Review: Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro

neuroanatomist

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When your best example has no relation to the topic, I’m unimpressed.
I said it was the first example I ran across, not ‘my best example’. Either read more carefully or avoid attributing statements to me that I didn’t make. The issue isn’t of sufficient importance to me to find a ‘best’ example.

Not many examples out there at all from a barely-released new lens. Neither my EF 100 L macro nor my MP-E 65 exhibit focus shift (nor does my EF-M 28mm macro), and because I have both of those, I have no intention of buying the RF 100 L macro to see it and/or demonstrate it personally.

I trust Bryan’s (TDP) reviews, and if he tested two copies and found focus shift, it’s there. If you’re interested in the lens and confident the focus shift will not affect your images, you should buy the lens. I am neither, so I’m not planning to buy it.
 

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
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It's a pity...
My dream macro combo was the R3 with Eye-Control AF plus the RF 100 .
Exit RF 100, unless a convincing fix is offered by Canon. I still can't understand what went wrong, how can a brand new macro lens have focus-shift, didn't anybody notice before Brian ???
 
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InchMetric

Switched from Nikon. Still zooming the wrong way.
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Jun 22, 2021
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I said it was the first example I ran across, not ‘my best example’. Either read more carefully or avoid attributing statements to me that I didn’t make. The issue isn’t of sufficient importance to me to find a ‘best’ example.
My apologies. I'll still note that there are no good examples of any modern Canon lens with "focus shift" problems that weren't quickly resolved in formware, virtually undectable in normal shooting, or both. Nothing posted yet on this thread but the hyperbolic "concern".
 

pardus

EOS M6 Mark II
Oct 9, 2012
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Took the lens back, will maybe check out another copy when inventory is available. Here is another example, 100% crop, R5 on camera stand, F11 - top shot is RF and bottom is EF with adaptor.
Screen Shot 2021-07-21 at 7.54.48 AM.jpg
 

neuroanatomist

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My apologies. I'll still note that there are no good examples of any modern Canon lens with "focus shift" problems that weren't quickly resolved in formware, virtually undectable in normal shooting, or both. Nothing posted yet on this thread but the hyperbolic "concern".

I'm sure you'll claim that the EF 50/1.2 is 'not a modern lens', however, it has not been replaced in the Canon EF lineup so if you want a 50/1.2 for a DSLR, that's as modern as you can get. Was it 'resolved in firmware'? No.

I have many personal examples of shots that would be affected by focus shift, if my lens suffered from it – mainly portraits with the 85/1.2L and 85/1.4L, with the subject's face at an angle. 'Real world' examples of the scarecrow face in the above article.

As I said, you are free to believe it's not a problem for you. People have different standards, for many an iPhone delivers sufficient technical quality, for many others an 18-55 kit lens does the same. For me, it focus shift would be a problem in a macro lens. That's not hyperbole, that's my opinion. The mantis shot above would have been focused behind the eye with focus shift.
 
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PaulStoffregen

I'm New Here
Jul 21, 2021
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Received my RF 100mm macro from Adorama last week. I had placed a preorder pretty much the moment it was announced.

Optically, it's pretty amazing, though I must confess the only other macro lenses I've owned are a couple of Nikon DX format. The stabilization is amazing. With auto-ISO allowing up to 25600 on my Canon R6, I can easily get handheld shots that always came out blurry with the Nikon with "VR2".

But 2 things seem a little off. Hoping for some feedback, as I'm pretty new to Canon. Got the R6 only a few months ago.

The RF 100mm macro lens seems to always make a slight whirring sound, as if a motor or tiny fan is constantly spinning inside. The sound is constant as long as the camera is on, even when just sitting still without any use. It can only be heard in a quiet room or if you put your ear right near the lens. Is this sort of thing normal with Canon lenses?

