Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro goes head-to-head against its EF mount predecessor – Is it really worth upgrading?

Tips & Techniques

Canon’s EF mount 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens has been one of the most respected macro lenses out there for years, for any camera system. Even amongst non-Canon photographers, it’s a lens that many of us have occasionally wished we could use. With Canon’s transition to mirrorless, though, EF is making way for RF, so Canon released an RF mount 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro, too.

It’s actually been out for a while now. It was announced last April, but this review from Gordon Lang looks at the more recent RF mount version side-by-side with the older EF mount version to see if the new one really lives up to its predecessor’s reputation and whether you should get the RF one for your Canon mirrorless camera or if you should stick with the EF mount lens and an adapter.

Gordon tests the lenses on the Canon EOS R5 and his review goes very in-depth into a number of topics, including the unique features the RF mount lens has over the EF mount, like the spherical aberration adjustment, not to mention stabilisation.  But the video doesn’t just discuss the technical. He does actually shoot with the lenses, too.

He puts both lenses fully through their paces to find their limits, comparing their quality for macro, obviously, as well as landscapes, portraits, the quality of the bokeh, focus shifting as well as focus stacking with the focus bracketing feature on the EOS R5. He also covers the focusing ability as well as focus breathing throughout its range as well as general design, controls and usability.

The comparison is mostly pretty clear. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro is good, but the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro is even better. There are times when the EF version comes close to matching or even beating the newer RF, but overall, the RF lens seems to have it beat in almost every respect. At least, it does when shot wide open. Stopped down, many of the image quality differences seem to disappear. But nobody buys an f/2.8 lens to always shoot it at f/8 – even if it is a macro.

So, if you’ve got the EF version and you’ve been wondering whether it’s worth ditching the adapter and buying the RF version… Well, it just might be.

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