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Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Interchangeable Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the compact medium telephoto Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Interchangeable lens. Updated.

| Canon EF 100mm f/2.0 USM in Interchangeable Lenses
BUY NOW CANON EF 100mm f/2.0 USM

Handling and features

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Interchangeable Lens Review: Canon EF 100mm F2 USM (3)

This compact medium telephoto lens sports a fast f/2 aperture, which will make this lens ideal for low light photography or creative use of shallow depth of field. It sports a silent ultrasonic focusing motor, internal focusing and costs around £380.

Canon also offer two macro lenses at this focal length with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which is a stop slower than this lens. The older EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM costs around £430 and sports an ultrasonic motor and internal focusing. The newer EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro sports weather sealed construction and image stabilisation along with the features found on the other two optics, but costs around £725.

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Interchangeable Lens Review: Canon EF 100mm F2 USM (1)

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Handling and features

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Interchangeable Lens Review: Canon EF 100mm F2 USM (5)

Weighing 460g, this lens isn't overly heavy or light, but at only 73.5mm long, it is quite compact and it balances extremely well on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II used for testing. High quality plastics have been used for much of the lens barrel's construction and the lens mount is metal. Build quality overall is very good. It may not be up to the weather sealed standards of Canon's 'L' series lenses, but it is certainly good robust enough to take a little use and abuse.

A 58mm diameter thread allows the attachment of filters and as focusing is performed internally, this optic is very easy to use with polarising and graduated filters. Auto focus is very quick under most conditions, maybe hunting a little in low light and low contrast situations. Manual focus adjustments can be made at any time due to the ultrasonic focusing system. The manual focus ring is well damped, making it easy to make fine adjustments as necessary. The minimum focus distance of 90cm means this lens isn't overly great for close ups, although magnification just short of half life size is possible with Canon EF25 II extension tube.

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Interchangeable Lens Review: Canon EF 100mm F2 USM (4)

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Performance

As far as sharpness is concerned, this lens performs well. At f/2 sharpness in the centre of the frame is already very good and the clarity towards the edges is fairly good. Stopping the lens down improves sharpness across the frame, exceeding excellent levels at f/8.


Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Interchangeable Lens Review: MTF at 100mm
MTF at 100mm

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are virtually non-existent. Especially as the lens is stopped down. At their worst, fringing just exceeds half a pixel width at f/2 towards the edges of the frame. This level of fringing is very low and should not be visible, even in large prints or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.


Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Interchangeable Lens Review: Chromatic Aberrations at 100mm
Chromatic Aberrations at 100mm

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is quite pronounced at maximum aperture as the corners are 2.36 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved by f/5.6.

Distortion is well controlled, and the level of 0.528% pincushion should pose few issues unless your application is super-critical. The distortion pattern is uniform across the frame, so it should be easy to correct this distortion if needs be.

No lens hood comes supplied with this lens, which is a shame, as this lens would really benefit from one. With strong light sources just outside the frame, flare and loss of contrast can become an issue. Shooting directly into the light can also result in a marked loss of contrast across the frame.

Additional portrait photos added, taken with an APS-C crop sensor camera, the Canon EOS 760D, and on the 760D, the lens becomes the equivalant of a 160mm lens in 35mm terms.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.0 USM Sample Photos


Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Verdict

Those looking for a medium telephoto for portraiture will find this lens a pretty good buy due to the excellent sharpness it is capable of producing and the reasonable price tag.

Unfortunately this lens' vulnerability to flare is an issue, especially if shooting in contra-lit situations and with strong light sources just outside of the frame. A lens hood would be the solution, but this is an optional extra.

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Interchangeable Lens Review:
The Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM lens offers very good sharpness and fast AF.

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Pros

Good build quality
Very good sharpness
Low CA levels
Fast AF

Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM Cons

Quite prone to flare
No lens hood supplied



Canon EF 100mm f/2.0 USM Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Canon EF
Focal Length100mm
Angle of View0° - 24°
Max Aperturef/2
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size58mm
35mm equivalent160mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus90cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens caps

View Full Product Details



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NilsonBazana 18 15
16 Jul 2014 1:21AM
This gem of a lens is definitely on my wishlist. Even more so after reading such a good, honest review (paired with only a few others as straightforward as this one, such as Ken Rockwell's).

BTW: it's nice to come back to ePhotozine after so many years and be reminded you do such down-to-earth reviews - I didn't honestly remember that!

Also, great image samples to quench a pixel-peeper's wildest dreams!
RJPhoto 10 16 1 United Kingdom
30 Sep 2015 1:47PM
I wish Canon would include lens hoods as most other manufacturers do. It would increase the cost, slightly, but be lower than buying the two separately due to reduced packaging costs. Hmm, there's a thought. Although the box for the lens would have to be slightly larger to accommodate the hood, would the increase be less than the separate boxes combined, and how many who buy the lens buy the hood? Interesting question, I think, as it has environmental consequences as a result. Maybe it is 'greener' to do it Canon's way. All the same, it is annoying!
mikesavage 20 299 2 England
30 Sep 2015 3:42PM
Get a 3rd-party lens hood off e.g. Amazon at a fraction of the cost of a Canon one. Could be a particularly good investment if, as the review says, this lens is prone to flare.

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