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Author Topic: Disappointed in new Canon 100mm macro  (Read 18226 times)
spotmeter
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« on: October 12, 2009, 07:53:47 PM »
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I received the new Canon 100mm f2.8L II Macro IS last week and spent the weekend testing it against my old Canon 100mm macro with resolution and real world tests.

The MTF graphs published by Canon indicate the new lens would be far superior to the old one.

http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controll...mp;modelid=7400
http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controll...p;modelid=19091

Unfortunately, the difference did not show up in my tests.

On resolution charts in the center and four corners, the lenses were identical.  Excellent from f4 to f11, but identical. All shots were taken on tripod, mirror lock-up, and cable release on the Canon 5D2.

On real world shots of the same landscape scene, also on tripod, mirror lock-up, and cable release on the Canon 5D2, I could not tell any difference between the two at 100%. The new lens was no better in resolution, contrast or color.

The new lens was slightly sharper at f2.8 than the old one, has very fast auto focus and image stabilization, so it would be a good lens for portraits.

But since I never shoot wide open or hand held, I returned the lens.

If anyone has tested a 100mm lens that is sharper than the old Canon 100mm macro, please let me know.

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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2009, 09:00:04 PM »
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Quote from: spotmeter
IOn resolution charts in the center and four corners, the lenses were identical.  Excellent from f4 to f11, but identical. All shots were taken on tripod, mirror lock-up, and cable release on the Canon 5D2.

On real world shots of the same landscape scene, also on tripod, mirror lock-up, and cable release on the Canon 5D2, I could not tell any difference between the two at 100%. The new lens was no better in resolution, contrast or color.

The thing is that 100mm macro lenses are pretty easy to design relative to other formulas and have been excellent performers for many years.

What you are probably seeing is that an excellent lens doesn't appear to be better than another excellent lens because they both outperform the sensor of the body you are trying them on.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
Wayne Fox
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2009, 11:29:08 PM »
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I agree with Bernard ... tough to improve on something that is already so good.

I think the big change is the addition if IS ... if that's helpful then the new lens might be a good option, otherwise not much reason to upgrade.
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DaveCurtis
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2009, 03:05:54 AM »
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Perhaps you will just have to wait and test the lenses out on Canon's 1DS4 30+ MP camera. Probably out next year  
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bradleygibson
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2009, 03:30:54 AM »
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In my experience, this kind of difference in MTF (of ~.65 wide open to ~.8 near the center) even given Canon's theoretical figures, should be at least detectable in your images on a 5D2.  The difference may or may not jump out at you given the performance of the older optic but I believe you should be able to detect the difference.

Either manufacturing of real-world lenses nullifies any advantage (unlikely) or there is large sample variation (more likely).  Assuming you've double-checked for reasonable testing errors, I'd suggest perhaps trying another 100L lens?

Best,
« Last Edit: October 13, 2009, 03:32:51 AM by bradleygibson » Logged

Herkko
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2009, 08:53:44 AM »
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Quote from: spotmeter
On resolution charts in the center and four corners, the lenses were identical.  Excellent from f4 to f11, but identical. All shots were taken on tripod, mirror lock-up, and cable release on the Canon 5D2.

I suppose earlier model is so sharp that you could see bigger difference in your focusing technique rather than in optical qualities of those lenses. With my 5DMKII manual lcd-focusing in 10x -setting has been a easy way for more accurate focusing compared to an angled viewfinder.

With my applications I anticipated the differences being mainly in IS and af and wasn't even considering the upgrade to new 100mm.
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pete_truman
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2009, 09:36:56 AM »
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Excellent, many thanks for the info. I shall not hurry to spend the money and stick with my much used and much loved "old and outdated" lens  

IS and sealing are the things that appeal, but seems extravagant for little if any discernible IQ improvement. I cannot see how there will be enormous gains from IS for macro work, but interested if anyone has found this to be of help.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2009, 02:13:16 PM by pete_truman » Logged

Pete Truman
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2009, 01:33:55 PM »
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Quote from: spotmeter
I received the new Canon 100mm f2.8L II Macro IS last week and spent the weekend testing it against my old Canon 100mm macro with resolution and real world tests.

The MTF graphs published by Canon indicate the new lens would be far superior to the old one.

http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controll...mp;modelid=7400
http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controll...p;modelid=19091

Unfortunately, the difference did not show up in my tests.

On resolution charts in the center and four corners, the lenses were identical.  Excellent from f4 to f11, but identical. All shots were taken on tripod, mirror lock-up, and cable release on the Canon 5D2.

