Canon 100mm f/2.8 L Macro For Video

Is this the best ever lens for B Roll? The Canon 100mm L series macro USM IS for video.

Is This The Best Ever B-Roll Lens?

The Canon 100mm macro, is part of canon’s premium L Series range and new will set you back around £850. But if you’re willing to look on the used market it can be snapped up for a mere £500, which for a lens of this quality is a real bargain. 

It has a max aperture of f/2.8, with 9 rounded aperture blades, which render a smooth and really aesthetically pleasing bokeh. Being a EF Lens – It is designed with Full Frame cameras in mind. Although it will work on cropped APS-C sized dslr’s, just with the added 1.6x crop. 

It comes with an impressive 4 Stops of IS when in used in normal mode, which is really important on a short telephoto lens like this, as even on tripod small adjustments will be visible as camera shake without it. The stabilisation stops down to 3 stops in 0.5x magnification and 2 stops when in the 1x magnification mode. 

Finally comes the switchable macro focus abilities of the lens. When enabled it has a minimum focus distance of just 30cm with a 1x magnification. It has a floating inner focusing mechanism which minimises distortion on those macro shots, rendering an absolute true and distortion free macro shot. 

Anyway, enough of the specs, lets get straight into detail and look at the good bits of the Canon 100mm L series Macro.

Canon EF 100mm Macro F/2.8 L The Good

The build quality is superb, which is no surprise when you see that illustrious red ring. It is a weighty bit of glass, coming in at 625g. But with lenses like this, I often feel like that’s a reassuring quality. The controls, focus rings & switches all feel great & 10 years on from it’s original release, it still feels like a modern piece of glass. 

It is a beautiful lens to use, I’ve truly loved every second of using it. With a little bit of set-up time and care you can get stunning results from it, both for macro shooting & also for those shorter telephoto, compressed background looks, that I particularly love for b-cams on interviews & talking head style pieces. And in all honesty I think this is where this lens comes into its own for video.

Beyond those points are just the general usability of the lens, once you’ve spent some time with, it truly is a great tool for creating some stunning images. With it’s 4 stops of IS, beautiful bokeh & aesthetic, it’s hard to beat for B-Roll, product videography or as I say, as a b-cam lens.

But with all that said, lets take a look at the bad bits of this macro lens.

The Bad Bits

It is not a versatile piece of glass, far from it. This is built and designed for a very specific purpose in mind. So for newer filmmakers looking for their first premium lens, this really isn’t a great choice. This isn’t going to be a lens for a casual vlogger or YouTube creator, really it’s a tool for a beautiful & very specific look and a tool for those creators with a little more experience. 

There is of course the glaring similarities this lens has with the Sigma alternative, the 105mm macro. That Sigma does come in at a slightly lower price point and offers a lot of the same qualities. However, in my opinion, the Canon 100mm Macro just has that added x-factor thats missing in the sigma and maybe that justifies the slight price difference.

Beyond that lack of versatility, in truth it’s hard to be overly critical of the Canon 100mm macro. Sure the USM Auto focus system is loud and the IS, is at times unable to cope with too much hand movement. But all of that is far, far outweighed by the results you can get from this lens, when used correctly. 

SUMMARY

In summary, this lens has the potential of adding something very special to your filmmaking kit. The image it can render for you is a truly stunning one, given the right conditions & a little care. It’s definitely not a good option for those with no experience, but if you’re looking to add something completely different, then this 100mm macro is an absolute no brainer and quite possibly is the best ever b-roll lens you’ll own. 


🛒 Canon EF 100mm Macro F/2.8 L USM
🛒 Sigma 105mm Macro F/2.8 EX DG OSM
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3 comments
  1. I've fallen in love with this lens. It's quirky, unique and when you get it right it is truly stunning! What's your current favourite lens for b-roll/second camera work?

  2. I’m going to stir up some controversy…wouldn’t an extension tube on a 24-105 get you the same macro abilities and (if you don’t mind the f4) leave you with an overall a more versatile setup? I’ve had the 100 macro in my Amazon cart for ages now, but can’t justify the cost for such a specific lens…yet.

    Btw, my fortune cookie today taught me the Chinese word for watermelon and I thought of you guys!

  3. Totally agree that this is one of the best or most under rated 'prime' canon lenses out there (other than their CINE range). I use it for product Broll quite a bit thanks to the stabilisation (something my Sony 55mm 1.8 doesn't have). I haven't ever used it for talking head, but maybe I should consider that with my youtube videos moving forward…

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