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Lens Review: Canon 100L/2.8

…and it couldn’t be more positive! It’s the first L lens I have ever owned so on that basis alone I am sure it was bound to be impressive, but the 100L is truly a spectacular lens.

When I first decided to venture into L lens territory, I decided my money would be best spent on a portrait lens that would serve double-duty as a macro, so the 100L was an easy choice. The lens is quite heavy at 22 oz, but I still find it easy to balance even in my small hands, and the IS works well, enabling me to shoot reliably even as low as 1/15 sec. The lens is very quiet when focusing, and it feels solid and well built.

I have read that it is best at 4.0–5.6, but I found it is amazingly sharp at all apertures, even when shooting wide open (both of these are at 2.8):

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And a 100% crop of her right eye (my focus point was on her upper lashes):

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The 100L finds focus very quickly and easily (even on a girl twirling through the surf!), and you can immediately override the autofocus mechanism without switching the AF/MF button just by turning the barrel of the lens—helpful when shooting when something is “in the way” of the actual object you want to focus on, like snow:

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It’s color rendering is quite accurate in neutral light, producing the soft, warm colors I love straight out of camera.

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I am happy with it for full-body through super-close-up portraits:

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This is an example of it’s macro capabilities. The 100L is a 1:1 ratio, meaning that an object that is 6 millimeters in diameter will “take up” 6 millimeters on the camera’s sensor. This snowflake was approximately 6 millimeters across, and this image is cropped to about a quarter of the size of the original image, but you can see that the sharpness of the lens easily compensates for the fairly extreme crop.

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I love the subtle flare I can get from the 100L:

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And the smooth, creamy background blur it produces is simply beautiful:

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Finally, I love the soft way it renders out-of-focus points of light:

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In summary, I absolutely couldn’t be happier with this lens. It has enabled my first real forays into macro photography (and I am thinking of getting an extension tube to explore further!), and it has brought the quality of my portrait images to a whole new level. It is truly a wonderful lens!

  • Lisa Benemelis - January 9, 2013 - 10:49 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful review, Jessica. This makes me want this lens even more, especially after enjoying your gorgeous work. xoReplyCancel

  • Allison Jacobs - January 10, 2013 - 8:32 am

    This is such a great review Jessica! I love the tip about turning the barrel to get faster focus as I have noticed that it takes a minute if you switch from up close to farther away quickly! Thank you for this!ReplyCancel

  • Nadeen Flynn - January 10, 2013 - 11:46 am

    Gorgeous images, and I couldn’t agree with you more! This is my favorite lens. It seems to do just about everything well.ReplyCancel

  • […] macro tips, tricks, and inspiration this month too.  My friend, Jessica Holden, has posted a great review of one of Canon’s post popular macro lenses on her blog this month that also has a few […]ReplyCancel

  • […] a potentially imperfect background into a lovely mass of soft color instead (though I admit, the 100L is a clear winner as far as background blur […]ReplyCancel

  • Kate M - October 30, 2013 - 8:10 pm

    Beautiful images! This camera is on my to-rent list, I want to rent it before I buy it. Hoping it will be my first L lens.ReplyCancel

  • Foto Nunta - March 1, 2015 - 6:18 am

    Superb images and a great review Jessica! I too own this lens and I am very happy with image quality and bokeh. Thank you for this sublime review.ReplyCancel