Thursday, June 10, 2010

REVIEW: Canon 100mm f/2.8L Hybrid IS USM from


Canon 100mm f/2.8L Hybrid IS USM Macro Lens

When Canon announced the release of the new 100mm f/2.8L Hybrid IS USM Macro lens, I was super excited. I always have loved my 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro lens because it was super sharp with killer bokeh. Now, I’m not really a macro guy as shooting pictures of bugs really doesn’t do it for me. However, my 100mm macro has been my goto lens for portraits for quite some time, so I was excited about L quality glass and IS in this important lens.

Lucky for me my friend Paul Friedman at loaned me this awesome lens right after it was released, so I got a chance to check it out before most people even knew it was on the market. Unfortunately for Paul though, my busy schedule has kept me from completing my review of this lens until now, so I apologize to Paul for such a long delay.

Old versus the New

Using a tripod and my 5D Mark II I simply took the same image from the same spot with both lenses. The camera settings were identical – a 2.5 sec exposure at f/5.6 using ISO 100. The image you see below was taken with the new 100mm f/2.8L lens and if you hover over it you’ll see the image taken with the older 100mm f/2.8 lens. To my eyes the image quality was about the same, and that was consistent with what I saw with several other even more boring images I experimented with. The net result is that from a sharpness standpoint they are about the same, but the newer lens seems to be a tad brighter with less distortion.

Mouse over to see the old 100mm mouse out to see the new 100mm

After experimenting with this lens for a week my conclusion that sharpness isn’t the reason to upgrade. The major benefit to upgrading is a seemingly faster AF performance (not by much though), the addition of image stabilization (this is big – especially when paired with a 7D or newer), and the overall improvement on brightness and distortion.

I could never do this review as good as my friends at The Digital Picture, so for a more exhaustive comparison I encourage you to read their review (but please come back).

Sample Shots

All of the following shots were taken handheld on camera bodies not designed to maximize the advantage of the hybrid IS system, so only traditional IS functionality applies. In addition, these are the RAW images that had default processing from Adobe Lightroom 3.0 (Final Release) with no additional post-processing.

You will notice that the Porsche crest below is very sharp despite being handheld at 1/30 sec at a very awkward angle. Click any image to view a larger version.

5D Mark II – f/2.8 1/100 sec @ ISO 100

1D Mark III – f/5.6 1/300 sec @ ISO 100

5D Mark II – f/2.8 1/200 sec @ ISO 400

5D Mark II – f/4 1/160 @ ISO 800

5D Mark II – f/2.8 1/200 sec @ ISO 400

5D Mark II – f/2.8 1/100 sec @ ISO 3200

5D Mark II – f/2.8 1/30 sec @ ISO 800

As you can see from the images here, this is a VERY sharp lens with a great image stabilization and auto focus system. While my composition may leave a lot to be desired, the quality of images you get from this glass worth every penny!


This was a great rental experience from end to end. The lens that arrived was brand new in a new Pelican case. The service from was excellent, and despite my losing the return packing slip – a new one was issued quickly (and I even got to keep the lens for an extra free day while I waited!). In short, this was a much better rental experience than I had the first time and I’m told by my readers more closely represents what they have experienced from them in the past. I strongly encourage you to give a try the next time you are renting a lens.

Special Offer

image has been gracious enough to offer you a 5% discount off any order when you enter the coupon code MART5 as shown above in yellow.

Save $65 off the MSRP of this lens from Adorama

Adorama is currently offering the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Hybrid IS USM Macro lens at $65 off its normal retail price (this offer will expire) as well as 6 months same as cash financing. If you are like me and already own the 100mm macro then now is the time to buy it while it is on sale with the great finance offer and then sell your old lens to pay off half of the cost of this new one.

Disclosure loaned this lens to me at no charge under no obligation. If you enjoyed this article, I encourage you to do business with them using the code shown as a token of appreciation.

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