Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM

K-amps

EOR R
Aug 8, 2011
1,790
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Indianapolis
Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

neuroanatomist said:
K-amps said:
Have you compared the 180mm to the 100mm L? What do you think are the pros/ cons of each? (IQ wise) I know the 180 weights a bit....
..... but the 180L does a fairly bad job as a tele lens....
Thanks. Would you care to expand on this a bit, since the samples I have seen, the 180mm has a great creamy bokeh when used as a portrait (granted it is useless indoors) and is very sharp, allows you to snap away people in the outdoors from a distance without being in their face and causing them to act unnaturally... maybe this is not the scenario you had in mind...
 

neuroanatomist

I post too Much on Here!!
Jul 21, 2010
24,321
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Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

K-amps said:
neuroanatomist said:
..... but the 180L does a fairly bad job as a tele lens....
Thanks. Would you care to expand on this a bit, since the samples I have seen, the 180mm has a great creamy bokeh when used as a portrait (granted it is useless indoors) and is very sharp, allows you to snap away people in the outdoors from a distance without being in their face and causing them to act unnaturally... maybe this is not the scenario you had in mind...
Many uses of a tele lens involve moving subjects, where the slow AF of the 180L is not ideal. For portraits it would be good (the AF on my 85L can be charitably described as 'ponderous'), although as you point out, it's long for indoor use.
 

dstppy

EOS 6D MK II
Apr 26, 2011
981
0
Connecticut . . . ish.
Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

neuroanatomist said:
The AF on my 85L can be charitably described as 'ponderous'
I genuinely got a good laugh out of this one. That reads like a lens review by Douglas Adams himself, though a bit short-winded ;)
 

mackguyver

Master of Pain
Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

I rented a 180 for an extended period in the spring and had the good (mis)fortune of encountering a lot of rare wildlife while I was out shooting. The 180 was too short and too slow to focus (AF or manual) for those shots. I don't think you should buy it for anything other than macro unless those other purposes are few and far between. For serious macro, the AF isn't necessary, but isn't just terrible if you are in the neighborhood of the focal point. I'm not sure why the lens test sites give it such middling reviews - I found it to be among the sharpest lenses I have used.
 

kirispupis

EOS 7D MK II
Oct 4, 2011
460
11
www.calevphoto.com
Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

I used to own the 180L macro some time ago and found it to be too soft. After owning it for about a year and a half I wound up selling it. I am not sure if I just had a bad copy but I do know others who have had similar issues. I also own the 100L IS macro and the MP-E 65. All three are completely different macro lenses, but in terms of pure sharpness the 180 was easily in last place.

The 180 is a useful lens and I used it quite often when I traveled to Mexico for photographing lizards. It also does a good job for butterflies. For dragonflies I find my 300/4 a bit more useful because they can be a bit skittish. For flowers I tend to prefer the flexibility of the TS-E 90 + extenders.

I absolutely love my 100 IS macro. It is a sharp lens but the main drawing point is the macro. I use this lens quite often when traveling in markets and shops to photograph small things and I almost always do this hand held. Without the IS it simply wouldn't be possible.

If Canon were to come out with a new version of the lens I would probably pick it up once reviews confirm that it fixes the sharpness problems of the original.
 

K-amps

EOR R
Aug 8, 2011
1,790
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Indianapolis
Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

kirispupis said:
I used to own the 180L macro some time ago and found it to be too soft. After owning it for about a year and a half I wound up selling it. I am not sure if I just had a bad copy but I do know others who have had similar issues. I also own the 100L IS macro and the MP-E 65. All three are completely different macro lenses, but in terms of pure sharpness the 180 was easily in last place.

The 180 is a useful lens and I used it quite often when I traveled to Mexico for photographing lizards. It also does a good job for butterflies. For dragonflies I find my 300/4 a bit more useful because they can be a bit skittish. For flowers I tend to prefer the flexibility of the TS-E 90 + extenders.

