Canon's new hybrid stabilization system has debuted in a 100 mm macro lens promised to allow "a wider range of users to easily enjoy macro photography." Our results suggest the combination delivers on that promise. The lens itself is an optical gem even without stabilization, but offering up to 2 stops of correction at 1:1 magnification (and up to 4 stops for distant shooting) is a big plus.
Shooting at a 130mm focal length on Canon's new EOS 1D Mark IV body, we got sharp images hand held at shutter speeds as low as 1/20th of a second in fairly close quarters - less than 1:5 magnification. Even at 1:1, with enough ISO to close down the aperture for some additional depth of field there were some pretty respectable results. Purists will still mount the lens and camera on a tripod or some other form of support for 1:1 work. But if your situation doesn't permit that, enough ISO and aperture to give depth of field and shutter speed may save the day.
The lens is expensive - it's a Canon "L" series whose MSRP comes in at about twice that of the non-stabilized 100 macro it replaces - but with enhanced build quality, components and weather sealing commensurate with the higher price. Canon users who have no need for a hand held close up capability might be well served by the older glass, which reportedly had good optics. But if shooting macro on the fly without time for lengthy set up and support equipment is in your future, the new 100mm macro looks to be an excellent choice.
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