Canon macro and special lens test/review database

Index

NEW AND BETTER ARTICLE INDEX AT CANON INDEX
(It is only the new index that will be updated. It doesn't have the ranking yet, but is better and more up-to-date)

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

Image quality rating: 100,00%

Overall rating: 100,00%

Main points:
  • Special purpose
  • Need time to learn


Test/reviewerOpticsOverallQuoteCamera
SLRGear
10/10
10/10
'I was looking for a lens which was flexible enough to shoot buildings and landscapes, without having to correct for keystone errors. Well the only way to go is to get a TS-E lens. I read the reviews and feedback from users, and this is THE 24mm to get. It may not have the f1.4 or autofocus, but it is sharp, really sharp, and the creative effects from lens tilt just increase your creative options. '
Photozone
5/5
5/5
'We raved already about the qualities of the extraordinary Canon TS-E 17mm f/4 L and the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II is basically on the same high level. When using the lens based on conventional settings it behaves pretty much like an excellent, albeit a little slow, 24mm prime lens. The center performance is outstanding here followed by very good borders/corners and that's straight from f/3.5 till f/11. The level of barrel distortions is minimal. The lateral CAs are minimal which contributes to the very high sharpness perception. The vignetting figures are better than usual although critical eyes will still find a little light falloff at f/3.5 on full format DSLRs.'5D Mark II
Dxomark


Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L

Image quality rating: 98,35%

Overall rating: 100,00%

Main points:
  • Special purpose
  • Need time to learn


Test/reviewerOpticsOverallQuoteCamera
SLRGear
9.67/10
10/10
'I shoot architecture professionally and this lens mated with a 21MP full frame is a dream come true. I also use the lens for landscapes and panoramas, although, the 24 TS-E might be better suited for that application as it allows for front filter use, includes a lens hood and does not have the finger/dust attracting protruding front element. For architecture or urban landscapes that include any tall buildings the 17 is your best bet. A bubble level and tripod are essential, along with LiveView for setting focus and any tilt. '
Photozone
5/5
5/5
'The Canon TS-E 17mm f/4 L is an amazing lens although beginners will struggle to master its possibilities at once. When using the lens based on conventional settings it behaves pretty much like a normal ultra-wide prime lens. The center performance is pretty much excellent followed by good borders/corners at f/4. At medium aperture settings it's very sharp across the frame. The level of barrel distortions is unusually low. Same goes for the vignetting figures as well as for lateral CAs. The lens is somewhat more prone to flare due to its bulb-like front element.'5D Mark II
Dxomark


Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro

Image quality rating: 98,30%

Overall rating: 96,70%

Main points:
  • Special purporse macro lens


Test/reviewerOpticsOverallQuoteCamera
SLRGear
9.83/10
9.67/10
'One of the very best macro-lenses, starts where other stop, 3:1 up to 5:1 onother world..... but you need some accessories like macroflash and a millimetric plate and a lot of patience.....'


Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8

Image quality rating: 92,50%

Overall rating: 91,67%

Main points:
  • Special purpose lens
  • Need time to learn to use


Test/reviewerOpticsOverallQuoteCamera
SLRGear
9.25/10
9.75/10
'This is an exceptionally good lens. The sharpness is not short of amazing and what's even more impressive is the bokeh. The best thing about this lens is the combination of the above two points. Too often, new lenses don't have good bokeh because they have large apertures and manufacturers use aspheric elements to correct the spherical aberrations. Thanks to not being an overly ambitious design (relatively slow aperture and simpler optical design), it's blessed with very good sharpness and bokeh. I'm also willing to bet it even bests the new Hartblei Super-Rotator 80mm f/2.8 ("Optics by Zeiss" model) in terms of sharpness.'
Photozone
4/5
'The Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 is an interesting lens for those seeking the maximum of perspective and depth-of-field control - at a price of around ~1250 US$/€. Technically the lens is about as good as it gets including excellent resolution, absent CAs and zero distortions. When choosing neutral TS settings the lens shows only marginal vignetting at f/2.8 but the more you push the TS feature to the max the problem increases accordingly (1.5EV at the most extreme setting). The build quality is exceptionally high. A drawback by design is the lack of an AF motor so you've to rely on your manual focusing skills here.'350D


Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

Image quality rating: 89,33%

Overall rating: 84,00%

Main points:
  • Excellent optics
  • Price versus performance doesn't add up


Test/reviewerOpticsOverallQuoteCamera
ePhotozine
5/5
4/5
'The optical quality of this lens cannot be criticised. It takes pictures with excellent sharpness, beautiful background blur and low CA and falloff towards the corners. It's a shame Canon didn't see fit to include a lens hood for the price, and that the foot on the tripod collar is a little short. Saying that, hoods can be bought if needed, and extenders can be sourced for the tripod collar.'1Ds Mark III
ePhotozine
'A lens that is obviously built to last a lifetime of hard work is the way I would describe this optic although the robustness leaves it looking a little chunky. It possibly goes some way to warranting the price, which is high. Optical output is at the high end of good for the type, although it is not outstanding.'20D
SLR Gear
9.8/10
9.8/10
'Just GREAT lens. Great! Color rendition is awsome. Bokeh is smooth and silky. It's built like a tank. '
Photozone
3.5/5
3/5
'The Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 USM L macro is an interesting lens with a very good optical performance and exceptional mechanical qualities. Nonetheless the lens wasn't really able to fulfill the high expectations associated with a Canon L grade lens - there're even some zoom lenses performing better in terms of resolution. Beyond the resolution aspect the lens showed pretty perfect performance figures - minimal vignetting, next to non-existent distortions and marginal chromatic aberration. The bokeh, the quality of the out-of-focus blur is relatively decent although not stellar. The AF performance of the lens is a bit of a mixed bag. If the in-focus point is in a relatively close proximity to the current setting the AF is fast. However, if the camera has no guidance where to go the AF is extremely slow. That said AF speed isn't really relevant for pure macro photography where you tend to use manual focusing anyway. Macro photographers will certainly appreciate the "true" IF design (constant physical length) as well as the increased working distance compared to the EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro. If macro capabilities aren't on your wish list you may prefer to look elsewhere though.'350D
Dxomark


Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro

Image quality rating: 88,33%

Overall rating: 81,65%

Main points:
  • Excellent sharpness
  • Negligible distortion
  • Slow autofocus


Test/reviewerOpticsOverallQuoteCamera
ePhotozine
5/5
4/5
'Optically this lens is excellent, producing sharp images with low levels of chromatic aberrations and distortion.'5D Mark II
SLRGear
9.5/10
8.33/10
'I've had this lens more than a decade, and I still use it more than any other (though I have a EF-S 60 on the way, so that may change tomorrow). When used alone, this is a superb lens for still subjects. It's not a true 1:1 macro, but it is great for photographing smaller items (coins, jewelery, etc) and perfect for copy work. It's tack-sharp across the frame between F/4 and F/8, and has negligible vignetting, CA or distortions.'
Photozone
3.5/5
4/5
'The EF 50mm f/2.5 macro is a fairly unexciting lens but it offers a very high performance despite its ancient design. The quality of the construction is fairly decent though not stellar. By today's standards the micro motor as well is a little outdated. Same goes for the life-size converter which is needed to achieve a 1:1 magnification. The new EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM macro has been improved in these respects - at higher costs and with reduced image circle.'350D
Dxomark


Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8

Image quality rating: 87,50%

Overall rating: 92,50%

Main points:
  • Special purpose lens
  • Need time to learn


Test/reviewerOpticsOverallQuoteCamera
SLRGear
8.75/10
9.25/10
'The possibility's are enormous if you know how to use the lens, it is not so very easy to learn. I like the 45 mm on a FF very much, just in the middle of my two favourite's , the 35 mm and the 50/55 mm. It is easy to create miniature with this lens. Portraits also nice, but you will not use that very often. Canon says that it is not possible to use extenders, that is not true. I do not know why they say that. Just as my TS-E24 mm mark II (wich has a much higher IQ) I use the shift the most. Buildings and so on. I very much like the build quality, it is just like a very good L lens. No autofocus is no issue for me. Good IQ but no stellar. Bokeh is ugly, so be careful with trees in the background. That also means you can not really use the lens as an all-round lens. There are better 50 mm around with much nicer bokeh and even zooms can do better.'


