.
40 Photography News | Issue 95
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