I took the new Canon EF 100/2.8L IS to Yosemite, along with the Zeiss ZF 100/2 Makro-Planar and Leica 100/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R. Now those are two of the world’s finest, and built with metal and glass, not plastic and glass like Canon. More importantly, their image quality dazzles.
My intention was to have a 3-way shootout against the new Canon 100/2.8L. Mind you, this was a brand-new lens, right out of Canon’s perfect box. And what a terrible turd: most of the right half of the frame was badly blurred on every shot I took, whereas the Zeiss and Leica lenses were stunning. I’ll be writing up these findings in DAP, because it’s important to understand just how bad lenses can be, and what to look for. I do intend to get another copy of the EF 100/2.8L to finish my review. In spite of the glaring problems, central sharpness looks terrific. Whether another 100/2.8L can deliver off-center sharpness remains to be seen.
This is not the first time I’ve gotten crap-in-a-box from Canon, see Brand-new Blur. The lens arrived late the day before, so I had no time to do a quick check before I left. To be clear, I’ve had similar problems with Nikon lenses.
Lens design can paint a pretty picture. The only problem: lenses must be manufactured! Real lenses you can hold in your hand are what matter to photographers, not a design which delivers a few good samples once in a while from the mass-assembly factory.
How should it be done (quality)? Zeiss MTF-tests each and every lens they sell, rejecting those that don’t meet the spec. And they stand behind their product with 1st-class service. Those MTF charts Zeiss publishes? They are from real lenses, not fantasy-land computed charts like Canon ones. And the Zeiss charts are 10/40 line pairs/mm, not the wimpy 10/30 line pairs/mm Canon uses.
An autofocus lens makes no sense for real macro work anyway. And the manual focus of the EF 100/2.8L is twitchy; get a lens with a focusing helicoid if you want usable manual focus. As for IS (image stabilization): yawn.