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

pj1974

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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 with, 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.
Really helpful post, YuengLinger...

I appreciate you taking the time to write, and share your interesting experiences with the Sigma 180mm macro. I have also heard a number of others saying how much they like that lens.

When that lens first came out, I was also looking at that as a possibility (instead of the Canon 100mm macro) - but I decided to go with the Canon, because it was my first macro, and I felt maybe less specialist than the Sigma.

Great photos that you attached, both have high image quality (sharpness, contrast, great colour), etc. Thanks for sharing!

PJ
 
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koenkooi

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[..]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.
[..]
My copy of the Sigma 150mm was sharper than my EF100 non-L, even in the 150mm + 1.4x Sigma extender case. Comparing it against the EF100L it was sharper without the extender and slightly worse with the extender. I haven't compared it against the RF100L or against the RF100-500L, but I think it's probably in between those 2.

If the Sigma 180mm is considered a step above the 150mm, I might develope some buyers remorse for the EF180L :)
 
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Viggo

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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.
I didn’t know electronic shutter focused stopped down? Any source for this?

I just tried filming it in slow mo and it does stop down.
 
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aceflibble

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If the Sigma 180mm is considered a step above the 150mm, I might develope some buyers remorse for the EF180L :)
It is. The only macro lenses I've ever encountered that were sharper and better-corrected than the Sigma 180mm are the original Sigma 150mm (the non-OS original is a lot better optically than the OS revision), the Zeiss 100mm f/2 and the Canon TS-E 135mm f/4L. Those all have their own drawbacks, though. The original Sigma 150 has no stabilisation and a focus motor which is, shall we kindly say, "retro", and the Zeiss and Canon are both all-manual and only give 0.5x magnification, though of course a little extension gets them to 1.0x very easily. The Sigma 180mm is only a hair behind those three and much more practical (bar the weight). I wish the Canon 180 was as good or would be revised, since its AF is slightly better and a new one would presumably have much better AF, but as it stands the Sigma is the better optic and gives you stabilisation (yes, it doesn't give you the full 5000 stops of IS Canon's own lenses do on an R5, but 'just' a couple of stops of stabilisation is better than none at all), which in the field (both figuratively and, quite often, literally in a field) makes it the better buy.

... Y'know, if you can find someone willing to part with one. There's a reason they don't come up for sale often and when they do people usually ask for the full new retail price, even for a copy that's a bit scratched up.
 

koenkooi

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I didn’t know electronic shutter focused stopped down? Any source for this?

I just tried filming it in slow mo and it does stop down.
I haven't found a statement from Canon, but the aperture on my 180L is very slow and loud, so with EFCS it won't to 12fps and you can hear the iris opening and closing. It makes me think of pac-man: wakka wakka wakka wakka. With e-shutter I only hear the iris once and I get 20fps :)

But to answer both aspects of your question: it focuses wide-open, but during shooting it (obviously) stops down and will also re-focus while stopped down. If you take your finger of the shutter it will open up again.
 

Viggo

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I haven't found a statement from Canon, but the aperture on my 180L is very slow and loud, so with EFCS it won't to 12fps and you can hear the iris opening and closing. It makes me think of pac-man: wakka wakka wakka wakka. With e-shutter I only hear the iris once and I get 20fps :)

But to answer both aspects of your question: it focuses wide-open, but during shooting it (obviously) stops down and will also re-focus while stopped down. If you take your finger of the shutter it will open up again.
I didn’t release my finger when shooting at f8 at 20 fps, somehow I can’t upload the video here…
 

GMCPhotographics

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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.
I used to have a Sigma 180mm macro. it's AF was pretty awful compared to the canon version...and the images weren't as sharp or as nice. It looked like it massively dropped focal length as I focussed in. When I compared the ef 180mm macro from Canon it was a night and day experience. My ef 100mm LIS Macro is even better Af wise...which is why i wish canon had made a 180mm L macro II.
 

RayValdez360

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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
i just got mine. what the firmware version. mine says 1.1.1.
 

