The focus shift issue with the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro revisited in revised review

Canon Rumors Guy

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Bryan at The-Digital-Picture completed his full review of the Canon RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM last month, and one of the negative issues that stood out was the focus shift that he experienced with the new RF macro lens.
In the spirit of being thorough, Bryan got himself a second copy of the RF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro to see if he had received a bad copy, or if the shift was by design. It looks like it’s the latter.
Did I get a bad copy of the Canon RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS USM Lens? My guess was no. Supporting that theory was a technical rep confirming the issue with his lens. The test results shared above have been forwarded to the Canon lens team in Japan. Read the full review
If you only want to read about the focus shift issue and see the tests, just do a search (CTRL-F /...

Continue reading...
 

YuengLinger

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The standard, though, has been set by Canon's other macro lenses. I don't remember personally having this issue with the ef 100 macros, either standard or L series; nor do I remember reviews mentioning focus shift as an issue with them.

I do remember focus shift in the ef 50mm 1.2L being debated for years.

Canon could do all a favor by issuing a statement--or fixing in firmware if possible.

I wonder if incorporating the CA control function was part of the design issue that produces the focus-shift detected by Bryan and the tech he spoke with.

I am extremely satisfied with my ef 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS on the R5/R6, so for now this isn't going to affect me.
 
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Canon Rumors Guy

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The standard, though, has been set by Canon's other macro lenses. I don't remember personally having this issue with the ef 100 macros, either standard or L series; nor do I remember reviews mentioning focus shift as an issue with them.

I do remember focus shift in the ef 50mm 1.2L being debated for years.

Canon could do all a favor by issuing a statement--or fixing in firmware if possible.

I wonder if incorporating the CA control function was part of the design issue that produces the focus-shift detected by Bryan and the tech he spoke with.

I am extremely satisfied with my ef 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS on the R5/R6, so for now this isn't going to affect me.

The EF 50mm f/1.2L definitely had focus shift issues early on. I'm pretty convinced Canon tweaked things over the years to minimize it. For whatever reason, it didn't have a floating element.

I don't shoot macro very often, but when I do, I still use the non-L EF 100mm f/2.8.
 

jam05

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I wonder if while doing his "running and gunning" he is moving the CA ring. Or if it's offset so slightly that he simply doesn't observe it. I don't have an issue with mine.
 
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juststeve

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The EF 24-70/4 L had a focus shift issue at first. Reportedly, it showed up mainly as softness at 50mm. I bought mine a couple years after introduction and have had very high performance across its full range and it is used almost always on a 5DS, not a forgiving camera. I think the softness at mid-range on that lens was something Canon could correct in firmware.
 
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Ian K

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I wonder if while doing his "running and gunning" he is moving the CA ring. Or if it's offset so slightly that he simply doesn't observe it. I don't have an issue with mine.
The SA ring has a lock that would prevent this. It can only be locked at 0, much as the zoom lock can only be locked at minimum extension.


Canon_RF100mm_Macro_05.jpeg
 
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koenkooi

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I've been using the RF100L almost exclusively with electronic shutter which does a good job of hiding this issue. With 20fps I can pick the best focussed picture of the set and after the first shot, the R5 will refocus with the aperture stopped down, with MS or EFCS it will open up the aperture between each shot to focus.

I do wish Canon will ship a lens firmware that allows full-time-manual focus override, like the 100-500 has.
 
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GMCPhotographics

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The EF 50mm f/1.2L definitely had focus shift issues early on. I'm pretty convinced Canon tweaked things over the years to minimize it. For whatever reason, it didn't have a floating element.

