Patent: Canon RF 180mm f/3.5L Macro and Canon RF 200mm f/4L Macro

Starting out EOS R

EOS R5 - RF24-105mm F4L, RF70-200mm f2.8L
Feb 13, 2020
295
315
I love it.

When I decided to go to RF (first couple R reviews were just available) I sold a dozen-plus EF lenses, keeping only the 135/2, 180/3.5 and 600/4IS.
I haven't regretted moving over to the R5 and RF glass. However good luck now you have sold your EF glass, ordering and buying RF glass. I ordered the RF 100-500MM Lens on 17/08/21 and am still waiting. Apparently, I am number 16 on the list and they are not receiving any stock so unlikely to be before xmas. Not sure which xmas, 2021 or maybe 2022. I don't think it's just Canon suffering with the worldwide chip shortage so I'll just have to be patient. Hope you have better luck.
 
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Worst bit of advice I ever got when getting into macro was “ You need a long lens because of working distance”. All that not spooking the subject rubbish. So I got the Canon 180mm and it really held me back. Once I switched to a 60mm and 100mm, then later adding the MPE-65 that I felt more comfortable shooting insects. The 60mm especially has given me loads of enjoyment. I have no regrets whatsoever in selling the 180 so really cannot get excited about the possibility of new long macros in RF. If Canon announce shorter macro lenses and an MPE65 replacement then my interest would be sparked.
 
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Etienne

EOS R
Sep 19, 2010
1,479
287
Ottawa Ontario
A lens like one of these is obligatory for Canon on the RF system.
And of course very good news for macro lovers.
Canon has been doing an outstanding job on their RF L grade lenses, so I expect this will be incredible.
 
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masterpix

EOS RP
Jun 29, 2016
298
213
What would you need a 200mm macro lens for?
Anything that you need macro for but it won't let you close enough to it, small animals, insects, birds, anything that might "run away" when you are too close to it. It also allows you the "distance" to follow the moving object while too close you won't be able to.
 

neurorx

EOS 90D
May 12, 2015
187
129
correct it's a patent not yet a CR rating, but I am hopeful.

The image quality on the 180mm is superb, but it is a heavy lens and the autofocus is useless (always flip to manual). So those two reasons alone would make it a worthy lens if they keep the IQ similar or slightly better. Always been intrigued with the MP65 too, but haven't used it. I went with 180 because it gives range to not spook the subjects away.


posted already in another channel, but this was handheld with only a LED light (not particularly powerful) on my R5 and 180L.. had to do some denoise work (cloudy day 5000 ISO), but as usual, the 180 gives some sweet results.

View attachment 200498
Wow! What did you use for denoise, the results are amazing.
 

snappy604

EOS RP
CR Pro
Jan 25, 2017
588
480
Wow! What did you use for denoise, the results are amazing.
I use On1 RAW for my processing with their new DeNoise engine. The denoise engine is good quite good and can deal with fairly heavy noise, though noticed results are best when the exposure is relatively good initially. The ON1 Raw is good overall, but still have problems getting my color profiles correct with it. Not sure why. Was hoping to find someone with proper profiles, but it only accepts.. .icc or .icm

I also have Topaz Denoise (latest), similar quality, but you have to convert to DNG and then process.. somehow it seems to lose some color and sometimes introduce artifacts in the process so, was using Topaz in a limited fashion.
 

snappy604

EOS RP
CR Pro
Jan 25, 2017
588
480
Worst bit of advice I ever got when getting into macro was “ You need a long lens because of working distance”. All that not spooking the subject rubbish. So I got the Canon 180mm and it really held me back. Once I switched to a 60mm and 100mm, then later adding the MPE-65 that I felt more comfortable shooting insects. The 60mm especially has given me loads of enjoyment. I have no regrets whatsoever in selling the 180 so really cannot get excited about the possibility of new long macros in RF. If Canon announce shorter macro lenses and an MPE65 replacement then my interest would be sparked.
genuinely interested, other than semi stationary bugs, how do you get close? I find them skittish, or slightly over water where I can't reach etc.
 

entoman

wildlife photography
May 8, 2015
440
477
UK
genuinely interested, other than semi stationary bugs, how do you get close? I find them skittish, or slightly over water where I can't reach etc.
Move slowly and deliberately towards the subject, as a steady pace, keep low and don’t change your angle of approach, because insects are highly sensitive to sideways movement.

