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Macro Photography – Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro

Last month I purchased the Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS Macro lens.  Previously the only macro capability I had was the macro setting on my Tamron 28-75 f/2.8.  The Tamron isn’t bad at macro shots with a minimum focusing distance of 13 inches but it’s not in the same ballpark as the Canon 100mm which is billed as a true “macro” lens.  Today I spent some time playing around with the Canon macro on the Canon 5D Mark II.  I took some photos of pantry items like eggs, lentils and then a Chinese New Year “red envelope” my youngest brought home from school today.

Even at f/11 the depth of field is really thin.

I practiced a bit on a carton of eggs.  One of the things I noticed in taking this image is that even at f/11 the depth of field is still really thin.  For all of these photos I had the camera on a tripod and was using manual focus.  For the eggs it was a bit tough to focus on the white shells so I don’t think I nailed the focus on this one where I wanted to.  The minimum focusing distance on this lens is about 1 foot meaning you can get in really close like with these lentils.

Lentil macro

I love the color of these lentils.

With this lentil shot I was focusing as close as I could and lit the shot with a single Canon 580EXII flash in a Lumiquest Softbox III. I wanted the spilled lentils to be in sharp focus while the remaining lentils in the jar blurred.  Even though these lentils look orange in color they are either red lentils or pink lentils (we have both kinds and I didn’t label them).

Chinese New Year Red Envelope

Inside this "red envelope" my son brought home from school was a chocolate candy.

My son brought home a red envelope from school today where they learned about the Chinese New Year celebrations and culture.  He proudly informed me that this is the Year of the Dragon.  So I took his envelope and decided to see how much detail and color I could get with the 100 macro.  It’s pretty impressive.

I still have lots to learn and get used to about this lens but I have to say my initial impressions are very good.  I love how close I can focus with this lens and am looking forward to Spring flower season.  I also love that it has a wide aperture of f/2.8 which means it should perform well in low light situations and with the image stabilization (IS) shooting handheld at slower shutter speeds should still produce sharp images.  Next I’ll try some portraits as I think this lens would make a great portrait lens.  Let’s see if I can get my kids to sit still for a bit.

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