I don't shoot macro very often, but when I do, I still use the non-L EF 100mm f/2.8.
I've owned and sold 3 ef 50mm f1.2 L lenses over the years. I found that using outer AF points and using the focus and re-compose trick worked pretty much every time. I love the contrast, colours and low flare from this lens. I found the AF in low light to be appalling...even my 24-70 f2.8 L mk 1 focussed in lower light and that's 2 stops dimmer. However the inerrant softness compared to other Canon ef L Primes was intolerable. The last of the 3 copies that I bought was a wee bit sharper and certainly seemed to AF a bit better. However they were all comparatively soft. I have an early metal mount 50mm f1.8 if I want a 50mm prime and I shoot that wide open.
I regularly use a ef 100mm USM L Macro, it's a fantastic lens. I just wished Canon got around to updating the ef 180mm L macro before Canon went all out RF mount.
 
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jd7

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The EF 24-70/4 L had a focus shift issue at first. Reportedly, it showed up mainly as softness at 50mm. I bought mine a couple years after introduction and have had very high performance across its full range and it is used almost always on a 5DS, not a forgiving camera. I think the softness at mid-range on that lens was something Canon could correct in firmware.
The softness around 50mm on the EF 24-70/4L IS is a separate issue from focus shift. My 24-70/4L IS was soft at about 50mm when I bought it (some years ago now!), but I sent it to Canon for calibration and the lens has been excellent since then. A very under-rated lens, in my opinion. (Yes, I do have 24-70/4L IS, even though it's not in my signature now. I recently picked up a 24-70/2,8L II as my photography needs (wants?!) have a changed and I have greater use for a 2.8 zoom for that range, but previously I was very happy with the 24-70/4L IS for landscapes/travel/walk-around and primes for portraits / environment portraits. I guess I will keep the 24-70/2.8L II and sell my 24-70/4L IS but I'm still deciding, and if I sell the 24-70/4L IS I know there will be times when I will miss it.)

In any event though, focus shift on the 24-70/4L IS is never something which has been an issue for me, but if it's there you should see it when shooting close up shots and at about f/5.6 or so (perhaps f/8). The issue is the camera focussing (correctly) initially, but the focus point moving when the lens stops down when you take the shot. It was certainly an issue reported in some of the early reviews, but as I say it has never been an issue for me. I've never gone looking for it though, and I haven't take a lot of close up shots with that lens, so it's not impossible it's there but it just hasn't been relevant to me.
 
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koenkooi

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I regularly use a ef 100mm USM L Macro, it's a fantastic lens. I just wished Canon got around to updating the ef 180mm L macro before Canon went all out RF mount.
I went out to shoot dragonflies in a bog shortly after dawn this weekend and I brought the RF100L, RF100-500L and the EF180L. At first light the 180L on a tripod was great, it allowed me to practice sneaking up on the dragons while they were still cold. After the wind picked up I switched to handholding the RF100L and immediately noticed the better AF, but filling the frame was a lot harder without spooking them.
When it warmed up enough to have the dragonflies swarming, the RF100-500L was the best tool for the job, even more working distance, nice and fast AF and enough support from the combined IS to drop below 1/focallength.

This furthered my conviction that a 200-ish mm 1:1 macro lens with dual nano-USM and IS would be a worthwhile replacement. Dual nano-USM is very, very good at what it does.
 
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aceflibble

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This furthered my conviction that a 200-ish mm 1:1 macro lens with dual nano-USM and IS would be a worthwhile replacement. Dual nano-USM is very, very good at what it does.
Sigma's ''old'' (2012) 180mm f/2.8 OS HSM Macro is what you want, then. It came in just months before they rebranded with the Art, Sports and Contemporary stylings, so it has their older gold ring look, though it was developed at the same time as the first couple of Art lenses and it is on par with them both in optics and focus. It's got just a hair less contrast at f/2.8 than the Canon lens does at f/3.5, but by the time you stop them both down to just f/4 the Sigma takes the lead. It is heavier than the Canon 180mm and a little bit larger overall, but if you can cope with the 100-500 then you can cope with the Sigma; it's the exact same size as the 100-500 is, without the extending barrel. It works very well with a 1.4x extender, too. (I don't remember ever using it with a 2x, so I won't vouch for that.) Stabilisation of course varies per user and camera resolution, but for me on the 5DS R I often shot it at 1/60th, which is as slow as I ever risk for living subjects anyway, with no shake. if Sigma had just held off the release until they could rebrand it with the 'Art' designation, I believe that 180mm would be one of their more famous lenses, instead of one of their most obscure, and it'd be known as the insect lens.