Use cover, such as bushes or tall grasses to creep up slowly to the subject. Tread lightly on the ground and be careful to avoid breaking twigs etc, as insects are also highly sensitive to ground vibrations. Many are also sensitive to airborne vibration (sound).

Avoid wearing white or reflective clothing, which makes your presence and your movements far more obvious to the subject.

Avoid bright sunlight, when insects will be far more alert, and there is a danger of casting your shadow over them. Bright overcast conditions are ideal. Insects are less active and easier to approach on cool days, although they can be harder to find.

Be aware that while using flash may get you an initial shot, it’s quite likely to scare a nervous insect, leaving you with no second chance.

In many cases it’s actually easier to photograph an insect with a 100mm macro, because it generally takes longer to steady yourself for a sharp shot if you use a 180mm or 200mm.

The main uses of these longer focal lengths are to get better bokeh (the 180mm macro is a stunner in this regard), or to be able to photograph subjects that are harder to reach (e.g. high up on bushes or on the other side of a ditch).
 
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scottburgess

Canonical Canon
Jun 20, 2013
238
28

Unlike other respondents, I would rate the EF 180mm f/3.5 as "good," not superb. It is a workhorse lens for me (and yes, I've owned both Canon EF 100mm macro lenses prior to the L, but working distance matters for insects). I've shot with it exclusively on hundreds of outings. Center and mid-frame sharpness are middling. The autofocus engine is mediocre at best, and frustrating at worst; it's inadequate for flying subjects. Build quality also seems pedestrian.

If an RF 180mm version comes out, my wish list would be for 1) improved sharpness, 2) improved autofocus, and 3) f/2.8 [even with extra weight], in that order of priorities. I'm ignoring image stabilization as I don't know how feasible it is for a long macro. I would like to keep the filter size no greater than 82mm, and preferably no more than 77mm, but I don't know if that is possible getting to f/2.8. Ideally moving elements toward the rear would result in a lens that is actually more easily handled, focuses faster, and meets these specs. I really wish Canon would make a true "pro" macro lens, as the reason I never bought the EF 100L is it isn't significantly better optically than the previous USM version I already have (it's also an oddball filter size for Canon--would prefer a 72mm filter and f/2.5 as I'm trying to stay at mostly 72/77mm for filters). I think the 180mm is the best candidate focal length to change into a professional tool as the EF/RF 100Ls adequately serve most amateurs. Since an RF 180mm price would likely be prohibitive for casual amateurs anyway, why not up the price and quality a bit and give advanced amateurs and professionals the tool they crave?

Making an RF 180mm professional grade is like adding garlic to a pasta dish: both are tastier, and both result in GAS. ;)

I have to agree that the MP-E 65mm is now outdated and in need of an optical upgrade to remain competitive in the market. Also, it is rather pointless to provide an f/16 aperture on a lens where it is not effective; f/2.8 thru f/5.6 is about all that is practical at 1x - 5x, and I would gladly accept a fixed aperture f/2.8 in exchange for better optical quality. At this point, if Canon can't improve the optics significantly, I wouldn't replace mine. Given that higher optical quality can be had through microscope objectives, my concern is that an RF successor would be strictly an amateur lens and unlikely to provide the needed improvements. The main advantage for the 1x-5x Macro Zoom lens is efficiency for field work, but it generally works best for stationary subjects (like tiny mushrooms, or deep-chilled critters).

I'm curious about the OP's comment that Canon "didn't sell a ton of these." I wouldn't expect a long macro to sell a large unit count due to its cost and the experience necessary to realize the need for it, but what is the source of this information? Photo manufacturers typically don't revealing much about sales of particular products.
 

entoman

wildlife photography
May 8, 2015
440
477
UK
Unlike other respondents, I would rate the EF 180mm f/3.5 as "good," not superb. It is a workhorse lens for me (and yes, I've owned both Canon EF 100mm macro lenses prior to the L, but working distance matters for insects). I've shot with it exclusively on hundreds of outings. Center and mid-frame sharpness are middling. The autofocus engine is mediocre at best, and frustrating at worst; it's inadequate for flying subjects. Build quality also seems pedestrian.

