Shutterbug - - Contents - By Joe Farace

We Get Up Close and Per­sonal With a Clas­sic Macro Lens

“The trick to for­get­ting the big pic­ture is to look at ev­ery­thing close-up.” —Chuck Palah­niuk


pho­tog­ra­phy is that the im­age pro­jected onto the dig­i­tal sen­sor (or film plane) should be the same size as the sub­ject. With a 1:1 ra­tio, a DSLR with a full-frame chip should be able to pro­duce life-size mag­ni­fi­ca­tion and fo­cus on an area as small as 24x36mm. But man­u­fac­tur­ers some­times de­scribe a lens’s close-fo­cus­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties as “macro” even if it doesn’t meet that def­i­ni­tion, and over time the term has come to mean fo­cus­ing on a sub­ject close enough so the im­age is life­size or larger when view­ing a 4x6-inch print. If you do the math, this only re­quires a mag­ni­fi­ca­tion ra­tio of ap­prox­i­mately 1:4. On the other hand, Canon’s EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens ($899) al­lows for con­tin­u­ous fo­cus­ing down to true 1:1 life-size mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. Op­tional ex­ten­sion tubes, such as Canon’s EF 25 II ($139) and EF 12 II ($82), can in­crease this ra­tio for greater mag­ni­fi­ca­tion and when com­bined with the lens’s nor­mal 12-inch min­i­mum fo­cus dis­tance, make it ideal for pho­tograph­ing your fa­vorite in­sects.


The EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens has what Canon calls “Hy­brid Op­ti­cal Im­age Sta­bi­liza­tion,” which uses a vi­bra­tion gyro and ac­cel­er­a­tion sen­sor to com­pen­sate for up to four stops of both an­gu­lar and shift move­ment. This is use­ful in a macro lens be­cause at close­fo­cus­ing lim­its even tiny move­ments are greatly am­pli­fied. Usu­ally this means hav­ing to use a tri­pod but the EF 100mm f/2.8l’s im­age sta­bi­liza­tion is so good that all the im­ages I made with it were hand-held and sharp. To ac­ti­vate im­age sta­bi­liza­tion the lens has a sin­gle po­si­tion On/off switch lo­cated just be­low the in­evitable AF/MF se­lec­tor.

For fast aut­o­fo­cus, the lens uses an ul­tra­sonic fo­cus mo­tor (USM) and has man­ual fo­cus over­ride for quick fo­cus touch-ups. A range-lim­it­ing switch is an­other one of the con­trols on the lens bar­rel and has set­tings for con­trol­ling the AF range from one to 1.6 feet, 1.6 feet to in­fin­ity, and one foot to in­fin­ity. The lens de­sign uses in­ter­nal fo­cus­ing so the bar­rel doesn’t ex­tend while fo­cus­ing, so you won’t scare any katy­dids (Tet­tigo­ni­idae) dur­ing close-up shoot­ing. That fea­ture also makes it pos­si­ble to use a po­lar­iz­ing fil­ter with­out any ori­en­ta­tion prob­lems. The lens uses 67mm fil­ters and when shoot­ing in en­vi­ron­men­tally chal­leng­ing ar­eas, you might want to add Canon’s

Pro­tec­tor Fil­ter ($49). The ruggedly made ET-73 lens hood that’s in­cluded of­fers ad­di­tional pro­tec­tion. The EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens is com­pat­i­ble with the op­tional Tri­pod Mount Ring D Col­lar ($172) and MR-14EX II Macro Ring Lite ($549) that I’ve found in­dis­pens­able for pho­tograph­ing but­ter­flies. Tip: While the ring light the­o­ret­i­cally pro­vides TTL ex­po­sures, I’ve found that when work­ing in but­ter­fly-friendly en­vi­ron­ments shoot­ing us­ing man­ual ex­po­sures pro­duces bet­ter re­sults.


The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens is dust- and mois­ture-re­sis­tant but I was un­able to dis­cover an op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture range, which used to be a de rigueur spec­i­fi­ca­tion for ev­ery com­pany’s lenses. A Canon rep­re­sen­ta­tive told me he as­sumed it would be “sim­i­lar to EOS cam­eras, re­leased at about the same time as the lens, which would be 32 to

104 de­grees.” My in­for­mal test­ing at sub­freez­ing tem­per­a­tures showed that it per­formed (bet­ter than me) with­out a hitch at 26 de­grees. Antarc­tic trekkers might want to check with Canon Pro­fes­sional Ser­vices ( be­fore mak­ing the trip.

