Lens Review: Canon 100mm 2.8L

Adventures of Daru Presents: Lens Reviews

Episode 1, Canon 100mm 2.8L

[stock image from amazon.com]


I was looking for a lens that can do double duty (portrait and products) and I found a winner. The Canon 100mm Macro 2.8L IS. I compared this lens to many many others before nervously hitting the buy button. Wow, so glad I did. I LOVE this lens!

Image Quality

Incredibly sharp! I mean sharp. Even wide open. It’s so sharp that I’ve exported numerous images without realizing that I hadn’t touched the sharpening slider. I’ve been doing some street photography with it and even from a distance away I can still see the pores and cracks on people’s skin. Crazy. The image below is straight from the camera (RAW) with no sharpening or enhancements.

[©2015 Daru Photography]


Color & Contrast
The color and contrast really pops. Seriously, with portraits at f/2.8 & f/4 look almost 3D.

[©2015 Daru Photography]


Fringing/CA is handled incredibly well, even wide open at 2.8. If you set an import preset in LR for Remove Chromatic Aberration, any that may have appeared is gone. I had the canon 85mm 1.8 and HATED the fringing/CA. Horrible! So many ruined pics. Not with this one though. In this regards it even outperforms the much more expensive 50mm 1.2L.

At 2.8 there’s vignetting. Obvious undeniable strong vignetting. However, for my style of photography, I love it. Plus with one click in LR it’s gone.

The following were shot at f/2.8 and in high contrast light (to prove it handles CA/Fringing well) with no sharpening done. Notice that the reflection in his glasses are mirrored from across the street and you can still make out the details.



Features & Performance

Image Stabilization
With a focal length of this size image stabilization is a great feature to have. The IS does not let you down. Works instantly. The IS & AF does make an audible sound. The sound isn’t bad but the person sitting next to you in a quiet room may here it.

Auto Focus
The auto focus isn’t nearly as fast as the 85mm 1.8 but not many lenses are. It’s not a sports lens at all (find another lens for that) but for the street, portraits, products, and family stuff I’ve shot it’s done me good. Low light performance AF could be a lot better. I wouldn’t recommend this for extremely low light concerts where the performers move around a lot. You’re probably going to miss focus on some shots. For other types of low light it should be cool. The focus limiter is a champ and highly recommend using it. It will save you from some missed shots.

Build Quality
Yes it’s plastic. So what. It’s actually a pretty high quality plastic. It’s nothing close to the cheaply built “nifty fifty.” It’s quality and should stand up.

Technical Specs
Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 100mm 1:2.8
Lens Construction: 15 elements in 12 groups
Diagonal Angle of View: 23.4°
Focus Adjustment: Inner focusing system with USM. Full-time manual focus available.
Closest Focusing Distance: 0.99 ft./0.3m (maximum close-up magnification: 1x)
Filter Size: 67mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight
3.1 x 4.8 in./77.7 x 123mm, 22.0 oz./625g
[via Canon USA]

I think it’s at the right price point considering what it brings to the table.



It’s a keeper. It does what is was built for plus some. Anyone in doubt about this being good for portraits, don’t be. It’s incredible. Just know that you’re going to be doing some skin retouching to knock down some of the detail this beast can capture.


More Samples



Let’s Hear Your Voice

What are your thoughts on Canon’s 100mm 2.8L?


3 thoughts on “Lens Review: Canon 100mm 2.8L

  1. WOW! These pictures are amazing Daru!! I’ve been looking into getting this lens for a while now and after seeing your pictures I may have just zipped over to Amazon to look at that “Buy” button myself! Thank you for providing a very in-depth review of the lens. This is definitely helping me swing more towards the thought of buying it, as I know it would be a good investment.
    To answer your question I can certainly say that it looks like a great lens, perfect for any photographer. I just can’t get over how sharp and real the people look in the photos. Like you said, it really does look 3D, as compared to a regularly flat image.
    I’m curious, have you tried shooting in macro mode? If so, how do the photos turn out? That’s the main reason why I was looking into purchasing this lens!
    I’m really looking forward to your future blog posts!


    1. John, thank you so much for the feedback. I’m so glad the review was able to help you out. I’ll dig up some macro shots for you and update the original post. Thanks to the IS I was actually able to do some macro work while hand holding. I know most macro is done by tripod but when you’re walking around without one, which I normally don’t carry, it’s good to still be able to get a cool shot of something that catches your eye. It really is a great lens.


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