Canon 100mm F2.8L Lens – A new love/hate relationship

A few days ago I purchased the Lens which I have been dreaming about for years; the Canon 100mm F2.8L. It has great reviews for macro photography both above and below the water, and is the perfect next step in my photographic career.

Singapore Bay

A short walk around the renowned bay allowed me to test out the 100mm focal length of the lens. I usually shoot with zoom lenses so at first it was difficult to visualise images at a set focal length. But after some practice I found myself physically moving to create the frame I imagined.

River boat
I didn’t need to get in the river to get this close up

 

Shadows
Easy to capture the contrast between the light without casting my own shadow in the image

 

Pedestrian bridge
Shot from another bridge a few meters away

 

Roof Patterns
A close up of a roof creates an abstract pattern

 

Singapore Wheel
Unable to frame the whole of the Singapore wheel even from a distance

 

Green House
But I was able to comfortable frame the green houses of Gardens by The Bay

 

Gardens by the Bay

Shooting subjects which were far away I had no problem getting sharp images. This became a problem once I was in the Gardens though. This lens is designed for Macro but I didn’t expect it to be so hard to use.

I didn’t expect the depth of field to be so small with the close subjects. Even with a very small appeture only a couple of centimetres would be in focus. Opening the appeture reduced the depth of field to just a couple of millimetres. I am a big fan of the effect which a small depth of field creates, but this just seemed crazy.

To get the pictures I was visualising I needed to use tiny appetures, which resulted in exposure problems. I had left my flash and tripod at home and therefore was forced to increase my ISO much higher than I am normally happy to do.

After a couple of frustrating hours of trying to capture moving plants and insects, the sky clouded over and threatened rain. I packed up, still not happy with my shots, and headed home.

Yellow flower
F18, 1/125, ISO100
Even with a small appeture the background is blurry

 

Yellow flower close up
F3.2 1/500 ISO800
This is the same flower but I changed my settings and got closer. Note the smaller depth of field.

 

Ants
F6.3 1/1000 ISO1000
It took many shots to get these ants perfectly within the focal range.

 

Bee feeding
F4.5 1/1250 ISO1000
This was the best shot out of 35 picture I took of this bee. His body, leg and one wing is in focus, but not the head.

Bee feeding close up

 

Flower close up
F5.0 1/100 ISO1000
Small depth of field creates an interesting pattern

 

Bee on Flower
F6.3 1/1000 ISO1000
Here is was lucky to get the bud with the bee on in focus

 

Red Flower
F4.5 1/1000 ISO1000
Because this flower was so small I was able to get most of it in focus

 

Flying bee
F4.5 1/1250 ISO1000
I am disappointed with the picture. The composition is perfect but because of the small depth of field the bee is not in focus.

Flying bee close up

Conclusion

I didn’t expect this lens to be so hard to use. It completely threw me out of my comfort zone and forced me to think differently about photography. My photographic knowledge was defiantly put to the test, and I need a lot more practice.

However I have not been put off as I love a challenge. Also the few photos which I did managed to get correctly focused look amazing. I can’t wait to take this lens under the water, although the idea does also make me nervous.

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1 thought on “Canon 100mm F2.8L Lens – A new love/hate relationship”

  1. It can be used for candids, street photography, and other situations where a somewhat narrower field of view compared to the standard 50 mm lens is useful.

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