At 1.38 pounds, the 100mm f/2.8l

Macro IS USM is not a light­weight, es­pe­cially when com­bined with a full-frame DSLR, but I be­came ac­cli­mated to the weight faster than I might have guessed. By com­par­i­son, Nikon’s AF-S VR Mi­cro-nikkor 105mm f/2.8g IF-ED lens ($896) weighs 1.58 pounds. On the other hand, Canon’s EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens ($599) weighs 1.28 pounds and also uses 58mm fil­ters. Im­age sta­bi­liza­tion doesn’t seem to add much weight and that lat­ter lens might be an op­tion if your bud­get is stretched and you re­ally, re­ally need a macro lens.

An­other rea­son macro lenses in the 90-100mm range are use­ful for close-up work is be­cause their longer (than nor­mal) fo­cal lengths pre­vent you from get­ting too close to your sub­jects while main­tain­ing a suf­fi­cient dis­tance for ad­e­quate light­ing, keep­ing your shadow out of the pic­ture while main­tain­ing sub­ject size. Lenses like the EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM are also use­ful for gen­eral pho­tog­ra­phy when a 100mm might be just the fo­cal length that you need.

While in Parker, Colorado, I went to my stan­dard wall of well­laid bricks and did some lens test­ing shoot­ing with the full-frame Canon EOS 5D. At the f/8 sweet spot, the lens was crisp edge to edge with no vi­gnetting or ob­serv­able dis­tor­tion. At f/2.8, the lens re­mained sharp from edge to edge but there is slight vi­gnetting in the cor­ners that dis­ap­pears by the time you get to f/8. That said, what was no­tice­able was a lack of ob­serv­able dis­tor­tion and this lens’s re­mark­able sharp­ness.

This longer fo­cal length ad­van­tage came in handy when pho­tograph­ing a Lego minifig­ure, which I did as a shout-out to Shut­ter­bug reader Kris Nel­son, who along with his son, Chris­tian, fol­low me on In­sta­gram (@ joe­farace). Kris gave his son an EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens to pho­to­graph his Lego col­lec­tion. Lego minifigs are 40mm tall so I eas­ily filled the 24x36 frame with the tiny fig­ure shown in the il­lus­tra­tion, but the lens was eas­ily ca­pa­ble of pho­tograph­ing even closer, down to the 1:1 ra­tio in the spec­i­fi­ca­tions. The main thing to keep in mind at these re­ally close­fo­cus­ing dis­tances is that depth of field is mea­sured in mil­lime­ters. When asked, a Canon rep­re­sen­ta­tive told me that when shoot­ing tiny ob­jects like the minifig­ure at close to the f/8 sweet spot, depth of field would be (ap­prox­i­mately) 1mm in front and a lit­tle over 1mm be­hind the sub­ject, so there’s not a lot of wig­gle room, which I think is ob­vi­ous when look­ing at the pho­to­graph.

Al­most ev­ery com­pany that makes lenses for macro pho­tog­ra­phy also man­u­fac­tures lenses with sim­i­lar fo­cal lengths for por­trai­ture. How­ever, it’s the point where these two dif­fer­ent lens types in­ter­sect that’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause own­ing a 100mm macro lens amounts to hav­ing two (or more) lenses in one.

With a nine-bladed di­aphragm pro­duc­ing a cir­cu­lar aper­ture, it should pro­duce nice bokeh for por­traits, es­pe­cially when shoot­ing out­doors. In­doors, what sur­prised me most when pho­tograph­ing a model in my small 11x15-foot home stu­dio

was how well the 100mm fo­cal length per­formed crop­ping-wise in this lim­ited space. I ex­pected only to be able to make a head­shot but eas­ily shot three-quar­ter length poses with no trou­ble, while head­shots were a slam dunk.