On real world shots of the same landscape scene, also on tripod, mirror lock-up, and cable release on the Canon 5D2, I could not tell any difference between the two at 100%. The new lens was no better in resolution, contrast or color.

The new lens was slightly sharper at f2.8 than the old one, has very fast auto focus and image stabilization, so it would be a good lens for portraits.

But since I never shoot wide open or hand held, I returned the lens.

If anyone has tested a 100mm lens that is sharper than the old Canon 100mm macro, please let me know.

This may seem a obvious question, but when you did the test did you turn off IS when using this on a tripod? I know that if I have IS turned on with my other lenses and use it on a tripod the images come out less sharp.
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MarkL
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2009, 02:17:32 PM »
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Unless you need af, look at the zeiss 100mm macro.
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spotmeter
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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2009, 02:38:42 PM »
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I did turn off IS when testing the new 100 macro, and did use live view instead of the angle viewfinder for focus.

I not only looked at the results at 100% on the screen, but my assistant did as well. Neither one of us could see any improvement with the new lens in terms of resolution, micro-contrast or color.  Believe me, we tried.

In the past I tested the new Zeiss ZF 100 macro (I use Zeiss ZF lenses from 21mm to the 50 macro) against my copy of the Canon 100 macro and the Zeiss also did not test any better.

I don't think there is anything wrong with the new Canon 100 macro--it just does not test any better than the old model.

For someone who needs fast focus, weather sealing or IS, it might be a good deal.
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K.C.
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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2009, 03:35:32 PM »
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Assuming your test were accurate then Canon put an already good lens formula into a better package with improved focus and image stabilization. That comes as no surprise. The disappointment is that they also put the the L series designation on it and bumped the price up by 50%.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2009, 08:19:53 PM »
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Quote from: spotmeter
I did turn off IS when testing the new 100 macro, and did use live view instead of the angle viewfinder for focus.
I not only looked at the results at 100% on the screen, but my assistant did as well. Neither one of us could see any improvement with the new lens in terms of resolution, micro-contrast or color.  Believe me, we tried.
In the past I tested the new Zeiss ZF 100 macro (I use Zeiss ZF lenses from 21mm to the 50 macro) against my copy of the Canon 100 macro and the Zeiss also did not test any better.
I don't think there is anything wrong with the new Canon 100 macro--it just does not test any better than the old model.
For someone who needs fast focus, weather sealing or IS, it might be a good deal.


Well, then basically you rigged the test and hamstrung the new L lens so that it could only be matched within the comfortable limitations of the elder lens.

The original 100mm lens was already superb in IQ, contrast, and color ... but it had a cheap feel, no weather-sealing, no IS, and a slower focus. If you turn off the brand-new-generation IS of the newer model, strap it to a tripod, and take your photo 'test' under perfect conditions that benefit the old model, then you are basically taking away all of the advantages of the newer model, which is ridiculous.

Try your test in a moderate rain, chasing a rare frog in the jungle after spending $4,500 on a trip to Peru ... and then tell us which lens gave you more "keepers" being used in an actual macro session in an ever-changing set of field conditions ... and then you might revaluate the "worth" of both lenses and understand the true value of the newer model better.

Jack


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« Last Edit: October 13, 2009, 08:21:59 PM by JohnKoerner » Logged
K.C.
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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2009, 10:14:12 PM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
Try your test in a moderate rain, chasing a rare frog in the jungle after spending $4,500 on a trip to Peru ... and then tell us which lens gave you more "keepers" being used in an actual macro session in an ever-changing set of field conditions ... and then you might revaluate the "worth" of both lenses and understand the true value of the newer model better.

Jack
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Please elaborate on your experience with this lens in the scenario you describe. I'm sure we'd all love to see some of the images you shot as well.
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2009, 11:34:00 AM »
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Quote from: K.C.
Please elaborate on your experience with this lens in the scenario you describe. I'm sure we'd all love to see some of the images you shot as well.


I think the point of his post was rather obvious, whether or not the shooting situation he described was real or theoretical.

Many of us use a macro lens for other than controlled tripod mounted macro work ... a situation where both lenses will perform similarly.  For some who have this lens in the field and are trying to use it on challenging and non stationary subject, the addition of IS and better weather sealing are welcome changes and probably see the value of the upgrade differently than those in the first category.
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pegelli
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« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2009, 12:45:56 AM »
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I would make 3 comments on this new lens and this thread:

- the thread reminded me to again read the "when is enough enough?" essay Michael did earlier this year
- having the same IQ with the additional glass elements needed for the IS function is already an achievement in itself
- both the weathersealing as well as the IS can be real assets when you exit a controlled environment and might get you shots you otherwise would not be able to get.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 12:46:20 AM by pegelli » Logged

pieter, aka pegelli
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2009, 03:22:02 PM »
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Quote from: K.C.
Please elaborate on your experience with this lens in the scenario you describe. I'm sure we'd all love to see some of the images you shot as well.