SonicStudios

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Ahhhhhh Gezzzz, come on Canon, what's up with not supplying a tripod mount ring for the RF100 Macro? Really, you want 200 dollars more for the ring, come on. You supply a mount ring for the short RF70-200 for free, but for this new longer lens your now going to start charging for mount rings? Just add the price to the cost and ship them out when there in stock
 
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jprusa

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Ahhhhhh Gezzzz, come on Canon, what's up with not supplying a tripod mount ring for the RF100 Macro? Really, you want 200 dollars more for the ring, come on. You supply a mount ring for the short RF70-200 for free, but for this new longer lens your now going to start charging for mount rings? Just add the price to the cost and ship them out when there in stock
I had to buy a lens hood for my 800 f11 ??
 

SonicStudios

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I had to buy a lens hood for my 800 f11 ??
But that's not an L (not saying they shouldn't include them, but they typically don't). However, L's usually include things like hoods and lens specific mounts... so I feel it's a shame they didn't include one either.
Ahhhhhh, that i did not know. I'll keep that in mind when i order the RF 300
 
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neuroanatomist

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Ahhhhhh Gezzzz, come on Canon, what's up with not supplying a tripod mount ring for the RF100 Macro? Really, you want 200 dollars more for the ring, come on. You supply a mount ring for the short RF70-200 for free, but for this new longer lens your now going to start charging for mount rings? Just add the price to the cost and ship them out when there in stock
The EF 100L Macro did not come with the tripod mount ring, nor did the EF 70-300L or the f/4 versions of the EF 70-200L. The f/2.8 versions of the EF 70-200 lenses came with the tripod mount ring.
 

YuengLinger

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I used to have a Sigma 180mm macro. it's AF was pretty awful compared to the canon version...and the images weren't as sharp or as nice. It looked like it massively dropped focal length as I focussed in. When I compared the ef 180mm macro from Canon it was a night and day experience. My ef 100mm LIS Macro is even better Af wise...which is why i wish canon had made a 180mm L macro II.
I can't compare the AF of the Sigma 180 to the Canon 180mm, but the image quality on mine is top notch, super sharp and with lovely contrast and bokeh. The R5 gives it a whole new life, and the AF is fast and accurate for sure. Whether or not I have an exceptional copy seems pretty tough to determine in 2021.

As I stated earlier, it exhibits no focus-shift. Neither does my EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro.

And I haven't noticed a stampede of other reviewers reporting the issue, but maybe my Google isn't working.
 

canonmike

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I had to buy a lens hood for my 800 f11 ??
Knowing the RF 800 comes without a hood, I ordered an aftermarket one on ebay the same day I ordered the lens. Rec'd the hood before the lens, so I was ready. I have no problem with these hoods on non L bodies and this hood, costing less than $20.00 has worked out well. Now, to find an aftermarket pack that will hold the lens, without removing my R6 body.
 
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neuroanatomist

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Bryan @ TDP posted the information he received from Canon's engineers:

"...due to its 1.4x magnification (1.4:1 reproduction ratio) capability, a magnification far exceeding 1.0x, the RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS Lens's optical design exhibits some focus shift.

The focus shift is not sample dependent and is not related to the SA control ring. As focus shift is characteristic of this lens, no production changes to the lens or lens/camera firmware updates are anticipated. Correction, when necessary, is accomplished by focusing slightly in front of the subject.
"

 
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koenkooi

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Bryan @ TDP posted the information he received from Canon's engineers:

"...due to its 1.4x magnification (1.4:1 reproduction ratio) capability, a magnification far exceeding 1.0x, the RF 100mm F2.8 L Macro IS Lens's optical design exhibits some focus shift.

The focus shift is not sample dependent and is not related to the SA control ring. As focus shift is characteristic of this lens, no production changes to the lens or lens/camera firmware updates are anticipated. Correction, when necessary, is accomplished by focusing slightly in front of the subject.
"

That's a weird reply from Canon, focus-shift is something the firmware could very well compensate for since it knows the actual position of the focus motors and hence the exact focus distance.
And did Canon just imply that their AF should be avoided?
 
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