I thought I’d follow on from my post about my favorite lens the 50mm f1.4 and do a few more pieces on gear, “I know gear is good but vision is better” & “it’s not about the equipment, it’s who and how it is used” but I do love the gear and good gear helps me make better images and sometimes you need the right tool for the right job.
That leads me very nicely onto this piece of kit, as a wedding photographer capturing details is key and I am always looking for something a little different and I wanted to try something a little more macro-y and as it is the end of the season (well nearly I have 3 weddings between now (8 Dec & Christmas). I thought I’d try a new piece of glass so I have rented for 11 days the Canon 100mm f2.8 L Macro.
As I have the lens for a few weeks I’ll split this up into a few sections, I plan to use it for 2 of my upcoming weddings and possibly a portrait session.
Thursday 8th Dec.
The lens arrived and before opening the package my first thought was that the package is smaller and lighter than I expected. Once open it the lens is indeed smaller and lighter than I was expecting. My initial thought was that it left more like the 70-200 f4 than the 70-200 f.2.8 and the more I handled it the more it reminded me of that f4 lens.
I quickly popped it onto my 40D to have a little play, the close focusing although a little slow was amazing, getting close to the 30cm minimum focusing distance the dof couldn’t have been more than 1mm. I found I couldn’t leave the focusing mode on full and I had to switch the lens to the setting appropriate to the focusing distance I wanted it to focus on. Around the house where the light was a little low the focusing was very slow and I found it hunting for focus quite a bit. I guess a better body might have more luck.
In better light and at a distance of a few meters the focusing became much better and as a prime and like the 70-200 f4 it reminds me of I am hopeful it will give me some pin sharp images this Saturday.
Saturday 10th Dec.
After taking some bridal prep shots I threw the 100mm back on for a few detail shots this time on the 1D mk4, again the images were pin sharp but again it spent some time hunting for focus. Other than a few room shots I spent most of the rest of the day shooting with a 16-35mm so didn’t get any more shots with the 100mm but I will make an effort to use it more at next weeks wedding.
Saturday 18th Dec.
Surprising again for December we had beautiful weather. This time I used the lens on the 7D and I took a ring shot indoors (in the pub) and one outside with some good natural light, again both gave beautiful shallow depth of field, there was a noticeable difference with the auto focus speed in good natural light. I’ve added an example of a head shot, a shot from inside the church and a room detail shot.
I used the 100mm L f2.8 on 3 camera bodies a 1D mk4, a 7D and a 40D and found:
The image quality was every bit as good as I would expect from L series glass. It was pin sharp wide open and stepped down a stop or two gave beautiful images.
The build felt solid, not quite as solid as some of the bigger L series lenses but was definitely on a par with the likes of the 70-200 f4 which is a real high bench mark for quality. It is compact and relatively light weight.
The ability to focus a 100mm lens at 30cm gives a beautiful effect that I really liked especial.
The only downside I kept coming up with was the focussing, I found it sometimes frustrating as if felt like it hunted for focus for an age and would hate to find myself trying to use it to photograph people or in any time critical shoot. If I was shooting product or in a studio setting I think it would be a valuable addition to my kit but running and gunning at a wedding is probably not where it belongs.
This lens might make it into my bag at some point but for now I’ll sacrifice the cool close focusing and lightweight design for the flexibility and reliability of the 70-200 f2.8
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