Where did I indicate any experience with this new lens? I indicated that the offered test was ridiculous, precisely because it took away all of the advantages of the 'L' model and only compared what the elder 100mm lens already excelled at, which was resolution and image quality. I merely suggested a true test be done that augmented the improved advantages of the newer lens, whicn (I would bet a large sum) totally eclipse the elder lens.

No one has ever questioned the IQ and overall image quality that the elder 100mm lens had. How can you 'excel' one of Canon's absolute best lenses in these areas?

Where the new lens intends to trump the elder is in a far superior build quality, better weather-sealing, faster focus, and a brand new IS system that will allow a person to KEEP more hand-held shots ... and, yes, this *is* worth the extra gravy to obtain, to anyone taking macro shots out in nature, not using a tripod in-studio.

I hope this clarifies,

Jack

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RobertJ
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« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2009, 08:43:58 PM »
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If you're only testing the glass, then you're only testing the GLASS.  In this test, the OP doesn't care about IS or shooting situations.

However, it sounds disappointing because Canon says this: "In its latest incarnation, the '100 Macro' joins Canon's esteemed 'L'-series, and as such is held to a higher level of resolving power..."

"Higher level of resolving power."  

So much for that, but it has IS, maybe less CA, better bokeh/color, fast focusing, better build quality etc.  That's what makes an "L" lens, not so much it's advantage of optical quality over the cheaper versions (the 50 1.2L is NOT sharper than the cheap 50 f/1.4 at f/2.8 and smaller, and the f/1.0L is even worse... and super expensive).

I think the Leica 100mm APO is still the best because of it's lack of CA, and consistency throughout all apertures, despite not being able to go to 1:1.

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Herkko
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« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2009, 12:31:25 AM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
Try your test in a moderate rain, chasing a rare frog in the jungle after spending $4,500 on a trip to Peru ... and then tell us which lens gave you more "keepers" being used in an actual macro session in an ever-changing set of field conditions ... and then you might revaluate the "worth" of both lenses and understand the true value of the newer model better.

All the mentioned lenses will survive light to moderate rain if protected correctly. I use small 'Speedo' swimming towel above camera to protect from rain without creating condensation inside cover. I have been using this method a lot with 5DMKII, EF 50/2.5 Macro and EF 100/2.8 Macro.

If you go to jungle in rainy season and are going to overnight there, then that is a different story for ALL of photography gear you own (excluding scuba gear). I also own 'weather-sealed' combinations like 1DMKIII + EF 500/4L, but could see their sealing only marginally better than normal gear because there is no protection against condensation, also I would even not recommend their use in moderate rain for longer times.
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Slough
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« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2009, 03:48:38 AM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
Where did I indicate any experience with this new lens? I indicated that the offered test was ridiculous, precisely because it took away all of the advantages of the 'L' model and only compared what the elder 100mm lens already excelled at, which was resolution and image quality. I merely suggested a true test be done that augmented the improved advantages of the newer lens, whicn (I would bet a large sum) totally eclipse the elder lens.

No one has ever questioned the IQ and overall image quality that the elder 100mm lens had. How can you 'excel' one of Canon's absolute best lenses in these areas?

The original poster's concern related to the MTF plots, not the IS and weather sealing. If you check the MTF plots that he linked to (which you did didn't you), then you will see that the new lens is supposedly better. But, they are calculated ones, not measured, and we do not know how closely they can realise the plots. Secondly, as mentioned, sample variation exists.

Photozone has tested one sample of the new lens and the results at the centre of the frame are consistent with high resolving power. Not so stellar off axis though still very good. By all accounts the old lens was optically excellent. Frankly I would not worry unless I was using a >12MP sensor. Oh, that is what the OP is using.  

It is of course possible that the OP has picked a cherry from the old lenses, and/or a not so good one from the new.
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kers
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« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2009, 04:24:33 AM »
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Quote from: spotmeter
In the past I tested the new Zeiss ZF 100 macro (I use Zeiss ZF lenses from 21mm to the 50 macro) against my copy of the Canon 100 macro and the Zeiss also did not test any better.




I would suggest that the main difference between the 100mm lenses would be in the coating of the optics.
 Usually flare is a weak point. Sharpness is usually excellent.
I have a 85mm 1,8 Nikkor and a 2,8 85mm PCE Nikkor with nanocoating- both very sharp- but  the PCE has a much better coating/resistance to flare..
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Pieter Kers
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