Realistically if either Canon or Sigma (or Tamron, Tokina, or whoever else) were to make a newer equivalent, I doubt it'd actually be any different from the 2012 Sigma other than the styling on the outside.
 

koenkooi

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Sigma's ''old'' (2012) 180mm f/2.8 OS HSM Macro is what you want, then. It came in just months before they rebranded with the Art, Sports and Contemporary stylings, so it has their older gold ring look, though it was developed at the same time as the first couple of Art lenses and it is on par with them both in optics and focus. It's got just a hair less contrast at f/2.8 than the Canon lens does at f/3.5, but by the time you stop them both down to just f/4 the Sigma takes the lead. It is heavier than the Canon 180mm and a little bit larger overall, but if you can cope with the 100-500 then you can cope with the Sigma; it's the exact same size as the 100-500 is, without the extending barrel. It works very well with a 1.4x extender, too. (I don't remember ever using it with a 2x, so I won't vouch for that.) Stabilisation of course varies per user and camera resolution, but for me on the 5DS R I often shot it at 1/60th, which is as slow as I ever risk for living subjects anyway, with no shake. if Sigma had just held off the release until they could rebrand it with the 'Art' designation, I believe that 180mm would be one of their more famous lenses, instead of one of their most obscure, and it'd be known as the insect lens.

Realistically if either Canon or Sigma (or Tamron, Tokina, or whoever else) were to make a newer equivalent, I doubt it'd actually be any different from the 2012 Sigma other than the styling on the outside.
When I bought the EF180L last year I considered the Sigma 180mm, but it has a few things against it, the most important one that it wasn't in stock anywhere and when asked I received replies like "We aren't get any new deliveries." The other thing against it is that the IS on my and Sigma 150 OS and (now sold) EF100L don't play well with the IBIS in the R5.
 
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SwissFrank

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I wonder if incorporating the CA control function was part of the design issue that produces the focus-shift detected by Bryan and the tech he spoke with.
My response to the initial report was to ask whether CA was at zero. It seemed like the initial reporter didn't understand what the CA did, if I recall correctly.
 

SwissFrank

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I found that using outer AF points and using the focus and re-compose trick worked pretty much every time. I love the contrast, colours and low flare from this lens. I found the AF in low light to be appalling...even my 24-70 f2.8 L mk 1 focussed in lower light and that's 2 stops dimmer. However the inerrant softness compared to other Canon ef L Primes was intolerable. The last of the 3 copies that I bought was a wee bit sharper and certainly seemed to AF a bit better. However they were all comparatively soft.
Well first, it's not an especially sharp lens, even in the center.

But the plane of focus isn't a sphere, so no, it is impossible to focus-and-recompose this lens and get sharp images unless stopped way down (f/8+).

It doesn't make sense that you say focus-and-recompose works every time but then the results were soft. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say focus-and-recompose NEVER worked?

*** Comment edited by CR **
 

pj1974

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When I bought the EF180L last year I considered the Sigma 180mm, but it has a few things against it, the most important one that it wasn't in stock anywhere and when asked I received replies like "We aren't get any new deliveries." The other thing against it is that the IS on my and Sigma 150 OS and (now sold) EF100L don't play well with the IBIS in the R5.

Hi koenkooi

Could you please explain / expand on how the EF100L does not play well with the R5's IBIS?
I have the EF100L, and when I go full RF (likely R5 or similar), I would really like to know any issues about this lens beforehand.

Many thanks (in advance)!

PJ
 

koenkooi

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Hi koenkooi

Could you please explain / expand on how the EF100L does not play well with the R5's IBIS?
I have the EF100L, and when I go full RF (likely R5 or similar), I would really like to know any issues about this lens beforehand.

Many thanks (in advance)!