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 IS Macro USM

Image quality rating: 84,93%

Overall rating: 88,83%

Main points:
  • Nice bokeh
  • Very good sharpnes
  • High purchase price


Test/reviewerOpticsOverallQuoteCamera
Camera Stuff Review
8.4/10
'The Canon 100 mm IS Macro performs very well on almost all points. The resolution is very high and things like distortion, vignetting and CA are very low. In addition, important in macro photography, the bokeh is very nice. The lens is very solid and the AF works fast. The image stabilization is effective but not in the nearby area. Only in terms of sensitivity to backlight, the Canon performs only moderately. For the excellent Canon 100 mm IS Macro one has to pay a high price, hhe price/quality ratio of the well-performing Tokina 100 mm Macro is much better.'5D Mark II
Camera Stuff Review
7.6/10
'The Canon 100 mm IS Macro performs very well on almost all points. It does not matter whether you put this lens on a full frame or an APS-C camera. The resolution is high to very high and things like distortion, vignetting and CA are strikingly low. In addition, important in macro photography, the bokeh is very nice. The lens is very solid and the AF works fast. The image stabilization is effective but not in the nearby area. Only in terms of sensitivity to backlight, the Canon performs only moderately. The purchase price for the excellent Canon 100 mm IS Macro is very high though.'60D
ePhotozine
5/5
5/5
'This new 100mm macro lens from Canon is a no-compromise optic worthy of the 'L-series' designation.'50D
ePhotozine
'There are virtually no criticisms of this lens that we can come up with! The build is a little short of L quality, but is still well built. The optical performance is first class with no nasty or disappointing surprises and as for the handling, it’s a pleasure to use. That only leaves the price and although it is a little high, you do, in this case, get what you pay for.'300D
SLRGear
9.45/10
9.09/10
'Canon's really raised the bar with this lens: exceptionally sharp, even wide open at f/2.8, with strong results for resistance to chromatic aberration and distortion. Corner shading can be a tad high at f/2.8 when used on a full-frame body, but for macro work, I imagine most people will be using this lens in the stopped-down range to get as much depth-of-field as possible. The addition of image stabilization is overdue, but will nonetheless be welcomed by photographers who don't want to be weighed down by tripods.'20D, 5D
Lenstip
'It is practically a faultless lens. If anybody wants to exchange the older EF 100 mm f/2.8 Macro USM model for the new L series and can afford it, there shouldn’t be a moment’s hesitation. You can gain in everything – picture quality, barrel quality, stabilization. The older model’s chromatic aberration correction degree is higher but this argument lacks force as the new L lens corrects this aberration also well enough.'20D, 1Ds Mark III
Photozone
3.5/5
4/5
'The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM L IS macro is a very fine lens and a welcome new option in the market. The resolution is generally very high although the border quality could be a little better at large aperture settings. Typical for macro lenses distortions are a non-issue. Vignetting is only a real problem at f/2.8. The quality of the bokeh (out-of-focus blur) is excellent and among the best that we've see here. Unfortunately there's still some bokeh fringing which may spoil the game a little at f/2.8, less so at f/4. Lateral CAs are well controlled although potentially (just) visible at the borders. Technically the lens is probably really not superior to the conventional 100mm f/2.8 USM macro but it offers a slightly better build quality and obviously the new hybrid IS which is certainly more than a plus for some. The AF performance is about on par and as such vastly better than third party alternatives.'5D Mark II
Photozone
4/5
4/5
'The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM L IS macro has a comparatively easy play in the APS-C arena. The center to corner resolution is very high up to f/11 and even f/16 is a perfectly usable setting here. Typical for macro lenses distortions are a non-issue. Vignetting is only a slight problem at f/2.8. Lateral CAs are well controlled although potentially (just) visible at the borders. The quality of the bokeh (out-of-focus blur) is excellent and among the best that we've see here. Unfortunately there's still some bokeh fringing which may spoil the game a little at f/2.8, less so at f/4. Technically the lens is probably not superior to the conventional 100mm f/2.8 USM macro but it offers a slightly better build quality and the new hybrid IS. The AF performance is about on par and as such vastly better than third party alternatives. Not an easy decision ...'50D
Photoreview
9/10
9/10
'We conducted our Imatest tests with the lens mounted on the EOS 5D body, which is our standard body for testing all EF and ‘full frame' lenses. Imatest showed the overall resolution for this lens was outstanding, with the highest MTF50 FIGURES between f/3.2 and f/6.1. There was some difference between centre and edge resolution at wider apertures - which is to be expected - but it was less than 400 points, which is relatively low. The graph below shows the results of our tests.'
Dxomark
Canon Rumors
'If you’re looking for a very versatile lens, this may be right up your ally. It’s priced reasonably well at about $900 at the time of writing this and you’re going to find it on your camera a lot. I do stress I think this is better on a full frame camera for things other than macro, it doesn’t mean it’s possible to get great portraits on a 7D or Rebel, it just may not be as easy.'
Dan Carr Photography
'The first thing to say about this lens is that it is extremely fun to use.  I’m not a regular macro shooter but I found myself looking for photos that I wouldn’t normally try to shoot.  Any lens that gets you out shooting more is good in my book!  Until the 100mm f2.8 L Macro came along my recommendation for best value Canon lens was always the 85mm f1.8.  The 85mm is a VERY sharp lens but I think now I will also tell people to consider this lens too. '


Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

Image quality rating: 81,38%

Overall rating: 85,52%

Main points:
  • excellent image quality in the frame centre and at the frame edge at all apertures
  • autofocus could have been more accurate


Test/reviewerOpticsOverallQuoteCamera
SLRGear
9.55/10
9.38/10
'I'll stick with Dave's original assessment of the lens to wrap this one up: Without a doubt, the Canon EF 100mm ƒ/2.8 Macro is a superb lens. It's in a good focal length range for use as a portrait lens, but you may actually want to knock its sharpness down a bit after the fact in Photoshop(tm) to be kinder to your subjects. It may not be for everyone, but if you're looking for a maximally sharp, high-quality lens in this focal length range, this is about as good as it gets. If you're into macro photography, this is a superb tool, with the added benefit of a comfortable working range, thanks to its 100mm focal length.'20D, 5D
Lenstip
'It didn’t break any records like the Tamron 2.8/90 Macro but it fared much better by f/2.8 and f/4.0 and had a significantly lower chromatic aberration than that lens. The Tamron is cheaper but it has neither inner focusing nor an USM motor. The Sigma 2.8/105 Macro is a similar case. It is not equipped with an ultrasonic autofocus and it changes its dimensions on focusing, its image quality is very good and the chromatic aberration – low. It is also cheaper than the Canon. As you see, in the 90-105 mm macro class the choice is wide – each and every of these three lenses can make even a demanding user satisfied with the results. Which lens you decide to buy is only a matter of your personal tastes and your pocket.'20D
Photozone
3.5/5
4/5
' The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro may not have the shiny reputation of an L grade lens but it's a great performer nonetheless. It provides sharp images straight from f/2.8 all the way down to f/16 and neither distortions nor lateral CAs are something to worry about. It produces some pronounced vignetting at f/2.8 but within the full format test scope it's actually better than most here. The amount of LoCAs (bokeh fringing) is comparatively moderate even at f/2.8. The quality of the bokeh (out-of-focus blur) is pretty good although not perfect.'5D Mark II
Photozone
4/5
4/5
'The old EF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens had a superb reputation but Canon managed to keep up the performance of the USM successor despite of the introduction of a true IF design allowing to keep a constant lens length throughout the focus range. Mechanically this is a drastic improvement due to the absence of any moving outer parts that could suck in dust or wear out more easily. On top of that the USM implementation in this lens is excellent - compared to conventional macro lenses in this range it is a speed daemon here and a near silent one. Optically the lens resides on a very high level with little to nothing to be desired. HIGHLY recommended!'350D
Photozone
4/5
4/5
'The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro may be a comparatively old lens by now but it's still capable of playing in the top league - easily. It provides sharp images straight from f/2.8 and it's downright excellent between f/4 and f/8. Diffraction effects reduces the performance thereafter but it's fine to use all the way down to f/16. Neither distortions nor lateral CAs are something to worry about. Thanks to its full format design it produces only a medium degree of vignetting at f/2.8 when used on APS-C DSLRs. The amount of LoCAs (bokeh fringing) is comparatively moderate even at f/2.8. The quality of the bokeh (out-of-focus blur) is pretty good although not perfect.'50D
Dxomark


Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L

Image quality rating: 0,00%

Overall rating: 60,00%

Main points:
  • Special purpose
  • Need time to learn


Test/reviewerOpticsOverallQuoteCamera
SLRGear
Photozone
3/5
'The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L is something of a mixed bag. The lens is surely able to provide a decent performance in all important characteristics but that's without delivering anything stellar ... which is something you may expect from a lens in this price class. The most fascinating aspects are naturally the tilt-shift functions and if this is a requirement for you there're simply no alternatives in this focal length class. If you're just looking for high-performance 24mm lens there'll be better alternatives out there.'350D


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