I absolutely love my 100 IS macro. It is a sharp lens but the main drawing point is the macro. I use this lens quite often when traveling in markets and shops to photograph small things and I almost always do this hand held. Without the IS it simply wouldn't be possible.

If Canon were to come out with a new version of the lens I would probably pick it up once reviews confirm that it fixes the sharpness problems of the original.
You are the first person I have heard saying the 180mm is soft, if anything this and the 135 f2 are perhaps Canon's sharpest lenses. Maybe you had a misaligned copy and thats just unfortunate.

You are right, in the macro world, the smallest things are amplified, so this and the 100L are quite different. Also I owned that one too, it was sharp, less sharp than the non;L version but very close, but the 180 seems sharper.
 

kirispupis

EOS 7D MK II
Oct 4, 2011
460
11
www.calevphoto.com
Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

In the case of the 180L, I wasn't the only one who thought it wasn't sharp. I also loaned it to a friend who wrote a blog post on it with basically the same conclusion - http://www.ronmartblog.com/2008/10/comparing-macro-lenses-aka-why-i-suck.html

In retrospect I suspect I may have had a bad copy. That was part of an ill fated order I had with Canoga Camera - at a time when I was trying to find a decent camera store on the West coast. Everything that could have gone wrong with my order did and that was the last time I dealt with them. I now rigorously test each lens I buy but I didn't back then.

Still, I do know others who have had similar issues and am in no rush to pick up a new copy. When I owned one I found it to be more of a niche lens. It is quite long which made it difficult for some flowers. My TS-E 90 is a much better length and the tilt provides more flexibility. I really only found it useful for lizards - which are quite rare where I live.
 

K-amps

EOR R
Aug 8, 2011
1,790
1
Indianapolis
Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

Uh Oh, you loaned a reviewer a bad copy :-\ ....

You can see from the 2 pics above, it is pretty sharp. I agree with your friend though that the non-L non IS version of the 100mm f2.8 is one very sharp lens!
 

kirispupis

EOS 7D MK II
Oct 4, 2011
460
11
www.calevphoto.com
Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

It depends. Are the above two pics 100% crops? If they are not crops then it isn't really possible to tell from the shots. Keep in mind Ron wrote this blog before the 100mm IS was released. I never owned the non-IS version, but from what I have read they are basically the same IQ-wise. Where the IS version really excels is in the specialized image stabilization - which significantly expands the usefulness of the lens.
 

Mendolera

Heck, I’m not even mad; that’s amazing..
Jul 20, 2011
76
0
37
NY
Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

If money wasnt a concern Id probably grab the 180 but..

Anybody have any thoughts on the Sigma 150 F2.8 Macro, Ive seen going for around $450-500 these days. I owned the Canon 100 USM Macro non L for about a year and sold it to fund the purchase of my 100-400 cause I didnt do a whole lot of macro at the time but it was a great lens.

Kind of have the itch to get back into it with spring here and summer in the next few months and debating on going with the IS version or saving a few bucks for the Sigma and getting the bonus reach
 
E

eddy

Guest
Re: Canon EF 180mm f/3.5 L Macro USM

Nice. A Macro lens is definitely next on my buy list.
 

NWPhil

one eye; one shot - multiple misses
Oct 4, 2011
272
0
mackguyver said:
It was a warm (70F) and nearly windless day yesterday here in Florida, so I broke out my 180L and found one of my favorite subjects (Spring snowflake flowers) in bloom:


very nice - I always forget how great this lens is
 

Zeidora

EOS 7D MK II
Feb 15, 2015
668
10
For those concerned about IQ, also consider the Zeiss 100 mm MP. Quite a bit better quality than the Canon 180M, particularly no lateral color. Focussing the Zeiss is faster than the 180M in AF. Price is about the same.
I have the 180M, but only use it as lens of last resort. With a TC 1.4x it gives you a 252 mm lens, and that is usually sufficient to be safe for venomous snakes. Has anybody compared that set-up vs. 300/2.8 with extension rings? One of those things on my to-do list.