The other problem is occasionally I've getting "Error 70" from the camera, with a message I need to turn the camera off and back on again. Looking this up seems to say it's a problem with the lens. The only other RF lens I have is the STM kit lens which came with the R6, and I don't get Error 70 with that kit lens.
 

macrunning

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Feb 12, 2021
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Received my RF 100mm macro from Adorama last week. I had placed a preorder pretty much the moment it was announced.

Optically, it's pretty amazing, though I must confess the only other macro lenses I've owned are a couple of Nikon DX format. The stabilization is amazing. With auto-ISO allowing up to 25600 on my Canon R6, I can easily get handheld shots that always came out blurry with the Nikon with "VR2".

But 2 things seem a little off. Hoping for some feedback, as I'm pretty new to Canon. Got the R6 only a few months ago.

The RF 100mm macro lens seems to always make a slight whirring sound, as if a motor or tiny fan is constantly spinning inside. The sound is constant as long as the camera is on, even when just sitting still without any use. It can only be heard in a quiet room or if you put your ear right near the lens. Is this sort of thing normal with Canon lenses?

The other problem is occasionally I've getting "Error 70" from the camera, with a message I need to turn the camera off and back on again. Looking this up seems to say it's a problem with the lens. The only other RF lens I have is the STM kit lens which came with the R6, and I don't get Error 70 with that kit lens.
Have you reached out to Canon support? I got an “Error 70” msg while my camera froze from using animal eye auto focus. Had to send my R5 into Canon and they replaced the circuit board!
 

koenkooi

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Feb 25, 2015
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[..]The RF 100mm macro lens seems to always make a slight whirring sound, as if a motor or tiny fan is constantly spinning inside. The sound is constant as long as the camera is on, even when just sitting still without any use. It can only be heard in a quiet room or if you put your ear right near the lens. Is this sort of thing normal with Canon lenses?[..]
Your description sounds like how the IS sounds on my lens when it's engaged.
 

pardus

EOS M6 Mark II
Oct 9, 2012
66
8
49
West Coast
Received my RF 100mm macro from Adorama last week. I had placed a preorder pretty much the moment it was announced.

Optically, it's pretty amazing, though I must confess the only other macro lenses I've owned are a couple of Nikon DX format. The stabilization is amazing. With auto-ISO allowing up to 25600 on my Canon R6, I can easily get handheld shots that always came out blurry with the Nikon with "VR2".

But 2 things seem a little off. Hoping for some feedback, as I'm pretty new to Canon. Got the R6 only a few months ago.

The RF 100mm macro lens seems to always make a slight whirring sound, as if a motor or tiny fan is constantly spinning inside. The sound is constant as long as the camera is on, even when just sitting still without any use. It can only be heard in a quiet room or if you put your ear right near the lens. Is this sort of thing normal with Canon lenses?

The other problem is occasionally I've getting "Error 70" from the camera, with a message I need to turn the camera off and back on again. Looking this up seems to say it's a problem with the lens. The only other RF lens I have is the STM kit lens which came with the R6, and I don't get Error 70 with that kit lens.
Do you have continuous AF set to enable in menu?
 

PaulStoffregen

I'm New Here
Jul 21, 2021
11
4
Do you have continuous AF set to enable in menu?

Nope.

DSC_1540_web.jpg


Must admit, I completely new to Canon and still learning my way around the menus and so many features.

In fact, this blurry shot is with my old Nikon D5100 using 85mm macro at F8, using a couple nearby desk lamps. Even with VR and ISO 3200, a tripod (or a steadier hand than my quick casual effort) is needed to get a sharp image.

Your description sounds like how the IS sounds on my lens when it's engaged.

Does it make the sound all the time when the camera is on?


Have you reached out to Canon support? I got an “Error 70” msg while my camera froze from using animal eye auto focus. Had to send my R5 into Canon and they replaced the circuit board!

Nope, not yet. Everything else seems to work (except wifi is very flakey). Sounds like I probably should contact them?
 