If you like to pho­to­graph small things, such as stamps, coins, but­ter­flies, bugs, maybe even hum­ming­birds or toy trains like me, adding the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens to your sys­tem is a must. How­ever, if you also shoot por­traits, this macro lens is very use­ful as well, mak­ing it a great twofer. As an L-se­ries lens, the tank-like and weath­er­proof con­struc­tion, along with su­perb op­ti­cal de­sign, make Canon’s EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens per­haps the best built, sharpest op­tic avail­able for any EOS DSLR.

Joe Farace has been shoot­ing with Canon SLRS since the EOS 650 film cam­era was in­tro­duced in 1987, switch­ing to DSLRS when the 6MP EOS D60—not the 60D, which he cur­rently shoots—was launched in 2002. He en­joys the ver­sa­til­ity of the long fo­cal length macro lens, al­low­ing him to shoot ev­ery­thing from true macro im­ages to por­trai­ture and even au­to­mo­bile pho­to­graphs. In­for­ma­tion about the spe­cific equip­ment that he uses to cre­ate im­ages for Shut­ter­bug and his per­sonal pho­tog­ra­phy can be found on his web­sites, joe­ and joe­

« The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens, sit­ting on my desk, is only 4.84-inches long, or tall if you pre­fer, but the ET-73 lens hood mea­sures 3.25 inches which makes the lens look big­ger and bulkier than it re­ally is.

To min­i­mize fo­cus­ing time, the lens has a range-lim­it­ing switch with three set­tings to con­trol the range in which the aut­o­fo­cus tries to fo­cus: one to 1.6 feet, 1.6 feet to in­fin­ity, and one foot to in­fin­ity.

I’m not an en­to­mol­o­gist, but I think this but­ter­fly is from the Heli­co­nius genus some­times called a Pas­sion Vine but­ter­fly. It was pho­tographed at Den­ver’s But­ter­fly

Pav­il­ion with a Canon EOS 50D and an MR-14EX II Macro Ring Lite at an ex­po­sure of 1/60 sec­ond at f/9 and ISO 400.

It was 26 de­grees Fahren­heit with light snow flur­ries in the area when I ar­rived at Mccabe Mead­ows for some im­promptu cold weather test­ing of the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens. It warmed up to 29 de­grees when I made this im­age of part of my fa­vorite tree that I like to pho­to­graph in in­frared. Cam­era was a Canon EOS 5D with an ex­po­sure of 1/400 sec­ond at f/5.6 and ISO 400.

While my home stu­dio is 15-feet deep, the stand hold­ing the 5x7-foot Sav­age Photo Gray In­fin­ity Vinyl Back­ground takes some of that space. Yet with Erin a few feet from that back­drop and me not fully smooshed against the back wall, I was eas­ily able to shoot three­quar­ter poses like this one us­ing a full-frame Canon EOS 5D. Ex­po­sure was 1/125 sec­ond at f/9 and ISO 200.

« If I was go­ing to pho­to­graph a Lego minifig­ure, why not pho­to­graph a pho­tog­ra­pher! In this case, it was a fe­male pho­tog­ra­pher who is part of Lego’s Jun­gle Ex­plor­ers se­ries. While I was able to fill the frame with the minifig, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens was clearly ca­pa­ble of fo­cus­ing closer, down to its stated 1:1 mag­ni­fi­ca­tion ra­tio with an ex­po­sure of 1/125 sec­ond at f/7.1 and ISO 640.

My friend Barry Staver picked this toy train up for me at Copenhagen’s Toy

Train Mu­seum. From the wheels to the top of the en­gi­neer’s head mea­sures 1.75 inches. At f/14, and shot at the EF 100mm f/2.8l’s clos­est-fo­cus­ing dis­tance, the im­age is a ver­i­ta­ble mas­ter class in depth of field. It was shot in my home stu­dio with two Paul C. Buff mono­lights us­ing a full-frame Canon EOS 5D. Ex­po­sure was 1/125 sec­ond and ISO 200.

To make this head­shot of Erin us­ing the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8l Macro IS USM lens, I had to move in closer than when shoot­ing the three­quar­ter view. Ex­po­sure was 1/125 sec­ond at f/9 and ISO 200. The im­age was re­touched us­ing Image­nomic’s Por­trai­ture plug-in that was lay­ered with the Glam­our Glow fil­ter that’s part of Color

Efex Pro.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.