If an RF 180mm version comes out, my wish list would be for 1) improved sharpness, 2) improved autofocus, and 3) f/2.8 [even with extra weight], in that order of priorities. I'm ignoring image stabilization as I don't know how feasible it is for a long macro. I would like to keep the filter size no greater than 82mm, and preferably no more than 77mm, but I don't know if that is possible getting to f/2.8. Ideally moving elements toward the rear would result in a lens that is actually more easily handled, focuses faster, and meets these specs.
It’s interesting how our experiences differ.

I’ve shot thousands of (published) insect images with both (EF) 100mm macros and hundreds with the 180mm macro. At one stage I foolishly sold my 180mm but later replaced it, so I have experience of 2 samples.

The 100mm lenses are extremely sharp but have pronounced onion-ring bokeh which I find very distracting if there are defocused highlights in the background. AF is very rapid and precise. I find the working distance is fine for most insects and small vertebrates.

The 180mm macro is just as sharp as the 100mm versions, and has vastly more attractive creamy smooth bokeh, and less noticeable onion-ring effect. AF is slow, but I always prefocus manually and just leave the AF to do the final adjustment, which speeds things up greatly. It’s heavy, and has no stabilisation, which is the major drawback. The IBIS on my R5 helps, but it really needs OIS as well for macro. I’d rate build quality as superb, and the manual focus ring is among the smoothest and most precise of any lens I’ve owned.

For insects in flight, I always pre-focus manually and shoot a burst as the insect passes through the field of sharpest focus.

I haven’t been tempted by the RF 100mm macro, as reviews indicate that it’s optically no better than the EF version, and I have no need for 1.4x magnification or aspherical aberration control.

My wish list would be for a lightweight stabilised 180mm macro with a maximum aperture of F4 or 5.6, as I see no need for wider apertures with long macros - even when focus-stacking F4 or 5.6 are fine. However, Canon are hell-bent on producing previously “impossible” lenses, so what I’m actually expecting is a stabilised 180mm F3.5 with some additional feature(s), as was the case with the RF 100mm macro.
 
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scottburgess

Canonical Canon
Jun 20, 2013
238
28
In many cases it’s actually easier to photograph an insect with a 100mm macro, because it generally takes longer to steady yourself for a sharp shot if you use a 180mm or 200mm.

The main uses of these longer focal lengths are to get better bokeh (the 180mm macro is a stunner in this regard), or to be able to photograph subjects that are harder to reach (e.g. high up on bushes or on the other side of a ditch).
I agree with most of your points except these two.

I don't find it at all harder to steady myself with a 180mm macro, or even a 100-400mm at 400mm and closest focus. If someone is having trouble with longer, heavier lenses it is most commonly due to inadequate physique. Lift weights and you'll find it much easier to steady such lenses once your strength is much greater than required to merely hold the lens. Same for legs: it is straightforward to hike mountainous terrain with 50lbs of camera gear for several miles if you deadlift 300lbs each week. It's all about the strength ratio of what you can do maximally to what you are doing presently. [Start small, work up slowly, don't compare yourself to others but rather to where you were a couple months ago. Even a small increase in muscle mass is often quickly noticed in the field.]

The primary reason one should consider a 180mm macro over a 100mm macro is control of the background (it has a narrower angle of view), followed by working distance (I deal with a lot of active daytime subjects in hot weather, so this is critical for me). Background blur is mainly a function of the ratio of distances ( subject to background / camera to subject ), and increasing that value will give you good blur. I don't typically photograph subjects "high on bushes or on the other side of a ditch" simply because the subject won't likely be at a good angle, fill the frame, or be properly lit. Adequate image quality is challenging without composition, pixels on subject, and pretty light. With most macro subjects I work to a position inches away, taking photos as I work my way in to both slow my approach and ensure I can at least document a specie's presence at a working location for future reference.

