Review Canon RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM

The new Canon RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM is not just a 100mm macro version from the EF system adapted for the RF system. The RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM has a larger magnification, better image stabilization, and even the bokeh is adjustable.

TEST RESULTS Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM:

PROS

CONS

  • 1.4x Macro

  • Stabilization tuned to macro

  • Bokeh adjustable

  • Tripod collar as an accessory

  • Slightly bigger, heavier and more expensive than the EF version

The Canon RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM outperforms the competition on all fronts on paper and is also an attractive portrait lens with its adjustable bokeh.

IntroductiON

The Canon RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM is not just a new 100mm macro lens from Canon for the RF system. On a few points, it clearly offers more than the “old” Canon EF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM. First of all, the RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM focuses closer. As a result, the maximum magnification scale has increased from 1x to 1.4x. The image stabilization has also been improved and now has a separate position for the macro range. The image stabilization of the lens alone has been improved from 4 to 5 stops and even 8 stops in combination with the stabilization built into the EOS R5 and EOS R6. The RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM can also be equipped with a tripod collar. But the biggest innovation is the SA-control ring.

SA Control

The RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM has a separate ring with which one of the lens elements can be moved and with which a light form of spherical aberration (SA) can be introduced. The reason you would want this is because it changes the bokeh. The ring has a + and a – direction. Turn it to the plus side. This makes bokeh balls bigger, but they do get a harder edge, which can cause a soap bubble effect in the background. It is an effect that occurs a lot in some older lens designs and that is quite popular with a number of portrait photographers. If you turn the ring to the minus side, the bokeh balls become softer at the edges. The blur in the foreground and background increases as a result. The maximum achievable sharpness of the lens will be lower with a plus or minus adjustment than in the 0 position. But for portrait photography this does not have to be a problem. So this lens gives you options. If you want the highest sharpness and a clinical view, use the lens without SA control. If you want a more dreamy image with soap bubbles-bokeh or a very soft blur, you can do it with this same lens. The principle is not new. The Nikon 105mm F2 DC had a similar capability. This is the first time that Canon has applied it.

BUILD

The RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM is slightly longer and heavier than the EF 100mm F2.8L macro IS USM. To be precise, it is 2.5cm longer and 105 grams heavier. Both lenses have an optical design consisting of 17 elements in 13 groups, a diaphragm with 9 blades and a filter size of 67mm. There is not much difference there. As always with L-series lenses, the RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM is sealed against dust and moisture, and the lens has a gasket at the rear to seal the space between the lens and the camera. The front lens has a fluorine coating so that the front glass element is easy to keep clean.

OPERATION

The Canon RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM has not 1 but 2 rings around the lens. The front, wider one is the focus ring. Just behind that, the lens gets a little slimmer, and there’s a second ring. This is for setting the spherical aberration and therefore has the designation: SA Control. On the side of the lens is a separate switch to unlock this ring. The RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM also has switches for AF/MF, limiting the AF range and setting the image stabilization. A deep, round lens hood is included. 

FOCUSING

For focusing, the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM uses Dual Nano-USM motors. They are much better suited for modern AF systems than the ring-shaped USM motor of the EF 100mm macro. Not only should the new motor be good for faster and more precise focusing, but it should also be able to track subjects better when shooting films.

The shortest focusing distance of this lens is 26 cm, and that gives a magnification of 1.4x. This is significantly closer than the 1x (or 1:1) that was the standard for real macro lenses.

IMAGE QUALITY

The Canon RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM is for the RF system what the Canon EF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM was for the EF system. That lens is one of the best lenses in this range. In any case, we expect that the newly designed RF version will certainly not be inferior to this, but of course we hope that this lens is just another step better. As soon as we have a copy in our test lab, we will publish a full review.

 

Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM

 specifications
  
field of view (diag)

24°

sensor formatfull frame
min. setting distance26 cm
filter diameter67mm
diaphragm blades9
image stabilizeryes, Dual IS
dimensions (dxl)82×148 mm
weight730 gr
mountCanon RF
particularsSA Control
importerwww.canon.nl/be
list price€ 1579.99
  
resolution/10
contrast/10
chromatic aberration/5
distortion/5
vignetting/5
autofocus/5
flare/5
finish/10
  
final score

ConclusiON: REVIEW Canon RF 100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM

oN Canon EOS R5

We hope to have a copy of the Canon RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM in our test lab soon and publish the full review.

The new Canon RF 100mm F2.8L MACRO IS USM will be available from the end of July for a suggested retail price of €1,579.99.