dPS Writer's Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro

dPS Writer’s Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro


The Canon 100mm macro lens was on my Want List for such a long time, next to the Canon 10-22mm Ultra Wide-Angle. Oddly, once I did get it, I never used it, and it sat gathering dust in the cupboard for a couple of years. Now it is my go-to lens for doing still life, food and of course, macro photography.

dPS Writer's Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro

Why is it my favorite lens?

Sharpness, image quality, color, and versatility – it has it all!

I know when using this lens it is going to pick up absolutely every detail, and when it is sharp it is crystal clear. Unfortunately, due to the combined weight of the lens (625g) on my Canon 7D MK II, I find it difficult to handhold and get sharp shots. So I use it on my tripod to guarantee the focus is bang on.

dPS Writer's Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro

Merits of the Canon 100mm macro lens

This lens has a richness to the colors that I appreciate, it gives the best color reproduction of any of my lenses. Also when you are shooting at its native 2.8, the soft background blur is quite delicious as well.

Finally, the versatility of this lens, given it is a macro lens, is impressive. I use it for macro, food photography, flower photography, and other still life subjects. It is also a favorite lens for portrait photographers due to the factors that make it my personal favorite.

It’s quiet, it’s fast and it’s a lovely lens to use. Once I mastered the art of fine focusing with a really tiny depth of field and was able to consistently get sharp shots, the quality of the images impressed me more and more.

dPS Writer's Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro

How I use it

1 – Food Photography

Working with natural light in my home studio sometimes means the light is not always abundant. Or possibly you need to filter it quite heavily so you don’t blow out the highlights on some whipped cream or icing. So working in slightly less than ideal light conditions is where I find this lens really comes into its own.

With a 67mm filter diameter, it has a lot of surface area to bring in the available light.  The native f/2.8 aperture captures all the light possible. While I might have to increase ISO a small amount, it is not enough to affect the quality of the image.

With such high image quality, capturing the finest small details really adds character to food shots taken with this lens. Water droplets on fruit or the tiny hairs on a raspberry become things of wonder, brought into view by the capabilities of this lens.

dPS Writer's Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro

2. Flower Photography

Doing photography of flowers is what finally forced me to get my Canon 100mm lens out of storage and start using it. I had become interested in still life photography and was using flowers as the subject to base my compositions around.

Flowers offer so many opportunities to be creative with this lens, you can shoot the whole flower, move in to shoot just a portion of it, or really get into the macro side of things.

dPS Writer's Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro

The lovely colour and soft bokeh suit flower photography very well, and I enjoy using it a great deal. It is a lot of fun to experiment with areas of selective focus or just using depth of field in unexpected ways.

dPS Writer's Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro

3. Macro photography

There is a whole world of things too small for our eyes to see naturally that suddenly become revealed when we shoot with a macro lens. It is fascinating to uncover tiny details in everyday objects.

Playing with abstracts of textures or just exploring the things we cannot normally see are possible with the 100mm macro lens. The ordinary becomes extraordinary when you can get up close and personal. When my camera is mounted on my tripod, I know that I can get sharp focus with a very narrow depth of field on a very small subject.

dPS Writer's Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro


4. Other options

I am not a portrait photographer but I do have cats, and they are fun to shoot with this lens as it picks up so much detail. I personally struggle to sucessfully handhold my 7D Mark II with this lens and get sharp images, so I don’t shoot with it off my tripod very often.

dPS Writer's Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro


The Canon EF 100mm F2.8 IS L Macro lens – full specifications on Canon site – 625g, minimum focus distance 300mm, Hybrid Image Stabilization for handheld macro shooting.


  • Sharpness
  • Depth of field
  • Bokeh is smooth
  • Color
  • Hybrid Image Stabilizing
  • EF and EFS compatible
  • 1:1 magnification
  • Comes with a lens hood and carry bag


  • Heavy and can be difficult to handhold, requiring a tripod
  • Expensive
  • 300mm minimum focus distance


Overall for me, the pros of shooting with this lens far outweigh the cons. Have you used the Canon 100mm macro lens or one similar? Please share in the comments below if you enjoy it as much as I do.

dPS Writer's Favourite Lens: Canon 100mm Macro

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Stacey Hill invested in her first DSLR back in 2007. While having many adventures out and about in the South Island of New Zealand, Stacey took to blogging about her experiences learning photography. Recently she discovered the fun and creative possibilities to be had with Photoshop. She can be found having an opinion all over the place here.