I'll add something you left out: insects are more sensitive to movement from above than an approach at/below their level, so it is best to approach them from a low angle where possible. But the rest of your take on this was both accurate and concise.
 

entoman

wildlife photography
May 8, 2015
440
477
UK
I don't find it at all harder to steady myself with a 180mm macro, or even a 100-400mm at 400mm and closest focus. If someone is having trouble with longer, heavier lenses it is most commonly due to inadequate physique. Lift weights and you'll find it much easier to steady such lenses once your strength is much greater than required to merely hold the lens. Same for legs: it is straightforward to hike mountainous terrain with 50lbs of camera gear for several miles if you deadlift 300lbs each week. It's all about the strength ratio of what you can do maximally to what you are doing presently. [Start small, work up slowly, don't compare yourself to others but rather to where you were a couple months ago. Even a small increase in muscle mass is often quickly noticed in the field.]

The primary reason one should consider a 180mm macro over a 100mm macro is control of the background (it has a narrower angle of view), followed by working distance (I deal with a lot of active daytime subjects in hot weather, so this is critical for me). Background blur is mainly a function of the ratio of distances ( subject to background / camera to subject ), and increasing that value will give you good blur. I don't typically photograph subjects "high on bushes or on the other side of a ditch" simply because the subject won't likely be at a good angle, fill the frame, or be properly lit. Adequate image quality is challenging without composition, pixels on subject, and pretty light. With most macro subjects I work to a position inches away, taking photos as I work my way in to both slow my approach and ensure I can at least document a specie's presence at a working location for future reference.
My comments were aimed mainly at those with limited experience of photographing insects.

The vast majority of insect photographers I meet are butterfly/dragonfly enthusiasts, whose primary goal is to obtain a “proof of sighting” record shot. Hence my mention of using long focal length lenses for insects high on bushes or on the other side of ditches, which as you rightly point out are far from ideal for aesthetically pleasing images.

When I use my 180mm it is usually either because the subject can’t be approached any closer, or because I want better control over background by excluding matter that would be unavoidably in the frame when using a lens with a wider angle of view. But I also find the 180mm produces a much smoother bokeh (irrespective of depth of field).

I agree that one can build up strength to hold a heavier lens steadily (I often carry a 100-400mm all day long), but comparatively speaking, a short, lighter and better-balanced lens like the 100mm macro will always be easier to keep steady than a front-heavy optic like the 180mm macro.
 
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scottburgess

Canonical Canon
Jun 20, 2013
238
28
The 100mm lenses are extremely sharp but have pronounced onion-ring bokeh which I find very distracting if there are defocused highlights in the background. AF is very rapid and precise. I find the working distance is fine for most insects and small vertebrates.
I would control background highlights by not including them if at all possible, so for me that comes back to background control. But I don't photograph much around water, either, and if you are then that immediately changes things. The most recent 100mm lenses do much better with AF, but that seems to be true of most lenses Canon has built after 2010, roughly, in my experience. Not sure how that technology evolved.

The 180mm macro is just as sharp as the 100mm versions, and has vastly more attractive creamy smooth bokeh, and less noticeable onion-ring effect.
As they say, "your mileage may vary." My experience with the Canon macro lenses has matched the IQ images recorded on The-Digital-Picture.com. My sharpest 100mm lens was the old micromotor version. I'm happy for you if you've lucked out on your 100mm purchases, but I don't think of any of these lenses as exceptional. Compared to, for example, my 35mm f/1.4 II, I remain unimpressed. They're perfectly serviceable, they just don't "wow" me at all.

In short, it's useful for folks to hear a range of experiences. Even people doing similar things like us can have different experiences, different approaches, different equipment preferences, and different styles. Thanks for the conversation!
 
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Sep 30, 2021
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genuinely interested, other than semi stationary bugs, how do you get close? I find them skittish, or slightly over water where I can't reach etc.
Just to add to the excellent advice above a few other bits.