Mt Spokane Photography

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I ordered it within minutes of the announcement but about a week before it was released, I realized that I had not used my EF 100L in almost a year, so why was I replacing it with another that would not get used. I cancelled the order, if I start using my 100L again, I can always get the RF. Now, I'll see if they have a fix for the focus shift. I'd think that with the smart lenses they have now, they could do it in firmware but it could be more complicated for macro distances and with the soft focus adjustment.
 
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Del Paso

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Aug 9, 2018
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Just to sum it up: focus-shift is inacceptable for a macro lens.
Period!
 
Last edited:

tron

EOS R5
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Nov 8, 2011
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I ordered it within minutes of the announcement but about a week before it was released, I realized that I had not used my EF 100L in almost a year, so why was I replacing it with another that would not get used. I cancelled the order, if I start using my 100L again, I can always get the RF. Now, I'll see if they have a fix for the focus shift. I'd think that with the smart lenses they have now, they could do it in firmware but it could be more complicated for macro distances and with the soft focus adjustment.
Just like me (the use part). I use my EF100L rarely so no point. I also use it on my 5DIV mostly so it stays that way.
 

koenkooi

EOS 5D Mark IV
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Feb 25, 2015
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I haven't noticed the focus shift so far, but I haven't done controlled experiments yet. Most of the pictures have been either chasing insects or insects on swaying stalks and gunning it with 20fps electronic shutter, or flash + 8fps EFCS.

If there are focus shift issues, I hope Canon releases a firmware update before I start noticing it. I also hope people will start posting @AlanF style experiments to see how it affects their usage.
 
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tron

EOS R5
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Nov 8, 2011
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Am I correct in assuming the focus shift issue only occurs when for instance you are focused on something at say, f8, and if you change aperture setting the focus will shift ? I generally speaking set my aperture for macro and take the shot /shots . If I were to change aperture I would refocus and take the shot/shots
As far as I know you cannot focus stopped down. Camera always focuses fully open (in this case at 2.8) and it stops down during exposure. So focus shift is always there (at f/8 for example).
 

PaulStoffregen

I'm New Here
Jul 21, 2021
11
4
IS is on when the viewfinder is active, it will stop when you are in the menus for a while or when the camera goes to sleep.

The lens definitely keeps making the same whirring sound when I go into menus. No discernible change (at least to my ears) when going in and out of menus.

It does stop making the sound when the camera goes to sleep, or when I switch it off.
 

Charlie_B

I'm New Here
Oct 23, 2020
24
24
Took the lens back, will maybe check out another copy when inventory is available. Here is another example, 100% crop, R5 on camera stand, F11 - top shot is RF and bottom is EF with adaptor.
View attachment 199082
I didn't realise "focus shift " was the same as back/front focusing , back focusing in this case. My RF 70-200mm f2.8 had the same issue but was quickly fixed in lens firmware update, I would sincerely hope Canon will provide a fix ASAP, it wasn't a major issue on the 70-200 but it certainly will be an issue on a Macro lens
 

PaulStoffregen

I'm New Here
Jul 21, 2021
11
4
Ok, I'm trying to do a controlled test for focus shift. Please forgive me if this method is flawed (I'm not a pro photographer) and gently explain how I should do better.

For a subject, I put 3 tiny electronic parts onto a little stair-step stand made of card stock.

fc1.jpg


The card stock is about 1mm thick. These parts are approx 1.6 mm size.

Using my R6, I manually focused on the top surface of the middle part.

fc2.jpg


This is using the lens at more than 1X magnification but not quite all the way to 1.4X. I tried to get close, but the R6 & lens combo is pretty heavy for my manfrotto magic arm. Sorry, I don't have a nice tripod with fine adjustment (with this much weight on it), so this was the closest I could get after a few tries tightening the arm in place.

Here's the manual focus with double zoom in. With the lens at 2.8F the plane of focus is so thin even the metal legs only about half a millimeter farther away are blurry.

fc3.jpg


I took several shots at apertures from 2.8 to 22. I'm FTP transferring the images now (my R6 wifi seems pretty flakey and it's giving me Error 46 and retrying). Will crop just the subject and post those image in a few minutes....