  • Andres Goyburu

    When are you announcing the winners of the Tamron lenses?

  • Stacey

    Hi Andres, you will have to ask the Powers That Be – I’m not involved with any competitions.

  • miker33

    I love mine too. Curious about “300mm minimum focus distance” showing up under Cons without any previous mention in the article…why is that a negative?

  • jhsvdm

    I agree with you on all you’ve said. It is very nice as a portrait lens on a full frame camera. And razor sharp.

  • Dave Kristopeit

    I was looking for a way to digitize my old slides this year. I tried several different methods and read dozens of articles. I finally settled on copying them with my old Kodak Carousel projector. I remove the lens, attach my Canon 100mm macro lens to my 70d body, aim them directly into the lens hole of the projector and go to town. I leave the camera on auto focus and auto exposure believe it or not. It seems to work great. The 100mm macro allows me to capture the slide 1:1 so I get the whole image captured at great resolution. This is a quick and easy method to quickly scan lots of slides. I can do an entire 140 slide carousel in 10 – 15 minutes.

  • Stacey

    Sounds like a great workaround and using tools you already have at hand, we like that 🙂

  • Stacey

    So sharp! I love it 🙂

  • Stacey

    Hmmm I thought I had included a comment about it, sometimes you just want to go closer, or if you are outside shooting flowers or other macro subjects, you might have branches or stuff in the way that might require you to shoot a bit closer. I understand the 65mm macro lens is popular in that space.

  • Dan Herkimer

    Stacey — great article. May I ask what tripod(s) you use with this lens?

  • Stacey

    Hi Dan – I use Manfrotto legs – 055 aluminium – the one with the horizontal pole option for the center column with click legs. I use an Acratech GP Ball head with lever mount on top. I only have the one and it goes everywhere with me 🙂 My camera (Canon 7d mk ii) has a RRS L plate on it.

  • miker33

    Well, the Canon 65mm is a whole ‘nother beast, because that gives you 5x magnification, vs the 1:1 reproduction you get with macro lenses. And even that lens has a minimum focus of 240mm…so about only ~2.5 inches difference.
    Personally I’ve never wanted to be any closer than 12 inches from my subject. I’ve often wanted to be further back, but the huge jump in size, weight, and cost to go to the 180mm macro (not to mention losing IS) makes me very happy with this lens. 🙂

  • miker33

    Very cool!

  • Stacey

    Yeah the 180mm is on my Want list for the wonderful separation from the background it gives, and lovely bokeh. Ive seen some gorgeous work done by a flower photographer with it. But $$$$!

  • Lynn Liebers

    I have a Nikon D750, what macro lens would you recommend for my camera?

  • Stacey

    Hi Lynn I don’t shoot Nikon so have no experience in that space but looking at their webpage they have options in different mounts at 105mm. So I guess it would perform similarly – Im looking at the one with VR stabilisation featured and it has 4star review rating. You would need to talk to a Nikon person who has used it to get more specific feedback tho.

  • Lynn Liebers

    Thank you for the reply. I will do more research.

  • Stacey

    Sorry I couldn’t help further, but I have only ever shot Canon 🙂 Good luck!

  • Andres Goyburu

    OK. Thanks

  • waynewerner

    If you haven’t wanted to get closer then you’ve never been photographing insects or spiders 🙂

    I use some extension tubes with my 35mm f/2.8 on a Canon t5 and I get done pretty decent results, especially after I got a ring light

  • miker33

    Really though, that’s not wanting to be physically closer, that’s wanting more magnification. This lens, like just about every other macro except the 65mm 5x Stacey mentioned, maxes out at 1:1.
    If you want more magnification, get that lens, or as you say, extension tubes for a tenth of the price. 🙂

  • Thanks!

  • Mark Stanley-Adams

    It’s also worth noting that this lens offers virtually 0% distortion.. it’s a stunning piece of kit if you can afford it. Some might be tempted by the considerably-less-expensive non-stabilsed model, which is fine if you’re doing tripod work. Optically it’s almost identical. If you’re handholding, the I.S. is worth the extra (imho).

  • Stacey

    With the really shallow DOF I struggle to get sharp shots handholding my kit personally and I have seen some good reviews that say the image quality on the non IS lens is pretty much the same. So that could be a more affordable option.

  • wsnell

    Perhaps an extension tube would work to reduce the minimum distance needed. They are quite inexpensive.

  • Stacey

    I have never used an extension tube so can’t comment as to its effectiveness. Thanks for the suggestion.

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