Mainly it is all about getting to know your subject. For instance, how it reacts to light, movement, temperature and wind. At certain times of the day insects go torpid. This happens when the temperature drops below a certain level which can be different depending on where you are on the planet. In spring here in the UK for instance I was out photographing the dukes of burgundy butterfly. On the right day they would be easy to find in flight and as soon as the clouds covered the sun the 1-2 degree temperature drop was enough to send them torpid. At that point you could coax them onto a stick etc and shoot to your heart’s content. The second the sun returned they would fly off, unharmed and carry on feeding or mating.

In the summer, just after a rain shower is another good time. The drop in temp and the rain often catches insects out. Early morning or late evening many insects go to roost so are easy to approach. When mating, many will also be oblivious to what is around them. I also shoot on breezy days as you can often grab a perch and because the insects are used to the movement will not notice. I can then carefully manipulate whatever the plant is with my left hand, camera in my right hand resting on my left arm and take shots. Sometimes one individual of a species will be skittish, but another brave. Some spiders will not budge an inch if they have an egg sac for example.

It really is about spending time in the field and learning your subject. With time you find you can get close to almost anything. Not just insects, I have plenty of shots of,lizards, snakes, rodents etc all take with the 60mm. Oddly, we did this naturally as kids but we seem to loose the skill as we get older.
 
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Talys

Canon R5
CR Pro
Feb 16, 2017
2,109
407
Vancouver, BC
This would be so cool. I would buy one for sure. My use case would be miniatures in a studio (most macro shots now taken now with EF100/2.8L), so factors like focus, stabilization and lighting are not an issue, since everything is taken on a tripod with staged lighting.
 

privatebydesign

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
10,517
5,771
This would be so cool. I would buy one for sure. My use case would be miniatures in a studio (most macro shots now taken now with EF100/2.8L), so factors like focus, stabilization and lighting are not an issue, since everything is taken on a tripod with staged lighting.
Try the TS-E 50 with a TC, or the TS-E 135 macro. Both unbelievably good still life studio lenses (amongst other things).
 

joseph ferraro

5DM4/R5 Macro
Apr 16, 2020
13
9
correct it's a patent not yet a CR rating, but I am hopeful.

The image quality on the 180mm is superb, but it is a heavy lens and the autofocus is useless (always flip to manual). So those two reasons alone would make it a worthy lens if they keep the IQ similar or slightly better. Always been intrigued with the MP65 too, but haven't used it. I went with 180 because it gives range to not spook the subjects away.


posted already in another channel, but this was handheld with only a LED light (not particularly powerful) on my R5 and 180L.. had to do some denoise work (cloudy day 5000 ISO), but as usual, the 180 gives some sweet results.

View attachment 200498
the r5 and the mpe65 coupled with the mt26ex is a fabulous combo for macro work, if you ever get the opportunity to try it. That is my daily setup, moved it from the 5dm4.
 

joseph ferraro

5DM4/R5 Macro
Apr 16, 2020
13
9
Unlike other respondents, I would rate the EF 180mm f/3.5 as "good," not superb. It is a workhorse lens for me (and yes, I've owned both Canon EF 100mm macro lenses prior to the L, but working distance matters for insects). I've shot with it exclusively on hundreds of outings. Center and mid-frame sharpness are middling. The autofocus engine is mediocre at best, and frustrating at worst; it's inadequate for flying subjects. Build quality also seems pedestrian.

If an RF 180mm version comes out, my wish list would be for 1) improved sharpness, 2) improved autofocus, and 3) f/2.8 [even with extra weight], in that order of priorities. I'm ignoring image stabilization as I don't know how feasible it is for a long macro. I would like to keep the filter size no greater than 82mm, and preferably no more than 77mm, but I don't know if that is possible getting to f/2.8. Ideally moving elements toward the rear would result in a lens that is actually more easily handled, focuses faster, and meets these specs. I really wish Canon would make a true "pro" macro lens, as the reason I never bought the EF 100L is it isn't significantly better optically than the previous USM version I already have (it's also an oddball filter size for Canon--would prefer a 72mm filter and f/2.5 as I'm trying to stay at mostly 72/77mm for filters). I think the 180mm is the best candidate focal length to change into a professional tool as the EF/RF 100Ls adequately serve most amateurs. Since an RF 180mm price would likely be prohibitive for casual amateurs anyway, why not up the price and quality a bit and give advanced amateurs and professionals the tool they crave?

