Hi everyone,I have been using a 7d for about a year now and I know its limitations quite well.I am sure ff is the way to go for the future though I am pretty sure a 6d isn't the answer for a 7d user (atleast me).
I'm 17, still a student and 10 years away from a ff upgrade the 100 macro might as well be my last lens so I was wondering if its the right choice for a portrait/lowish light lens with a macro bonus.or should I consider something else within that budget (not the non l version I'm pretty sure about that too)
P.S- I love taking shots in low light and light painting (i know, 7d is a perfect camera for that) so I am pretty frustrated on being limited to bright daylight shots so any tips are welcome,after all in 10 years point and shoots will have better ISO performance so i'll make the switch then
Thanks in advance
P.P.S- this is my first post ,really interested on what neuro has to say
The 100L is an excellent lens, but....
First of all, macro shooting doesn't sound very high on your priority list. You seem more concerned about shooting low light, light painting and portraitts. Second, the 100L is the single most expensive lens in a focal length and category that's stuffed full of excellent alternatives (including other Canons). Third, I'm not really a big fan of using a macro for portraiture... a macro lens can be too sharp, too "clinical". Not everyone is an 18 year old model with perfect skin and a $200 an hour makeup artist prepping them for the shoot. Finally, for your purposes the IS of the 100L is pretty much unnecessary. What you want to shoot either can be done fine handheld without IS or you'll be putting the camera and lens on a tripod anyway, so likely won't find it necessary. IS is of limited value for high magnifcation macro work, anyway. It's of the most use with non-macro uses of the lens. And there you are "limited" to f2.8 with most macro lenses.
Finally, 100L definitely wouldn't be my choice as my only
lens... on a crop camera or anything else.
For portraiture, you would likely be better served with an 85/1.8 or 100/2. The 135L is superb, too... but fairly long focal length for portraiture on a crop camera like the 7D. If you still want some macro capabilities for occasional use, you can add macro extension tubes (the Kenko set is probably the best value/quality overall) to any of these lenses or even to your existing 50/1.8.
If you really want a macro lens, plan to shoot a lot of macro shots... Consider other possibilities.... many of them half the cost or less than the 100L...
Canon EF-S 60/2.8 IS
Canon 100/2.8 USM (non-L, non-IS, build quality is identical to 180L macro, but the 100mm focuses faster)
Tamron 60/2.0 (the biggest aperture macro lens currently avail., might be more useful for portraits)
Sigma 105/2.8 OS
Didn't mention the 50mm macro lenses, since they duplicate focal length you already have. The 60mm and 70mm lenses might be too close to the 50mm focal length, too, for someone with so few lenses to work with.
The two Canon lenses listed above and the 100L have USM and the Siggy 105 has HSM, which help with focus speed. The other lenses will be slower focusing. However, even with faster types of focus mechanisms, no macro lens will give ultra fast focus that some non-macro lenses can offer. The reason is that a macro lens has to move a focus group all the way from infinity to 1:1 magnification, far more than a non-macro lens. Macro lenses are designed for precision, anyway, not for focus speed. Some macro lenses have a focus limiter that can help, too. On the other hand, the lenses you have now are not USM and not all that fast focusing anyway... so you might be just fine with these other lenses' focus speeds. Macro and much portraiture don't generally demand all that fast focus, anyway.
Don't be an "L-coholic". A red stripe and an L designation don't necessarily mean all that much. There are great lenses that are not Ls and there have been a few less than stellar L-series. Sure, most are fine lenses... but some are virtually no different. According to Canon, all that the red stripe and L designation means is that the lens is: 1. compatible with all EOS cameras past, present and future (thus, no EF-S lens will ever be an L, no matter how good it is). 2. Built to the highest current standards and with the best possible materials. 3. Incorporates some form of exotic lens element(s).
There have been some superb lenses that simply didn't need exotic glass to do their job very, very well, so never got a red stripe painted on them. For example, the 100/2.8 USM macro is identical in build quality and functionality to the 180/3.5L... even better in some ways (it's 2/3 stop faster and focuses faster, so is probably more useful for non-macro purposes). Yet it doesn't have exotic glass in it, so it's not an L. Or, look at the TS-E lenses... The original 24/3.5 is an L, as are the 17/4L and 24/3.5L II. But the 45/2.8 and 90/2.8 are not, though they are virtually identical build quality, image quality and functionality. Again, they just don't need exotic glass.
Finally, an L might not be the best choice for someone for a number of reasons... consider the 50/1.2L and the 85/1.2L... both spectacular lenses. But they are somewhat specialized. They are not only more far more expensive, bigger and heavier, they are also slower focusing than far less expensive 50/1.4 and 85/1.8. These two Ls are designed with longer throw, slower focus purposefully... they emphasize precision over speed (especially the 85mm). That makes them superb portrait lenses, but perhaps a bit less capable for sports or any other sort of action photography.
Some of my lenses are Ls... Others are not. In general, I don't care whether a lens has a red stripe painted on it or not. I consider the features of the lens, it's general utility and how it meets my needs. That's what decides for me whether or not I buy it and add it to my kit. I don't really care what color Canon paints it (within reason) or what designations they put on it.
Good luck with your decision. I think you need to do more research and keep looking. The 100L caught your eye because you've had a chance to use it... but if you have stated your intended purposes well, might not be the best lens for you. Especially if you end up with it as your only lens, selling your others to purchase it. There are far cheaper macro lenses that can do macro very nearly as well, and other lenses more suitable for your intended purposes. So don't get stuck on the 100L as your only option.
P.S. You might be interested to know that the 7D has a special feature just for macro shooting, when it's used with Canon USM macro lenses. Canon has not promoted or documented it very well, but when fitted with the EF-S 60mm, either of the EF 100mm with USM, or the EF 180/3.5L and focused close, in AI Servo the camera will increase subject distance sampling to 4X as frequently as usual. This is automatic, not something you can set, and only works with those particular lenses. And it only does this in AI Servo focus mode, which is a fairly unusual focusing mode to use with macro photography (I usually focus manually, sometimes use One Shot, but had been using a pair of 7Ds for three years before I even heard about this special macro focusing feature... don't know why Canon hasn't mentioned in the manual at all or elsewhere more often). I suspect the 5D Mark III and 1DX also have this feature, but don't know for certain. In effect, this feature acts a little like IS along a third axis (up/down axis and side-to-side axis of movement are handled by a normal lens-based IS, on lenses that have IS... this feature provides sort of a nearer/farther axis of correction.