PJ
In some situations I get better shots with IS turned off, handholding at 1/250th focussed at MFD using electronic shutter or EFCS. On the RP (with EFCS) I didn't have the slight blurring. It doesn't happen often, but often enough to be noticable. If you are better at handholding the camera, you might not have that issue :)

It might not be the IBIS, it could be the R5 being heavier than the RP leading to more stress on my wrists or something like that. I get nowhere near the slow shutterspeeds other people can get in similar situations. Whatever is causing it, the RF100L can handle it.

I wouldn't hesitate to use the EF100L on an R5/R6 with IS turned on, just check the results while taking pictures. With in-EVF review you don't have to change posture or take your eye from the EVF!
 

YuengLinger

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When I bought the EF180L last year I considered the Sigma 180mm, but it has a few things against it, the most important one that it wasn't in stock anywhere and when asked I received replies like "We aren't get any new deliveries." The other thing against it is that the IS on my and Sigma 150 OS and (now sold) EF100L don't play well with the IBIS in the R5.
I wasn't going to be the first to bring up the Sigma 180mm, but since somebody did...

On my R5, the IBIS and IS are working together surprising well. I say surprisingly because the 180mm is an older lens and it is very heavy and long. But it works about as well as does my ef 100mm f/2.8L IS, when I take into account the longer focal length. In other words, I up the shutter speed by about 2/3 of a stop and seem to get the roughly same results. I do think that the IS/IBIS must be working better for me, as there are so many more pixels on the R5, and it stays sharp in my typical handheld range of 1/150th to 1/640th. My hands are not super steady, so I've gone with higher shutter speeds for years now.

One thing to note, though, is that the Sigma 180mm does have very good IS all on its own. Just a little noisy compared to the latest and greatest.

That said, I shoot with it primarily on a tripod. My little boy asked why I use such a long lens to take pictures of bugs, and I explained that I can be a little further back. Then last week he got stung--really stung--mid-thigh by a wasp as he was playing with some flower buds on a shrub. When he saw me yesterday with the 180mm he said, "That's for bees and wasps, right, Dad?"

It was my impression, when I bought the 180mm, that it was a step above other Sigma lenses at the time, both in terms of optics and build quality. About a year later I bought the Sigma 35mm Art when it came out, and sensed a lot of similarities. I never tried a Sigma 150mm, but the only person I know who had one was frequently complaining about his copy's IQ.

I was sad to see the Sigma 180mm go out of production. It also takes wonderful closeup portraits! (But it is too heavy for casual use.)

I'd love to see both Sigma and Canon competing with some longer and lighter macros.

The attached was taken handheld some years back with a 5DIII at f/4, 1/640th, ISO 640. Same little boy who got stung last week!

Also attached is another shot, but this on a tripod. Just for fun. 5DIII, f/8, 1/15th, ISO 320. Focus is on Batman.

And, btw, nodding to the topic, I never noticed a focus-shift issue with this longer focal-length macro.
 

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pj1974

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In some situations I get better shots with IS turned off, handholding at 1/250th focussed at MFD using electronic shutter or EFCS. On the RP (with EFCS) I didn't have the slight blurring. It doesn't happen often, but often enough to be noticable. If you are better at handholding the camera, you might not have that issue :)

It might not be the IBIS, it could be the R5 being heavier than the RP leading to more stress on my wrists or something like that. I get nowhere near the slow shutterspeeds other people can get in similar situations. Whatever is causing it, the RF100L can handle it.

I wouldn't hesitate to use the EF100L on an R5/R6 with IS turned on, just check the results while taking pictures. With in-EVF review you don't have to change posture or take your eye from the EVF!
Many thanks koenkooi for your detailed, and very helpful reply.

That certainly will be something I'll keep in mind. I count myself 'medium ability' when it comes to steady hands for photography.

I really love the EF100mmL macro, and hopefully it'll serve me well when I get a Canon RF camera. I will definitely keep an eye on any slight blurring that might come up with IS on.

I like the in-EVF review in my M5, I can imagine I'd like it even more in a FF mirrorless.

Regards,

PJ