Friday, August 12, 2011

Understanding Canon’s Hybrid IS and Intelligent Macro Tracking Features

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

A while back I asked Chuck Westfall a Technical Advisor for the Professional Engineering & Solutions Division at Canon U.S.A., Inc. if he could help me better understand Canon’s Hybrid IS and Intelligent Macro Tracking Features. I had been confused based on some discussions I had with a Canon tech rep about this, so he helped me get a better understanding. The

The Official Word from Chuck Westfall of Canon

The Hybrid IS function (great demo) of the EF100mm f/2.8L IS Macro USM lens is compatible with all EOS cameras released to date, and there are no restrictions.

However, the 7D has a special feature called Intelligent Macro Tracking in which the camera's AI Servo AF system increases its sampling frequency when used at reproduction ratios of 1:3 or larger with all Canon EF or EF-S Macro lenses with ultrasonic motors (USM). The list of lenses that are compatible with Intelligent Macro Tracking includes:

At the time, the 7D was the only EOS model we knew of that had this feature, but we now know that it is also available with the EOS-1D Mark IV. Here's what Chuck Westfall wrote about it in the EOS Creative Essentials Class Notes:

Intelligent Macro Tracking (7D & 1D Mark IV only)

A very useful feature of the EOS 7D and 1D Mark IV cameras is its Intelligent Macro Tracking function. This helps reduce blur during macro shooting by recognizing when a Canon macro lens is attached and automatically adjusting the AI Servo sampling frequency when the lens is focused on a close-up subject. The AI Servo adjustment accounts for camera movement forward and back, a typical occurrence when moving in close for a macro shot as photographers rock back and forth, or a flower blows in the wind.

No special settings or Custom Functions need to be enabled on the EOS 7D and 1D Mark IV to take advantage of this; you only need to have the camera set to AI Servo AF mode, and be focused upon a small object at 1/3 life-size (0.3x magnification) or greater with a Canon Macro lens having an Ultrasonic focusing motor. With all other Canon lenses, or with a macro lens at magnifications less than 0.3x, AI Servo AF reverts to ordinary focus tracking operation.

To summarize, the Hybrid IS and Intelligent Macro Tracking are two different functions. Hybrid IS (found currently in the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM) is compatible with all EOS SLRs, while Intelligent Macro Tracking works with a limited range of EOS cameras and specific Canon Macro lenses under specific shooting conditions, as outlined above.


Thanks Chuck for helping to clarify this issue as I had been confused by comments I had heard previously on the subject. I’m glad to have that clarified now.

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