Making an RF 180mm professional grade is like adding garlic to a pasta dish: both are tastier, and both result in GAS. ;)

I have to agree that the MP-E 65mm is now outdated and in need of an optical upgrade to remain competitive in the market. Also, it is rather pointless to provide an f/16 aperture on a lens where it is not effective; f/2.8 thru f/5.6 is about all that is practical at 1x - 5x, and I would gladly accept a fixed aperture f/2.8 in exchange for better optical quality. At this point, if Canon can't improve the optics significantly, I wouldn't replace mine. Given that higher optical quality can be had through microscope objectives, my concern is that an RF successor would be strictly an amateur lens and unlikely to provide the needed improvements. The main advantage for the 1x-5x Macro Zoom lens is efficiency for field work, but it generally works best for stationary subjects (like tiny mushrooms, or deep-chilled critters).

I'm curious about the OP's comment that Canon "didn't sell a ton of these." I wouldn't expect a long macro to sell a large unit count due to its cost and the experience necessary to realize the need for it, but what is the source of this information? Photo manufacturers typically don't revealing much about sales of particular products.
f11 on the mpe65 is a great aperture to work with, and have used f13 without too much diffraction murder. I feel comfortable going up to about 3x at f11, sometimes bumping down to f9 or f10 if going to 4 or 5x, and mind you this all handheld as well. At 5.6 you would have sharpness but no depth of field, but for stacking in the lab it would be useful but certainly not in the field doing work, which is how I use the mpe65 so a fixed 2.8 would be absolutely useless unless you were stacking only. Yes, I would love for it to be updated with new optics and a native rf mount, but I have found it to work perfectly on my my r5 since updating.

I disagree with how the lens works best, I chase and photograph active critters all day with the mpe65 in situ in the field with excellent results. It is the lens I photograph most of my subjects with in the field.
 

scottburgess

Canonical Canon
Jun 20, 2013
238
28
f11 on the mpe65 is a great aperture to work with, and have used f13 without too much diffraction murder. I feel comfortable going up to about 3x at f11, sometimes bumping down to f9 or f10 if going to 4 or 5x, and mind you this all handheld as well. At 5.6 you would have sharpness but no depth of field, but for stacking in the lab it would be useful but certainly not in the field doing work, which is how I use the mpe65 so a fixed 2.8 would be absolutely useless unless you were stacking only. Yes, I would love for it to be updated with new optics and a native rf mount, but I have found it to work perfectly on my my r5 since updating.

I disagree with how the lens works best, I chase and photograph active critters all day with the mpe65 in situ in the field with excellent results. It is the lens I photograph most of my subjects with in the field.
Interesting! I've wondered for some time if my copy was more aperture sensitive as my experience with this does seem to deviate from the norm. I can't get adequate sharpness even when using flash/mirror lockup and on a tripod at those aperture/magnification combinations, so there may be a defect in my copy. Not sure why it shows up at smaller apertures though--perhaps a problem with the blades? I wonder if I should send it to Canon for a service?
 

joseph ferraro

5DM4/R5 Macro
Apr 16, 2020
13
9
Interesting! I've wondered for some time if my copy was more aperture sensitive as my experience with this does seem to deviate from the norm. I can't get adequate sharpness even when using flash/mirror lockup and on a tripod at those aperture/magnification combinations, so there may be a defect in my copy. Not sure why it shows up at smaller apertures though--perhaps a problem with the blades? I wonder if I should send it to Canon for a servicey
I would totally send it in to be serviced or looked at, since something doesn't seem right with your copy of the lens. The dof with the mpe65 is pretty thin to start, but you should be able to get sharp and detailed images up to about f11. You can go all the way to f16 for more dof but then you have to be willing to live with diffraction softness even around 1x.