Canon 100L Macro, Not Just for Macro!

Posted on September 17, 2014 by Sean MacDonald

I recently used the Canon 100L Macro for a wedding (for more pics of the wedding, click here) a couple weeks ago and was blown away by its ability as a portrait lens. Don't get me wrong, it is an awesome macro lens as well, and Canon's first with Image Stabilization. Sometimes however, when a lens has the label of macro, many people write it off as a one trick pony and never think of using it for something other than bugs or flowers. But I for one, would challenge you to not just think of this lens as a macro only lens, but also a standard 100mm f2.8 prime lens with IS!

If I was starting all over from scratch, with no gear (which very well may happen some day), and I was getting into either the wedding industry or fashion/glamor, this would be one of my first lenses to buy. I would set up with a fast zoom that goes wide or a wide prime and then arm myself with this lens. Let me explain why.

First, it is razor sharp. Look at the image below as shot, and then cropped in. Its is really really sharp. And this was shot at f2.8. Most lenses are not super sharp at their maximum aperture, but this lens is.

Second, it blurs the background like crazy! This may be due to its macro setup, but it just annihilates anything in its path into a soupy watercolor painting. Claude Monet's paintings are sharper. See below.

Third, it is a nice longer lens for grabbing those tight shots of the couple during the ceremony like the kiss, placing rings on fingers, or even just them holding hands. This lens will give you some flexibility to shoot from the side aisle, but not as much flexibility as a zoom (like the 70-200). But what it lacks in range, it makes up for in razor sharp images. Also note, if you are shooting a crop sensor like the 7D, 60D, or rebel, it will feel like a 160mm would on a full frame because of the crop factor.

Fourth, it is f2.8 and it has IS! Those two features combined make it a lower light lens than the 24-70 version one or two. They are f2.8 as well, but do not have IS. So this lens will be great for poorly lit ceremonies or receptions.

Fifth, it is an L series lens! This means it meets Canon's quality expectations for their Pro line of lenses. It's not white, but it does boast the red ring to show it's not playing around. Being an L series lens, it also has weather sealing when a front filter is attached. Not a bad feature if you plan on shooting in all sorts of weather.

Sixth, it is light! If I am not mistaken, it is Canon's first L series lens that is made of engineering plastic instead of aluminum. Parts are still made from aluminum like the mounting plate, and other internal parts. So this will not kill your arms and shoulders while shooting with it all day.

Seventh, I never have to worry about being too close for my lens to focus. This is sometimes an issue when shooting the Canon 85mm f1.8, and I am trying to get detail shots of earnings, necklaces, or center pieces on tables. With the 100 macro I can get as close as I want and never have to worry about focus distance.

This last reason is why macro lenses are very popular among fashion and glamor photographers. They have the ability to get close up shots of eyes, lips, and ears. If I were also going to dabble or dive into either fashion or glamor, this would be one of my first choices as well.

It also is not a bad price for an L lens as well. Normal retail is $1049, but currently has $150 rebate making it $899. Still expensive for many people, but if you want to do photography as a career it is an investment like any tools of the trade.

We also rent this lens at our store for $35 for a day. For more rental prices click here. If you would like to purchase this lens, feel free to stop in at our store located at 1135 Main Street, Dubuque, IA. Or give us a call at (563) 845-7207.
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