Another solidly built L series lens offering excellent image quality with an effective new image stabilization system.
The heritage of Canon's new EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens dates back to the 1980s when Canon began researching methods to compensate for camera movement. They introduced their first stabilized lens for SLR film cameras in 1995. Since then, and particularly with the booming popularity of digital imaging, stabilization of lenses or camera bodies has rapidly become a way of life for all manufacturers.
In July 2009 Canon announced the development of a hybrid lens stabilization system that compensates for both angular (rotational) and shift (linear) camera shake, and promised the new technology would appear in a SLR lens release before the end of the year. From a Canon press release:
The new Hybrid IS technology incorporates an angular velocity sensor that detects the extent of angular camera shake which is found in all previous optical Image Stabilizer mechanisms, as well as a new acceleration sensor that determines the amount of shift-based camera shake. Hybrid IS also employs a newly developed algorithm that combines the output of the two sensors and moves the lens elements to compensate for both types of movement. Hybrid IS dramatically enhances the effects of Image Stabilizer especially during macro shooting, which is difficult for conventional image stabilization technologies.
That promised lens was announced in early September with an end of that month availability - the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM (henceforth the "100 macro") that is the subject of this review. Again, Canon's own words: "The lens was developed to expand users' photographing range and allow a wider range of users to easily enjoy macro photography".
For those of us who don't speak Canon as a second language, some clarifications: EF is the lens mount type; L designates the lens as a member of Canon's premier "luxury" series; IS indicates the lens is stabilized and USM refers to the Ultrasonic Motor that provides the autofocus capability.
I received the 100 macro along with a new EOS 1D Mark IV body that will be the subject of a separate review (including some shooting time at the Olympic Winter Games) about a week before leaving for Vancouver. Here's that lens-camera combo (without the lens hood).
This review wraps before we head to the Olympics, so let's take a closer look at Canon's new ground-breaking lens.
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